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2011 All Irrelevant Team

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Last month, our own TJ Mahoney shared his ideal fantasy team comprised only of "sleepers" - his most valuable players with an average draft position outside the top 100. Inspired by his idea, I decided to take it a step further and put together my "All Irrelevant" team. This team consists of players that should be targeted in the last round of drafts. I concentrated on guys that could provide nice upside at that low cost. I have limited the team to players with current average draft positions outside the top 350, according to Mock Draft Central.

C Chris Iannetta (ADP 398)

Iannetta hit 18 home runs at age 25 in only 104 games for the Rockies in 2008. Since then he has been forced to split playing time as Jim Tracy has seemingly looked for every reason to keep him out of the lineup. Tracy has stated that the catching job in Colorado is Iannetta's to lose. As a 28 year old catcher with a lot of power and a career BB% of 13%, Iannetta should be in almost any team's lineup 5-6 times per week. With only average luck he could put up some big power numbers this year.

1B Freddie Freeman (ADP 433)

Jeremy touched on Freeman here. Freeman showed some pop last year as a 20 year old in Triple A.  While 20 is young for Triple A, Freeman put up 18 HRs and a .518 slugging percentage. He also showed the ability to make contact, striking out in only 18% of his PAs. This is a solid blend of power and contact ability that would make him an interesting hitter if he could carry these skills over to the majors.

2B Danny Espinosa (ADP 483)

Ray looked at Espinosa in detail here. Espinosa has shown in his minor league work that he brings a nice power/speed blend to the table. Last year, at age 23, he hit 18 HRs and stole 20 bases in only 99 games at the Double A level.  I could see him finishing the year as a top 10 fantasy second baseman and a 20/20 threat. He's an especially great value if you draft a questionable starting 2B.

SS J.J. Hardy (ADP 470)

Jeremy also touched on Hardy a bit here. Hardy hit 26 HRs in 2007 and 24 HRs in 2008. In 2009 during a season in which he had a BABIP of .260 and below average HR/FB ratio of 8.3% he was sent down to the minors. This move may have been driven more by the Brewers' attempt to control Hardy's service time than by his performance. In 2010, Hardy had a bit of a lost season while putting up a below average BABIP and very low HR/FB ratio of 6.1% in only 101 games. He missed time due to a fluke wrist injury as the result of sliding into a base. Hardy has maintained a somewhat low K rate throughout his career and should be able to flirt with a .300 BA with better batted ball luck. Though his results have been mixed, his skills do not appear to have eroded. As a 28 year old I believe a year of average luck could propel Hardy back over the 20 HR mark which would be very valuable from the SS position.

3B Chase Headley (ADP 434)

Headley has managed to decrease his strikeouts each of the past three seasons. If he continues the trend he may be able to raise his batting average to a level at which it would not be a fantasy liability. He also hit 11 Hrs last year with 17 Steals while only 6.4% of his fly balls left the park. Petco may be to blame for the poor HR/FB rate, but a luckier year and Headley could reach the 15-20 mark as he enters his prime.  At 3B that is not much to get excited about, but could provide nice last round value in very deep or NL only leagues.

OF Nate McLouth (ADP 485)

McLouth is only a year removed from a 20-19 season in which he played 129 games and two years removed from a 26-23 season. As a poor fielder, I would not trust him much in CF, but that hasn't stopped the Braves from naming him the opening day starter. He provides some upside as a last round pick with proven 20-20 potential.

OF Domonic Brown (ADP 396)

There is still the possibility that Brown could end up with a platoon partner in RF for the Phillies. My guess is that it would take some early struggles for that scenario to play out. Brown has shown an intriguing power/speed combination in the minors with good plate discipline. Bill James' projections have him at 26 HRs and 28 SBs in 2010. A bit optimistic, but if you can nab him at the end of your draft he provides great upside.

OF Will Venable (ADP 462)

Venable will start in LF for the Padres and could see some time in the leadoff spot. In 131 games last season Venable hit 13 HRs and stole 29 bases. Strikeouts are a concern, but if he does see time in the leadoff spot and plays a full season his baseline is around 15-30 with more potential upside.   

SP Jhoulys Chacin (ADP 382)

Chacin is my favorite sleeper of the year at SP.  He had an xFIP of 3.54 in 137 innings last year at age 22 and should be able to rack up a high win total with the Rockies offense behind him. Ray mentioned here that he could be a top 25-30 pitcher in '11 and I agree. His current average draft position has him as the 71st starting pitcher off the board.

SP Erik Bedard (ADP 496)

Bedard has been a very good pitcher when healthy, but he never stays healthy. We will know by the end of spring training whether or not he will be healthy enough to win a rotation spot. He could be worth a last rounder and then cut and replaced by opening day if he can't stay on the field. 150 solid innings may not be out of the question.


SP Aaron Harang (ADP 495)

I wrote previously that Harang would benefit from his move to the Padres and believe his fly ball style in Petco could make him a nice sleeper this year. The fact that he is available so late in drafts only adds to his value.