It's a weird thing being a fantasy baseball sleeper. It isn't exactly a compliment, but it isn't the worst thing in the world, either. Essentially, it means you're good enough for optimistic owners to rest their hopes on but not quite good enough for everyone to want to take a chance on.
If you listen to sound bites from nearly any post-game press conference, you're bound to hear about how players love to prove people wrong. So here are some of the top options at each position in the right time and place to potentially make everyone regret not drafting them.
Or they might not really deliver at all. After all, that's what makes them sleepers.
When the Reds traded Yonder Alonso to the Padres before last season as part of the Mat Latos deal, he got good news and bad news. The good news was that his path to playing time was no longer blocked by Joey Votto. The bad news was that he would be moving from Cincinnati's tiny Great American Ballpark to San Diego's cavernous PETCO Park.
Although Alonso struggled with his power during his first season out west (just nine home runs), he did hit a respectable .273 with 62 RBI. Those numbers, however, don't fully reflect just how much he improved in the second half. Alonso hit six of his homers after the All Star break and drove in 19 RBI in July alone.
Sure, you could argue that Kyle Seager shouldn't be a sleeper. After all, he did just hit 20 home runs and 86 RBI in his sophomore season. Still, he finished just outside the top 10 second basemen in fantasy and plays for the Mariners, so there's a solid chance he's still not a household name.
But that could change a little in 2013. Seager only hit five of his home runs last season at Safeco Field, and luckily, the good people in Seattle are moving the fences in as much as 17 feet in. And that can really only be helpful.
Will he be in the majors? Maybe. But here is one of your late-round rookie darts.
You might remember Jurickson Profar from his pinch hit single with two outs in the ninth inning of the AL Wild Card game. Or you might know him as possibly the top prospect in baseball. Either way, he's someone you should definitely be familiar with when your draft rolls around.
Elvis Andrus is standing directly in his way to the Rangers, but there's loose talk Andrus or Ian Kinsler could be moved. And if both stay, Kinsler could be shifted to outfield, making room for Profar at second. Even if Texas doesn't call him up until mid-season, Profar has about as much upside as you're going to find in 2013.
If you were Scott Rolen, would you put your body through another injury-riddled season? If Rolen retires like many wouldn't be shocked to see, third base in Cincinnati would immediately go to Todd Frazier (yes, the kid who helped win the 1998 Little League World Series).
Frazier hit .273 with 19 homers and 67 RBI in just 128 games last season, and he'll be 27 next year if that number gets you stoked. Even if Rolen doesn't go anywhere, the Reds will find a place for Frazier, and you might wanna do the same.
If you thought Todd Frazier had a feel-good story, just wait until you hear Tyler Colvin's. He's the former Cubs prospect who had 20 home runs in 2010 when a shard of bat punctured his lung. After struggling through 2011, he was traded to the Rockies in the off-season and promptly picked up where he previously left off.
Colvin hit .290 in purple, belted 18 homers and drove in 72 RBI. He even stole seven bases. While his role on the team wasn't quite clear going into 2012, there's still a little bit of a crowd in the Colorado outfield. But Colvin could also play first if and when Todd Helton calls it quits, and the Rockies will probably find a sufficient number of at-bats for him one way or another.
Okay, what's done is done. Lorenzo Cain didn't have quite the 2012 he probably wanted. He only managed to appear in 61 games for the Royals thanks to injuries, and a hamstring pull ended his season early.
Before that, however, and when he was actually on the field, Cain showed occasional flashes of brilliance. He hit .302 with 15 RBI in July and had two homers with four steals in just twelve September games. A guy who has hit from both the leadoff and number three spots, Cain could be a consistent power and speed threat if he can stay off the trainer's table.
If you jumped on board with Starling Marte when the Pirates called him up in late July, you might not be all that excited about him now. Long hyped to be the Scottie Pippen to Andrew McCutchen's Michael Jordan, Marte did hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the majors. But he only hit four more all year after that.
But things should be different next season. One of the most electric prospects in the NL, Marte (who just turned 24) will have the inside track to the full-time job in left field and the Pirates' patience in him will likely be tied directly to their record. But a full season of Marte might be worth the risk both for them and for you.
If it hadn't been for Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and seemingly countless other rookies who had breakout performances last season, you might have heard a lot more about Yasmani Grandal.
Another player the Padres got in exchange for Mat Latos, Grandal became the first batter ever to hit home runs from both sides of the plate for his first two hits in his first career game. And although he lost a chunk of playing time in the middle of the season due to a strained oblique, Grandal still finished with a .297 average, eight homers and 36 RBI—and that's just from 60 games.
Don't let the fact that he started the ALDS game that ended the A's post-season. You'd probably lose too if you were facing a nearly flawless Justin Verlander. Just ask Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder who combined to go 0-for-11 against Jarrod Parker in the series.
Parker was a big surprise during the regular season, wrapping up a 13-8 record as a rookie that was good for the 10th best winning percentage in the AL. With 140 Ks and a 3.47 ERA in 181 innings, Parker is turning into the top of the rotation ace he's long been projected to be. It's just a matter of whether or not he gets there next year.
It's a dangerous business when you try to predict anything that has to do with closers. Who would ever have thought last April that Jim Johnson would lead the league in saves? Or that Rafael Soriano would lead the Yankees?
Instead of taking a wild guess on a flame-throwing setup man who may or may not get his eventual shot at the thrown, let's stick with a young guy who has actually been there before. Greg Holland took the Royals' closing gig after Joakim Soria went down and Jonathan Broxton was traded to Cincinnati. He rewarded the team with consistent, if not impressive performance: 16 saves with 91 Ks in 67 innings.
Holland will likely retain the role going into 2013, and barring any of the unpredictability that occurred in 2012, he could be one of those closers you can (and probably should) wait to draft.