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Fantasy Fix: Multi-Tool OFs

Outfielders are the subject of my final pre-season fantasy baseball post, and while many fantasy drafts are already complete, my tardiness in taking a closer look at outfielders is by design. Though OFs take up three starting spots on your roster, I think your time is much better spent sizing up the best picks at other, much thinner positions.

Sure, multi-tool OFs like Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton should be top picks in any draft, but after the first couple rounds, you shouldn't despair if none of these names fell into your lap. Great multi-tool value (meaningful stats in some combination of these categories: HR, RBI, SB, AVG, runs-scored, doubles, triples) can be had in deeper rounds.

So, if you have a last-minute draft this weekend, or just want to be ready for some early waiver wire exchanges, here are a few ideas:

Late-round multi-tool OF value:

Jason Heyward, Atlanta: The secret is out, but I still nabbed him in the 16th round of a fantasy draft last week. Great power and extra base potential. Like most rookies, his average could rise and dip in streaks, and we'll have to see how often crusty manager Bobby Cox lets him steal bases. I think 25 HRs, 20 SBs, 35 doubles and eight triples is doable.

Carlos Beltran, NY Mets: You read that right. He's not due back from injury rehab until May, which is why he'll still be available in the bench rounds of the draft. But he's already 85% owned in Yahoo! leagues, so probably not a waiver wire candidate whenever he does return. Reports indicate he's recovering as expected, so that means stolen bases, homers, doubles and maybe even a few more triples in capacious Citi Field.

Vernon Wells, Toronto: Another unlikely veteran buried deep in the draft. He got a bad rep after failing to live up to a fat contract, but injuries were the main problem. He won't hit .300 for you, but he could still go 20/20/40/80/90 in HRs, SBs, doubles, runs-scored and RBIs.

Early multi-tool OF waiver wire candidates:

David DeJesus, Kansas City: Always a solid stat line across the board, he has underexploited speed (just four SBs last year, but nine triples show his greater promise) and underappreciated power (13 HRs and 71 RBIs last year, mostly as a lead-off man).

Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle: Came close to 20/20 HRs/SBs last year, and with Seattle trying hard to score more runs for its solid pitching staff, a 25/25 in those categories with 90 runs, 90 RBIs, and a .290 average would not be out of the question.

Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati: He had eight HRs and 10 SBs in just 180 at-bats last year, so I'd look for him to at least double those figures, and score close to 90 runs as a more frequent starter for the Reds this year.

Expert Wire
* FanHouse has Jason Heyward predictions of 18 HRs and 18 SBs with a .280 average. I'll say that is safely conservative. Unless he fails miserably in April, I see the Braves letting him work things out.

* Roto Arcade likes the looks of former lights-out lefty Francisco Liriano. The SP/RP was listed pretty low on most draft boards until Twins closer Joe Nathan got hurt, and Liriano was mentioned as a possible replacement. But now it appears he'll get a role in the starting rotation.

* Bleacher Report asks if the closer situation is worse in 2010 than in 2009. To me, it's worse every year. Who's the next Nathan or Mariano Rivera who you can count on every year? (We don't know about Jonathan Broxton yet.) More teams like the Twins are either pursuing closer-by-committee or have a second arm ready for the job if their first choice fails. That means a lot of RPs coming and going on the waiver wire this year.

* Fantasy Windup has printable cheat-sheets if you're running to a last-minute draft this weekend without taking your usual hours of preparation.

* OPENSports has some diamonds in the fantasy baseball rough, including such well-worn names as Matt Garza and Denard Span. The post also backs up our listing of Vernon Wells as a late-round sleeper, and mentions Chicago's very own John Danks.

* Bleacher Report also has outfielder sleeper picks for early-, middle- and late-rounds.

Next post: Fantasy baseball studs, duds, finds and match-ups.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Comments welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

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Posted on Nov 26, 2021