Ok so let me preface this article by saying that the Seatle Mariners are not an offensive juggernaut, but mostly just offensive to watch. Saunders is the only other usuable fantasy piece after Kyle Seager and Jesus Monteron; in my opinion all you Dustin Ackley supporters need to cheer somewhere else. The tesm's line-up from top to bottom looks about on par with last year's line-up that scored a AL worst 619 runs, and 4th worst overall in all of baseball. While line-up doesn't always dictate how a players stats will end up, they have an indeliable effect on their value. This is where I think that Michael Saunders comes in with his bucket of value, especially in leagues that have more than a 3 OF formats.
So coming into the 2012 season, expectations were practically nil for Michael. His propensity to K makes him a liability was his obvious demise in fantasy circles. It's early in the draft year for most of us but he is going outside the top 300 overall. To me that is way too low for someone coming off a near 20/20 season. I mean he is 26 coming of his first season of regular at-bat, but to be drafted behind a recently signed Jason Bay is unfathomable to me.
So what did the 2012 season show us and what can he improve on in the upcoming year to make him a fantasy asset?First off he needs to improve his K rate which stood at near 23%. Lowering this and adding to his OBP will help his hidden potential of stealing bases. He hit in every position of the line-up last year sans the 4 hole, a move up in the order will improve his line-up protection. Lastly he will gain some help by the Mariners moving in the fences at Safeco, 17 FT in some places. At his core he is a left handed gap hitter, that managed to hit 31 doubles last year. Even with a paltry OBP, middling BA and a non scoring team he managed to score 71 runs. Just for fun math thats 11% of the total teams runs scored.
Now for the whole meat and potatoes of why you are reading this. For the value most speed/power guys get drafted in the middle rounds, but in Saunders case he is going way later. For 2013, I see basically what we saw in 2012. I see a 20/20 season with more improvement in the runs scored and driven in. A line of .260/.325/.450 with 22Hr's and 160 plus runs scored/driven in. He will shock everyone with his legs this year and steal 29 bases. So optomistically he should return top 150 type stuff with last round value, but his floor isn't all that awful if he just repeats last year and improves on the average.