Fantasy Baseball 2013: Buying or Selling the 20 Trendiest Sleeper Names
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Everybody loves to talk about sleepers. There's a certain pride in finding an undervalued player later in the draft—that diamond in the rough.
Each expert, writer and fantasy owner alike creates a sleeper list every season. Some of them pan out while some of them are busts.
Look at the previous champions in your league. Chances are that manager drafted a sleeper and helped him/her hoist the championship trophy.
After doing some digging, I found 20 of the trendiest sleeper names, and I'll tell you if I'm buying that player or selling.
(ADPs in the following slides are courtesy of Mock Draft Central).
Jason Grilli, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jason Grilli should have a big season, closing for the Buccos.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: When the Pirates traded away Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox, Jason Grilli inherited the closer duties. Hanrahan received plenty of save chances, notching 84 over the last two seasons.
Not only will the save chances be there, but Grilli is capable of handling the role. Over the last two seasons, Grilli transformed into one of the best relievers in the game. From 2011-12, Grilli pitched 91.1 innings and registered 127 strikeouts, a 2.76 ERA and 41 holds.
ADP: 254—This shows that he's going very late. Right now I'd rank him inside the top 130 and the 11th closer. He's a big sleeper and a great value.
Bruce Rondon, RP, Detroit Tigers
Bruce Rondon is generating a lot of preseason buzz.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Bruce Rondon put up some mind-boggling numbers in the minors last season. He pitched at three different levels and picked up a combined 29 saves with a 1.53 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 53 innings.
With the closer situation still unclear in Detroit, Rondon's name is being thrown around. In fact, MLB Depth Charts currently lists Rondon as the team's closer.
Why am I selling? Although that 1.53 ERA looks sparkling, his FIP suggests that he was blessed with luck. At every level, Rondon's FIP was significantly higher than his ERA. His 90.2 LOB percentage will definitely come down when he pitches to major league hitters.
ADP: 302—This number doesn't exactly show that he's being overvalued. If he's available during the last couple rounds, then you can take a shot on him. Just don't expect any magic.
Chris Tillman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
Chris Tillman broke out with a huge 2012 season.
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Reason: Chris Tillman was 9-3 with a 2,93 ERA last year, and he finally dazzled fans with the talent everybody thought he had when he was a second-round draft pick.
It was a breakout season for sure, but Tillman will be in for a regression in 2013. I don't think he'll falter back to his five-plus ERA days, but an ERA over four will most likely happen. Despite owning a 2.93 ERA last season, Tillman's FIP was 4.25. Plus, his .221 BABIP will be nearly impossible to duplicate. He vastly improved last season, but he's a guy who will win seven to nine games with a 4.30 ERA.
ADP: 269—With this number, Tillman is the 74th starting pitcher taken off the board. This is the reason I'm selling him. He's being overvalued right now, and he should not be drafted before pitchers Andy Pettitte, Chris Carpenter or teammate Jason Hammel.
Mike Fiers, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Mike Fiers put together a great rookie season in '12.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: 2012 was loaded with top rookies. Guys like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley and Yoenis Cespedes all overshadowed Mike Fiers, but he still deserved attention.
It case you didn't notice, Fiers went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and a 9.52 K/9 rate in 22 starts last season. And it's easy to prove that those numbers were no fluke. In fact, I can argue that Fiers was actually unlucky last year. His FIP was 3.09 (more than a half-run lower) and his BABIP was .319. With 127.2 major league innings under his belt, I expect Fiers to get better.
ADP: 211—Fiers is good enough to go 50 players earlier. I guess many owners don't realize Fiers is capable of 10-12 wins with a mid-three ERA. Fiers has great control (3.75 K:BB ratio), so he doesn't get himself into a ton of trouble.
Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets
Matt Harvey was impressive in his brief MLB stint last year.
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: I'll start this off with saying I believe Matt Harvey is worthy of being inside the top 100. What is there not to love about this kid? He has a great stature (6'4" and 225 pounds) and possesses a high-90s fastball.
