Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two rookie outfielders to target

First a few notes about rookies in fantasy:

• Avoiding rookies altogether is probably a good strategy in most fantasy leagues. They are high-risk but not really high-reward. If you are in a dynasty keeper league, rookies are more valuable, depending on the rules.

• Rookies are almost never impact fantasy players in their first season. If they are really productive, it is usually because of stolen bases. Don't expect too much and don't pay too much.

• Rookie hitters are a bit more predictable than rookie pitchers. Pitchers generally take several years of major league experience to really produce in fantasy. In most fantasy leagues, you will be best served by avoiding rookie pitchers altogether.

• In most fantasy leagues, if your rookie doesn't start off the season hot, you are going to have to drop them after a month anyway. There's always a chance they might end up batting ninth or getting sent back to the minors. Keep that in mind when drafting.

• If a rookie does start off the season hot, there's a great chance his performance will suffer in the second half. He's never faced such a long grind, and the league will figure out his weaknesses and force him to adjust. Have the guts to trade him away when his value has peaked.

• Most rookies come up late in the season, and can often be valuable in fantasy for the stretch run. That can be a safer investment, as a rookie has a better chance to succeed over a short stretch playing in meaningless games, without wearing down and before the league has time to catch up to him.

Jason Heyward, OF - Atlanta Braves
If you could only have one rookie, Heyward is probably the guy. He appears to have the right field job all to himself, and has nothing left to prove in the minors. Over 1,000 plate appearances in the minors, Heyward put up a .318/.391/.508 line with 29 homers and 26 steals. Don't expect a 20/20 season in 2010, but hopefully he can stick around with the big club and help your fantasy team. A .300 average with 10 homers and 10 steals is realistic, and he's only going to get better in 2011. Obviously a great target for those of you in keeper leagues. You can also follow him on Twitter (@JasonHeyward).

Julio Borbon, OF - Texas Rangers
Borbon is slated to get lots of playing time as the starting CF, and possibly even leadoff hitter, for a solid lineup in a hitter's park. Borbon has blazing speed - he stole 19 bases for the Rangers last year in just 157 at bats. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure 15 of those steals came in one game against my Boston Red Sox. He's an exciting player who has shown the ability to hit for average and take a walk, so he might be able to stick at the top of the order. Don't expect much power but bank on a .285 average with 30 steals and hope for a breakout in terms of runs scored.

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