Next up, we have the award for Who’s Most Likely to Be the Mark Reynolds of 2010? The camera finds Chris Davis in the audience, grasping his Mom’s hand. The camera pans to Mat Gamel, who’s fumbling with his drink. Finally, the camera lands on Ian Stewart seated next to a mini donkey. And the winner is… Well, dur. You see the title of the post. First, let’s see the “con” coincidences, going into 2009. Mark Reynolds was battling Chad Tracy for an every day spot. Check! Ian Stewart’s not guaranteed time. Mark Reynolds hasn’t seen many pitches he doesn’t like. Check! Ian Stewart’s strikeout rate last year was 32.5%. (Mark Reynolds was at 38.6%.) Mark Reynolds and Ian Stewart both had a walk rate of 11.6% in 2009. But enough of the negatives, we’re familiar with those. Let’s look at the positives on why Ian Stewart is a 2010 fantasy baseball sleeper.
Last year, in 425 ABs, Stewart hit 25 homers. With an every day job, he should get close to 30 homers. On Bill James’s Speed Score, where the average is 5, last year Mark Reynolds had a 4.8; Ian Stewart had a 5.2. Ian Stewart probably won’t steal 24 bases, but, frankly, Reynolds shouldn’t have stole that many either. Stewart is more likely to steal 10 to 15 bases with an every day job. Ian Stewart’s career BABIP is .310; last year he had a .275 mark. So rather than the .228 average last year, that pushes him close to .250 average. Because average is so fickle, Stewart should hit anywhere from .260 to .230. At .260, he won’t kill you. You need some luck there, but as you saw with Reynolds last year, it could happen. One huge positive for Stewart, he has 2nd base eligibility. So the worst case scenario is he’s a cheap Uggla. But it all comes back to an every day job, right? With his flexibility, I think he can easily sneak in 450 at-bats. If he gets hot at the right time, he could see 500+ ABs. Honestly, I wouldn’t have given Reynolds more than that going into 2009 either. Will Stewart hit 44 homers and steal 24 bases like Mini Donkey? Aw, heck’s no. But no one saw that coming from Reynolds either. Ian Stewart can hit 30 homers with 10 steals and a .260 average. Also, there’s power upside for more. At 2nd or 3rd base, that’s a nice little sleeper for 2010 fantasy baseball.