He put up good numbers in Triple-A, going 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA and 9.16 K/9 rate in 20 starts. He continued that success when he was called up. In 10 MLB starts, Harvey was 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA and a 10.62 K/9.
I don't expect Harvey to put up a similar ERA and strikeout rate, but he's still going to be valuable. You're looking at a pitcher capable of 11 wins with a mid-three ERA.
ADP: 162—Like I said earlier, I think Harvey is good enough to go just inside of the top 100. If you can get him at 160, then you found yourself a great sleeper for the 2013 season.
Travis D'Arnaud, C, New York Mets
Travis D'Arnaud has been a beast in the minors.
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Travis D'Arnaud has raked in the minors for the last two seasons. In 2011, he hit .311 with 21 home runs in Double-A, and then last year he hit .333 with 16 homers in Triple-A. It's because of these numbers that he was the main piece for the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade.
I think D'Arnaud has a lot of upside, but there might be a problem with the power numbers he has displayed the last few seasons.
D'Arnaud played his Triple-A home games in Las Vegas—a place that is notorious for being the most hitter-friendly stadium in one of the most hitter-friendly leagues in the minors. I'm just concerned how the power numbers will translate at Citi Field.
ADP: 277—He's going ahead of Russell Martin, Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. Monitor the situation more closely in the upcoming months. He has a chance to break camp with the Mets, but he'll have to win the job from veteran John Buck.
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Jonathan Lucroy could have had a monster 2012 season.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Jonathan Lucroy hit .320 with 12 home runs in 96 games last season. His season was cut short because of a freak injury, and that has left fantasy owners wondering "what if."
His average would have most likely fallen under .300, but he also would have shattered his career high in home runs (he tied that mark last season even after missing all those games).
The .338 BABIP he registered last season should drop about 20 points, but you're looking at a 26-year-old catcher who has the potential to hit .290 with 15 home runs.
ADP: 135—His overall draft position is a little high for my liking, but he's the 12th catcher being drafted, which means he's being slightly undervalued for the position. Don't reach for him, but if he falls out of the top 10 for catchers, you could find yourself a bargain.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer will try to bounce back from a poor 2012 season.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Eric Hosmer had a dreadful 2012 season. It was a year where he hit just .232 with 14 home runs. It was so bad that he collected 29 more hits and five more home runs in 2011 in 24 fewer games.
I'm not selling Hosmer this season because I don't think he'll have a bounce-back season. I think he'll have a very productive year. I project him to hit .280 with 20 homers and 15 steals. At first base, that would rank him right around 15th.
ADP: 95—This is the reason I'm selling Hosmer as a sleeper. On average, he's being drafted just inside the top 100 and that's exactly where I rank him. Yes, I think Hosmer will right the ship this season, but is he a sleeper? No. People aren't completely overlooking him after a lackluster sophomore season.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego Padres
Yonder Alonso's power numbers took a hit in San Diego.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Action: Buying (well, sort of)
Reason: OK, this is a hard one. Last season, Yonder Alonso hit .273 with just nine home runs. A first baseman with no power is generally not a good option. It's a position with a superfluous amount of power, and if you're banking on a guy with single-digit homers, well, good luck.
But, then again, there were just seven first baseman who hit .280 or higher that notched 15-plus long balls last season. Alonso has that potential. A season with a .285 average with 15 home runs is certainly attainable.
That's why I'm buying Alonso. He's valuable if he can pick up the power numbers a notch because you know he won't absolutely kill your average (yeah, I'm looking at you, Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn).
ADP: 324—He can't do any real damage this late in the draft. If you still don't have a first baseman in the late rounds, think about taking a gamble on Alonso's power surge.
Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
Todd Frazier will try to build upon his solid 2012 campaign.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: With Scott Rolen out of the way, Todd Frazier will man the hot corner in Cincinnati. He blasted 19 homers last year in just 465 plate appearances. With more opportunities, Frazier should reward fantasy owners in 2013.
