A couple days ago, we went over five potential fantasy baseball busts for 2012. Today we'll take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum and discuss five sleepers to highlight on your cheat sheets on draft day.
It's easy to find consistent production in the early rounds of the draft. Ask any fantasy veteran and they will tell you the key to a winning season hinges on making the most out of your mid-to-late round picks.
Last year, teams that drafted Curtis Granderson in Round 8, Asdrubal Cabrera in Round 12 or Kyle Farnsworth in Round 14 were already a leg up on the rest of the competition to start the season.
Here are this year's diamonds in the rough.
You’re not going to hear much about Bumgarner; teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain usually command all the attention on the Giants’ pitching staff. But don’t let that fool you—Bumgarner quietly had a terrific season in 2012 and sports a career 3.10 ERA in 52 starts as a big league pitcher.
At around the time that other fantasy owners call out Stephen Strasburg and Chris Carpenter, you be the smart one and add this overlooked starter to your roster instead. You’ll be happy you did.
Projection: 214 IP, 15-10, 3.17 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 217 K
At this time last year, many fantasy “experts” were ready to dig Carlos Beltran’s baseball grave. Beltran proved his critics wrong with a Renaissance season in 2012 as he batted .300 with decent power and run production numbers for the Mets and Giants.
Now with St. Louis, Beltran will bat in the middle of the lineup as long as he’s healthy. Sure, he’ll most likely spend some time on the shelf during the season, but the same can be said about a lot of other guys as well. Take Beltran soon after outfielders Drew Stubbs and Chris Young are off the board.
Projection: .287, 78 R, 24 HR, 79 RBI, 5 SB
Signing Kuroda was a very sneaky move by the Yankees. It flew mostly under the radar, probably because New York also added young stud Michael Pineda to its rotation via a trade. But it just might be the 37-year-old Kuroda that ends up with the better season of the two once the dust settles.
Kuroda is a ground-ball pitcher (a huge plus in Yankee Stadium), has excellent control and strikes out more batters than you think. Kuroda is getting up there in age but it’s safe to bank on a solid 2012—you’ll get sixth-round production with a 10th-round pick.
Projection: 195 IP, 14-12, 3.25 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 160 K
There’s a reason Seattle wouldn’t give the Yankees Michael Pineda unless they received Jesus Montero in return. The young catching prospect has a very bright future ahead of him, although there are a couple obstacles to overcome in 2012; the Mariners still have veteran catchers Miguel Olivo and John Jaso and Safeco Field isn’t exactly a great place to hit.
Still, you have to figure Montero will get an early chance to show off his bat for the offense-starved Mariners and you’re going to want him on your roster when it happens. Take a chance on Montero towards the end of your draft.
Projection: .284, 58 R, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB
Rodriguez has been Tampa Bay’s utility man for the last couple of years and we will finally get to see what he can do with a starting role in 2012. He’ll open up the season at shortstop for the Rays and I’m calling for a breakout season.
Rodriguez won’t hit for a high average, but he will be a 20/20 candidate who is eligible at second base, third base and shortstop (which, ironically, could make him your utility man). Don’t hesitate to draft Rodriguez in the last few rounds—he might come in real handy.
Projection: .260, 67 R, 17 HR, 62 RBI, 23 SB