The fantasy career of Michael Cuddyer has been nothing but average. A lifetime .272 hitter with averages of 20 homeruns, 82 RBI and 86 runs makes for a pretty average fantasy baseball commodity. His last two years with the Twins were, well, still pretty average. However, considering he spent those two years in the pitcher-friendly Target Field, where batter statistics drop significantly, he could have actually had a decent stat line. In 2009, the Twins’ last year at the Metrodome, Cuddyer hit .276 with 32 home runs, 94 RBI and 93 runs and when the Twins moved to Target Field, Cuddyer averaged a similar .273 average with 23 home runs, 88 RBI and 93 runs. So even though these numbers are pretty similar, they tell me that Cuddyer has actually improved.If you take a look at the transitions of other Twins players like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Denard Span from the Metrodome to Target Field, you can see how dramatically their numbers dropped while Cuddyer’s didn’t. So, while Cuddyer’s numbers for the last few years don’t really show an improvement, the fact that he maintained them from the Metrodome to Target Field does.
Another factor in making Cuddyer a fantasy sleeper this year is his trade to the Rockies, who play at the fantasy behemoth of baseball parks, Coors Field. In the last ten years, Coors Field has been ranked in the top-five in home runs seven times and has been ranked in the top-three five times. And take a look at the Rockies home and away stats the last five years. On the road, the Rockies batted .244 with 375 home runs, 1623 RBI, and 1,706 runs and at home the Rockies batted .291 with 476 home runs, 2,176 RBI and 2,288 runs. That is a monstrous difference of .044 in average, 101 home runs, 553 RBI and 582 runs. No other ball park in the MLB can boast such significant differences. Cuddyer will most definitely increase his fantasy value hitting at Coors Field. I am predicting him to have a career year in 2012, somewhere along the lines of a .305 average, 35 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs.
Also, in most fantasy baseball formats Cuddyer holds eligibility for every position except shortstop and catcher. (Cuddyer even holds a 0.00 career ERA, pitching one inning for the Twins in 2011, but I don’t see that ever happening again) This increases his value even more, giving you the opportunity to use him to fill almost any hole in your lineup. If his second base eligibility holds up, which it most likely will, I have him ranked third, right behind Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia. Drafting a third ranked second baseman at his current average draft position will be the steal of the draft. So given Cuddyer’s stats from the last few years at the Metrodome and Target Field, his trade to the hitter-friendly Coors Field and his second base eligibility, don’t wait to pull the trigger on Cuddyer in your draft. He will be the sleeper of the year.