This is my second time writing my Yahoo Fantasy Sleeper Guide (if you would like to see how I did last year, here is a link http://bleacherreport.com/articles/139285-yahoo-fantasy-baseball-sleepers-draft-guide).
The point of this article is to exploit the holes in the yahoo rankings and point out which players will give you the best bang for your buck in the later rounds. How I choose my players is based on their age, stats, experience, and whether they are in contract years — yes, people always play best when money is on the line... a sad fact given I would play for free. I will also include segments which will point out if players are ranked to highly and what rookies or players a person will need to watch off waivers.
For this draft, I will show a players average pick and yahoo ranking. I will base players worth based on the common categories (HR, RBI, R, SB, AVG or W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP). If a player is so far down in the ranking it is unnecessary to rank him, then I will not.
Here are the sleepers at each position I see that could impact your team:
In the Cather category, most players will not be picked until the later round (excluding Mauer, Martinez, and McCann). This means that there are basically no sleepers — just which player is the best player to pick late in the round.
Miguel Montero (AVG Pick 175.3 / Y Rank 176): After an injury to ARI catcher Chris Snyder, Montero took over the roll at C. He posted 16 HR, 59 RBI, 61 R, and a .294 AVG last year. Giving him another 50 appearances in the batter’s box and another years experience could propel him to something along the lines of 21 HR, 65 RBI, 70 R, and a .290 AVG.
Of course there are other options in players such as Posada, Doumit, Soto, and Molina, but I believe Montero is the best option.
Jeff Clement: For the 28 games in the major leagues he posted a .312 average before a knee injury derailed his season. However he has recovered and has posted a .280 average in Triple A while having the benefit to back up Doumit (a very injury prone player)
Too Highly Ranked:
Joe Mauer is a first round player who should be picked in the second. His average and power should both dip, and even his godly statistics against other catchers shouldn’t jack up his price this much (yes, there is a major difference between an 8th pick and the 15th pick he deserves to be!)
Five 1B will be picked in the first two rounds. Another 4–6 guys will go in the next two rounds. If you miss these players however, all is not yet lost. First base has been blessed with such depth that I find it necessary to point out players such as Billy Butler and Adam Dunn.
Billy Butler (AVG Pick / Y Rank 70): Butler finished last season with 21 HR, 93 RBI, 78 R, and a .301 AVG. What might be most surprising though is that I can see him growing to have a year of 30 HR, 100 RBI, 80 R, and a .295 AVG. Last year he increased his AVG/HR against righties (.244 AVG to a .280 AVG and 3 HR to 13 HR) and if he can continue to grow (he is only 24) he could be a tremendous player.
Adam Dunn (AVG Pick / Y Rank 74): When most people see Adam Dunn’s AVG, they immediately turn around. However, what I see is the 40 HR, 100 RBI, and 75 R. Dunn will definitely get you 35 HR, 95 RBI, and 70 R, and this is conservative guessing. What the tricky part is his average. I don’t expect him to bat .267 again, but go to around .245.
Jorge Cantu (AVG Pick 153.4 / Y Rank 151): Here is a player that I have continually slotted at my 3B or utility positions, but he does count as a 1B. Cantu is a solid player who saw his HR dip from 29-16, but saw his average raise from .277-.289. I expect him to find his power and keep the average, and hope to see 23 HR, 98 RBI, 75 R, and a .284 AVG.
Adam LaRoche (AVG Pick 228.5 / Y Rank 198): Possibly one of the worst first half ball players in the games, yet he still remains one of the most valuable/unknown players in fantasy baseball. When we all enter the playoffs and people realize Dan Haren cannot pitch an ERA under 4, we see LaRoche. In the post all star game, LaRoche had 13 HR, 44 RBI, 33 R, and a .311 AVG! For a player that can be stored on the bench or picked up on waivers, he is a keeper.
Garrett Jones: Yet another Pirate has graced my list (well, Pirates until they become good enoug). Jones has 21 HR in only 314 AB, and amazing feat. If he can win the job at first or is slotted in the OF—he is eligible for both —year of 30 HR, 75 R/RBI, 12 SB, and a .265 AVG in a 500 AB year is completely reasonable.
Chris Davis will also enter the list here, but since he is a more valuable 3B will be mentioned in depth there.
