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Key Stats: Only two outfielders had at least 20 home runs and 30 steals last season. They were Alex Rios and Drew Stubbs. Only one of those players is getting absolutely no respect from CBS or ESPN.

Stubbs sort of came out of nowhere, but he was the 46th best player in fantasy in September of 2009. If a guy is in his mid-20s, was a former first round pick, and has a month like he did to close the year two seasons ago, we can’t just dismiss it. Yet he was dismissed last year, and he’s being dismissed again this year. This guy was ranked 65th overall last season. For some reason many of the publications are ranking him a full 100 spots below that value to start this season. At the same time this publication and Fox Sports disagree. Given the large descripancy on Stubbs, he’s going to be a complete wild card in all drafts.

Skeptics Say: While the 22 home runs look good, Stubbs only hit 19 doubles last year. That’s what caused his OPS to be a humble .773. Given his speed, you would have to figure that many of those doubles weren’t exactly crushed either. The fact that he struck out almot 33% of the time isn’t good either. It will be hard for the Reds to justify putting a guy that is more than 3 times more likely to strikeout than draw a walk up toward the top of the lineup.

One other thing to consider when selecting Stubbs is that he is the kind of outfielder that needs to be put in and out of the lineup a lot. He is streaky and clearly a weaker hitter away from home.

Peer Comparison: Nelson Cruz is ranked much higher than Stubbs by every publication listed below. He is ranked higher here as well, but I don’t think the gap between these two players is great at all. For one thing if you were worried about which player is the greater risk, I think it’s Cruz. Cruz has never played in more than 128 games in one season (that is like missing more than a month of action), did not show that he deserved to be an Opening Day starter until he was 29, and may force Ron Washington to exercise more caution with him on the basepaths with his hamstring history.

As it were, if Cruz did stay healthy, for 150 games last season (the same amount that Stubbs played in) he was on pace for 24 steals and 30 home runs. Given the choice between those numbers and Stubbs’ 30 steal and 22 home run, I’d probably take Stubbs’ numbers since steals are harder to come by.

Cruz and Stubbs are both capable of carrying and tanking your fantasy teams. Stubbs was ranked 8th during the month of September last season, but hit just .186 in the first month. Likewise, Cruz had 7 home runs in the first 11 games, hit none in the next 14 games, 3 in his next 5 games, and then just 1 in his next 24 games. Streaky hitters aren’t for everyone, and depending on your managing style you may want to back away from both players. If you have to take one, I’m taking Stubbs based on how much you will have to pay to get him.

Lineup Outlook: Many people have come out and said that Joey Votto can’t be that good again. I think he’ll be close to as good. His BABIP was .361 which was a little high, but not much better than his career BABIP of .353. The best part about Votto’s game for Stubbs owners is his on-base percentage which should remain above .400 next year, so Stubbs will get RBI opportunities. I’m not sure how long Scott Rolen can continue to last as the team’s number four hitter between injuries and ability at his age, so look for Stubbs to climb up the batting order perhaps as the season roles along. I would look for Stubbs to hit 6th with Paul Janish/Edgar Renteria and Ryan Hannigan/Ramon Hernandez hitting behind him.

What They’re Saying: Yahoo: #19 Outfielder & #77 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #42 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of #169 Overall; John Halpin of Fox Sports: #75 Overall; RotoChamp: #177 Overall

Projection: The home runs could go down a little since his fly ball rate seemed high last year, but it’s tough to tell for sure given that it was his first full year.
74 R 19 HR 83 RBI 37 SB .260 AVG .785 OPS

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