Fantasy Baseball 2013: Five Can’t Miss Players
2013 Five Can't Miss Players
In fantasy baseball, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on your first few picks, but oftentimes fantasy championships aren’t won in the first few rounds of a draft. They’re won in the rounds that come after. It’s easy enough to look at the top of a draft board and see those big names up there, but what really separates a playoff team from a championship team is the ability to look in those later rounds, at those under-the-radar guys, and see true fantasy potential.
Fantasy gold is what I like to call them — those later round or mid-round guys that break out and explode over the course of a season. They are the players that make a good team a great, and the players that can swing a team from barely making the playoffs to running away with the championship title. In 2012, guys like Mike Trout, R.A. Dickey, Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey were absolute fantasy gold, all having career years despite going in the mid-to-later rounds of drafts.
Which raises a simple question: Who are the breakout stars of 2013?
It’s impossible to say as only time will tell, but for now we can predict and analyze as much as we want in search of those diamonds in the rough — those fantasy superstars just waiting to lead a team. Whether or not 2013 will have another Trout in store for us, we don’t know, but what we do know is there are a select few players poised for an explosion come opening day. All we have to do is find them.
So without further ado, here are five guys I believe could be fantasy gold in 2013.
5. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
Butler has quietly been among the best first baseman in the game over the last few years. He’s eclipsed the .300 mark and broken 90 RBI in three of the last four seasons, setting career highs in both of those categories with a .313 average and 107 RBI in 2012. Despite that, no one is really talking about him this year, although he is going sixth among first baseman, but around the 40th pick in most fantasy drafts, he could bring great value. With a .300 career average, he’s a lock for 20 home runs and at least 80 RBI in 2013, and if the young lineup around him meshes like it could, we could see an explosive year from Butler.
4. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
There’s not much more that can be said about the 19-year old top prospect. His 2012 season had its ups and down, but Harper finished strong with 13 home runs and 30 RBI in the final two months of the season. Given the nearly limitless potential this kid has combined with the powerful lineup around him, if Harper can carry over his late season success into 2013, we could see sparks fly. He has 30/30 potential, and it’s only a matter of time before he shows it. Of all the players on this list, he has the most potential to explode. It's just a matter of whether or not 2013 is that year.
Regardless, things are looking promising for Harper.
3. Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds
Going in the early seventh round of most 2013 fantasy drafts, it’s hard to believe that Cueto posted a 19 – 9 record with a sub-3.00 ERA in 2012. Even better, of the 18 pitchers going before Cueto in 2013, only four of them had more wins than that last year. That’s impressive. Cueto just turned 27, and he’s been nothing short of electric on the mound for the Cincinnati Reds the past two seasons, so there’s no reason to think things will change in 2013. He likely won’t rack up the strike-outs like the top guys, but there’s no reason you can’t expect 17 or 18 wins with an ERA right around 3.00 for the Red's ace this year.
He’s worth reaching for.
2. Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
Fantasy baseball’s second best shortstop in 2012, Desmond would have ran away with the top spot had it not been for an oblique injury that cost him 30 games. His .292 average, 25 home runs and 73 RBI were all career bests, and he topped it off with 21 steals as well. Those numbers could be even better if he stays healthy in 2013, so keep a very close eye on him when the fifth or sixth round comes along. 20 home runs is well within reach, as are 80 RBI and 20 steals as well. If things go right for him in 2013, he'll be fantasy gold at baseball’s thinnest position.
1. Alex Gordon, OF, Royals
After finally breaking out in 2011, the Kansas City Royals outfielder slipped a bit in 2012, but he didn’t slip far. Gordon’s 70 extra-base hits were four more than Andrew McCutchen managed and five more then Mike Trout put up. In fact, only Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols have more extra base hits than Gordon in the last two years—not bad company to be in. Going around the 90th pick, the 29-year-old is an absolute steal in my opinion. With a young and improving lineup around him, I could see him being a 20/20 type guy if all things go right in 2013, maybe even a top-10 outfielder when it’s all said and done, which is why he tops my list of players to watch out for this year.
Simply put, if there’s a player not to miss in 2013, it’s Gordon.