Too Highly Ranked:
Derek Lee at 51 is ridiculous. He had a career year last year (beside his 2005 performance) and I expect to see much more of the 08/09 version, 20-25 HR, 90 R/RBI, and a .290 AVG.
Second Base has been a deep position the last few years. Players such as Cano, Roberts, Phillips, Pedroia, Zobrist, and Hill will be taken in the middle rounds. However, there are some players who have 25 HRS and 15/15 potential just waiting to be picked in the 100-225 range.
Asdrubal Cabrera (AVG Pick 108.5 / Y Rank 106): Cabrera is eligible at 2B and SS, which is a great thing. Entering into his second year he will see some moderate improvement, which should end him around 10 HR, 75 RBI, 85 R, 15-20 SB, and a .300 AVG.
Howie Kendrick (AVG Pick 147.5 / Y Rank 137): Howie Kendrick is a much undervalued player at 2B. In 374 AB he posted 10 HR, 61 RBI/R, 11 SB, and a .291 AVG. At 500 AB (yes he hasn’t made it so far but we can hope) we can expect 15 HR, 70 RBI/R, 20 SB, and a .295 AVG. If he can stay healthy, he can definitely put up solid numbers.
Jose Lopez (AVG Pick 147.5 / Y Rank 144): The only problem with Lopez at second is his lack of speed. For that past two years he has hit 25 HR and driven in 90 players. He will also benefit in a Mariners lineup with Figgins, Kotchman (although the HR of Branyon will be lost), and Bradley. I expect him to once again get 25 HR, 95 RBI, 75 R, steal no bases, and hit around .275.
Scott Sizemore: (AVG Pick 225.7 / Y Rank 306): Here is a player I’m excited about. Sizemore has no competition in Detroit at 2B and it’s his job to lose. Sizemore is 25, a player who would have played last year if not for a wrist injury. What I love about Sizemore is that he will likely end up hitting 5th or 2nd, around Cabrera, Maggs, and Damon. He can be a 15-15 player with a .280 AVG and 80 R/RBI.
Ronnie Belliard: Now, I am only putting Belliard here if he is the clear starter. If he is, he will play with the Dodgers lineup which will give him a plethora of runs. Don’t draft him. Just watch and see how 2B plays out for the Dodgers.
Luis Valbuena: He has some pop with 10 HR in 350 AB but still lacks the patience and needs to improve contact. One must remember thought that he is only 24 and only time will tell.
Too Highly Ranked:
None (maybe Dan Uggla at 71, but I am a little biased considering I hate him).
Third Base is a trick spot. For the last couple of years, a one hit wonder would appear (Mike Lowell) and would find his way into your heart and lineup. The next year he would fall flat on his… bum and turn your love into hate. Here are the players I’m looking at this year to fill the gap in my lineup and heart.
Gordon Beckham (AVG PICK 135.6 / Y Rank 136): Gordon Beckham has the starting job at 3B in Chicago. Last year he had 14 HR, 63 RBI, 58 R, and a .270 AVG in 103 games. Even though he will only be 23 years old, he has the poise of a veteran and is looking at 20-25 HR, 80 RBI, 75 R, and a .275 AVG.
Chris Davis (AVG Pick 229.6 / Y Rank 300): Chris Davis has so much raw power that you lose all doubt in him the minute he makes contact. The only problem is he makes so little contact—150 K in 380 AB. After a dreadful start to the season though he came back from the minors and hit .308, had 6 HR, and 26 RBI in only 36 games. If his mechanics can stay on pace I can see 35 HR, 80 RBI/R, and a .265 AVG.
Jorge Cantu: (Refer to 1B)
Alex Gordon: Gordon was supposed to be the next Brett George, but things haven’t been going so great. However he was ranked so low last year I couldn't help but give him the benefit of the doubt one more time. Here is a player to look for on waivers in case of injury.
Two more players to look at are Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Both are solid players with 20 HR, 75 RBI, 70 R, and .275 AVG.
Last player is 3B Troy Glaus, at this point I’m bored with 3B and will mention that the veteran is coming off another injury, and could hit anywhere from 10-30 HR with a .270 AVG.
Casey McGehee: Had 16 HR and 60 RBI/R in 355 AB for the Brew Crew. With some solid playing time and hard work against off-speed (.256 AVG) he could be a great surprise.
Mat Gamel: A Brewer with McGehee, I can see him with 20 HR with 450 AB and 65 RBI/R. The only problem for Gamel is playing time and his defensive liability will cut into his playing time.
