2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: 5 Undrafted Players You Should Grab ASAP
It has been said that you can't win your league in the first round; you can only lose it. The later rounds are what can catapult you to the top.
Late-rounders or waiver-wire pickups like Michael Morse, Melky Cabrera or Lance Berkman gave owners tremendous value for where they were picked in 2011.
Value is one of the most important concepts in fantasy baseball. If you can get mid-round talent in the free agent pool, you've made your team significantly better.
Here are five must-have players who will likely go undrafted in a standard 10-team league. Their rankings are according to the current ESPN Top 300 Player Rankings.
5. OF/1B Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres
ESPN Ranking: 281
Yonder Alonso burst onto the scene in 2011 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. He hit .330 with five home runs in just 47 games. With Joey Votto at first, Alonso was forced to play the outfield, where he struggled mightily.
He will move back to first after an offseason trade sent him to the Padres, though in most leagues he won't be first base-eligible until several games into the season.
Alonso will turn 25 at the beginning of this year, and he has untapped talent that he showed glimpses of in 2011. Though the move to Petco Park hurts his value, he will bat in the heart of the San Diego lineup and can provide good numbers at a very low price.
He has the potential to hit around 15-20 home runs this year with an average close to .280 and can produce 70+ runs and RBI.
The outfield and first base positions are deep this year, so if you miss out on middle-round guys, don't hesitate to just wait and pick up a guy like Alonso after your draft or take him with a late-round pick.
4. OF Brennan Boesch, Detroit Tigers
ESPN Ranking: 261
Miguel Cabrera isn't the only Tiger who directly benefits from the signing of Prince Fielder. Brennan Boesch will likely get to hit in front of not one, but two superstars in the second spot for Detroit.
Before an injury cut his 2011 short, Boesch had his best year in the majors. In just 115 games, he hit .283 with 16 home runs and 75 runs scored.
Hitting in front of Cabrera and Fielder should add plenty of runs to his total and give him even more pitches to hit in 2012.
Boesch turns 27 in April, and this is the year he looks poised to break out. If he can stay healthy for the full season, look for him to hit 20 home runs with 60 RBI and 80 runs and a batting average hovering around the .280 mark.
He has great value as a fourth or fifth outfielder in mixed leagues.
3. SS Rafael Furcal, St. Louis Cardinals
ESPN Ranking: 298
Shortstop is one of the shallowest positions in fantasy baseball, so if you miss out on Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, or Hanley Ramirez, you're better off waiting to find a diamond in the rough at the end of your draft or on the waiver wire.
If Rafael Furcal can stay healthy, he can be fantasy gold just sitting there in the free-agent pool.
He had eight home runs to go along with nine steals in 2011, playing only 87 games between the Dodgers and Cardinals. His average was just .231, but that was due to an uncharacteristically low BABIP of .240, the lowest of his major-league career by a landslide.
A healthy Furcal can produce double-digit home runs and upwards of 20 steals with an average of .270 and a a significant amount of runs at the top of the St. Louis lineup.
This is solid production for a great value, so jump on the wire and pick up Furcal as a shortstop or middle-infield option for your team in 2012.
2. SP Daniel Bard, Boston Red Sox
ESPN Ranking: 262
Daniel Bard has never started a game at the major-league level, but that's why his untapped potential makes him an intriguing option for this upcoming season. He has three years of bullpen work for the Red Sox under his belt, posting a career 2.88 ERA with 213 strikeouts in 197 innings.
The 26-year-old righty will benefit greatly from an explosive Boston offense in 2012 and is still getting better. His 2-9 record last season looks ugly, but he was unlucky in certain statistics and yet put up a career-high 3.08 K/BB in 2011.
Though the move from the pen to the starting rotation will likely take a transitional period, Bard can ride the Red Sox offense to 15 wins. Along with a high strikeout rate and an ERA in the 3.5s, Bard is definitely worth a look in any league, and he will likely go undrafted in yours.
1. OF J.D. Martinez, Houston Astros
ESPN Ranking: 260
Because he's on the Astros, most fantasy baseball owners won't even look at a guy like J.D. Martinez, but somebody has to produce in that lineup, right? With an aging Carlos Lee, that man in 2012 is Martinez.
He will likely hit third and has great potential as a 24-year-old. In his first taste of major league action, he hit six home runs with 29 runs and 35 RBI in just 53 games.
The one benefit he has of being an Astro is that as long as he's healthy, you can count on him batting in the middle of the order and having plenty of RBI opportunities.
The sky is the limit for Martinez, and you can expect to see flashes of stardom for the young outfielder this season. An average around .290 with 15-20 home runs, 70 runs, and 90+ RBI isn't out of his reach by any means.
Jump on Martinez the first chance you get; he is a free-agent pickup with mid-round value who will make you look like a fantasy genius.