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NEWS | March 5, 2010

Fantasy Baseball Preview: Outfielders

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna 316th Wing Public Affairs

This article is the second of a three part series analyzing each position's preseason sleepers. The positions discussed over the three weeks will be infielders, outfielders and pitchers.

Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado OF) - This 24-year-old outfielder burst onto the scene in the second half of last season when he hit .284, 13 home runs, and stole 16 bases in just 278 at bats. This year, he is slated to hit at the top of the Rockies batting order and should get all the plate appearances he can handle. If Gonzalez gets 500 AB, it's not unreasonable for him to put up a line like .280 BA, 20 HR, 25 SB, 100 runs. Normally, that kind of production out of an outfielder is found in the first few rounds of a draft (Justin Upton, Matt Holliday, Grady Sizemore), but, on average, Gonzalez can be had more than seven rounds after those outfielders are taken. That's a bargain. If you are in a twelve team league, take him with confidence once guys like Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton and Manny Ramirez start coming off the board.

Julio Borbon (Texas OF) - For those of you new to fantasy baseball, if you're wondering why someone like Jacoby Ellsbury is ranked higher than Ichiro despite Ichiro hitting more than 50 points higher for average and more home runs, it's because Ellsbury is a game changer when it comes to steals. Steals is the one offensive category where one player can legitimately carry you to victory some weeks and, therefore, those players who steal 50 plus bases per season are ranked much higher than the rest of their statistics indicate they should. Julio Borbon had 20 SB in just 46 games last season as a part time player. This season, his manager Ron Washington has said Borbon has the full time lead off slot in the batting order. If Borbon plays more than 140 games, there's no reason he can't steal 50 bases, and, with guys like Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler hitting behind him, he should score a crazy amount of runs as well. In your early rounds, draft your big time home run hitters, ace pitchers, and let your buddies draft a guy like Ellsbury in the second round while you draft Borbon eight rounds later and get similar production out of him.

Jay Bruce (Cincinnati OF)
- If the other owners in your league were to look at Jay Bruce's stats from last season, they'd most likely run away in horror after seeing his abysmal .223 batting average. Good, let them. Bruce, despite only being 22-years-old, is entering his third big league season and there are a few reasons why he needs to be on your radar late in your draft. First, the boy can put the ball in the bleachers. Despite missing more than two months last season with a broken wrist, he still hit 22 HR in just 101 games. He's fully healthy now and if (I know it's a big "if") he can stay on the field, he has the potential to hit 30-plus home runs and have 100 RBI thanks to guys like Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips hitting ahead of him. Secondly, while he's never going to win a batting title, he did hit .326 after returning from his injury. Yes, he strikes out a lot. Yes, he probably won't hit for a very high average. But, he has loads of potential and late in the draft, he's the kind of lottery ticket you need to take a chance on.