Showing posts with label 2012 Sleepers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012 Sleepers. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ten Players I Love More Than You

I stole this idea from the Yahoo! Sports Columnists who posted their lists on Friday. This is not a top ten to draft list. This is a list of the guys I want to own in almost every draft this year. Guys I will draft far ahead of their ADP, that will I spend the extra dollar to own for the 2012 season.

Brandon McCarthy - I love Brandon McCarthy. He was always expected to be a very good MLB starter. He just kept getting hurt and when he was healthy he failed to deliver. Then he read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and decided he needed to get more groundballs and more strikeouts. It is a great story, but more importantly he succeeded. Oklahoma City pitching coach, Terry Clark, helped him make a mechanical change.
Watching video of McCarthy's extreme overhand motion, Clark realized that the pitcher's arm was pronating at the moment of delivery, and the pressure was twisting his scapula. "It was really ugly," says Clark. "He's lucky his scapula was the only thing that broke." Clark had McCarthy drop down to a more natural three-quarter arm angle, like Halladay's. McCarthy's whole motion became a study in minimalism. Less right arm, more back leg. No more falling off the mound toward first base.
Do what it take to grab this guy while you still can. He has greatly improved skills, mechanics that should help him stay healthier in addition to helping him get more outs. There seem to be very few believers out there. Maybe because you thought the Athletics had traded their best starter away. They didn't.

B.J. Upton -
I loved him as a prospect and he disappointed and I avoided him for a few years. However, it looks like he has begun to put things together. He finished the 2011 season impressively, with what seemed to be a better approach. This comes as he approaches Free Agency for the first time. A contract year, improved skills and a better approach come together for a career year.

Alex Gordon - Despite his obvious improvement at the end of the 2010 season and his breakout 2011 season, Gordon is still being drafted later than he should. Maybe it has something to do with being one of the older young guys on the Kansas City Royals. It could be that his initial disappointments have turned potential owners off. Either way, I think he will hit for a great batting average, 25-30 homers and 20 steals.

Logan Morrison - The knee injury this spring is annoying but not dissuading me from drafting him. I see a player who has the skills to hit .300 and the power to blast 30 homers out of any park. Morrison ran into some bad luck with the broken hand in 2009 (which sapped his power in 2010) and the unfair demotion last season. He only needs to get a full season of at-bats to reach 30 homers, with some skill improvement it could be more. He hits like Joey Votto and you can get him 10 rounds later in a lot of drafts.

Curtis Granderson - Everyone is assuming that Granderson won't repeat his amazing 2011 season. Maybe he won't. I see an already great player in his prime who took some advice from a great batting coach that allowed him to tap into his full potential. I think a 30/30 season is a cinch. In my eyes he is more likely to go 50/50 than Matt Kemp.

Rex Brothers - I am absolutely certain you have heard about Kenley Jansen. You have at least read (if not been convinced) that Jansen will at some point snatch the closer job of the Los Angeles Dodgers away from Javy Guerra, who has done nothing to lose his job at this point.

Rex Brothers has every ounce of ability that Jansen has and is as likely (if not more so) to take the Colorado Rockies closer job from Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt has been a great reliever for a long time. He has been given the opportunity to close in the past and has always blown it. Maybe that's just coincidence or maybe it is a lack of guile or something.

Alexi Casilla - Maybe you have forgotten the lofty expectations once placed on Casilla's shoulders. Between disappointing seasons and injuries, it is easy to understand why you may not even have him on your cheat sheet. He dominated in the Dominican Winter League, batting .336 (runner-up for the batting title) and as of Sunday he was batting .357 in the Grapefruit League. He says he is in a better mental state than last season and his confidence is soaring. If he can stay healthy I expect great things.

He isn't afraid to take a walk and is an excellent contact hitter. He has more discipline at the plate than you may realize. He rarely swings at pitches out the strike zone and again, makes excellent contact. That and his speed is a recipe for a better batting average and with some BABIP luck I think he could hit over .300 this season. In a neutral park he could probably hit ten homers, but we'll be happy with whatever he provides as long as he comes through with the 30 steals. Draft him as your MI and reap the benefits.

