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Derrek Lee Finds New Fantasy Life in Pittsburgh After MLB Trade Deadline

If Derrek Lee’s Pirates debut Monday night is any indication of things to come, then you should be running to your fantasy league’s waiver wire and grab him while you can.  2-for-4 with 2 HR and 3 RBI?  Sounds like someone’s happy with his move to the Steel City.  If you’re looking for a boost from your corner infield spot, then Lee will certainly fit the bill.

Back in late June, once he returned from the bereavement list and was back at full health, I suggested that you pick up Lee from your waiver wire.  He was only owned in 31.7% of ESPN leagues, 27% in Yahoo, and, to me, seemed primed to get back on track and start producing at a much more acceptable level.  Lee then went on to hit 6 HR with 19 RBI in July, matching his combined production for the first three months of the season.  OK, so 3 RBI shy, but that’s just hair-splitting there.  His strikeout rate did increase and his rates weren’t the greatest in the world (although a .348 wOBA ain’t too shabby), but for use as a complementary power source, he was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Now in Pittsburgh, back in the NL Central where he recently spent more than six and a half seasons, Lee looks to continue his 2011 resurgence.  With the Pirates, Lee will continue to see regular playing time at first and bat cleanup with some decent protection behind him in Ryan Ludwick and Pedro Alvarez.  Perhaps knowing the pitching in the NL a little better, and the Central division for that matter, Lee will be able to raise that 6.8% walk rate and lower his 22.8% K-rate closer to his career averages which will subsequently help his batting average and OBP.  You’re also looking at a boost if/when his current .289 BABIP regresses towards his career average.

Lee is still owned in less than 50% of both ESPN and Yahoo leagues, so there is obviously still some chance of grabbing him in leagues with less than 14 teams.  And if you’re in an NL-only and you’re picking up talent from the league crossover trades this week, he should be at the top of your priority list.  The power potential just might be enough to give you that extra edge.

Coming back to the Orioles in the deal was minor league first base prospect Aaron Baker who is currently at the High-A level.  Baker was an 11th round draft pick out of Oklahoma State back in 2009 and has great raw power and sound defensive skills.  He’s got a fairly long swing through the strike zone which might need to be shortened up and he will need to work on his plate discipline in order to advance through the system, but his skill set dictates that he has the ability to do so.  He’s likely a few years off still, but if you play in a deep dynasty league and it won’t cost you anything to kick the tires on him, he may be worth a look.