Times are already tough for some fantasy owners despite being just a few days into the fantasy baseball season (I’m looking at you dumb-ass Ryan Braun owners). Yet even if you did squander away a high draft pick or or a bounty of auction dollars on an admitted PED user, there is hope. Cheap power exists on most free agent piles, and his name is Chris Colabello. Yeah he’s a 30-year-old who toiled in the independent circuit until 2012. And yes, his team not-wanted him so bad that they tried sending him to South Korea this offseason. He’s owned in only two-percent of Yahoo! leagues because fantasy owners have either A) never heard of him or B) think his early season success is a giant fluke. I can’t go guaranteeing Colabello will be a fantasy force for the remainder of 2014, but there are enough interesting factors that make him worth a look in fantasy leagues (especially deeper formats).
For starters, he’s shown pretty good power in his short pro career. Particularly impressive is the .287 Isolated Power (ISO) and 24 HRs in 391 Triple-A plate appearances last year. Granted, he came up to the bigs late in 2013 and posted a modest .150 ISO while also being exposed as a BA liability who strikes out a lot (.194 BA and 32.0 K%). If you think his major-league flailing in 2013 is a true indication of what’s to come this season for Colabello, then there’s probably nothing I can say to sway your opinion. Yet keep in mind that despite his shortcomings at the show last year, he still rocked an elite 30.4 Home Run to Fly Ball Ratio (HR/FB), so his raw power at least remained intact.
The terrible average last year in the majors was the function of too many strikeouts, an insane ground ball rate (63.7 GB%), and an overall weak batted ball profile highlighted by a pathetic 13.7 Line Drive Percentage (LD%) and 17.4 Infield Fly Ball Percentage (IFFB%). That type of peripheral performance is the kind that doesn’t stick in the major leagues for very long, and if Colabello reverts to his 2013 big league “production,” then he’ll be wishing he took that South Korean money because homeboy will be sitting on the unemployment line here in the states.
Color me optimistic, but I think it will be pretty hard for Colabello to stink up the joint as bad as he did last year in the majors. The strikeouts will likely still be pretty high, but if he can cut down on them just a little bit while also cutting down on the grounder and upping his line drives (both of which should be a guarantee as his rates from last year are as bad as you will see in the bigs), then he could at least pull himself up to the .240-.250 BA range. That may not sound like an attractive player, but if he keeps hitting bombs at the insane HR/FB rates that he’s been posting, then 25-30 HRs is not out of the question. He’s hitting in the middle of Minnesota’s lineup and has no real threats to his playing time as long as he continues to bash (sorry, but the only thing Jason Kubel is a “threat” to is a Long Island Ducks player’s roster spot). If you have a borderline roster-worthy player sitting on your team and are in need of some power, Colabello is definitely a name to consider.