Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sleeper- Josh Barfield

The position with the biggest drop-off in fantasy baseball this year has to be second base. After Chase Utley is gone, the next ten seem to be separated by minor nuances in what you prefer in a player. While others will take Cano early (ADP of 54) or believe that Dan Uggla (ADP 82) will reproduce last year’s stats, you can sit back and wait to take Josh Barfield. Last year many saw Barfield as a sleeper second baseman and then were disappointed with his .280/13HR/72R/58RBI/21SB line. Many fantasy players have the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality and have forgotten about Barfield. The average fantasy player may not even know that Barfield was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the off-season. In any case, Barfield is a talented second baseman who is now in a better lineup, better division, and better park, can be your everyday two-bagger, and you don’t even have to take him early.

In five years in the minors, Barfield turned out numbers to the tune of .300/.351/.445. While certainly not a power hitter, he has good power for a 2B, averaging 15 HR in the minors and majors over the last four years. The Indians have Barfield slated to bat ninth at the moment to be the “second leadoff” batter that managers love to have. With Sizemore leading off, Barfield could put up some huge numbers in the runs category. Eric Wedge also loves to be aggressive on the base paths, so Barfield will be running and should contribute over 25 SB this year. Barfield projects out to be a two-hole-type hitter, and if he is moved in to the second spot, that would only increase his value. He would have Sizemore in front of him with Martinez and Hafner behind him. His RBI totals would increase and his runs may go up even more with the big bats behind him.

Petco Park, where Barfield toiled last year, is a park where hitters go to die. Everyone knows how much of a pitcher’s park Petco is and Barfield is a prime example of what it can do to a player:

Home: .241/.279/.361 with 6 HR/32 R/22 RBI/8 SB
Road: .319/.355/.484 with 7 HR/40 R/36 RBI/13 SB

Jacobs Field is not the greatest park for hitters either, but it is a step up from Petco. It also has a big OF which could help a guy like Barfield who knows how to hit the gaps. I can see a .305/90/75/25 line from Barfield this year, which are better numbers than Cano had last year (outside of the average). Now consider that Barfield’s ADP is 132 while Cano’s is 54. Instead of taking Cano, why not pick up a Prince Fielder for your Utility spot and then grab Josh later in the draft?

After Utley, the second basemen seem pretty much the same. So, while people grab Cano, Uggla, or Roberts early, you can afford to sit back, fill other needs, and know you can take Josh Barfield later on and get the same (if not better) production.

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