Originally written on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 11/1/11
Chicago_cubs_derrek_19a9
The hot stove season is upon us and we're only days away from the official start of an all-out free agent frenzy. Here's a look at nine free agent hitters that could have some sleeper value should they land in the right situation.

Note: Some text is taken from my 2012 Free Agent Primer series over at The Outside Corner. Player's 2012 age in parenthesis.

12-team Mixed leagues

Aaron Hill - 2B (30) – A change of scenery did the trick for Hill, who hit .315/.386/.492 with two home runs and five stolen bases in a very small sample of 142 plate appearances after joining the D-Backs. That was a very good impression to make, as Arizona is interested in bringing Hill back. However, they declined his $8M 2012 club option. Given his good contact skills and power/speed combo, there should be some decent demand for his services in this year’s second base free agent crop. Hill's line drive rates improved overall in 2011 and soared after leaving the Blue Jays. I'd love to see him back in hitter friendly Chase Field.

Kelly Johnson - 2B (30) – Johnson still hit for power (21 HR) and stole a few bases (16), but strikeouts became a big problem and aided his huge regression in AVG and OBP. Like Hill, Johnson saw better results after changing teams and leagues, hitting .270/.364/.417 with three home runs and three stolen bases in 132 plate appearances. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has always liked Johnson, which is one of the reasons he made the deal. Look for AA to try and bring Johnson back to Toronto in 2012, where his power numbers should hold true.

Edwin Encarnacion - 3B/1B (29) – I'm a gluten for punishment when it comes to certain players and E5 is one of them. While Encarnacion struggled mightily out of the gates last season, he picked up the pace big-time after the all-star break, hitting .291/.382/.504 with 11 home runs and seven stolen bases. Perhaps one season he'll put it all together. Perhaps that season is 2012. A late round pick is worth the risk. He'll try his luck in left field during winter ball, which could add more "versatility", or at least a chance for more at-bats.

Grady Sizemore - OF (29) - I took a look at Grady Sizemore today over at Fire Brand of the AL. If healthy (big IF), he could be a nice source of 25 or so homers, but the speed may not return.

Jason Kubel - OF - (29)- Kubel gets marked down a bit since he's not much of a defender, at all. He should be limited to signing with an American League team where he can DH, maybe playing a few games in the outfield here or there. Kubel's a solid enough hitter, capable of a line around .275/.335/.450 with 20-25 homers when healthy. I'd love to see him move away from Target Field, which has been murder on left-handed power hitters.

David DeJesus (32) - 2011 was a tough season for DeJesus. He put up career lows in AVG and OBP, but some of his struggles can be explained by a thumb injury for which he needed surgery on in 2010. Despite a down season at the plate, DeJesus continued to perform very well defensively, posting an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 7.5, mostly playing right field. Despite the down season, there should be a number of teams interested in his services. His .274 BABIP was the lowest of his career and, according to Fangraphs, there was very little change in his batted ball profile. There's a good chance he bounces back in 2012.

Deeper leagues

Ryan Doumit - C (31) – Doumit is not known for his defensive skills behind the plate, but he had a bounce back season at the plate in 2011 hitting .303/.353/.477 with eight home runs in 236 plate appearances. His AVG was helped at least somewhat by a .331 BABIP, but he has the ability when healthy to hit around 15 home runs with a .275 or better AVG should he land with a team willing to give him 450 or so at-bats.

Derrek Lee - 1B (36) – Despite a continued regression, Lee still pounded out 19 home runs while holding a league average OBP. He battled some injuries, but hit .337/.398/.584 with seven home runs in a small sample of 113 plate appearances after joining the Pirates. If he can land with a team that will give him some time at DH, which might keep him a bit more healthy, he could certainly hit .270 with 20-plus homers. Keep an eye out for reports on the left wrist that he injured in September.

Nate McLouth - OF (30) - It's been two years since McLouth's breakout 2009 season in which he posted a .352 OBP, hit 20 home runs and stole 19 bases. Injuries have taken a huge toll on him over the last two seasons. He's still an injury risk, but he also hasn't posted a walk rate lower than 11.5 percent over the last three years. If he can stay healthy, he could bring some surprise production to a team willing to give him a chance.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bills GM denies report of going ‘rogue’ by cutting Fred Jackson

Mets, Scott Boras clashing over Matt Harvey’s innings limit

TJ Ward on suspension appeal: ‘My last name’s not Brady’

Jerry Jones on Brady ruling: ‘I’m ready for us to play football’

Report: Jim Harbaugh's 'Summer Swarm' tour cost $211K

Three injured when bolt falls from roof of Lucas Oil Stadium

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Utah beats Michigan 24-17, ruins Jim Harbaugh’s debut

Patriots keep Tom Brady excitement close to vest

Wayne happy about Brady verdict: 'That's my quarterback'

Markieff Morris on Twitter: ‘My future will not be in Phoenix’

Jonathan Kraft on asking for draft picks: 'Never say never'

Redskins charge non-season ticket holders $50 to use will call

Rob Gronkowski set to launch ‘Gronk’s Hot Sauce’

Terrell Owens' wife explains what is holding up divorce

Under-the-radar MLB rookies on the rise

Pats were prepared to raise Brady banner instead of SB one

Daughter unimpressed by dad playing golf with Tiger Woods

Best and worst surprises of NFL preseason

Tim Tebow shines in Eagles’ final preseason game

Minnesota loses against TCU, but shows it belongs

Trevone Boykin’s Heisman bid off to rocky start against Minnesota

Michigan lost their opener, but showed signs of improvement

Aaron Rodgers on Brady ruling: ‘It’s a good day for the players’

Jim Harbaugh uses Seahawks play card and Seattle loves it

First drive of Jim Harbaugh Era in Michigan ends in interception

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Five unique CFB games to watch this weekend

Be careful what you wish for, Jay Gruden

Ryan taking leap of faith with Bills

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker