Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers to Watch in 2014
There's a good chance almost every player employed by the Dodgers in 2014 is also faux-employed by fantasy baseball managers everywhere. From superstar, first-round picks like Clayton Kershaw to surprising, early-season gold mines like Dee Gordon, the Dodgers' abundance of talent translates to the fantasy world as well.
Whether you're in a complicated keeper league or navigating the addictive seas of fantasy baseball for the first time, being keen on the sleeper picks will give you a fast track to bragging rights, winnings or something in between.
We all know that Kershaw, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and the rest will put up big numbers for their millions of fantasy owners. But what about the less heralded few who might be the spark plug to a fantasy championship?
Your friends and competitors may scoff when you pick up one of the following Dodgers, but play your cards right and you'll get the last laugh. Check out the top five fantasy sleeper picks wearing Dodger blue this season.
Alex Guerrero, 2B
Don't worry—I'm not advocating that Dee Gordon lose his job at second base, especially after a ridiculously hot start to 2014. But the Dodgers paid Alex Guerrero for a reason. They're hoping he can get some seasoning in the minors and eventually start contributing for the big league team.
So far, that bet is paying off. In his first five games at Triple-A Albuquerque, Guerrero is hitting .500 with two home runs, five RBI and an absurd 1.579 OPS. Granted, it's a small sample size, but Guerrero was also one of the best hitters in camp at spring training and put up good numbers in Cuba.
It remains to be seen if Guerrero comes up and has an offensive impact, but once he does get some big league at-bats, he'll definitely be a fantasy option for middle infield positions. From what we've seen in limited time, you can get a few cheap homers and RBI out of the guy. And with a team full of superstars, that name should be buried deep on the free-agent board.
Josh Beckett, SP
After so many disappointing, injury-riddled seasons, we might finally get a mostly full season of the good version of Josh Beckett. After overcoming his latest setback, Beckett has looked very good in two starts, even hitting 94 MPH on his fastball.
His control isn't quite there yet, but he has a career strikeout-to-walk ratio around 3-to-1 and will likely balance out around that as the season progresses. If you pick up Beckett, you're getting the Dodgers' No. 5 starter, but a guy who will rack up some wins just by virtue of playing for that team.
He'll give you some strikeouts and quality starts, and is one of those guys who can throw up a random seven-inning, two-hit shutout, depending on the matchup he's presented with. Beckett is definitely a guy to keep an eye on down the stretch when you need a couple extra spot-starts.
Joc Pederson, OF
Joc Pederson is getting screwed—it's as simple as that. The Dodgers are already juggling four starting outfielders for three positions, which is keeping Pederson locked up in Triple-A despite being major league-ready. He may not get any big league at-bats until September when the rosters expand.
That said, the Dodgers would be smart to consider moving one or two of their current outfielders to get Pederson in there. Like Yasiel Puig last season, Pederson could come up and spark the team and make it even deeper than it already is. So far, Pederson is looking like a fantasy (and real) All-Star.
In 15 games for Albuquerque, Pederson is hitting .436 with five homers, eight RBI and five stolen bases. He's also sporting a nifty 1.351 OPS and already has 44 total bases. Pederson has all the tools to be a very solid starting major league outfielder, and if the time comes later this season, you'll want him on your fantasy squad.
Chris Perez, RP
It's a long shot, but you may be able to squeeze some holds—and even saves—out of former All-Star closer, turned seventh-inning reliever Chris Perez. With Brian Wilson's injury history, you never know when Perez will have to step up and start owning the eighth inning, which will give him more hold opportunities.
And god forbid Kenley Jansen gets hurt or struggles enough to get removed from the closer's role, Perez is one of the other options to step in. With the Cleveland Indians, Perez posted 132 career saves over four seasons, including 25 last year.
Perez may pick up quite a few holds and strikeouts for your fantasy team anyway, but will become even more valuable if either Wilson or Jansen falters. Keep an eye on him, as he's one of the more forgotten-about offseason signings, as far as relief pitchers go.
Dan Haren, SP
Many fans scoffed at the Dodgers giving Dan Haren a one-year, $10 million deal this winter, but most don't realize that Haren was one of the better pitchers in the National League in the second half of 2013. He was a major reason the Nationals nearly made a late run for the Wild Card.
That said, Haren is definitely not the Cy Young-level ace of years past. His last truly great season was 2011, and he'll probably never be at that level again. But similar to Beckett, you have to consider the increase in wins Haren is likely to get just from being on a superstar-laden team.
He'll get you some decent WHIP and ERA numbers, but you'll mostly want to pick up Haren for spot starts to grab a cheap win against non-playoff teams down the stretch. Still, if you've been in the fantasy baseball playoff hunt before, you know that can make or break your shot at a championship.