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Deep League Value: Left Field

We checked in on left field this week, and now it’s time to take a look at some of the guys that didn’t make the mixed-league cut but will provide value in deeper leagues. Left field continues to provide value down here on this section of the list.

It was hard to fit Travis Snider in the top fifteen fantasy left fielders for 2010, but he has upside to reach far into the top ten. We already talked about how he needs to cut down the strikeouts (32.2% career), but he may not have that much improvement left in that category, considering his minor league numbers (28.7% career). The power looks real though – his ISO is already good (.175) and has the chance to get better, as he had better ISOs in the minors. An okay batting average and some home runs are on the way – Toronto currently has Jose Bautista and his lifetime .238 batting average penciled in for an outfield spot.

Carlos Guillen got some love in the comments thread, but is in the midst of a three-year decline in most of his categories and has averaged only 400 at-bats over the last two years. Now he’s the full-time left fielder according to his manager, so at least his role is defined. There was some good news last year when he came back – his ISO rebounded from a terrible 2008. If his BABIP hadn’t been terrible (.267), then he might have looked okay. Given 500 plate appearances, he could put together another year with a .800+ OPS and 20 or so home runs. Don’t pay full price, though, because of his brittleness.

Seth Smith is the younger, better talent than Guillen, but he has no defined role until Brad Hawpe leaves town. Right now, I’d rather pick Chase Headley or Chris Coghlan over Smith despite their relative lack of power next to the Rockies’ left field youngster. Headley and Coghlan have a starting role on their teams, no matter what their faults are.

Headley and Coghlan both have different faults, but are promising. Headley’s name isn’t as prominent right now, so he’ll probably return a better value by providing more power at a cheaper price. The knock on him used to be the strikeouts (27% career), but he made good strides last year in that department (24.5%). The former third baseman is a little puzzling – he has a high career BABIP (.340) that was formerly propped up by his line drive rates (24.5% in 2008) and slipped to .326 this year with a poor line drive rate (16.5%). His xBABIP last year was .317 last year and .326 for his career, so he has been slightly lucky, but not extremely so. The fact remains that his career away split (.301/.368/.437 in 492 ABs) shows his upside, which is worth chasing.

Coghlan is coming off a great debut, and is worth a mid-round pick should Dan Uggla move on and vacate second base in Florida. He’s certainly a good hitter – his walk rate (9.5%) and strikeout rate (15.3%) were both great and also in line with his minor league work. The speed is there (72 stolen bases and 18 caught stealings in the minor leagues) so despite his poor rate last year (62% success rate), he should be good for the 20 stolen bases James predicts, if not more as he learns the nuances of major league pitchers. Just don’t go expecting more power, his minor league .153 ISO probably presents his upside (.139 last year). If his Rookie of the Year hardware doesn’t zoom him up in drafts (past where a .300-hitting 10/25 player should go), he’s obviously a good player wherever he plays.