Fantasy Baseball 2013: Ryan Raburn is a Deep Sleeper

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This morning, like any other morning, I was going through my regular routine. I got out of bed, stumbled to the kitchen, grabbed my coffee, and made my way to the living room to share my insight with the world. That is when it happened. I saw my living room filled with balloons and I realized that it again, is that day when everything comes up Jordan and people let you indulge yourself. It’s my birthday.

For obvious reasons, I try to limit my egotistical, narcissistic banter to players that have a wide-ranging appeal to readers and fantasy baseball players. However today, it’s all about me. I am going to make a case for one of the most maligned players in MLB in recent memory, and once again, potentially drag you down the wrong path. That player, of course, is former Detroit Tigers infielder/ outfielder and current Cleveland Indians utility man, Ryan Raburn.

Now anyone who has read my work over the past several years knows that I am a massive Raburn fan. He not only played for the favorite team (Tigers,) but also was, and is my favorite player. While you may think I’m about to get irrational and it’s time to click to the next article, there is actually a lot of concrete evidence that points to Raburn being a fantasy baseball asset in 2013.

For Raburn, it all starts with the power. Between 2009 and 2011, Raburn averaged 15 homers per year and did so with less than 420 at-bats in each season. While this obviously is not elite level production, keep in mind that he will undoubtedly go undrafted in most standard leagues this season. Considering his second base eligibility, his power could be a major coup for your fantasy team.

While people have railed on Raburn for his average and defense, his numbers across the board have actually been pretty solid. He’s a career .256 hitter and has posted years of .359 and .340 on base percentages. He also scores runs at a decent clip for someone who only received intermittent playing time. While these numbers are nice, there is clearly only one reason that you draft Raburn, and that is for the power.

As much as I would have loved to see Raburn succeed while he was in Motown, sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs to blossom. I truly think a fresh start was exactly what he needed to get back his old form. He also figures to get regular playing time in Cleveland. Their current outfield consists of Michael Brantley, Drew Stubbs, and Nick Swisher, which are not exactly world-beaters. He also should be in the mix at third and DH.

Raburn’s struggles have been well documented. He is a slow starter and had an absolutely miserable 2012. I cannot dispute those claims. The past is the past, and sometimes we need to have short memories as to not overlook a player’s true fantasy value.

Despite his faults Raburn remains pure upside. How many second base eligible players have the ability to hit 25 homers for you this season? He is cheap and versatile. Your roster has room for an occasional one-trick pony.

There truly is a lot to like about Ryan Raburn going into this season, you just have to think outside the box. My prediction for Raburn is 124 games, 455 at-bats, 21 homers, 65 RBI’s and a .265 batting average. That may not be a line that is useful in standard leagues, but one that is certainly an asset in deeper leagues.

Follow Jordan on Twitter for fantasy news and notes, and pictures of ballon-filled living rooms.


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