Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Greg Holland and 7 Other Names You Must Grab ASAP
It's one of the happiest times of the year—fantasy baseball time! Time for us all to roll out the Top 100 lists and mock drafts and come up with some funny team names. The only thing better than coming up with the most clever pun for a team name is picking out the best fantasy sleeper.
Read on through to find some great fantasy sleepers. Unless you're playing in a league with me—then there's nothing to see here.
With the news that two-time All-Star Joakim Soria might be facing a second Tommy John surgery, now is the perfect time to scoop up Greg Holland, the likely closer candidate for the Kansas City Royals.
Holland spent the 2011 season with very little fanfare surrounding him, getting his job done effectively while flying under the radar. He finished the season with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP over the course of 60 innings. Of the swings taken at a Holland pitch, 36.4 percent were whiffed, and he struck out 38 of the 106 left-handed batters he came up against. He is easily the heavy favorite for Soria's job.
Between Holland's dominant fastball and a crop of young Royals ready to win, Holland is an excellent grab if you're in need of saves.
The normally deep fantasy position of outfielder has found itself a little thin this year. Of course, there are always amazing grabs but as you get into the later rounds, the pool is far more shallow than has been seen in recent years. As your draft wears on and you find yourself in need of a backup outfielder, consider nabbing Twins left fielder Ben Revere.
Revere has been placed in a two-man platoon with Trevor Plouffe in left field, but his far superior defensive skills could find him on the field far more often than his counterpart. Revere dazzled many in 2011 with his ability to cover an enormous amount of ground to make a play. His offseason regime, which included Hail Mary football passing, has strengthened his arm enough that he should see regular playing time.
While Revere's power may be near non-existent, he has other tools that make him a valuable late-round pick. In only 117 games during the 2011 season, Revere stole 34 bags. The chances of him upping that number to 40-plus stolen bases in 2012 is a gamble you should want to take if your squad is in need.
The speed combined with a career minor league average of .326 bodes well for Revere's fantasy chances. That combined with the fact that he's a player who hits the ball largely on the ground, where his speed gives him an advantage, should provide for a decent on-base percentage. He should score a decent amount of runs this year as he will likely find himself batting in the two hole.
Sure, Paul Goldschmidt might be one of this year's fantasy sleeper darlings, but it would be remiss to leave him out.
Goldschmidt got his first taste of the bigs in 2011, putting eight balls over the fence while driving in 26 runs in only 48 games. Pretty impressive for a kid that never saw a day in Triple-A ball. After putting up 30 home runs in 103 games in Double-A, the Diamondbacks called Goldschmidt up without making a pitstop in Reno at the Triple-A affiliate.
Goldschmidt is expected to be the Diamondbacks every day starter, so expect those home run numbers to grow substantially. A true power hitter, he has the potential to put up 30 homers in 2012. Unfortunately, like a lot of power hitters, his strikeout ratio is high (almost 30 percent for the Diamondbacks last year), so don't expect that percentage to decrease by a whole lot.
He does have a decent amount of patience at the plate, walking 20 times in 48 games, so that should help to offset the strikeouts and improve his on-base percentage.
Goldschmidt is worth taking a gamble on. He probably won't be around in most leagues beyond the 10th or 11th round, but if you are in need of a first baseman, take the risk. Folks playing in keeper leagues in particular could do well to hang onto him for a few years.
Mike Carp will finally see regular playing time in the majors this season, as he is projected to be the Mariners every day left fielder. He also should qualify as a first baseman making him a solid flexible sleeper candidate.
Carp has power that is just waiting to emerge on the big stage and it could very well be this year. After a tough time in June last season, he went on to hit 12 home runs while putting up a .276 average. He is another big strikeout guy, putting a K on the board during 26 percent of his at bats last season while walking approximately 6 percent of the time.
Definitely a good power guy who has the potential to hit 25 home runs in 2012, but his on base percentage could be a little tricky this year.
If you don't get a chance to nab one of the top 1B. Carp with his dual eligibility and big power is a great risk to take.
The bonus to a fantasy sleeper on a terrible Astros team? For one thing, despite having only 57 major league games under his belt, Altuve should bat second, giving him a chance to score more runs. Even the Astros score runs sometimes, you know.
Another bonus to a less than stellar Astros offense? These runs they sometimes score have to come from somewhere and it's likely the speedy Altuve will be expected to put up a lot of stolen bases to produce them.
Perhaps Altuve's biggest strength is his ability to hit for average. He hit a .361 in Double-A and it it not unreasonable to assume he will hit between .280 and .300 this year. He is a contact hitter and his strikeouts are infrequent, putting him at an advantage in the RBI category as well as average and on-base percentage.
Despite being of smaller stature, he has some power in his swing and could potentially hit 10 home runs this season.
You might be able to find better second baseman, but in deeper leagues, he is an excellent option. Not a bad backup second baseman either should you find him available in later rounds.
Shelby Miller is a pitcher that should be picked up and stashed immediately in any dynasty keeper league. In other leagues, you might be able to wait a little while. Just keep tabs on oft-injured Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and occasionally terrible Jake Westbrook. Should one of them start to wobble, run (do not walk) to snatch Miller off the waiver wire.
Barring something unforeseen, Miller should start the season with the Triple-A club but many are expecting him to get the call to come join the Cardinals possibly by the All-Star break. Should Carpenter, Wainwright or Westbrook find themselves with a problem—you can count on that being sooner.
Over Miller's minor league career, he has struck out 312 batters in 247 innings. The 6'3" pitcher with the power fastball also put up a 2.70 ERA in Double-A ball last year and is considered one of baseball's top prospects. With numbers like that, no wonder Baseball Prospectus has compared him to Matt Cain.
Keeper league owners, take him and hold onto him. Everyone else, if you can find the room for him, draft him. If you can't find the room—you might want to make some.
Sometimes the biggest issue with rolling the dice on a fantasy sleeper is his ability to harm your team. There is nothing uncommon at all about fantasy power hitter who puts them over the wall week after week, but also strikes out so frequently that he destroys the team's average.
The great thing about fantasy sleeper Alex Presley is he has a lot of upside and seemingly very little downside. He has the potential to bring a lot to a fantasy squad without causing harm in any category.
Presley put up a .298 average in 2011 and is currently batting a .361 over 36 at bats in spring training. Presley also put up four home runs over 52 games during the 2011 season. Keeping consistent with his 2011 stats (not even counting his upgraded spring training games), he is on par for a 12-home run, 60-RBI and 25-stolen base season.
He may be playing on an offense that will not score an inordinate amount of runs, but with that much upside and that little downside, he's a steal at the end of the draft.
Bud Norris is another fan favorite sleeper candidate—and one that will have you either applauding yourself for nabbing him or ticked at yourself for falling into the hype. Norris is turning 27 this spring and should reach a major league 200 innings for the first time—if a pitcher is going to turn into a decent hurler, these both are factors which can be considered the "now or nevers."
Norris has plenty of upside. Over the course of three major league seasons, he has struck out 388 batters in 395.1 innings. The 2011 season saw him lower his BB/9 ratio from 4.51 to 3.39. Yes, he plays on a terrible team who probably won't help out at all in that W column.
But Norris does have the potential to win 15 games despite his squad and to put up over 150 Ks. Being an Astro just means he may be available in later rounds.