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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: YASIEL PUIG OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Yeah him again.  Only three years into his major league career, Los Angeles Dodgers Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig already has run the gamut in terms of his previous statuses ranging from a top sleeper to a colossal bust.  Well after Puig pretty much went BUST in 2015, things flip around for 2016 in the views of this peanut stand for a number of reasons.  As always, let's dig in a bit deeper and find out why on earth we think Yasiel Puig makes for a decent sleeper pick for the second time in three years. 

As far as the sleeper label, the very rough 2015 campaign engineered by Puig (which included depressed numbers and numerous off the field issues), have made him a pariah to many in the fantasy baseball community.  With Puig's draft price expected to drop substantially this season, the end result is that the still talented slugger could yield some very interesting value for 2016.  Now before we go any further, let's revisit those ugly 2015 numbers:

.255
11 HR
38 RBI
30 R
3 SB
282 at-bats

A combination of injuries and poor behavior off the field kept Puig to only 282 at-bats last season and that alone helped crater his numbers to the point that it was tough even having him in the lineup when he was healthy.  While 11 home runs is a very good rate of power in those 282 at-bats, Puig struggled badly in some other areas that leave his future as an impact player in question.  Again now three full seasons into his career, the 19 home runs Puig hit as a rookie have been his high thus far, in addition to the 11 steals he gathered that season (matches in 2014 as well).  Alas, Puig has shown some horrific plate discipline as well, only getting much worse in 2015 when he struck out in 21.2 percent of his at-bats.  However on ability and numbers alone, there are signs of a big breakthrough coming real soon if Puig can keep his head on straight.

What we really like about Puig going forward is the fact that the .255 average he put up last season, while very disappointing, is looking like a major outlier for the guy.  Consider that Puig batted a very good .319 and a very solid .296 is first two seasons in the majors which paired up with BABIP's of .383 and .356 respectively.  Those tow BABIP numbers are very high and in the very lucky range but guys with very good speed like Puig often beat the pull there toward he neutral .300 range.  Puig's BABIP last season?  A very low for him .296.  Thus it stands to reason Puig will be back over .300 in the BABIP department this season and that means a rise in his batting average will come as well to as high as the .280 range which is a nice number. 

Now for the power.  Again Pugi's 11 home runs in just 282 at-bats last season was a very good rate that would have had him close to the 30 long ball mark if he had gotten 500 at-bats.  Puig has always been lauded for his natural power and that looks like it really is developing in a big way as he reaches his prime at the age of 25.  While we won't say Puig will hit 30 home runs, 25 is entirely possible if he stays on the field to go along with 75-plus RBI and 80-plus runs. 

Finally, Puig stole just 3 bases last season but he has gone for 11 his first two years which is likely where he would have been near if he was more healthy.  He is not a burner by any means but Puig gives it a shot when it comes to stealing bases and so he can make the grade as a five-tool guy for this season for a very affordable draft price.

When you put it all together, Yasiel Puig is well worth checking out again in 2016 due to his depressed draft price and still present talent.  Of course the major red flag here are the off the field trouble that can take down any player and this makes Puig a very large risk if you do draft the guy.  Past Round 7, we will take the chance. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .277 19 HR 67 RBI 79 R 10 SB 

 

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