Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

There’s a point in every fantasy draft where you select someone way too high for their value, or bid way too much money for them because you believe that this year, this goddamned year, the dude is going to bust out and rake his way to fantasy gold. This continues year after year with the same player, until you finally force yourself to stop drafting him, which is precisely the time when he busts out, rakes, and becomes fantasy gold. Then the cycle begins anew with someone else, except this time you will also probably overpay for the dude who you used to draft way too early and say something along the lines of “I had him every year before last year – I was just too early on him” during the draft.

I am an expert at this.

I have done this, in order, with Gio Gonzalez, Billy Butler, and Edwin Encarnacion (this one hurts the most – I had him four years in a row before he busted out, raked, and became fantasy gold last year. I swear I was just too early on him). This year, my fantasy krytponite will be Chris Young.

You are probably laughing right now. As well you should. Dude is batting .191 and kind of looks lost at the plate a lot of the time. He is owned in 0.8% of ESPN fantasy leagues. The majority of Chris Young at bats go like this:

  1. Fastball taken for a strike
  2. Fastball swung at and missed
  3. Slider away, swung at and missed

I am an Oakland fan, so I have seen this a lot. But hold on, because there is more here than meets the eye. Everyone has forgotten what this guy used to do when he was with the DBacks. He was almost a perennial 20/20 player, and no one has ever owned him for his .AVG, as he is a career .236 hitter. Everything this year is in line with his career numbers: SO% is the same, Line Drive % is the same, and his BB% is even up a little bit. Then what gives?

Two things: his switch to the AL, and his BABIP. The former is harder to quantify, but needless to say, an entire league of pitchers who you’ve never seen before are going to give you a bit of trouble and require an adjustment period. The latter is easy to quantify: his BABIP is .206, which is super low. Even though he has a career BABIP lower than league average, due to him being a hitter who hits a lot of fly balls, he has been very, very unlucky this year. The Oakland A’s know this, so they keep plugging him into the lineup. And, every once and a while, you get reminded of what he can do:

It’s easy to forget what a nice stroke C.Y. has when he gets going, and what sort of plus power he can flash. This is a guy who just last April smacked 5 HRs with an OPS of 1.397 before getting injured running into the CF wall making a spectacular catch. That shoulder injury derailed his season and sapped his power, and the DBacks gave up on him, as the DBacks like to do with young talent. Oakland got this guy for Cliff Pennington, or Chad Pennington, or whatever the hell his name is – they basically got Chris Young for a bag of old scuffed up baseballs is what I’m saying.

There is a more sinister form of fantasy kryptonite that plagues us managers in deeper leagues, like my 12 team with 5 keepers – we are looking for¬†production in the bottom of the barrel , some little edge with a sleeper who might allow us to stick the knife in the guy we’re playing that week. So we pick up and drop guys like Chris Young over and over again and ride hot streaks.

Chris Young is that knife. He’s heating up, folks, mark my words, and he’s going 20/20 again this year. There’s no doubt in my mind. And when he does, I will be laughing at the top of that great fantasy summit with title in hand. Because it is guys like Chris Young that help you win titles, not obvious names, like¬†Gio Gonzalez, Billy Butler, and Edwin Encarnacion. May they return to the land of fantasy oblivion, never to be drafted by me again.