Animals hunt their prey. Kel hunts orange soda.
Fantasy baseball players hunt sleepers.
With the season technically already underway down under, fantasy owners are rushing to complete their drafts this week, but with injuries and position battles unfolding, plenty of under the radar players are arising. So, sit back, take some notes and prepare for your draft with some deeper sleepers.
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: I’ve had a soft spot for Arenado since last season, and I truly think this could be the breakout year people have been waiting for. In 2013, he showed some signs of progression after the All-Star break. During that span, he batted .298, compared to an ugly .244 average during the first half of the season. He still needs to improve on his contact, sporting a 14 percent strikeout rate a season ago, to go along with a 39.2 percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone, the fourth-highest in all of baseball. Playing in Coors Field will help a guy with potential 20-home run power. This venue has seen top-10 averages in home runs in every season since 2001.
Grady Sizemore, Boston Red Sox: Sizemore is looking to have a rejuvenation in his career, as he could be in line to start the season for the Red Sox. Jackie Bradley doesn’t appear to be quite ready for a full-time gig yet, and Sizemore has been impressive. Sizemore has the pedigree, while Bradley is batting an awful .188 this spring. According to Tristan Cockroft of ESPN, Sizemore is one of only nine players over the last 10 seasons to manage at least 100 homers, 100 stolen bases and at least a 10 percent walk rate. He is an incredibly discipline batter who is well aware of the strike zone, averaging a strong 20 percent rate of chasing pitches landing outside of the strike zone. All signs are pointing towards him landing the starting center field job, which bodes well for his fantasy value in a strong Boston lineup.
Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals just continue to produce quality players. There must be something in the water out there in St. Louis, and it’s hard to argue what they are doing. Both Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig have proved them right, not to mention the plethora of pitchers to succeed. Wong is an interesting guy, as he could find himself with a starting job at some point this season. A capable leadoff hitter with good contact, Wong batted .303 with 10 home runs and 20 steals during his time in Triple-A last year before joining the Cardinals in the majors. He’s shown some power during the spring, which is exciting, especially when you consider that he is more of a contact guy. If he plays 130 games or so, he’s a very strong bet to post double-double numbers in home runs and steals.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.