David Price, Francisco Liriano: Fantasy Baseball's Biggest Sleepers

E ASenior Analyst IJuly 20, 2008

For those of you who are as big on fantasy baseball as I am, who may or may not have under performing teams as I do, or who just want to make a cheap upgrade at a position, here are some tips to consider.

I will rate my top-three sleeper picks at each position to help you out.



1. Chris Ianetta, Colorado Rockies: Now that his platoon duty with Yorvit Torrealba has ended, look for Ianetta to put up some impressive numbers at the dish for the rest of the year. So far he has 10 home runs, 37 RBI, and is hitting .280.

He has 30-home-run potential, and if your catcher position is weak, I strongly advise you to pick him off waivers now. He could be a hot commodity as fantasy leagues reach their trade deadlines in the coming weeks.

2. Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants: While Molina is most likely not a free agent in your typical deep league, he has put up some decent numbers for the San Fran Giants. He has driven in 56 men this year and is most likely cheap. If you need a few RBI here and there, Molina is more likely than not a cheap get.

3. Taylor Teagarden, Texas Rangers: Unless there is a manager in your league who likes to stash away prospects, I guarantee you that Teagarden is a free agent in your fantasy league. He hit a home run today in his first big-league game, and he is a pretty good hitter.

For the moment, I'd recommend watching him and paying close attention. With only one game under his belt, it would be downright silly to rush out and grab him, as he very well might go without getting picked up all season.


First Base

1. Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians: While he is a catcher, he has dual eligibility for catcher and first base. I'd only recommend a pick-up on him if you are in it for a playoff run and could use the help his bat brings. While V-Mart isn't slated to return until three or four weeks from now, he may be of some help to you.

Hopefully his hitting will return to form, sans the leg discomfort, and if it does, look for him to bring in some decent numbers. Don't except him to be the ONE guy to push you over the top, unless your lineup is juiced. But if you don't mind taking on Martinez, and one or two other "role" players, your team should be in business.

2. Adam LaRoche, Pittsburgh Pirates: Some fed-up owners may have dropped him after his slow start, but some sly owners may have picked him up. Regardless, pick him up if he's out there. Almost every year he is hitting around .250 with 10-15 home runs at the All-Star break. And almost every year he finishes around .280 with 25-30 home runs.

LaRoche is a great second-half hitter, and picking him up would be a great move. If you have to trade for him, he might not be cheap if his owner knows of his second-half prowess.

3. Marcus Thames, Detroit Tigers: He's found his way into the lineup in Detroit, and oh boy is he mashing. If you can pick him up, do it the second after you finish reading this article. I would not advise trading for him unless he comes extremely cheap, as he is subject to quite a bit of strikeouts and inexplicable loss of playing time.

With Matt Joyce and Brandon Inge in town, he could see quite a few days off with Leyland balancing playing time.


Second Base

1. Alexi Casilla, Minnesota Twins: He is on fire since being called up by the Twins in May. Pick him up if you haven't yet. He is not stealing bases at as fast a pace he was expected to—he only has four—but he is hitting well over .300 and has even shown some pop.

2. Ryan Theriot, Chicago Cubs: He's riding a 13-game hit streak. His bat is blazing. He is more likely than not owned in your league, but he could still easily be had on the trade market. Trading for Theriot is something you should definitely go for. He will raise your team's batting average, hits, and stolen bases.

3. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal has been MASHING in the minor leagues since being sent down this year. He was just recalled to the big leagues by the Indians, and with their reeling offense, now is the time to pick him up.

He's regained his confidence and swing in the minors, and he'll look to pick up Cleveland's offense at the show. If anyone in your league already has him, they are really on top of the ball.


Third Base

1. Casey Blake, Cleveland Indians: After a slow start, he's found his swing again, and look for him to start hitting. He can be had very cheap, and he may even be on the waiver wire. He is at least worth a look if you need help at any corner in or outfield positions.

2. Ian Stewart, Colorado Rockies: He is eligible for third or second base, and he is a fantastic hitter. I assure you he will be available for pickup on free agents, but get him soon, because his stock is picking up.

3. Aaron Miles, Saint Louis Cardinals: Miles has done a great job with the Cards this year. He's hitting .323, a .772 OPS, and he only has one error. (I don't know if errors are a stat in your league, but they are in mine.)

Miles has flown under the radar this year, and I expect him to keep up the good work without being noticed.



1. Nick Punto, Minnesota Twins: Punto has found his sweet swing again, and if you mix his .324 average with his jaw-dropping defense and versatility, well, you have one great player. If you need help anywhere in the infield, pick him up. You won't regret.

2. Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers: When, and if, he makes a late-season return, he could be some big help to your team. I would still wait a few games after his return to watch him, as he isn't guaranteed to keep hitting the way he was early on this year.



1. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies: A cheap acquisition in most cases. He brings 22 stolen bases and a decent batting average to the table. Shane may see 40 bags stolen this year.

2. Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins: Maybin is an all-around player. With rumors of the Marlins looking for a bat, don't be surprised if they use Maybin is an internal option. If he gets called up, Maybin is definitely worth a shot at your outfield.

3. Colby Rasmus, Saint Louis Cardinals: Rasmus is the pride of the Cardinals' system. While he was expected to be in the bigs by now, he is still likely to be a late summer or September callup. Rasmus is a great hitter, and expect his good minor-league numbers to carry over to the major league.



1. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

2. Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins

3. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins