Is Mike Fontenot now a Sleeper?

We discussed the Mark DeRosa trade when it took place, but what we failed to discuss was who would actually fill the hole at 2B that the Cubs created for themselves.  Does anyone really believe that Aaron Miles is going to get everyday AB’s?  I know I mentioned the Brian Roberts rumors popping back up, though that was pure speculation. 

Instead, all signs point towards Mike Fontenot getting the opportunity to get everyday AB’s.  In fact, the team was using him down the stretch last season, as they were using Mark DeRosa in the OF over Kosuke Fukudome, so giving him playing time seems pretty obvious.

He had 243 AB last season, hitting .305 with 9 HR, 40 RBI, 42 R and 2 SB, showing that he has plenty of potential to be a usable player in all formats.  Will the power translate over a full season?  He never really showed the potential to hit over 20 HR in a full season, which is what last season would have projected out to, so I wouldn’t expect that to be the case.  It would seem like 10-15 would be a much better expectation for a full season, which certainly still makes him usable for fantasy owners.

The real question is how he will do against left-handed pitchers, as the Cubs seemed to protect him last season giving him just 21 AB against southpaws.  Granted, he hit .333 in those AB’s, but in 2007 he hit .212 in 52 AB against lefties.  I have to believe that last seasons success was more of a mirage, given the small sampling.  It’s not that I think he’ll be as bad as he was in ’07, but he’ll be somewhere in the middle.

Do those struggles make him an everyday player or more of a platoon, with Miles taking the AB against lefties?  He did hit .315 in 111 AB last season against them, following a .286 average in 119 AB the year before.  That could make the most sense, which would limit Fontenot’s value.  If tht’s not the current plan, it could be pretty quickly

No matter who the 2B is, the Cubs will have a decision to make in their batting order: use the 2B as the #2 hitter or Ryan Theriot?  That decision would also affect Fontenot’s potential, and with Theriot picking up 427 AB in the #2 hole last season, it would appear doubtful they have a reason to change.

So, where does Fontenot shake out?  He offers some power potential for a middle infielder, and should also put up a decent average, though likely not .300, especially if he is playing everyday.  That’s the biggest drawback to him.  If he plays everyday, he may be exposed, as he has not proven capable of hitting lefties at the major league level. 

His runs likely wouldn’t be up to snuff, as he is likely to be hitting down in the line-up.  He should drive in a few, thanks to his power, but not a huge amount.  I like him as a middle infielder at best, but not as my starting 2B.  He’ll be decent, but not much more then that, in my opinion.

3 comments

  1. big o says:

    eric :
    (perhaps) the fore-most reason to seek out your opinions is that they always seemed to be tempered with a healthy dose of “realism” .

    “fantasy” projections are not good for fantasy baseball .

    appreciate your efforts .

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Big O, I appreciate that as always. Just let me know if there’s anything specific you want to see here and I’ll do what I can.

    And looking forward to drafting with you and everyone else on Wednesday!

  3. Ryan says:

    I think you nailed it with Fontenot as your starter and Miles hitting the lefties. Pretty good plan you spelled out there.

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