Finding a combination of solid contact, power and speed in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts is not easy, but Texas Rangers’ outfielder Leonys Martin offers it all.
Fantasy baseball owners should be taking a shot on this “sleeper” from deep in the heart of Texas.
» Leonys Martin, CF (current ADP: #131):
The Rangers are singing a much different tune than when spring training began.
After losing back-to-back World Series’ in 2010-11, the team’s front office made a concerted effort to shore up their roster this off-season. With some tweaks to the lineup, they could hopefully gain that extra edge to help them win the franchise’s first championship.
But then injuries struck…
No. 2 starter Derek Holland suffered a knee injury at the hands (paws?) of his dog — seriously, I’m not joking — and second baseman Jurickson Profar tore a muscle in his shoulder, sidelining him for 10-12 weeks. On Monday, starting catcher Geovany Soto was the latest to join the disabled list after it was revealed he had torn his meniscus. Mitch Moreland is also expected to begin the season on the DL with a strained oblique. The list goes on…
Center fielder Leonys Martin was already penciled in to be a vital part of this Rangers team, but with all the injuries mounting, his role in the offense is even more magnified than it had been before.
Martin really made an impact for the Rangers in 2013 and was also a sneaky waiver wire grab in many fantasy leagues.
In 508 plate appearances, the 26-year-old Cuban hit .260/.313/.385 with 8 HR, 49 RBI, and 36 SB. He also added 21 doubles and six triples.
Martin’s 36 stolen bases were the most by a Rangers outfielder since Tom Goodwin swiped 39 bags in 1999. To put his totals in even more perspective, aside from Martin, only four other Rangers outfielders have stolen at least 20 bases since the beginning of the 21st century — Craig Gentry with 24 in 2013, Gabe Kapler with 23 in 2001, Kenny Lofton with 21 in 2007, and Nelson Cruz with 20 in 2009).
He hasn’t been an on-base machine during his three (really 1.2) years with the big club (.306 OBP), but his minor league on-base percentage of .388 suggests eventual improvement. Hitting in one of the most feared lineups in all of baseball should afford him lots of chances to get on base if he can work on his awful 28/104 BB/K ratio.
His propensity to strikeout (and not draw walks) was not the only reason he had a lowered BA/OBP. He makes a lot of contact at the plate (88% Z-Contact), but is hitting too many infield pop-ups (16.8%) and putting the ball on the ground too much (50.9%). If Martin can elevate his fly ball and line drive rates, I think we could see him bat closer to .280 with an OBP in the .350-.360 range.
As of Monday, Leonys Martin’s price in auction drafts is $11, but he’s gone as low as $6, according to FantasyPros.com. I think he can be a valuable asset to any fantasy team at that price. He gives owners a chance for 35+ steals without completely compromising power, à la Ben Revere or Rajai Davis.
2014 Projections: .277/.351/.402, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 80 R, 32 SB
» Missed any of my earlier picks? Please click here for links to all the sleepers I’ve have covered from each team so far.