Fantasy Baseball: A Look at Sleepers by Position
The 2009 Major League Baseball season is quickly approaching and that also means that fantasy baseball is re-emerging. Fantasy drafts everywhere are taking place and it's time to get down to business by revealing some sleepers you might want to keep an eye on.
The following slides will take you through a journey of fantasy predictions that intend to lead you towards league domination.
Catcher: Matt Wieters
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Matt Wieters has been touted as one of the best up-and-coming offensive catchers in recent memory. His tremendous power and overall ability—especially at the catcher position—make him someone worth taking.
However, Wieters is in a complicated situation in Baltimore. If you remember last year, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays was kept in the minors long enough to avoid an arbitration year. This is the quandary that Wieters may face this year, along with the fact that Gregg Zaun is the current catcher.
Wieters will make an impact this year regardless of whether it is on Opening Day or several weeks in.
First Base: Chris Davis
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Chris Davis, a 23-year-old corner infielder for the Texas Rangers, is ready to burst onto the scene in 2009. After hitting 17 home runs in only 295 plate appearances last year, Davis' first full season looks to be a prosperous one.
Davis has tremendous power potential and the ability to hit for average. However, as goes with most power hitters, the strikeouts will amount to a relatively large total.
Second Base: Jose Lopez
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In just his fourth year, Jose Lopez of the Seattle Mariners finished in the top four among second basemen in most of the offensive categories including hits, doubles, runs batted in and batting average.
Just 25 years old, Lopez could advance his totals to further heights this coming season. Lopez is not well known among normal fantasy goers and he should be available relatively late in most drafts this season. If you're looking for production at a low cost, he is your guy.
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval
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This catcher, first base and third base combination player has all the makings of a breakout season this year with the San Francisco Giants.
In his short stint with the club lasting 41 games last year, Pablo Sandoval hit .345 with three home runs and 24 runs batted in.
This year, Sandoval brings minimal big league experience. However, his versatility at the catcher position in most leagues, combined with his tremendous offensive upside yields potentially great returns for fantasy owners.
The fact that he will most likely hit in either the three, four or five spot in the Giants' order only strengthens the fact that there will be plenty of men on base for this sleeper candidate to knock in.
Shortstop: Mike Aviles
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This middle infielder is coming into his second year in the big leagues and has already made a huge impression.
After hitting .325 with 10 home runs and 51 runs batted in, Aviles is looking to add to his impressive rookie season. Regardless of the fact that he is a part of the Kansas City Royals organization, Aviles will make a great fantasy impact this year for any owner who wishes to take a chance on him.
Outfield 1: Nelson Cruz
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In just 115 at-bats last year with the Texas Rangers, Nelson Cruz hit .330 with seven home runs and 26 runs batted in. Impressive for a guy who altered his swing just last year in hopes of making the big league club.
This year, Cruz has the chance to take the starting right field job right off the bat. The potential is there for a breakout year, including 20-30 home runs and a relatively high batting average.
If you're looking for someone many will overlook to fill out your outfield, Cruz is the man.
Outfield 2: Elijah Dukes
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Everyone knows that Elijah Dukes has all the tools to be a solid, everyday performer at the big league level. Another thing everyone knows is that Dukes has a bit of a problem with his temper.
Accompanying the rage inside of Dukes is a susceptibility for injury as well. This year, Dukes looks to thrive with the Washington Nationals, as he now has someone dominant in the order to complement him.
That person is Adam Dunn, and so far in spring training and throughout the World Baseball Classic, he has looked impressive. With that kind of protection in the lineup, Dukes should see his fair share of pitches to hit and, with that opportunity, should yield success.
Outfield 3: Brett Gardner
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Brett Gardner has officially been named the Opening Day starter in center field for the New York Yankees by skipper Joe Girardi.
For the 25-year-old, this means a couple of things. First, he is playing in an extremely potent lineup, which means that if he can get on base, he will surely score runs.
But, the main attribute Gardner brings to the table is speed. With the announcement of Gardner being the starting center fielder, 40-plus steals is not out of the question.
Taking a flier on him would not be a bad idea, especially if you're looking for a guy who has tremendous potential to steal bases and score runs.
Starting Pitcher: Chris Volstad
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Chris Volstad is only 22 years old and is already putting a lasting impression on the baseball world. He is one of many young talents in the Marlins organization and this year could be a rather productive one.
Last year with the big league club, Volstad posted six wins alongside a 2.88 ERA in 14 starts. If Volstad can harness his consistency issues this year and provide the Marlins with effective innings, his fantasy stock should rise throughout the year.
Relief Pitcher: Brandon Morrow
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After the announcement of Brandon Morrow's return to the Seattle Mariners' bullpen, the closer situation for the future became a little more clear.
Morrow brings a mid-to-high 90s fastball to the table along with a developing splitter, which could prove deadly for hitters. Morrow has had health issues, which is mainly what is to blame for his return to the 'pen, but he still has great upside as a closer.
Less innings could improve his productivity to the point where he is a must-own for all fantasy owners.