Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
We are just four weeks away from Opening Day. Today we will continue our evaluation of talent with a stop at the DH position.
While in most fantasy leagues any player can serve as a designated hitter, an American League DH can play only that one position. Because of the restriction, selecting a DH early on is a rarity in most leagues. Let Vladimir Guerrero be that one exception.
A few players -- like Michael Young, Jorge Posada, Adam Lind and Luke Scott -- will play enough games in the field to stay eligible and therefore are not listed as a DH-only hitter.
Vladimir Guerrero, Baltimore (ADP 105) - Guerrero has been a full-time DH for a few years now, playing the outfield only when his American League team is playing in a National League city. In 2010, that meant he started 16 games in the outfield for Texas, which kept him position eligible. He's 36 years old with bad knees and he might not get the outfield time in this season. "Vlad" rebounded nicely after a subpar final season in Anaheim with 29 HR and 115 RBI for the Rangers. He'll be with his third team in three seasons, but the Camden Yards ballpark should be almost as friendly as Arlington, and Guerrero should be a solid choice around the sixth or seventh round.
David Ortiz, Boston (ADP 141) - In the loaded Red Sox lineup, Ortiz gets plenty of opportunities to hit with base runners. And in 2010, after a slow April, Ortiz did just that and topped 100 RBI for the sixth time in eight years. The team has added even more offensive talent, so Ortiz should continue to be a viable fantasy option and is certainly worth a 14th-round selection.
Manny Ramirez, Tampa Bay (ADP 194) - Ramirez will be a full-time DH for the first time in his career and it will be interesting to see how he performs under those conditions. It's a lot harder than many people think. When you have a bad at-bat, you sit around for a couple innings thinking about it instead of being distracted by playing in the field. Ramirez hasn't been the same since his drug suspension and I'd probably stay away from him this season, or at least until you see whether the DH experiment works.
Hideki Matsui, Oakland (ADP 307) - He's the consummate professional hitter, so even though he has a weak lineup around him and he's playing half his games in a pitcher's paradise, Matsui can still give you some value. We're talking .280 with around 15-20 HR and 80 RBI.
Jim Thome, Minnesota (ADP 265) - Thome saw a lot more action than anybody expected in 2010, primarily due to the injury to Justin Morneau, and put up solid statistics - 25 HR, 59 RBI, .283 batting average in 276 at-bats. If we are to assume that Morneau is ready to go at the start of the season, Thome will have to share DH time with Jason Kubel and have a very limited upside.
Travis Hafner, Cleveland (ADP 478) - Hafner hasn't had good fantasy value for about three seasons, and on a weak-hitting team like the Indians, that isn't likely to change. He hit 13 homers last season, eight of which were solo shots. I'd look elsewhere.
Jack Cust, Seattle (ADP 402) - Cust goes from one pitcher-friendly park to another - talk about bad planning. From 2007-2009, he gave you help in one category - home runs, hitting 25 or more with a career batting average of .245 and six steals in nine seasons. Last year he managed only 13 homers, which left him sitting in your league's free agent list unwanted. That trend should continue in 2011.
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