We are less than one month away from opening day of the 2013 MLB season. Excitement is filling the air as fantasy baseball enthusiasts prepare for draft day. Every year there are a handful of sleepers who emerge into fantasy superstardom.
This year? No exception.
Let’s take a look at some of the players who are under the radar now, but will become a household fantasy name by season’s end.
Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks: Eaton may very well be one of the biggest sleepers for 2013. With Justin Upton off to the Braves, Eaton will be the starting center fielder for the Diamondbacks. Not only that, but he will likely be batting atop of the lineup, especially after the Spring he is putting together, batting an impressive .405. He certainly won’t be a home run guy, but will look to get fantasy owners batting average, runs and steals. The 24-year old led the Pacific Coast League in Triple A in steals (38), possessing tremendous speed. Opportunity is key in fantasy sports, and Eaton has plenty of it to be deserving of the sleeper title.
Brett Gardner, New York Yankees: Gardner isn’t often utilized as much to be relevant in fantasy land, but injuries to the Bronx Bombers may provide the left fielder with opportunity. With Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriquez all dealing with their own respective injuries, Gardner could very well find himself towards the top of the Yankees’ batting order. Gardner is one of the league’s more underrated speed demons, stealing 49 bags in 159 games back in the 2011 season. The ability to get on base will provide fantasy owners with steals and runs, not bad for a guy who may not even be drafted in a handful of leagues.
Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies: As of right now, Brown has to earn the starting gig at left field, but if his Spring Training numbers are any indication, he may very well get the job. Brown is batting over .400, three homers and four RBI. After all, skipper Charlie Manuel stated that the 25-year old is “the brightest spot” of the team’s camp (Philadelphia Inquirer). Brown holds tremendous speed and showcased many bright spots for the Phils in 56 games played last season. As long as he is in left field on Opening Day, Brown could surprise some people in 2013.
Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays: Once a top prospect, Lawrie was pretty disappointing during the 2012 campaign. He batted .273 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI. Not exactly the upside the Blue Jays were looking for. However, many fantasy owners will pass on the 23-year old after his rough season, making him a significant sleeper. Of course, injuries are a concern, as he missed 37 games a season ago. Fast forward to 2013 and Lawrie is nursing a rib injury, pulling him out of the World Baseball Classic. It sounds as if the injury isn’t too serious, assuring fantasy owners that he should be ready to start the season. Lawrie’s upside remains scary high and is batting in a lineup that has vastly improved during the offseason. He has a strong combination of power and speed which holds great value in fantasy.
Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies: During his time in place of the injured Troy Tulowitzki last season, Rutledge made some noise. In 73 games, Rutledge belted eight homers and 37 RBI, while stealing seven bags. Speed is something that you want out of your fantasy infielders and as of right now, it appears that Rutledge could very well start the season as the Rockies’ starting second baseman. Even if he doesn’t manage to land the starting second baseman spot, Rutledge still holds value, as it is no secret that Tulowitzki is prone to injury. Keep your eye on this 23-year old.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.