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Hafner, Wells offer short-term power boost
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The New York Yankees probably didn't want to sign Travis Hafner and trade for Vernon Wells, but circumstances made those acquisitions necessary.

The same should go for fantasy owners. Maybe you don't want to add Hafner or Wells, two guys who combined to hit .229 last season, but you might have to.

Circumstances like say, drafting Matt Kemp, Giancarlo Stanton or Buster Posey, who have a combined zero homers, might make acquiring Hafner or Wells necessary.

But, as the Yankees have found out, that's not so bad.

Hafner and Wells both offer great short-term power potential for a low cost. They both are available in 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite tying for the team lead with five homers.

With Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson out of the Yankees lineup, Hafner has served as the cleanup hitter in 10 of his 11 starts, and Wells has been the fifth hitter in 11 of his 15 starts.

Hafner is batting .349, and Wells upped his averaged to .310 with a 3-for-5 game Saturday.

There's a reason both players were so readily available this offseason.

Hafner has been plagued by injuries in each of the last five years and played just 429 games in that span. When he was on the field, he hit .259 with 59 home runs, so this explosion has really come out of nowhere.

The same is true for Wells, who hit just .222 with a .667 OPS over the last two seasons.

But both have something to prove, and the Yankees have a need for them to play every day early in the season.

Or nearly every day, in Hafner's case. New York has refrained from using Hafner against left-handed pitching after he hit .233 in 103 at-bats against them in 2011 and .197 in 61 at-bats against them last year.

The veteran DH has taken just six plate appearances against lefties this year, but he is 14-for-39 (.359) with three doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs against right-handers.

Of his 32 batted balls, eight were line drives, a line-drive rate of 25 percent, and he has displayed significant power on his flyballs, putting up a HR/FB of 35.7 percent. In his two best seasons (2005 and 2006), Hafner had line-drive rates above 20 percent and a HR/FB above 24 percent in both years.

Wells, meanwhile, has never been a line-drive hitter, which explains why his career BABIP is just .279. His line-drive rate this season is just 13.3 percent, but he is driving the ball significantly. Wells has a flyball rate of 48 percent and a HR/FB of 20.8 percent.

Hafner and Wells aren't long-term adds, but they could be useful while you're waiting on your stars. Interestingly, that's the same role they are playing for New York.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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