Let's face it. The beauty of fantasy baseball is the daily nature and commitment it takes to watch game after game. There are constant lineup shifts, call-ups of young stud prospects, and rotating of starting pitchers that make the game more intriguing than most other fantasy sports. It's no surprise then, that to perennially compete, you have to look beyond just being a waiver wire hound and find the next great surprise before the rest of the league catches wind. You have to find value in the draft.
In no fantasy sport is there more hidden value in the draft than in fantasy baseball. Rosters are bigger, and there are simply more positions. So-called experts can't predict everything, and that leads to sneaky picks in later rounds that will lead you to championship glory. Here is a look at four undervalued players based on mockdraftcentral.com's latest Average Draft Position (ADP) report.
Draft Day Sleepers - Undervalued ADPs
Jose Quintana - SP, Chicago White Sox
It's kind of shocking to see where Jose Quintana, who went 9-7, with a 3.51 ERA, and 164 k's, is going in mockdraftcentral's report. Couple those statistics with 200 innings pitched, and the fact he just turned 25, and it's obvious Quintana is just rolling into his stride as a big leaguer. He is currently sitting at pick 294 overall, and pick 79 in starting pitchers.
Last season ended up being Quintana's first full season after 22 starts in 2012. He is only getting better, and closer to his minor league peripherals of a 2.76 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9, and he's got a younger, more athletic team playing defense behind him in 2014. You'd be doing yourself a favor and take a sure thing in Quintana over the unproven and/or erratic likes of Michael Pineda, Ubaldo Jimenez (who is still without a team, no less), or Jonathon Niese - all going ahead of Quintana.
Jaime Garcia - SP, St. Louis Cardinals
2010: 13-8, 2.70 ERA, 132 strikeouts in 163 innings. 2011: 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 156 strikeouts in 194 innings. Those were Jaime Garcia's numbers prior to two injury plagued seasons, and two surgeries. Even with shoulder issues worse than anyone realized in those shortened seasons, Garcia maintained an ERA under 4, along with a steady 7 k's per 9 innings. Coming in to 2014, Garcia appears healthy coming off of May surgery, and has a likely number two or number three spot in the rotation of the National League Champions, and number one scoring offense in the NL. He's a proven winner when healthy with the statistics to back it up, and he's being taken 399th overall, and 118th among starting pitchers. That's simply crazy. People have forgotten about Jaime Garcia. You should not on draft day.
Kole Calhoun - OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
If you read my previous piece on impact prospect outfielders, you'd know I am very high on Kole Calhoun in 2014. In his short 58 game stint with the big club in 2013, Calhoun batted .282, with 8 HR, and 32 RBI. Those numbers, averaged over an entire MLB season, would seem to fall right in line with his minor league peripherals of .324 BA, 22 HR, 99 RBI, .410 OBP, and .547 SLG in 2011, and .298 BA, 14 HR, 73, RBI, .369 OBP, and .507 SLG in 2012 (in 100 less at bats than 2011, due to a cup of coffee in Anaheim). Take those peripherals, Calhoun's major league experience and success, and the knowledge of a starting gig in 2014; and Calhoun should certainly be taken prior to his current ADP of 166th overall, and 45th amongst outfielders. Look for Calhoun in your draft before taking the likes of Brett Gardner (ADP 43/154), Martin Prado (39/143), or Alejandro De Aza (38/135) - all being taken before Calhoun.
Brad Miller - SS, Seattle Mariners
Shortstop has been a notoriously tough spot in regards to positional scarcity in fantasy baseball. While the outlook is not quite as dire in 2014, you don't want to be on the outside looking in when attempting to fill a position that hasn't always been known for consistent offensive output. The Seattle Mariners' Brad Miller got his call in June of 2013, and gave the Mariners, and savvy fantasy owners, a small taste of what he was capable of. While his line of .265 BA, 8 HR, and 36 RBI isn't exactly eye popping, note that it was done in only 306 at bats. Look for Miller to lock down his starting gig in Seattle out of spring training, and look for him to get on base at a clip closer to his minor league OBP of .409. He's currently being taken 231st overall, and 19th amongst shortstops. His peripherals show that, over a full season, he gets on base at a better clip and has more pop than Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons, and Billy Hamilton; and he's in a greatly improved lineup that will allow for more opportunities to drive in runs and score. He is undervalued, if valued at all. Look for Miller as a sneaky bench stash that could potentially turn into the steal of your draft later in the season.