Bargain Bin: AL-Only Sleepers & Value Picks
Everybody is looking to find that guy during the draft who might provide you with the unexpected production that will help you win your fantasy baseball league. This is what makes the final six or seven rounds of the draft, and then waiver wire prowling, so much fun. In this piece, I am going to focus on the American League and give you a few guys to target in AL-Only league drafts. If you take a chance on these value picks and draft sleepers this season, they might give you the spark you need to get to a championship.
Cheers to a happy and healthy fantasy baseball season!
Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners
Mike didn’t provide the numbers we were hoping for after his call up last season, but that doesn’t change the fact that this kid can hit. He is playing his home games in one of the toughest parks to hit in. His best asset is his power from the right side of the plate, but he has a good feel at the plate and has had success in college and the minor league system. He is in an improved lineup this season with the additions of Cano, Hart and Morrison, so that should help him see some more good pitches to hit.
2013 Stats: .214 BA, .290 OBP, .329SLG, 37 H, 22 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 16 BB, 49 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: .240 BA, .320 OBP, .400 SLG, 120 H, 60 R, 18 HR, 70 RBI
First Base (1B)
Chris Carter, Houston Astros
Chris has a tremendous amount of power, similar hitter to what Jack Cust was for the Oakland A’s a few years back. He like most home run hitters will strikeout a ton, but if your league does not penalize strikeouts too much there could be a lot of value here.
2013 Stats: .223 BA, .320 OBP, .451 SLG,113 H, 64 R, 29 HR, 82 RBI, 70 BB, 212 K
2014 Fantasy Projections: .230 BA, .320 OBP, .445 SLG, 115 H, 60 R, 30 HR, 80 RBI
Third Base (3B)
Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
Brett has been one of my favorite sleepers to predict, and be somewhat disappointed by, each of the past few seasons; I will not be deterred to keep tradition alive. Brett has quick hands through the zone, has decent power, has grit, and runs with urgency. And aside from injuries gives you nothing not to love. Watch him breakout this season.
2013 Stats: .254 BA, .315 OBP, .397 SLG, 102 H, 41 R, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 30 BB, 68 K, 9 SB
2014 Fantasy Projections: .275 BA, .340 OBP, .420 SLG, 140 H, 70 R, 19 HR, 80 RBI, 16 SB
Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners
Brad has a rare combination of power and speed seated at the top of the lineup, and has showed his hitting prowess since being drafted in 2011. He didn’t disappoint after being called up last season, driving in 36 runs and stealing a few bags. In a much more potent lineup, he too shall see a boost in numbers. 20/20 season? Maybe.
2013 Stats: .265 BA, .318 OBP, .418 SLG, 81 H, 41 R, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 24 BB, 52 K, 5 SB
2014 Fantasy Projections: .275 BA, .330 OBP, .420 SLG, 155 H, 80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 25 SB
Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond, like many of the Rays past hitting prospects, has taken a little long to break on to the scene and break out. But when healthy, he still shows the promise that prompted Tampa to allow Carl Crawford to become a Bostonian. Jennings, like Brad Miller, sits atop a lineup and possesses power and speed. He lacks some discipline at the plate, but has now been around long enough that he should be ready to put all the pieces of the puzzle together this season. I wish the lineup around him was better, but it is much improved over the past few seasons.
2013 Stats: .252 BA, .334 OBP, .414 SLG, 133 H, 82 R, 14 HR, 54 RBI, 64 BB, 115 K, 20 SB
2014 Fantasy Projections: .260 BA, .340 OBP, .450 SLG, 165 H, 85 R, 21 HR, 70 RBI, 22 SB
Starting Pitcher (SP)
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
Chris had a very solid 2013 season after putting up sub-par numbers in 2012. He is not a strikeout pitcher, boasting a 7.1 K/9inning stat line, but what is more important is that he gets outs. If he can keep the fly balls from leaving the ball park, he will have a very good season in 2014. The Rays pitching staff has potentially the highest upside of any team in baseball. The culture produces talent that I am always willing to bet on for fantasy baseball.
2013 Stats: 3.22 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 128.2 INN, 9 W, 7 L, 101 K, 38 BB, 15 HR, 2 CG, 2 SO
2014 Fantasy Projections: 3.35 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 15 W, 7 L, 160 K, 60 BB, 15 HR
Relief Pitcher (RP)
Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles
Tommy is making the transition from starter to closer, and quite frankly I think he will adapt swimmingly. He has swing and miss stuff, and has a solid defense behind him as his backup. While he is going to be a boom or bust kind of guy, he is no doubt somebody that you can snag after the first two waves of closers go.
2013 Stats: 2.81 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 86.1 INN, 6 W, 5 L, 68 K, 14 BB, 11 HR, 4 SV
2014 Fantasy Projections: 2.88 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 4 W, 3 L, 75 K, 14 BB, 29 SV, 4 BS
Thanks for reading, and happy drafting ladies and gentlemen!