Here we are, getting ready to board the roller coaster known as the 2014 fantasy baseball season, which, just like the amusement park ride, will take us up and down and over and around, knocking the wind from our sails, while just as often, throwing the same wind to our backs.
To kick off this pre-spring training edition of Tumbling Dice, I want to look at some real sleepers for 2014.
Weeks: forgotten man?
Now, to be clear, sleeper is sort of a misnomer, or at least its meaning has become diluted. What I mean by that is there are no players who are unheard of thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Baseball America and of course word of mouth.
To me sleepers are more discarded or dismissed commodities who could surprise with a nice complement of stats. More important, these players will likely turn a profit, which is the name of the game.
Hector Santiago (SP, Angels): Part of the three-team labyrinth of a swap among the White Sox -- from whence Santiago came -- the Diamondbacks and Anaheim or Los Angeles Angels or whatever they are calling themselves this season. But, Santiago, now 26 years old, will be dismissed largely due to his 4-9 record, and 1.403 WHIP. But, over 149 frames, Santiago punched out 137 hitters, allowing an equal number of hits. It was 72 walks and 17 homers he has to work on; but, Santiago makes a great sixth starter or reserve list gamble.
Daric Barton (1B, Athletics): It is hard to imagine we could be more dismissive of Barton, who went from interesting (.273-10-57 with a league leading 110 walks in 2010) to awful (.212-0-21 in 2011) to gone (.204-1-6 in 2012). Mind you the bulk of Barton's time the past couple of years has been at Triple-A Sacramento, but at just 28 years old, he has the best defense at first at O.co. Furthermore, Barton was a different hitter -- much more aggressive -- when called up for Oakland's stretch run in 2013, hitting .269-3-16 over 104 at-bats. Barton is purely reserve list material, but he makes as interesting a crapshoot there as anyone.
Nick Markakis (OF, Orioles): Eek. Markakis was a 21st-round selection in one mock I did. Granted, he has fallen off the map in a sort of Jason Bay-like tragic fall, considering his .293-18-101 2009, but, well, the .271-10-59 he hit last year might be a disappointment, but it isn't like we should count the hours till the end of the world or anything. But, pay $5 to $7 for Nicky, and if he repeats 2013 you will indeed reap a reward.
Chris D. Johnson (3B, Braves): Johnson actually went as part of the reserve list of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) draft last month, which is amazing for a guy who hit .321-12-68 last year and .281-15-78 the season before. Apparently the league thinks he is the new Jordan Pacheco, although I think based upon the past pair of seasons that is a bit severe. I can see .255-12-65, and for a corner infielder in an NL-only league, that is great. In fact, I had Ike Davis in a few leagues last year, and well, ask me if I would rather have had those projected numbers and you get a rhetorical "yes."
Rickie Weeks (2B, Brewers): OK, quick, who is worse: Weeks or B.J. Upton? OK, it is a tie, but the difference is that Upton still sort of has a job, while Weeks (who was .210-10-24 last year over 104 games) is sitting on the bench while Scooter Gennett is penciled in as the starter. Again, for $3, .210 sucks, but 10 homers are 10 homers. Though I wonder how one can hit 10 homers and collect 73 hits, and still only drive in 24?
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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.
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