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We all know that when draft day rolls around, we will not be fortunate enough to grab a marquee player at any given position. The 1B position is loaded with talent with the likes of Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, etc.
Now some of us will just wait ’til later for a 1B if we miss out on one of the big names. But what if there was a player who could deliver good power numbers, not kill your average, and be found at a later time in the draft than the high-costing, elite first basemen? You’d probably be saying “Pete, you’re a f**king crazy piece of s**t”.
First off, I’d ask you where you learned that language. Second, I would tell you that this insane concept is a reality which is embodied in the form of Pittsburgh Pirates 1B Garrett Jones.
You don’t remember Jones from last season do you? Well, you aren’t alone, seeing as he was only 50% owned in Yahoo! leagues at the end of the 2009 season. Why he wasn’t 80% owned or higher still baffles me to this day. Let me expose of one fantasy’s best kept secrets for draft day.
Jones had spent the bulk of his career in the minor leagues, but after Pittsburgh traded OF Nyjer Morgan to Washington, Jones was called up from AAA Indianapolis to finally get his big shot. The end result was excellent as Jones finished his 82 game stint with a .291 avg, 21 HR, and 44 RBI. Sure, the RBI total didn’t set your world on fire (thanks to Pittsburgh’s crappy offense), but the underlying numbers can’t be ignored.
Not counting October, where only three games were played, Jones had .500+ slugging in every month he played, and his OPS for the season was a robust .938, which would have put him in the top 15 in the majors, right behind Miguel Cabrera and in front of Ryan Braun. Now that’s pretty good company to be in.
As his short season progressed, his walk total increases month-by-month, with his best month for walks being September where he earned 17 base on balls. This is an encouraging sign that Jones became more patient at the plate and more comfortable with the pitching in the majors, which shows a big leap in maturity.
You may have some concerns about Garrett Jones playing on the Pirates. However, Jones spent 70 of his 82 games batting out of the plush 3rd spot. I really don’t see why that would change in 2010. A natural slugger batting 3rd in any offense is always good news.
If you want this season’s power-hitting sleeper, then Garret Jones is it. His small sample size from 82 games last season is very encouraging, and all signs are pointing to his power being legit.
What you may want to watch for is his batting average. The .291 mark was boosted by a slightly above average BABIP of .327. If the BABIP returns to the norm (.290-.300), then the average won’t fall off the table completely. I’d bank on Jones hitting closer to .275-.280 and not .290, but still, that is fine with me if it means hitting 30 home runs.
If you think it’s impossible for one man to survive in a crappy Pittsburgh offense, then just remember that Jason Bay was an elite fantasy option for several seasons, so lightning can strike again.
Jones will only be 28 when the season starts, so he is in his prime years. In addition to everything good about Jones, he qualifies at three positions (1B, LF, RF). Position versatility, prime years, and great slugging all mean that you should reach a little sooner for Jones in 2010 drafts.