Jed Lowrie - This is a tough player to evaluate because of the injuries and the variety of skills he has shown and then not shown at different times. He has looked like an above average defensive player, he has also looked like a below average defensive player. He has shown the ability to hit for power and to hit for average. He is a very intelligent player, he just finished his degree in political science from Stanford University. Unfortunately, injuries have sucked up a lot of the time he should have been developing into one of the better fantasy shortstops in the game.

The good news is that Lowrie is still just 26-years old and just entering his prime years. He is finally healthy coming into the 2012 season. He has swung a hot bat this swing - batting .348/.464/.609 as of yesterday. He fouled a ball off his foot and will miss just one game that he was not likely to travel for anyway. I think he'll hit for a strong batting average, get on base a ton and slug 20-plus homers. That is an awesome return on a late-round shortstop.

Luke Hochevar - The pedigree is first rate. He was expected to be an ace. A real ace, not just the number one starter by default. He has shown us flashes in the past and then failed to deliver the following season. Check out these numbers from after the All Star Break - 79.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, .222 BAA, 68 strikeouts, 24 walks and 6-3 record in 12 starts. That may not be an ace but it is a massive improvement. You can draft him extremely late so the risk is minimal.

Jason Heyward - Last but not even close to least is The New Kid, Jason Heyward. The 2011 season was obviously a disaster for the young Atlanta Brave. Few realize that Heyward first hurt his shoulder in April, he played through it but re-aggravated it and even though his numbers sunk he kept trying to play through it. Probably because he did not like how he had been labeled injury-prone after the 2010 season. The shoulder injury warped his swing and he got into bad habits and finally with everything out of whack he was sat on the bench to watch someone else do his job.

This off-season he changed his diet, improved and increased his workouts and came into camp a lean mean machine. He worked hard with the team coaches and Chipper Jones to get his swing back and they think they have it. He struggled the first two weeks of the Spring season (as did most of the Braves) but has hit a couple of massive blasts since the team started winning spring games. He can hit for average and power and steal bases. He is in a solid lineup and he is a crucial cog. I love him a lot, at least more than you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers Report


Top Targets: Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Jesus Montero
Post Hype: Jason Castro, Nick Hundley
New Skills/Opportunity: Tim Federowicz, Josh Donaldson, Stephen Vogt

Matt Wieters is my top catcher sleeper. He had a small breakout during the 2011 season but I believe there is still quite a bit of upside for fantasy owners... Joe Mauer has been injured more than most owners can stand but he is still a talented hitter. Where Mauer is being drafted now is low enough to take a chance with him...Stephen Vogt can hit with any catcher in the game, his defense is just okay. Vogt is doing his best this spring to prove to manager Joe Maddon that he belongs in the majors and behind the plate.

First Basemen

Top Targets: Bryan LaHair, Adam Dunn,
Post Hype: Chris Davis, James Loney
New Skills/Opportunity: Yonder Alonso, Anthony Rizzo

You may look at the names above and find it strange that two players on the same team are listed as sleepers. But Bryan LaHair plays a passable left field and the Chicago Cubs need all the bats they can get. Anthony Rizzo has been a beast this spring and deserves a shot to begin the season in the majors...Old man James Loney (not really that old) seemed to have himself a Jose Bautista moment last summer. After working with new hitting coach Dave Hansen, Bautista has changed his stance and swing to prevent his shoulder flying open and thus sapping his power. You can check out an objective review of the change at Chad Moriyama's Blog.
What is clear though is that Loney has changed his approach and swing over the last two months in a way that has drastically affected his hit distribution and production. As such, the possibility does exist that his numbers could improve significantly in 2012 if the changes he has made carry over on a consistent basis.
Third Basemen

Top Targets: Brett Lawrie, Martin Prado, Ryan Roberts
Post Hype: Ian Stewart, Edwin Encarnacion, Wilson Betemit
New Skills/Opportunity: Jimmy Paredes, Brandon Inge

Brett Lawrie has made such an impression on the baseball world that he has become monstrously overrated. I've seen more than one projection by respected analysts where he comes in hitting over .300 and approaching a 30/30 season. I would not pay the price he is getting right now...I prefer a low-cost Edwin Encarnacion or Wilson Betemit to $30 it will take to roster Lawrie. Both are scheduled to get nearly full-time at-bats this season...Jimmy Paredes will not be much of a keeper in most NL-only leagues with the Astros moving to the American League. Paredes should provide some cheap steals even if he finds himself filling a utility role rather than starting shortstop or third basemen...Brandon Inge is fighting for the starting second baseman job in Tigers camp. If he wins he should provide solid production for a low price.

