The following is a profile of Ryan Raburn, one of my 2011 fantasy baseball deep sleeper candidates (affectionately called narcos). For more information on the thought process behind the narcos, please visit the introductory post on this topic.
Average Draft Position: 324.54
Others drafted around that time: Rafael Soriano, Hideki Matsui, Chase Headley
2011 Role: Likely starting OF
2010 Production: .280 AVG, 15 HR, 54 R, 62 RBI, 2 SB in 371 AB
My 2011 Prediction: .275 AVG, 30 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI, 5 SB (if he starts)
Raburn is the only player to be on the narco list in 2010 and make a return trip for 2011 as a possible sleeper candidate again. He’s going to be 30 years old at the start of the season so this isn’t a long-term keeper that you’ll want to hold onto forever. However, he’s still got a ridiculous bat that finally will get the chance to prove itself this season it seems. He was slated to to be the starter in 2010 but the Tigers signed Johnny Damon instead at the last minute. Raburn still was able to produce at a peak rate when he did get on the field though and should continue that this year as a starter.
Combining 2009 and 2010, Raburn hit for a .285 average with 31 HR, 7 SB, 98 R and 107 RBI over 632 AB. If you put that into a single season, he’s a top 25 fantasy player. It’s no fluke either if you look at his minor league numbers. He had 1330 AB at the AAA level and if you convert those AB down to the same scale of 632 AB then he had a .274 average with 30 HR, 18.5 SB, 101 R and 106 RBI which is eerily similar to his MLB numbers. So, over 2000 AB in AAA and the majors, he’s certainly provided a large sample size of consistently good production.
Raburn is being drafted at nearly the same spot he was last year but he is all but assured a starting spot this year. His age may scare people off as they don’t want to expect a breakout year from a 30 year old however Raburn’s already broken out and has just needed a chance to start. I like Raburn a lot this year at his current draft spot. He’s a nice bench OF to have on your team in a deep league who could easily break into your starting lineup when he gets hot. If he somehow loses the starting OF job on the Tigers to Brennan Boesch then you can pass on him but let’s hope that this is the year he finally gets his due.
Also: He played 18 games at 2B last year so may have eligibility there in your fantasy leagues. If so, jump all over him at an even earlier spot as he could be huge as a fantasy 2B.