By Adam McGill
Fantasy baseball drafts are being scheduled all over the country and keepers will be due in a matter of weeks. With all of the research and page flipping owners will be doing, one of the most valuable commodities is without a doubt the sleeper. The next month is the most critical time to research any and every player that will wear a baseball jersey this spring. Every owner should have a vast list of sleepers to target on draft day. To help fill that list, here is my latest compilation of sleepers for the 2012 fantasy baseball season:
5. 1B Freddie Freeman, ATL – Freeman is a monster at 6’5” and the 225 pounder can hit a homer by simply bunting. He knocked 21 balls out of the park in his rookie season and really turned it on late with 16 home runs in his last four months of the year. He is not the most disciplined hitter and will pile up the strikeouts, but his ability to crush the ball instantly gives him great fantasy value. First base is still the deepest position in the majors, which only gives Freeman more value as a mid to late round selection. He can put up starter numbers, but still be drafted among the backups at the position.
4. SP Henderson Alvarez, TOR – Of all the rookies to pitch in 2011, Alvarez had one of the better transitions to the pros. He posted a rocky 1-3 record on the year, but the kid really showed what he can do. In only ten starts Alvarez had an glimmering 3.53 ERA, showing the team that he can easily hold down a rotation spot at only 21 years old.
3. SS Starlin Castro, CHC – In his first full season in the majors, Castro looked like every bit of the star the team expected him to be. He finished the year hitting a very respectable .307 for a rookie and even more impressive was that he did it leading off for the Cubs. He does not offer much in the power department with only 10 homers last season, but he will bulk up more from his 190-pound frame as he matures. The kid will only be 22 years old when the season begins, making him one of the bright stars at an aging position.
2. SP Tim Lincecum, SF – “Big Time Timmy Jim” is coming off one of the most disappointing seasons of his entire career. Lincecum owners have been accustomed to the numbers he put up in 2008 or 2009 where he posted back-to-back seasons of over 260 K’s, so his modest 13-14 record and 220 strikeouts last year was a tough reality check for some. Lincecum is looking very sharp thus far in spring training and his fastball is topping out at around 98MPH at the moment. The “Freak” knows how to work the corners with outside heat and a dizzying changeup, allowing him to pile up strikeouts at an alarming pace. Lincecum is a steal in any draft where he is not among the top two pitchers taken, especially since he is the only pitcher capable of eclipsing the 300-K plateau.
1. 3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY – “A-Rod” has been very quiet this off-season, especially with all the media talking about his down year or his mysterious knee surgery in Germany prescribed by Kobe Bryant. Rodriguez is one of the best home run hitters of this generation and if he is healthy, then he could potentially become an amazing steal in fantasy leagues. He has averaged 26.2 home runs a year in the last five injury plagued years, which is a stat line that any fantasy owner can live with from the hot corner. Rodriguez is being drafted well after the first round, making him one of the most intriguing options in any type of league. He is well worth a mid round pick, especially considering that he will still crush over 30 dingers despite the number of games that he plays.