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2012 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Is Derek Jeter a Solid Sleeper?

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I was born to hate players like Derek Jeter (or because my parents loved one another or something).

I grew up in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium. When I loved baseball the most, Jeter played the ultimate villain. He hit the ball to Jeffrey Maier. I wish I could let that go, but I can’t.

Something else I can’t do: really hate on Jeter. Dude is just impressive. He’s 37, he’s bagging hotter and hotter and younger and younger (although I suppose he just gets older, the chicks stay the same age) women. Over the last three years, he has averaged a .300/.367/.408 line with 11 HRs, 21 SBs, 101 runs and 65 RBIs.

Last season, that average Jeter would have tied for the most runs at shortstop and finished just outside the top 10 in SBs, eighth in RBIs, and fourth in batting average. However, people think he is done (as a fielder, sure, but not as a fantasy baseball contributor). If you think quickly, Jeter had a down year last season, right? Well, he batted .297.

Certainly, it's possible the speed won’t be there (he has decreased from 30 SBs in 2009, to 18 in 2010, to 16 in 2011). However, he had a similar decrease from 2006-2008 (34-15-11) only to rebound in 2009. In addition, he stole 16 bases in just 131 games last year. I’m not betting on him reaching 20 steals, but it’s not crazy talk either.
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Quite simply, Jeter is one of the safest quality shortstops in 2012. After Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes are younger and have far higher ceilings; however they have their doubts: health, the new ballpark zapping Hanley’s power and high expectations paired with a combustible environment.

Meanwhile, Jeter will definitely hit .295/.355/.390. He’ll smack 10 HRs, steal 16 bases, score 100+ runs and knock in 65. He’ll easily finish fourth at the position and could end up even higher.

Shockingly, when you look at Average Draft Position (which you have to take with a grain of salt), Jeter is the 117th player off the board and eighth SS. At the end of 2012, you’ll look back and wish you grabbed Jeter over Jimmy Rollins. Also, given the relative prices, you should take Jeter over Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera. No doubt.

Sometimes ol’ reliable is just that.

Written by Albert Lang exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com

Follow Albert on Twitter @h2h_corner or  for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!

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