The (Always) Underrated Torii Hunter

By Eriq Gardner
In 2009, only four players in baseball put up at least 90 RBIs, 16 SBs, and a .299 AVG — Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, and Torii Hunter.
In
fantasy baseball, we’re always looking for the player who can provide
all-around value. To most people, this means a guy with both power and
speed. Every year, we’ll see about a dozen guys crack 20/20. Last year,
there were 14 of them. 

Picture 37.png
For
my money, though, the rarest commodity in baseball is a player who can
both steal bases and drive in runs. After all, speedy players usually
hit at the top of the lineup and have only limited RBI opportunities.
Last year, there were only four batters who drove in 100 and swiped 20
bags. 
Torii Hunter came very close last
season — and would have made it happen if not for a strained oblique
that limited him to 451 at bats. If it wasn’t for missed playing time,
Hunter would have posted above-average totals in all five of the main
statistical categories. As it was, Hunter only fell short in the
category of runs.

Most people might not
appreciate the kind of pace that Hunter was on last season. Sporting a
slugging percentage (.508) that was greater than players such as Jayson
Werth
, Carlos Lee, and Matt Kemp, Hunter may well have flirted
with 30 HR with an extra 100-150 AB. Here’s a look at how he performed
against several outfielders going well ahead of him in drafts right now
who finished last season with relatively similar OPS numbers:

Picture 36.png

Picture 34.pngWhen
projecting Hunter’s 2010 season, there’s another consideration
to make. Besides having the rare ability to provide speed and the
opportunity to knock in runs, Hunter is one of only about 20 players in
baseball with 25-HR power and the ability to make contact with the ball
in at least 80 percent of his at-bats. Combined with the ability to run
quickly to first base after the ball is hit into play, this typically
translates to a pretty solid average. Last year, Hunter finished at
.299. Bloomberg Sports projects .289 for the upcoming season.

He’s
ranked 46th on the B-Rank scale, yet is being drafted well below his
projections. That’s nothing new. Hunter has a pretty long history of
being underrated in drafts year after year, and at age 34, few see him
as having the kind of statistical upside offered by many youngsters.
But is that assessment accurate? A player who provides power, speed,
RBI production, and average? Those kinds of players are a very rare
breed. Just ask Pujols, Hanley, and Braun.
For more information on Torii Hunter and other speed-RBI options, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kit.

1 Comment

Torii iis great, but gettiing a liitle creaky. But worth having– iits niice to fiield guys you can root for instead of miisanthrope red ***** like Jason Kendall, Eriik Bedard and Jeff Reardon.

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