Ranked Too High:
Aramis Ramirez is just too high at 47 for my taste. He was injured last year and is no longer in his prime.
The position of SS is finally moving back towards 15 HR and 20 SB after the steroid age of baseball. Players who incorporate this old game baseball may best be Bartlett, Reyes, Andrus, etc.
Elvis Andrus (AVG Pick 115.7 / Y Rank 111): I personally hate him because he is abysmal at fielding — even Omar Vizquel couldn’t cure him — but as a hitter he’s good. I am hoping for 40 SB, .280 AVG, 80 R, 40 RBI, and 5 or so HR.
Stephen Drew (AVG Pick 179.4 / Y Rank 163): After the breakout season in 2008, Drew hurt himself in 2009 and saw his progress retract. However he should be able to get back into the swing of things and go back to 20 HR, 80 R, 70 RBI, 10 SB, and .280 AVG.
Miguel Tejada (AVG Pick 199.6 / Y Rank 187): A solid player who is… 36, 37, 32? Who knows? If you want consistency, look for the 80 R/RBI, 15 HR, and .280 AVG. He is much the same as Orlando Cabrera, just a tad bit better.
Erick Ayabar will steal you 20 something odd bases and hit .300, Yunel Escobar will put another quiet but good season, and Alexei Ramirez will try to not to repeat the beginning of last year.
Now the person I am looking for to come back is Mike Aviles. After an injury derailed his breakout season he is long forgotten. Look for waivers to see if he can regain his form during the season.
Alcides Escobar: The Brewers don’t have Hardy or any other major SS. So, who will be their guy? Escobar is the 30 SB kind of guy who will hit .290, have 80 R, and miniscule RBI/HR.
Everth Cabrera: He is a second year player on the Padres who can swipe 35 bases, but wont score—he’s on the Padres—and won’t hit HR/RBI. But still, he is a good second year player who should be on your mind.
Ranked Too High:
Jose Reyes is so fun to watch because he is so fast, which unfortunately is his own undoing. Reyes cannot control himself which means he can only go 100%. Also, the Mets being as stupid as they possibly could, might move him to 3rd in the lineup which would considerably affect his amount of SB. While returning from injury and possible lineup change I wouldn’t bank on Jose.
In the OF there are vast amounts of players who can help your team, you just have to know where to look.
Carlos Gonzalez (AVG Pick 142.3 / Y Rank 128): A 24 year old who has all the making of a 30-20 player in a few years. Carlos looks to be the starter in Coors and with 500 at bats could see 25 HR, 80 R, 70 RBI, 15 SB, and a .283 AVG.
Johnny Damon (AVG Pick 143.4 / Y Rank 131): I have no idea why, but Johnny Damon is really undervalued in Yahoo. Johnny won’t see as much HR as he did in Yankee stadium, but I still see 15 out of him and 20 SB. His R will stay much the same playing in Detroit’s lineup and his RBIs shouldn’t dip to far out of whack.
Franklin Gutierrez (AVG Pick 251 / Y Rank 242): I expect a lower average for Gutierrez, something along the lines of a .270, but his HRs should hit the low 20s, and he should sustain 20 SB and 70 R/RBI.
Ryan Ludwick/Raul Ibanez: These are both players with stats following along the lines of and Raul 25-30 HR, 75-90 RBI, 80 R, and .270-.280 AVG. However, Ludwick will probably will have a better year than Ibanez, as he will get to have Holliday hitting with him for the whole year.
Nolan Reimold (AVG Pick 197.1 / Y Rank 152): Maybe it’s the Orioles time to shine? Reimold will join Wieters as second year players with great promise. Reimold is a possible 80 R/RBI, 25 HR, 10 SB, and .275 AVG. He is a very good player indeed.
Veterans who are looking to make a comeback are Milton Bradley and Jermaine Dye. Bradley is not playing in a big market team which should help him, also he has the talent is he could just shut up and play the game. Dye is a weird player. If you look at his stats in his career it seems that after a bad year he easily bounces back. The only question is whether age has finally taken its tole on the once all star.
Julio Borbon: Is a steal machine, but is also a player who might have to split time while having almost no HR impact.
Cameron Maybin: A future all star, Maybin could steal 20-30 bases but still needs seasoning in other facets of his game.
Lastings Milledge: This is why it’s called potential folks.