Second Basemen

Top Targets: Jose Altuve, Ruben Tejada, Jemile Weeks
Post Hype: Gordon Beckham, Tyler Green, Sean Rodriguez
New Skills/Opportunity: Steve Lombardozzi,

Sometimes analysts will refer to a player and give his stats over his last 300 MLB at-bats. Often they are doing this unfairly. When a player gets 300 at-bats over four years and several separate call-ups, the opportunity to succeed in the majors is small. Tyler Green needs an opportunity to show he belongs in the majors. This spring he is competing for an opportunity thanks to the injury to Allen Craig...Gordon Beckham and Ozzie Guillen never seemed like a good mix to me. But I like his chances of a rebound under new manager Robin Ventura. It is almost like a change of scenery without actually going anywhere. The entire White Sox roster should benefit from a more relaxed environment...I love Jose Altuve, reminds me of Dustin Pedroia without the laser show.


Top Targets: Emilio Bonafacio, Dee Gordon
Post Hype: Sean Rodriguez, Jed Lowrie, Alcides Escobar
New Skills/Opportunity: Zack Cozart, Trevor Plouffe, Adrelton Simmons

Emilio Bonafacio has to prove that he can contribute on a daily basis even when his BABIP isn't soaring over .400 in one of his insane hot streaks. Even off the bench he's good for 20-30 steals so don't sweat the small stuff if he isn't named the regular center fielder...Dee Gordon is leading off for the Dodgers and could steal 80 bases if allowed to run at will. He has the green light thus far...Jed Lowrie could hit 20 homers and steal a few bases this season. He has a better bat than you think...Adrelton Simmons has only a small chance of becoming the Braves shortstop THIS season. But he is impressing everyone this spring.. He has a bat you need to remember when he gets his opportunity. I like him a lot more than Tyler Pastornicky on a long term basis but even Pastornicky should be able to steal you bases on the cheap.


Top Targets: Yoenis Cespedes, Shin Soo-Choo , Luke Scott,
Post Hype: Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, Fernando Martinez, Domonic Brown,
New Skills/Opportunity: Lorenzo Cain, Nate Schierholtz, Michael Saunders

A friend suggested that I was bound to own Yoenis Cespedes this season based on my love for the toolsy young players with star potential. I could not argue with him. I just fear the price will turn me off. Clay Davenport sorted through all the Cuban statistics to come up with some projections and comparable players. Ultimately, it looks like Cespedes and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles are not too far apart...Nate Schierholtz has been given a starting role in San Francisco (probably at the expense of Brandon Belt for now). He could cheaply provide 20-25 homers in full-time at-bats...If I get to Dollar Dayz in my NL-Only leagues I'd spend a dollar on Fernando Martinez...Michael Saunders says that if he goes down this season it will be done swinging the bat like a man. He hired a hitting coach Mike Bard to shorten his swing and teach him to utilize his lower half. He is using a 60-ounce bat in the cage so he can't revert back to a more "handsy" hitter. He will start the season as the Mariners center fielder.

Starting Pitchers

Top Targets: Ubaldo Jimenez, Johan Santana, Ryan Dempster, Max Scherzer
Post Hype: Brandon Morrow, Jonathan Sanchez, Homer Bailey
New Skills/Opportunity: Gavin Floyd, Matt Moore, Drew Pomeranz , Jeff Neiman, Luke Hochevar, Robbie Erlin

Johan Santana looks healthy. He's throwing in the low 90's. His fine control is not all the way back yet but he is throwing strikes...Ubaldo Jimenez has his velocity back and should be much better this season if he can avoid injury...Jeff Neiman and Luke Hochevar both showed improved skills in the second half of the 2012 season and could be very good for cheap money.

Relief Pitchers

Top Targets: Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen,
Post Hype: Scott Downs, Jeff Samardzija,
New Skills/Opportunity: Addison Reed, Cesar Cabral, Brian Shaw, Ross Detwiler, Ryan Mattheus, Brad Brach

Brad Brach was selected by the Padres in the 42nd round of the 2008 draft. He is the future closer of the Padres... Cesar Cabral was a Rule V pick dealt to the Yankees from the Royals for cash. The Yankees want him to make the team as their second lefty out of the pen...Do not draft Addison Reed as if he is already the closer, draft him as a future closer. This may not be the season he receives that opportunity.

