Looking for a possible power option late in your draft? I’m sure that’s a situation many of us are going to find ourselves in. I know from experience, sitting there at the tail end of my draft just trying to find a name who can provide some power after I didn’t quite get enough in the early rounds. Well, here are 5 names that are likely to be had after the 18th round who have the potential to significantly help your team in power:
Travis Hafner – Cleveland Indians
He is just 2 seasons removed from a 42 HR campaign, and I find it extremely hard to believe that at 31-years old (he turns 32 in June), he has just completely lost that type of potential. Problems with his shoulder led to his demise last season, limiting him to 198 AB with 5 HR and hitting .197. This is a player with a career .284 average and was between 24-42 HR the previous four seasons.
We aren’t talking about a guy who’s going to hit .310 with 40 HR, 110 RBI and 100 R, like he once was. Would you complain with a late round pick who goes .275 with 28 HR, 85 RBI and 85 R though?
If he’s healthy, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t be that type of player. No one would project him out to that level, but the upside is there. There’s that disclaimer to consider, which is why he should be nothing more then a late round flyer in all formats. That way, if he fails, he doesn’t hurt your team in the least, but if he rebounds it is huge dividends for all.
Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals
I know, given his numbers last season you have to wonder why you would even consider taking him. We’re talking about a player who had just 11 HR last season and was so bad that he was demoted in June. Still, 9 HR and a .305 average after the All-Star Break gives plenty of reason for optimism. He’ll be 23 in April, which tells me that there is plenty of reason to believe the power is still developing.
At Single A in ’05 he showed the potential, hitting 25 HR in 379 AB. Even in Triple A in ’07 (prior to being recalled), he hit 13 HR in 203 AB. The power is there, he just needs to start hitting the ball in the air more. In the major leagues, his career FB% is just 33.8%. As he matures, I fully believe the power is going to come around, with 2009 likely to be the first time owners see his full potential.
I’m not saying he’s going to hit 30+ HR this season, that’s just too big a jump to predict. I would think 20-25 as very realistic, however, making him a great pick at the end of your draft.
Matt Joyce – Tampa Bay Rays
After hitting 12 HR in 242 AB last season for the Tigers, there are people who are expecting him to fully breakout with regular playing time likely coming with the Rays. At 24-years old (he’ll turn 25 in August), maybe that’ll be the case but I can’t say that I’m sold on it fully. That’s not to say that I don’t think he has a chance to hit between 20-25 HR, because I do, but raising your expectations any higher then that would be a mistake.
At Double A in 2007, he had 465 AB and hit 17 HR. Last season, his success came courtesy of a FB% of 47.5% and a HR/FB of 14.1%. While I could believe him keeping up that type of HR/FB, a regression in the FB% is likely. If he had enough AB’s to qualify, it would have placed him ninth in the league and that just isn’t going to happen over a full season.
Is he a good late round pick if you are in need of a bit of power from your OF? Absolutely, but temper your expectations. I would put his upside at around 25, not beyond that.
Jack Cust – Oakland Athletics
We all know the story of Jack Cust, don’t we? He brings with him a tremendous amount of HR ability, but with it comes literally no batting average. If you are looking for power and nothing else, however, who cares?
I know the HR/FB rate seems very unrealistic at 29.7%, but that was actually a decrease from his ’07 season (31.7%). Someone puts up a stat once, we call it an aberration but if he repeats it, we call it a trend.
I have to believe that he is what he’s shown us over the past 2 seasons, so 30 HR is a number that we can almost expect from him. If you need average, I’d avoid him, otherwise he’s a good source of power at the end of your draft.
Adam LaRoche – Pittsburgh Pirates
Another player whose story is pretty well known; terrible in the first half, tremendous in the second. Over the past 3 season, let’s take a look at his second half lines:
- 2006: .323, 19 HR, 48 RBI
- 2007: .312, 8 HR, 37 RBI
- 2008: .304, 14 HR, 42 RBI
Could this be the season where he finally puts things together for a full season? It’s possible, and I would be willing to bet on it with one of my last picks in a draft. I would be even more apt to do so if I’m making the pick of him as a reserve and I have a bench deep enough to stash him away and wait and see what happens. Either way, he’s proven to be a player well worth using once the All-Star Game has come and gone, but if he could put it all together a 30 HR campaign is certainly in reach.
So, there are 5 good late game power options for you to consider. Which one would you most like to own? Is there someone I didn’t list you’re targeting?
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.