Championships aren't won in the first few rounds of fantasy baseball drafts. Winning selections come in the middle and late stanzas, when fantasy baseball sleepers and undervalued players pop up.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
The Bravos sustained Freeman's run-creation potential even with the departures of Michael Bourn, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones; Justin Upton and B.J. Upton join Jason Heyward as support.
Freeman deserves merit on his own, too. He clubbed 12 of his 23 bombs at Turner Field, so his environment hasn't hurt him. Fighting through vision woes and a bum finger didn't hinder his stick work. Superficial stats didn't display mastery of left-handers, but the 26.4 liner rate (up from 18.8 last year) against them shows he's squaring them up more efficiently and could sport BA growth soon.
Percentage boosts in walks (mainly versus left-handers), fly balls and ropes (already elite) hint that pieces are in place for a third-year coming-out party. -TH
More bombs for Morneau?
Ike Davis, New York Mets
Last season, this left-handed masher put up Adam Dunn-like numbers (.227 batting average, 32 bombs and 90 RBIs), practically. Unfortunately, a sluggish start (.201/.271/.388) thanks to, most notably, some residual fatigue from valley fever appears to have retarded his numbers. What could have been?
Rotisserie players who buy the first baseman for his age-26 campaign may find out. After last season's All-Star break, Davis posted a .255/.346/.542 slash line on the back of 20 second-half ding dongs. Imagine what the up-and-coming corner man's numbers would've looked like had he just been healthy and ... mediocre ... in the season's first two months. And think about what people would be paying for him if he did. -NM
Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins
He's clear-headed coming off a nearly full campaign, though during it, he probably felt some after-effects of wrist surgery as the year went on. Still, for the price of a mixed corner infielder, Morneau deserves more attention.
Don't forget the nine homers in his first two months last year. Though his thump tapered off later on, he cut his infield-fly rate by more than half from 2011. The Canadian mounted (mountied?) a .289 clip after the break, and his hit rate luck wasn't miraculous because he recaptured a useful liner frequency.
Consolidating these abilities should push him toward the mid- to upper-20s in the HR column while he approaches 100 RBIs, even with this bland lineup. And there's always the chance Minnesota ships him to a more favorable offensive locale. -TH
A new addition on the next page....
Fantasy baseball sleepers, undervalued: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP
Fantasy baseball busts, overvalued: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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