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2015 Fantasy Baseball Player Profile: Evan Gattis

Entering his Age 28 season, "El Oso Blanco" could be primed for a stellar campaign. But does this feel-good story from Atlanta have enough staying power?

Doing Gattis things, like the home-run trot.
Doing Gattis things, like the home-run trot.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Gattis has cranked 43 homers in his first two big league seasons, despite playing in only 105 and 108 games in those years. His power, of course, is his most valuable asset. If "Oso" were guaranteed health for a full slate of games, a forecast of 35-40 homers would be entirely reasonable given his 16.8 AB/HR ratio. By comparison, Jose Abreu homered in every 15.4 at-bats in 2014. Miguel Cabrera's career mark is one dinger per every 17.5 ABs. Gattis keeps solid company when it comes to home runs, especially in the power-depleted age in which we live.

Alas, The White Bear has yet to prove that he can remain healthy for a full season. In 2013 it was a strained oblique muscle that held him back, and following that season Gattis also had surgery to remove a bone chip in his knee. In 2014 a bad back suppressed his power totals, and a bout of strep throat and a kidney stone kept him sidelined as well.

In addition to the missed time, Gattis is already 28 years old, a by-product of not cracking the bigs until the age of 26. Unfortunately for Gattis, when he has been healthy he's had limited opportunities to shine due to the putrid nature of the Atlanta Braves lineup. And that may not change quickly, either. We'll see what the new brass in Atlanta can muster up for 2015, but going from the cellar to respectability on offense will likely take some time.

Still, it's not all gloomy for the slugger. Despite Atlanta's 2014 woes, Gattis ranked as the 10th best catcher in standard formats, even though he was tied for fourth among all backstops with 22 homers. His .263 average was also encouraging given that he batted only .243 in his rookie year. Yet in 2013 he still managed to smack 21 homers and finished as the 12th best catcher in the fake game. He was tied for second place in homers that season--one behind Matt Wieters, who had 523 ABs that year. Gattis checked in at 354 ABs, for what it's worth.

So we know the Bear can hit a home run. What we don't know is how good (or bad) his team will be in 2015. With tolerable run and RBI totals, Gattis would be assured of a top five spot in the catcher ranks. I believe this because I know his average should be decent and his home run totals should be elite. All that is lacking is a better team context, which would provide him with more runs and more RBI opportunities.

Without such an improvement in team context, I expect low-end starter totals from Gattis, which makes him solid but unspectacular. Since we won't know how good the Braves will be until almost a year from now, I would personally hope to land Gattis as a cheap starter and pray for marked improvement from the Atlanta offense. This would theoretically allow for some significant profit.

If Gattis is traded to an American League team that would use him primarily as a DH and occasionally as a catcher, then I'm afraid his price will skyrocket. It's true that playing DH might help keep "Oso" healthy, but it is also true that Gattis might get hurt again and not come close to justifying a price that is expectant of a 30-homer, 80-RBI type of season. I personally don't enjoy paying up for production that I have not yet witnessed--Montee Ball, anyone?

Add it all up and it seems clear: Gattis is only a decent starting option for your fake team, primarily due to his poor team context. His ample power gives him a safe floor, but his counting numbers have thus far been limited by pitiful Atlanta lineups.

If the Braves improve at all, however, the Bear could be elite in terms of HR and RBI production, while maintaining serviceability in the batting average and runs-scored categories. This is the best-case scenario for Gattis owners in 2015, in my humble opinion.

It's only if he's traded to an AL team that the buyer need beware. Gattis might then be surrounded by a formidable lineup and he might not have to catch frequently, which would theoretically stave off the injury imp. But he would still be the guy who is averaging 106 games-played per season, two years into his career. Paying a significant price for that number of games would be risky, and would make it more difficult to profit or to break even. That makes this a case to stay tuned into, folks.