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Travis Snider: 2011 Fantasy Sleeper

So it’s the end of the draft and you feel like you could use another outfielder. You see some familiar names: Raul Ibanez, Magglio Ordonez and Alfonso Soriano. I’ll draft one these guys you think to yourself.

But here’s a better idea: Draft Travis Snider instead.

After spending parts of three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Snider heads into the 2011 season as the team’s unquestioned starting right fielder. Still just 23 years old, the former first round pick is on the cusp of justifying his once top prospect status.

Power is Snider’s calling card. In 612 career major league at-bats he has slugged 25 home runs. Last year he smacked 14 homers in only 298 at-bats, good for an AB/HR ratio of 21.3. To put that in perspective, Snider hit home runs at a more frequent rate than Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley.

Snider’s ISO last year was an impressive .208, which was better than Braun, Ramirez and Utley and just .01 less than former home-run king Prince Fielder.

We know Snider can hit for power, but will he be a drain on your batting average? The answer is no. While he batted only .255 last year, it wasn’t for lack of solid contact. Nearly one quarter (24.3%) of his hits were line drives, which ranked third among players with at least 300 plate appearances. Snider is also a career .302 hitter in the minor leagues, with a career .339 batting average in Triple-A so the track record is there. And even though Snider is a lefty, there’s no need to worry about how he’ll fare against southpaws. Last year he hit left-handed pitchers nearly as well as he did right-handers.

If you’re not quite a believer in Snider’s talents just yet, check out how he finished his season in the month of September: .304 AVG| 13 R | 6 HR | 9 RBI | 2 SB.

I expect Snider’s strong finish last season to carry over to this year. With another year of experience and a full season of at-bats under his belt he’s destined to become a good source of power that won’t hurt your batting average in the process. The RBI opportunities will be there as well with Rajai Davis, Aaron Hill, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind hitting in front of him. And he might even steal a few bases.

As you approach the end of your draft, remember there’s little reason to draft an aging player with a declining skill set over a young player like Snider who is on the verge of breaking out.

2011 Fantasy Projection

.279 AVG | 72 R | 26 HR | 81 RBI | 7 SB

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About the author: George graduated with a degree in Journalism, but instead of walking at his graduation, he walked down the aisle at his wedding. He’s been playing fantasy baseball for over a decade and his interest and knowledge in the sport is as big and growing as his eyebrows are bushy…and growing. (@BaseballProf)

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