Jason Heyward: The Braves amazing OF should be another all star in the making, but won’t play enough to make a huge impact. But we can all hope, can’t we?
Jordan Schafer: Another Brave looking for playing time.
Melky Cabrera: Will the Milk Man finally be able to deliver—yes I know it’s a bad pun?
Ranked Too High:
Chris Coghlan (AVG Pick 113.9 / Y Rank 102): The Marlins amaze me. They breed their players and every 10 years or so win a World Series and then scatter their players in the wind, only to create a whole new team. Along with Maybin, the Marlins have Chris Coghlan. However, it is much too early for him to be ranked this high when you can pick Ibanez instead.
Nick Markakis (56): Don’t get me wrong, Nick is a great guy. However 20 HR and 100 RBI don’t deserve the 56th rank. You will never see another 20 or 10 SB out of him again, but maybe 25 HR.
My strategy when it comes to SP is to draft one star. Then pick among the remaining 70+ to get 2 good guys and then be smart on the waivers. Pitching always emerges; you just have to find it.
Matt Cain (AVG Pick 97.2 / Y Rank 97): If I had to kiss one man, here he is — well, beside Drew Brees. I have always watched Matt Cain and knew he had potential and saw him finally break out last year. Expect 15 W and a 3.00 ERA.
Ben Sheets (AVG Pick 170.8 / Y Rank 179): Well, he is injury prone, but great when healthy. Okay, at this point I am just going to group him with Bedard and Kazmir. The only reason I have Sheets high is because he is going to be traded at the deadline to a playoff contention team (and I hate Bedard and Kazmir).
Brandon Webb (AVG Pick 161 / Y Rank 189): Last year he went from one of the first pitcher of the board to the bottom 30 this year. Webb however has been doing well since coming off the DL, and he has shown no discomfort. Expect a bounce back to old form.
John Lackey (AVG Pick 123.5 / Y Rank 129): A new stadium and a new chance. Here is another solid pitcher late in the draft who will give you a good amount of K and Wins without killing your WHIP or ERA.
Francisco Liriano: Last year I said to avoid him, this year I will tell you to draft him. Liriano seems to have gotten his slider back. In a Dominican League he has been using it to perfection, posting an ERA under 1 in 5 games.
Brett Anderson: A 22 year old in Oakland. Now when I think of SP in the 2000s in Oakland the image of Zito, Harden, and Hudson come to mind. I am expecting to see 12 W, a 3.3 ERA, and about 170 K.
Clay Buchholz: Will he finally be able to become an everyday starter, or will he just rot?
J.A. Happ: Regression or progression? Unfortunately, I think we might see some regression out of Happ this year. He got lucky that a very high amount of players were left stranded on base, but this year I don’t think it will happen again.
Wade Davis: He will battle for the 5th starting job out of Tampa, and he is good enough to win it. I am betting to see a 10 win season with an under 4 ERA.
Notable Talent (yes, I know I said Notable instead of Noticeable)-
Mat Latos: A SP out of Petco, which is a notorious pitchers park. Last year he fizzled (lack of stamina) but after a season under his belt, proper training, and a starting job, one can expect a lot out of him.
Brian Matusz: His first year with a 4.67 ERA might be a bit disconcerting, but he has the talent. He had an impressive 8 K per 9 and many balls he pitched found their way through the infield.
Ranked Too High:
Pitching is to fluid to really weigh in on.
I won't even dignify this with a picture.
DO NOT WASTE AN EARLY PICK FOR A CLOSER!!!
People, I cannot stress this enough. Don’t be the person to draft Mariano in the sixth round. Last year I picked up Aardsma and Bell and won my saves category.
Billy Wagner (AVG Pick 165.4 / Y Rank 181):
Francisco Cordero (AVG Pick 144.1 / Y Rank 156):
Mike Gonzalez (AVG Pick 225.9 / Y Rank 266):
These closers all have the skill/talent to produce but are undervalued by Yahoo. The person who is the worst on in the group however is Mike Gonzalez, as he wasn’t a 100% for the Braves when he did close.
Leo Nunez: Nunez has the closer spot in Florida but is still unreliable.
Players to Avoid:
Anyone earlier then the 10th round.
Well, that’s the list. After countless mock drafts and years of fantasy baseball these are the players that I look to pick late in the game. I hope this Sleeper Guide will help you to draft in these upcoming weeks and I wish you good luck!