The fantasy draft season is in full swing now (sorry, bad pun), and the name of the game is sleepers.
This year, there are a handful of guys poised to finally have their breakout year after dealing with injuries, mediocre play or a new opportunity.
Here are a few guys that are worth either a late-round selecting or a waiver-wire pickup.
Ike Davis, 1B—New York Mets
Last year, the 24-year-old was off to an incredible start in his first 36 games (.302/.383/.543, seven HR, 25 RBI), with numbers that were among the league’s best in May.
Then he collided with David Wright and injured his ankle. After a ton of setbacks, he didn’t see the field again in 2011.
Now, at age 25, he is healthy again and is slated to be the cleanup hitter. The Mets offense is going to struggle, but with the shallowness of first basemen depth in the NL and the potential to land a guy capable of hitting 30 home runs, he is too hard to pass up.
Drew Stubbs, CF—Cincinnati Reds
This is a make-or-break year for the 27-year-old.
The strikeout king was second in K rate (30.1) in baseball last year with over 200 Ks. Completely unacceptable.
Dusty Baker knows this and has been forcing his potential leadoff hitter to bunt more in spring training. Despite his affinity for whiffing, he still collected 15 homers, 44 RBI and 40 stolen bases.
The last stat is the key.
Stubbs may be the fastest player in the game, and as long as he’s making contact, he can lead the league in stolen bases. He has power and is hitting in one of the most potent lineups in the NL. As long as he took to heart the advice Baker has given him in the offeseason, Stubbs is going to be an outstanding fantasy player.
Stubbs is a huge risk, but that’s why he’s a sleeper.
Jeff Samardzija, SP—Chicago Cubs
Samardzija is making the transition to starter and has allowed three runs in 10 innings while holding opponents to a .176 average.
Not bad, but what stands out is the 9:0 K:BB ratio. He is the front-runner to land the final spot in the rotation and is going to be an inning-eater who provides you with an absurd amount of strikeouts.
His fastball is up to 95 MPH, and he has a nasty slider that has proven to be his bread and butter. There aren’t a ton of pitchers to monitor on the woeful Cubbies, which means Samardzija is going to be overlooked.
But make no mistake about it, he has the potential to throw for 180 innings, a 3.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with an outstanding K rate.
Sounds good to me.