Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
On Draft Day you could have gotten Torii Hunter, centerfielder for the Los Angeles Angels, with an 11th-round pick, but today he's one of the league's top fantasy outfielders and a candidate for the 2009 TSN Best Bargain Award.
Before the season began, Hunter's Average Draft Position (ADP) was a pedestrian 110, placing him among outfielders like Bobby Abreu and Lastings Milledge. But while those two have struggled (Milledge was sent to the minor leagues), Hunter has performed well above expectations.
Hunter has always been a solid offensive talent and a spectacular defensive centerfielder, but his 2009 hitting statistics may end up being the best since he became a full-time player in 2001.
From 2001-2008, an average season from Hunter was 83 runs, 147 hits, 25 HRs, 88 RBIs, 16 steals with a batting average of around .273. However, in 2009, he will likely surpass his average in every single fantasy category.
With Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels' biggest offensive weapon sidelined with a torn chest muscle between April 15 and May 24, Hunter carried the Angels on his back. Despite the absence of Guerrero's big bat, the Angels went 20-15 during that time and Hunter batted .313 with seven HRs, 32 RBIs and an OPS of .944.
He's been even better with the game on the line. In the seventh inning or later in games with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck, Hunter is hitting a slick .364 with an OPS of 1.197.
Although he still hasn't got the attention from the casual fan (he's just fourth in the 2009 AL All-Star balloting even behind a player having a mediocre season and currently on the disabled list - Josh Hamilton), he's certainly appreciated by all fantasy owners.
|2009 Hunter/Hamilton Batting Statistics
|Votes as of Tuesday, June 23, 2009 courtesy of MLB.com