With the dawn of a new baseball season comes unlimited predictions and analysis of MLB’s top fantasy talent. It is a familiar song and dance, but one that any serious fantasy sports fan knows is completely worth it.
Fantasy sport values are even harder to predict than real-life player values. A player can have a solid season and still be helping his team without putting up big fantasy numbers. Think the Neil Walkers of the world.
So, who is poised to become the fantasy stud of 2013? Honestly, who knows. But there are certain players who have a solid chance of exceeding their draft-day value.
Here are three players you should keep an eye on when planning your fantasy draft.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Jennings has quietly increased his offensive production every season he has been in the majors. Though his batting average was slightly down in 2012, he hit 13 home runs and 47 RBI (three and 22 more than last season’s numbers, respectively).
If his preseason statistics are any indication, Jennings has what it takes to make a big fantasy splash. The man is batting .314 (11-for-35) with two doubles, two RBI and 11 runs in 15 games.
Oh yeah, he has also already stolen six bases. As long as he can stay healthy, it is looking like Jennings has very little fantasy downside.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Alvarez has been delighting and frustrating Pirates fans for three years now. One day he looks unstoppable, the next he looks like he should be playing t-ball.
This is why Alvarez is the ultimate sleeper. Other fantasy drafters might be cautious to take him because of his streaky play and relatively low batting average (.237 career). He could fall low in a draft and end up either destroying or igniting his owner’s team.
When Alvarez is on, he’s on. Those 30 home runs and 85 RBI in 2012 would boost any fantasy owner’s postseason prospects. If you can deal with a little aggravation, Alvarez is your man.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Middlebrooks had a respectable 2012 outing, batting .288 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI. His spring training numbers are suggesting last season was no fluke.
The man has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, which proves he is adept at getting on base. Right now he is batting .387 with one home run and six RBI. Not incredible numbers, but they do suggest he has real breakout potential.
Middlebrooks is the kind of guy who fantasy owners might not be sold on, which puts him squarely in the sleeper category. There is no reason that he cannot be the guy who surpasses his draft expectations.