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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sleeper Alert: Akinori Otsuka

Today the Star Ledger mentioned that Akinori Otsuka could end up closing games for the Boston Red Sox, the Florida Marlins, or the Cleveland Indians if Eric Gagne proves he is healthy.

I took Otsuka in my own league because of this possible scenario. Best case is he gets traded to a team like one of these three with good offenses and pretty good pitching. He should get a lot of save opportunities there, and he is a great pitcher to boot.

If he doesn't get traded because Gagne can't prove he's healthy, Otsuka will be closing for the Rangers. Not as good as the Sox, but not bad either. He'd still get a bunch of save opportunities.

Otsuka's current Fantasy Score is 9.87, which would put him between Octavio Dotel and Huston Street. His K/9 has been dropping since his rookie year (7.09 in 2006) but he made up for it with a stellar BB/9 in 2006 (1.66). His K/9 could pop back up over 8, and his BB/9 could rise to around 3, but as long as he can keep his K/BB around 3 with no trips south of 2, he should be a great option that you can get for cheap. His career 49.6% Groundball Percentage also helps him out a great deal. If his K/9 were to get back around 9 and his BB/9 stayed around its 2006 level (a somewhat unlikely scenario), Otsuka would probably be one of the Top 5-7 closing options out there.

Take a flier on Akinori Otsuka in deeper leagues after the closers with job security are gone. There's a decent chance he'll wrack up the saves somewhere in 2007.

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