2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview: DH

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Ugh…DH’s. Is there anything less thrilling when it comes to fantasy baseball? They’re like the equivalent to kickers when it comes to talking about fantasy football. Still, you have a utility spot to fill in your lineup and there is some power to be had here, which means we’re apt to discuss some kind of approach to drafting designated hitters.

So here it goes: Avoid them if at all possible. That’s right, forget about them and don’t, under any circumstances, draft Big Papi in the top 20. It makes no sense to spend a high pick on a hitter with deteriorating power who is just as likely to miss a chunk of the season again as he is to hit 30 home runs.

Look, we mean no harm to Ortiz – he’s still a quality player and he could have a bounce back year. But chances are Jim Thome will produce just as many home runs and you can have him much later in the draft.

Of course, the question is, do you even want to select Thome, or any other DH for that matter? By the time you need to address your utility position, your starting roster should be set and you will have already started to stockpile pitchers. You can take a guy like Thome or maybe roll the dice on a Travis Hafner rebound, but understand that, in most leagues, any DH you select is going to eat up your util slot since they don’t qualify at any other position, which diminishes your overall roster flexibility. Why not save that utility slot for another OF or a corner infielder, someone who can fill several different spots on your roster and someone who, quite frankly, could be more valuable to you? Then you can get back to finding the next Tim Lincecum or cashing in on one of the many prospects you’ve already targeted as sleepers.

The one thing you will find at DH is power, which will make some of these guys appealing if you find yourself a little weak in that department on draft day. Below are your best bets to give you a fair amount of dingers and RBI’s this season. Don’t worry about what they’ll produce in terms of an average; if you select a DH sniffs .280 this year, drop to your knees and thank the fantasy gods for the gift.

Jim ThomeJim Thome, Chicago White Sox
Sure he’s old and fragile, but Thome may also produce 35 home runs this year while batting cleanup for the Chi Sox. Bonus: You can also have him in the later rounds while some chump over values Big Papi.

Pat Burrell, Tampa Bay Rays
Burrell slumped in the second half of last year after posting 23 home runs before the All-Star break, but a change of scenery could do him a lot of good and he could zero in on a 30-home run season.

Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Ah, the young sleeper of the group; Butler posted a .444 slugging percentage over the final three months of the season last year and at only 23, he has a ton of potential. He’s an unknown risk, but he could be a high reward type of player, capable of blasting 25-plus home runs.

Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins
Kubel will see plenty of time at DH for the Twins this year and could produce 20-25 home runs after hitting a career-best of 20 in 2008. He also might chip in 85 RBI hitting in a lineup that consists of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Crede.

Gary Sheffield, Detroit Tigers
Shef has to stay healthy, but he hits in a solid lineup (as long as Curtis Granderson stays healthy that is) and could be in store for a bounce back season. He’s aging, but he represents good value later in the draft and might have one more 20-home run season left in him.

Below our official ranking of designated hitters.

1. David Ortiz, BOS
2. Jim Thome, CHW
3. Travis Hafner, CLE
4. Pat Burrell, TB
5. Hideki Matsui, NYY
6. Billy Butler, KC
7. Jason Kubel, MIN
8. Gary Sheffield, DET
9. Rocco Baldelli, BOS
10. Frank Thomas, OAK
11. Kila Ka’aihue, KC
12. Cliff Floyd, SD
13. Hank Blalock, TEX
14. Juan Rivera, LAA
15. Ryan Garko, CLE

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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