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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Analyzing Mike Moustakas' fantasy value

In fantasy baseball, I tend to avoid playing rookies as if I'm LeBron James standing on the perimeter, pretending not to be noticed by a teammate during the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

Mike Moustakas, like teammate Eric Hosmer before him, is making me question that philosophy.

The Royals' rookie third season entered 2011 ranked as the No. 9 prospect by Baseball America. He got off to a slow start in Triple-A this year, batting .229 in April, but rebounded to hit .287 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 223 at-bats.

That prompted a call to Kansas City, and he's 3-for-10 with three runs scored and a homer in his first three contests.

By now, he's been scooped up in almost every league. But if you're in a mixed league, you might be torn on whether or not to start him.

If so, consider the following:

-- Of all the eligible third basemen in leagues, only seven players have hit nine or more home runs.

-- One is the Braves' Martin Prado, who is an outfielder. One is the Tigers' Jhonny Peralta, who is a starting shortstop. One is Jose Bautista, who is a Blue Jays outfielder and the early leader for 2011 fantasy MVP.

-- Another player included among the seven: the Orioles' Mark Reynolds, who is batting .203 with 65 strikeouts in 207 at-bats.

It's safe to stay, then, that third base isn't as strong as it's been in years' past.

If you need a power boost, start Moustakas. If you have a quality third baseman and don't have a very good bat in your utility spot, start Moustakas.

In a combined 484 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A last season, he hit .332 with 36 homers (which tied for the lead in all of the minors) and 124 RBI.

In 1,736 career at-bats down on the farm (roughly three full seasons), he batted .282 with 84 homers, 335 RBI, 281 runs and an .840 OPS.

In a combined 486 at-bats in Class AAA since 2010, he struck out 69 times in 486 at-bats -- a very un-Reynolds-like average of one K per seven at-bats.

Moustakas should hit in the .280 range with power.

At third base this season, that should be enough.

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