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Thursday, March 8, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: BRADLEY ZIMMER OUTFIELDER CLEVELAND INDIANS

As of this typing, Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton; who is all the rage right now coming off his big second-half lightbulb going on performance a year ago; is currently 60.3.  Cleveland Indians top outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer?  Try 214.7.  Why do I bring up both Buxton and Zimmer in the same piece?  Well when you break down their games, both guys have VERY similar offensive games almost across the board but yet are being drafted in different hemispheres.  Consider that both Buxton and Zimmer are known for big base stealing ability but also contact struggles that make them batting average liabilities.  While both guys are not pure thumpers, they each have emerging power as well.  Want more?  Both guys are first-round draft picks and both are nearly the same age as well (Buxton 24, Zimmer 25).  But again they are being drafted at wildly differing spots in early fantasy baseball drafts which seems kind of foolish when you break it down and considering neither guy has fully proven himself as a consistent offensive performer.

Now in terms of Zimmer, he had a nice debut in 2017 when he put up the following numbers before suffering a season-ending broken hand last September:

.241
8 HR
41 R
39 RBI
18 SB

Those numbers above came in just 332 at-bats and a split of 8/18 in the home run/stolen base categories look particularly impressive from the kid.  On the positive side, Zimmer can run like the wind and 30 steals should be in the ballpark if he can stay on the field consistently enough.  There also is some power as well and if he had gotten over 500 at-bats, 14-15 homers was very possible.  So in essence, we could be looking at a 15/30 campaign this season as long as Zimmer avoids injury and doesn't fall into a platoon where he sits out versus lefties.

On the negative side, Zimmer has some MAJOR contact problems as his nasty 29.8 K/9 showed with the Indians last season.  Even in the minors, Zimmer was a strikeout machine and hitting even .250 seems out of his reach if his numbers there don't improve.  That will take shine off the power/speed numbers for sure but still the overall picture is promising considering the tools that are in play with the kid.

In the end, you can say that Byron Buxton is the much more enticing and exciting investment and wouldn't get any argument from me.  However, you also can't argue that Zimmer may wind up the much better value.

2018 PROJECTION:  .235 11 HR 57 RBI 67 R 28 SB  


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