Frazier should have no problem hitting around 25 home runs. That's a solid number for his position. Last year, just six third basemen hit 25-plus homers. He won't do much for the average, but it'll still be higher than Pedro Alvarez and Mark Reynolds.
ADP: 201—I don't have Frazier ranked much higher than 200th overall, but he's still being undervalued nonetheless. If you decide to wait for a third baseman, Frazier will definitely help your power numbers.
Allen Craig, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Allen Craig is capable of monster numbers if he can stay healthy.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor
Reason: Like Eric Hosmer, I'm not selling Allen Craig as a player. I'm just selling the fact that he'll be a sleeper for the upcoming season.
Last season, Craig hit .307 with 22 home runs in 119 games. The year before, he hit .315 while belting 11 homers in 75 games. The talent is there, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Craig will hit the disabled list at least once during the season.
ADP: 38—You see that number? That's why he's not a sleeper. Again, I'm not saying Craig is a bad player, but there's no way he's sleeper material. He's being overvalued right now, and that's why I'm staying away from him.
Dustin Ackley, 1B/2B, Seattle Mariners
Dustin Ackely struggled mightily in 2012.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: I just don't think Dustin Ackley is very good. Last year, I advised owners to stay away from him, and I'm going to do the same this season.
I think he'll have a better year in 2013, but it won't be a big enough increase to get excited over. Expect Ackley to hit .265 with 11-13 homers and stolen bases. Those aren't terrible numbers, but they aren't special either. I certainly wouldn't classify Ackley as a sleeper's special for the '13 season.
ADP: 202—Right now, Ackley is being drafted ahead of Josh Rutledge, Jed Lowrie and Daniel Murphy. Ackley isn't as good as those middle infielders, and he is being overvalued once again this year. Don't fall in love with Ackley; chances are he'll leave you jilted.
Kyle Seager, 2B/3B, Seattle Mariners
Kyle Seager was impressive in 2012.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: If I told you at the beginning of last season that Kyle Seager would have a better batting average and hit more home runs than Ian Kinsler, you would have thought I was crazy. Well, that's exactly what happened.
Seager broke out last year, hitting .259 with 20 homers and 13 stolen bases. Those numbers aren't spectacular, but they are solid coming from a guy who has second base eligibility. Last year, there were just two other second basemen who hit 20-plus homers while stealing 10-plus bags (Aaron Hill and Rickie Weeks).
ADP: 147—This is an excellent spot for Seager. I have him ranked right at the 120 spot. We might see a dip in home runs, but I'd expect a spike in the average as well. If his current ADP remains the same, Seager will be a great sleeper.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Colorado Rockies
Josh Rutledge is capable of a massive 2013 season.
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: As a 23-year-old, Josh Rutledge hit .274 with eight home runs and seven stolen bases in 73 games last season. That performance earned him the starting job at second base for the 2013 season.
I love Rutledge. I've already written about him several times this offseason, and I believe he is going to be one of the best sleepers of the '13 season. Expect him to hit around .290 with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He'll start the season with just shortstop eligibility, but he'll quickly gain second base as well. Versatility is always beneficial, but it's even more the case when it's both middle infield positions.
ADP: 217—On my big board, I have Rutledge at 107th overall. If he's going more than 100 spots later, then that's the exact definition of value. Obviously Rutledge is pretty unknown, and he can instantly help your team.
Jed Lowrie, SS, Houston Astros
If only Jed Lowrie could remain on the field.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: I was really surprised that Jed Lowrie got injured last season. He hardly ever gets hurt—I hope you detected sarcasm.
Enough with the facetious statements. That's Lowrie's biggest problem: his health. It's a viable concern too. Since making it to the big leagues in 2008, Lowrie has never played in more than 97 games in a season. Although he hasn't had any recurring or lingering injuries, Lowrie just always seems to get hurt. It's hard to be valuable when you're not even playing.
ADP: 252—This is why I'm buying. If Lowrie can remain on the field, he has the potential to hit 20 home runs. That's one big IF, but there were just three shortstops who hit 20-plus homers last season. He can finish in the top 10 at the position, and, if you get him at 250, then that's bargain city.
Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers
Jurickson Profar is one of the hottest names this offseason.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: After watching Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have magical rookie seasons at a very young age, most people are expecting their predecessors to do the same. This is the problem for Jurickson Profar.
Profar is just 19 years old, and he hit .281 with 14 homers and 16 stolen bases at Double-A last year. He also managed to hit a home run in 17 MLB plate appearances last year as well.
He's going to be a star. There's no arguing that. I just don't think it's going to be in 2013. He'll likely start the year in Triple-A, and when he does see time with the Rangers, who knows if he'll adjust like Trout and Harper. I think we're going to find out that both Trout and Harper are exceptions.
ADP: 232—This is a pretty high number for a guy who has no guarantee at a starting gig. He's going before Alexei Ramirez, Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar. All those guys will be starting come Opening Day. Profar will be a superstar some day, but limit your expectations for 2013.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Will Middlebrooks will try to back up a good 2012 season.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Last season, Will Middlebrooks impressed us with a .288 average and 15 home runs in 75 games. Now it's time for him to back up that good rookie season.
I'm confident that he will. For one, he won't have to battle anybody for playing time. Middlebrooks is slotted to hit sixth behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. Those are names that belong on an All-Star roster, and Middlebrooks will be presented with plenty of RBI opportunities.
His lack of patience is troublesome, but he was able to put up respectable batting averages in the minors despite having a high strikeout and low walk rate.
ADP: 170—It's bargain time. With a full season, Middlebrooks is capable of putting up 30 home runs. If you couple that with a .280 batting average, you have a top-10 third baseman.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Is Lonnie Chisenhall ready to make a splash in the majors?
Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Lonnie Chisenhall hit .314 with four home runs before getting called up to the Indians last season. Once he joined the Tribe, he hit a respectable .268 with five homers in 43 games.
If you throw out his first nine and last 12 MLB at-bats, Chisenhall hit .281. He didn't exactly have the largest sample size, but I tried to narrow down the outliers the best I could. He'll get the starting nod at third for the Indians, and an 18-plus homer season is well within reach.
ADP: 366—This is the main reason I'm buying. Chisenhall is going to cost you nothing at all. He's going as the 27th third baseman taken, so you might as well snag him as a late-round flier. Look at him this way: low risk, high reward.
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Everybody is waiting for Wil Myers' MLB debut.
Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: Wil Myers has shown he has nothing left to prove in the minors. Sharing time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Myers hit a combined .316 with 37 homers, 98 runs, 109 RBI and six steals.
He should be a slam-dunk "buy" option, but it isn't that easy. C. Trent Rosecrans of CBSSports.com reports that Rays manager Joe Maddon will not rush Myers.
This makes things more difficult. With the certainty of his future unclear, it's hard to project playing time for the highly touted prospect. Perhaps we can learn for the Evan Longoria situation. In 2008, he started the year in the minors but made his MLB debut just 11 games into the season.
ADP: 243—I know I warned you about comparing players to Mike Trout, but this feels eerily similar. Trout started the year in the minors and had an ADP of 218. The rest is history. I don't think Myers will follow in those same footsteps, but he can provide damage at 243rd overall.
Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Depending a trade, Adam Eaton can be a great sleeper.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Reason: it was a very crowded outfield in Arizona before Justin Upton was traded. But now that Upton is leaving the desert and heading to the East Coast, that opens up the door for Adam Eaton.
After the deal, MLB Depth Charts slots Eaton as the D-backs' starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. If anybody's fantasy value skyrocketed from Thursday's trade, then it was certainly Eaton.
He dominated at Triple-A last season. He hit .381 with seven home runs and 38 stolen bases. He then hit .259 with a pair of homers in 22 MLB games once he was called up.
ADP: 205—This number will get lower now that he's projected to start. He's hitting atop of a pretty solid lineup, and he's capable of hitting 10 homers and stealing 35-plus bases.