2010 Sleeper: Kevin Kouzmanoff

Every fantasy owner is trying to find the next great sleeper, the player that they can look back to at the end of the season and say that they got a steal on him.  As we head towards draft day 2010, we will be highlighting some players that you should be eyeing at the tail end of your draft, the first of which is the Padres’ Kevin Kouzmanoff.

He perpetually finds his way onto this list, never quite living up to the substantial potential that we’ve all heard about for years.  The 2009 season was no exception, posting the following line:

529At Bats
.255 Batting Average (135 Hits)
18 Home Runs
88 RBI
50 Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.302 On Base Percentage
.420 Slugging Percentage
.289 Batting Average on Balls in Play

While those numbers are extremely under whelming, there are some things to point to for optimism.  First of all, you can look at the average and instantly say that the BABIP is realistic, therefore there is little hope for improvement.  That, however, would be a miscalculation.

Just look at his home/road split as proof.  He hit .287 on the road and .220 at home.  That home average, which comes in a ballpark that you think would be conducive to a better average, came courtesy of a .251 BABIP.

It’s not like he is one of these players who just consistently launches the ball in the air, either, with a flyball rate of 36.1% in 2009.  In fact, his career mark is at 38.2%, so there certainly is hope.

While he strikes out a fair amount, it is not a number that makes it impossible for success either.  Just look at his numbers over the past three seasons:

  • 2007 – 19.4%
  • 2008 – 22.3%
  • 2009 -20.0%

When you realize that the 2009 number put him outside of the Top 50, you realize that it is far from a crippling mark.

When you add it all together, there is reason to be optimistic that the average should, at the least, be usable, in the .270 range.  There also is the potential, if his luck can significantly improve, that he can far exceed that mark.

The power is another story.  His HR/FB rate has been consistent the past three seasons with marks of 11.3%, 12.1% and 11.6%.  What has been falling, and consistently, is his flyball rate:

  • 2007 – 40.5%
  • 2008 – 38.7%
  • 2009 – 36.1%

That’s far from what we want to see from a player, especially a corner infielder, but that doesn’t mean that he is destined to continue regressing.  The fact that he was able to hit half of his home runs at home last season (9) and has already proven capable of hitting 23 HR in a season, gives reason for optimism.

I’m not suggesting that he could emerge as a 35 HR threat, but last year there were just nine third baseman who surpassed the 20 HR plateau and that included Brandon Inge (27), Mark DeRosa (23) and Michael Young (22).  Those three are far from a guarantee.

He has shown the ability to drive in runs, with 172 RBI over the past two seasons.  If Everth Cabrera can develop into a good leadoff option (which we recently discussed in my projection on him, which you can click here to read), he’s got the potential to be solid there again.  Last season he was eighth among major league 3B in RBI.

The one place that he may struggle is in runs scored, because he has a low OBP and a bad offense behind him.  He needs to find a way to get that number back into the 70s or 80s (he was at 71 in 2008), which I think he could do.

Let’s take a look at where I’m projecting him out for 2010:

.282 (158-560), 25 HR, 95 RBI, 80 R, 1 SB, .310 BABIP, .333 OBP, .484 SLG

Are those elite numbers?  Nope.  Are they numbers any fantasy owners would turn down?  Absolutely not.  Considering he’s currently going outside the Top 300 players picked, how can you go wrong?

What are your thoughts?  Is Kouzmanoff a player you’d consider taking in the last round of your draft?  Do you think he can reach the numbers I’ve projected him out to?

Make sure to check out some of our early 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.


  1. Miles says:

    Kouz playing half of his games in San Diego hurts. Cabrera development would help RBIs. Of course all bets are off if Gonzalez is traded.

  2. Ryan says:

    You can’t fool me twice. Remember the other guy that showed glimpses of potential while in a Padres uniform, was touted as a MAJOR SLEEPER after leaving the pitchers park only to fall flat on his face and end up in the minors. No you say? Well why would you? Tyler Greene is his name and I would rather put my last round pick into him than Kouz. If there was a contest to see who could draft the 20th best fantasy 3B this is who I would pick every time. Consistant he is, he has always had plenty of ABs and is solid enough with the glove to not get benched when he struggles. Yet is that enough to warrant a draft pick? Not in my book, I’ll let some other blindfolded owner waste a roster spot on him I’d much rather take a chance on the guy that will be taking over for him in San Diego Chase Headley. In fantasy you don’t ever want to play for 2nd place and that is what you are doing by drafting someone like Kouz, who is a much better real life player than fantasy. Always take a chance on a player with a higher ceiling late, that way if he succeeds you’ll reap the rewards and if he falters or gets benched/demoted you wont hesitate to drop him if you need the roster spot for a more productive player or simply hold onto him in hopes of a return to favor. If you take a player like Kouz you will never be happy starting him, and you will never take a risk on a waiver wire pick up over him because he is a solid backup. Do yourself a favor and avoid the Kouzmanoffs of the fantasy world, you will be much better for it in the end.

  3. Frank Kim says:

    How do these projections change now that Kouz is in Oakland? In my draft we are in the 22nd round of a 14 team mixed league and he’s still not drafted. The fact he doesn’t walk and K’s so much makes me wary of any real improvement.

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    There really was a marginal change, at best, because his situation isn’t much different then it was. He’s still likely to be thrust into the middle of a sub par lineup calling a poor hitter’s park home.

  5. Frank Kim says:

    Thanks Rotoprofessor.

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