Derrek Lee finished 21st in the MVP vote in 2008 on the heels of his .291/.361/.462 season for the NL Central-winning Chicago Cubs. But as impressive as that may be, Lee is a fringe fantasy starter in a 12-team mixed league.
In 2005, the idea that Lee would be a fringe starter just a few years later was absurd. That season he went .335-46-107 and seemingly had the world at his feet. But after signing a five-year contract in April of 2006, Lee suffered a right wrist injury that ruined his season and apparently robbed him of his power.
When he returned in 2007, Lee hit just 22 HR and his 12.6 percent HR/FB ratio was nearly half the total he posted in his big 2005 season of 23.7 percent. In 2008, many thought his power would return with him being further out from the wrist surgery. But Lee’s HR/FB ratio fell to 11.7 percent and his FB% fell to 33.7 percent, a career low.
What HR power Lee does possess at this point seems to be a Wrigley Field illusion. In the past two seasons, he’s hit 31 HR at home and just 11 in neutral road parks.
Lee enters 2009 as a 33-year old with limited power at a fantasy position that demands big HR and RBI numbers. In 2008, Lee had the 11th-best dollar value among first basemen, according to the RotoTimes Player Rater. Among those beneath him and ready to challenge him for a spot in the top 12 are Joey Votto, Carlos Pena, Chris Davis and Pablo Sandoval. Aubrey Huff and Jorge Cantu have first base eligibility, as well.