Matt Joyce, 2011 Deep Sleeper Candidate

The following is a profile of Matt Joyce, 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: 496.33
Others drafted around that time: Tyler Clippard, Kosuke Fukudome, Peter Bourjos
2011 Role: Platooned OF with potential to start
2010 Production: .241 AVG, 10 HR, 30 R, 40 RBI, 2 SB in 261 AB
My 2011 Prediction: .250 AVG, 25 HR, 75 R, 90 RBI, 10 SB (if he starts)

The long and winding road of Matt Joyce’s career has led him down many paths with the Tigers and Rays but none of those resulted in him being a starting outfielder yet.  Despite Carl Crawford‘s exit, the Rays’ acquisitions of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez may make it even harder for Joyce to get the playing time that he needs.  He is currently slated to be in a platoon situation this year but has a lot of power potential if he is able to get 500-600 AB.  He is 26 this season so he is still quite young with a fairly high ceiling.  In 322 games at AA and AAA levels, Joyce crushed 49 home runs and stole 21 bases.  While the speed isn’t what he is most touted for, the mighty bat he swings has always been reliable and trustworthy and would never steer you wrong.  In more simpler terms, his power is the real deal and he’s shown that at the MLB level too.

His batting average isn’t something to write home about but he did maintain a .275 average over a total of 519 minor league games.  He suffered from a poor average last season but had a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play, which can greatly affect batting average due to relative luck over a season) well below career norms which could indicate potential for returning closer to that .275 average this season.  But, given his huge strikeout rate (not quite Mark Reynolds-level but still strikes out a ton), it’s hard to put full faith in a huge boost to his average.

For points-based leagues that credit walks or roto leagues with OBP, there’s more of a bonus for Joyce as his nice walk rate offsets his poor batting average (he had a .360 OBP despite the .241 AVG last season).  All in all, Joyce has a lot of tools that could give you fantasy success from a very deep portion of your draft.  The main question is whether he’ll get the playing time to be able deliver for you.  Keep an eye on the outfield situation for the Rays over spring training and if there’s any indication of Joyce winning a starting job, jump all over him for 2011.  If he starts, he is almost a lock to deliver 25 HR’s and has the potential to steal 10-15 bases as well.  Depending on the depth of your league, it may be safe to just let him go undrafted until that point though given his extremely low average draft position.

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