If I believed in reincarnation, I think I would spend most of my time praying to be reincarnating as a left-handed power hitter who was on a one-year deal in Yankee Stadium. It's as close as you can come to a blank check without appearing in a bad mid-'90s movie with James Rebhorn.
Every bad mid-'90s movie had James Rebhorn.
Anyway, if Raul Ibanez can go from "his career is just about over" (which, let's be honest here, it was as recently as last year) to a regular starting gig (using a glove, no less, which is astonishing) by virtue of little more than a friendly home park, then I think a one-year deal as the New York Yankees lefty-hitting DH would be a heck of a reincarnation goal.
I guess Travis Hafner does believe in reincarnation. Dude's got the prestige.
Before I dive in, I want to include a caveat: If you are in a league with weekly lineups, or have a really shallow bench, this might not apply to you. I think Home Hafner and Road Hafner might well be different enough players that Road Hafner, if you have to use him, might negate the positives Home Hafner provides.
That said, if you have the roster room that you can start Hafner only on days he's playing at home, he's a friggin' stalwart.
From 2004 to 2006, Hafner was a 5+ bWAR player. He was among the best hitters in baseball, no matter how you look at it. He's totaled only 8.1 in the 6 years since, though, due to both decline and injuries, and I'd wager there's a better-than-average chance he went undrafted in your league. He certainly went undrafted in all of mine.
But this year, he's on the Yankees. And playing for the Yankees means playing in Yankee Stadium. This iteration of Yankee Stadium includes a 120 park effect for lefty home runs, meaning that left-handers hit 120 home runs there for every 100 they would hit in a neutral park. A 20% park effect is crazy high, and needs to be exploited.
Meanwhile, Hafner is the dead-pullin'est hitter of all the dead-pullin' hitters. Check out the spray charts below, from texasleaguers.com, featuring Hafner spray charts from both 2008-2012 and 2011-2012. He's always been a pull guy, but it's getting more and more exaggerated as he ages.
Combine those facts - Yankee Stadium's extreme lefty preference and Travis Hafner's extreme right-field preference - and you have a recipe for a guy that needs to be used in fantasy during every home game, particularly when he faces righties.
So long as he's healthy, Hafner is a masher, just about anywhere. When he's facing a righty, he's really good. When he's home, he's really good. When he's facing a righty and at home, he's Barry freaking Bonds. That might be an exaggeration, but regardless, he's good for home runs and, by extension, runs and RBI. If you're in an OBP league, he'll keep that reasonably high as well. If you can bench him in the wrong parks, against the wrong pitchers, Hafner can give you great value in his "on" days.
And, when I'm done being a lefty in Yankee Stadium, I want to be a colossal squid. Just because they're cool.
Follow me on Twitter @danieltkelley