Bench/1st Call-Up Players to Watch:
Luke Hughes, Michael Martinez, Eduardo Nunez, Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy, Ryan Flaherty, Matt Antonelli, Corey Brown,

Adam Laroche is not healthy. Tyler Moore could have a major league impact sooner than expected. Moore will not have a great OBP but he can slug 25-30 homers without question...The Phillies are an aging and brittle team. Michael Martinez could get a ton of playing time and his bat is improving. If Rick Ankiel can not get the job done in center field for the Nationals, Corey Brown could get a quick call-up. He impressed a lot of people this spring.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 Sleepers - A First Baseman for the Rays

For Yankee fans, we are pretty far into the off-season. We're used to out team striking quickly and grabbing the best guys available. Or at the very least we're exhausted by rumors that we're going to get this guy or that guy. Instead the Yankees are patiently waiting out the market and could go into the 2012 season with pretty much the same team they played with in 2011. For fans of the Yankees this is unusual. For fans of the Tampa Bay Rays this is par for the course.

The Rays having one of the smaller payroll budgets in the game, rarely jump early on free agents. They exercise patience and wait until potential bargains develop. This year they might be interested in an outfielder, a designated hitter, middle infielder and first baseman. They could very well re-sign Carlos Pena. But for now they wait and have inexperienced names penciled in at the top of the depth chart at several positions. The most interesting one in my opinion is Russ Canzler.

Canzler is interesting for several reasons. I like that he fits the developing trend of allowing older minor leaguers - sometimes barely considered prospects - to have a chance to make major league rosters. A lot of organizations will dismiss a certain player because he doesn't fit their perception of what a player at his position should look like. We've seen it a hundred times, look at short, slight players like Billy Wagner and Pedro Martinez, who were not always appreciated for their skills as prospects. Canzler does not have an odd body type, he's six feet and two inches tall and weighs over 200 pounds, so he looks like a DH or first baseman. The problem with this guys is that despite being a pretty good hitter, he doesn't hit like the prototypical first baseman.

Some numbers:

2006 Cubs (A-) 7.10% 22.50% 0.264 0.319 0.543 0.279 0.291 0.382 137
2007 Cubs (A) 7.00% 17.50% 0.270 0.321 0.376 0.107 0.316 0.318 97
2008 Cubs (A+) 7.50% 19.40% 0.273 0.327 0.463 0.190 0.31 0.356 120
2009 Cubs (A+) 6.50% 22.20% 0.270 0.315 0.430 0.160 0.333 0.345 116
2009 Cubs (AA) 11.60% 15.40% 0.258 0.346 0.399 0.142 0.289 0.337 105
2010 Cubs (AA) 11.20% 23.10% 0.287 0.372 0.566 0.279 0.332 0.412 151
2011 Rays (AAA) 12.20% 23.50% 0.314 0.401 0.530 0.215 0.396 0.410 157
2011 Rays 20.00% 20.00% 0.333 0.400 0.333 0.000 0.333 0.316 101

You can see that Canzler has a history of hitting for decent batting averages (much better than decent the last two seasons) with solid power numbers. Looking at these numbers for a still relatively young first baseman, you would probably give him a shot on your fantasy team and as a Rays fan you'd probably be pretty happy to have a .275/.350/.500 line from your rookie first baseman. But that enthusiasm dies off a bit when you learn he has not hit more than 21 homers at any level or in any season. But should it?

For fantasy owners, you might not want him as your primary first baseman, but with third base a weakness in MLB at the moment and first base not quite as deep as it once was, Canzler would be an excellent corner on a lot of teams, especially in AL-Only Leagues. For the Rays it seems like a slam dunk cinch, they would risk almost nothing and he might fill a need for them inexpensively. How long have the Rays been looking for a long-term solution at first base? So if they fail to move one of they pitchers or prospects for a first baseman (they're rumored t be looking at Anthony Rizzo of the Padres) they could decide to give Canzler a try. It just might be to the benefit of fantasy owners.