Tuck: Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

This is a big weekend coming up in fantasy baseball circles.  So many of you are having your draft this weekend before the official stateside start to the season.  I thought about just giving you my personal rankings, but figured that would just give you a headache.  So instead I will give you some guys to target on draft day.

Rounds 1-5

OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado– Easy to forget he was a top 5 last season, but injuries marred his year, and those that paid for top flight production didn’t get it.  He still put up very respectable numbers, and is hitting well this spring.  Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on him in the first round, because he won’t be around long into the second.

OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami– I won’t even be a little bit surprised if the man formerly known as Mike, but originally known as Giancarlo leads baseball in home runs this year, and many years to come.  Having Reyes, Bonifacio, and Hanley hit in front of him won’t hurt his RBI production either.  Late second won’t be a reach for him if he does.

1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City– I am buying in.  The talent is real, and the Royals first basemen has carried over a nice rookie year into a wonderful spring where he leads all players in RBI.  In the late third you can draft him and still reap a return on investment.

3B Alex Rodriguez, New York- A year ago he was going off near the top of the board.  And then he struggled with injuries and a career-worst season.  He had the Kobe treatment on his aching knee, and we’ve seen Kobe go off to lead the NBA in scoring this year.  He fell to the 20th pick in my fantasy basketball league, and that guy is running away and hiding in the league.  ARod is still hitting clean-up in perhaps the best lineup in baseball.  If he is there in the third, don’t be afraid.

SP Zack Greinke, Milwaukee- While Justin Verlander goes off the board in the 1st or 2nd round, you might get equal value in Greinke in the 4th round.  He should challenge Kershaw for the K crown this year.


Rounds 6-10

SP James Shields, Tampa Bay- Last year wasn’t a fluke.  A change in mechanics made all the difference for the Rays #1 starter this year.  He’ll slip behind maybe 1 or 2 of his rotation mates on draft day, but will produce on a similar, if not higher level.  If he makes past the 6th he is a steal.

2B Jemile Weeks, Oakland- He can run and he can hit.  He doesn’t have the power stroke of his older brother, but he is a better athlete and will net you a lot of runs and bags hitting at the top of the order.  The 8th wouldn’t be reaching.

OF BJ Upton, Tampa Bay- Seems like the same old song and dance, and suffering with an anemic batting average.  While it’s true he could hurt you there again, you can’t ignore he’s jumped in homers, RBI, and walks for three straight seasons.  The best still is yet to come.

SP CJ Wilson, Los Angeles- He pitched in Texas.  He did it with great success as a starter for two years after coming out of the bullpen.  Still don’t believe?  How about a 2.56 ERA outside of Arlington the last 2 seasons?  He could be a top 5 pitcher by year’s end and you can have him before the 10th round.

1B Freddie Freeman, Atlanta- He is only 22 years old.  He hit 21 home runs last year.  He’ll eventually be a 30 HR-100 RBI guy.  If its not this year, it will be close.

Rounds 11-20

OF Vernon Wells, Los Angeles– What a bitter pill to swallow last year when Wells came over from Toronto and provided owners with a batting average below the mendoza line.  He did however continue to bash home runs.  His career numbers suggest last year was a fluke, and a bounce back should be expected in a beefed up lineup that now included Pujols and Morales.

SP Ervin Santana, Los Angeles-  Finished out the last month of the year as the best pitcher in baseball arguably.  I think it’s safe to say he is over his injuries and ready to be a top line starter.

1B Justin Smoak, Seattle- Once the apple of the Rangers eye, was dealt to the M’s and will have a great opportunity for success this year.  He’ll be hitting behind Ichiro and Ackley and have Montero protecting him.  90+ RBI is a very real thing.

SS Eric Aybar, Los Angeles- He’s leading off in one of the most potent lineups around.  30 SB and 110 runs might not be too far off what Jose Reyes nets you in the 2nd round.

SP Francisco Liriano, Minnesota- I know he killed you last year.  But he is killing it in spring and he would be on a very short lists of guys you can get in this range that can produce at the level of a top ten guy.


Rounds 20+

OF JD Martinez, Houston- Hitting 3rd, even in a bad lineup, is still hitting 3rd.  He hit well last season when called up and is having a solid spring.

SS Cliff Pennington, Oakland-  He’ll hit at the bottom of the order this year, but you can do much worse at your middle spot than a guy who should swipe 20+ bags.

1B James Loney, Los Angeles- He raked the last 45 days of last year to get his number up near where they normally have been in years past.  For the chance it continues he could be a steal as a bench player or utility or corner on your team.

SP Juan Nicasio, Colorado- He has been a flame-thrower this spring with a sparkling ERA.  He faired quite well at the end of last year, and while the ballpark hurts some of his value, you can do worse with a late round pick.

SP Henderson Alverez, Toronto- He looked good at the end of last year, and has developed a nasty splitter that has fooled hitters badly this spring.