Fantasy baseball must add: The Blue Jays OF no one is talking about
The Toronto Blue Jays have the best offense in baseball…and it’s not close. Going up-and-down their batting order, it is difficult to find an “easy-out”. I’ll give you 2B Ryan Goins, who is considered a defensive specialist and bats ninth. Other than Goins, you will struggle to find one.
The Blue Jays true pitcher-killer lineup features reigning MVP Josh Donaldson batting 2nd, Jose Bautista 3rd, Edwin Encarnacion 4th and Troy Tulowitzki 5th. This prevents pitchers from pitching around any guy in the Blue Jays lineup, and if they do, they will regret it.
This brings me to the reason for this column…Michael Saunders. The 29-year-old outfielder hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the last two seasons, playing in a grand total of 87 games during that stretch. But in this Toronto lineup he can become a hot commodity in fantasy baseball circles.
Batting 7th, Saunders will have many opportunities to bat with runners of-base creating the ability to drive in more runs than your typical bottom on the order bat. His deceptive speed, which allowed him to swipe 21 bags back in 2012, only adds to his value as the Blue Jays “third” outfielder.
Barring any type of injury, and that is not easy to say with Saunders, he can play in 130+ games and receive over 500 at-bats, not bad for a OF who is owned in less than 5% of all major fantasy baseball sites (ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports). While those at-bats do not necessarily guarantee production, when healthy, Saunders is a solid third outfielder in most fantasy formats. In 2012 with the Mariners, when he stole his career-high 21 bags, he slashed .247/.306/.432 with 19 home runs and 57 RBI. Those numbers show what he is capable of on the baseball diamond.
I’m not saying Saunders will be able to reproduce those 2012 numbers, but for the first time in a long time he’s in a situation that promotes fantasy value. Now you don’t want to drop a proven commodity for Saunders, but if you were hurt by the AJ Pollack injury, or like me, wonder if Jayson Werth will be able to regain his 2013 form, then Saunders could be the type of replacement to jump-start your fantasy team this early in the season.
In three games to start the year, Saunders is batting .250 with one home rune and three RBI. Not sold on Saunders? Be sure to monitor his situation moving forward, because eventually that 5% owned will begin to creep up more and more.