(KOBEsh: I met Mark Schruender our freshman year of college, and he is the jerk that got me involved in Fantasy Baseball in the first place. Calling him a Fantasy guru would be like my mom calling me a disapointment - vastly understating the obvious. He'll be contributing fantasy advice for MAMBINO sporadically (ooh, good word of the day!) throughout the season, but at the great Fantasy Baseball 365 on the regular)
The great KOBEshigawa originally suggested that I write about sleepers for the upcoming fantasy season. I told him I didn’t like that idea. I hate sleepers because immediately when someone writes about them they aren’t sleeping anymore. You can also make a case that every player in the deck is a sleeper. Chris Heisey is a sleeper because he hit 18 home run in under 300 at-bats, should start, and you haven’t heard of him. Elvis Andrus is a sleeper because you didn’t know he doubled the number of extra base hits he had last year and he isn’t 24 yet. Albert Pujols (yeah I said it) is a sleeper because people think he won’t be as good after signing a really big contract and being distracted for an off-season.
Instead what I’m going to do is look at what the major sites out there (ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, Mock Draft Central) are saying about players and find flaws in what they say. I’m going to give you 10 suggestions that help get around the clutter of the ranking sheets out there. In other words (sigh) this is really just sleeper advice. At least I tried to get around the stereotypical fantasy article.
1. Mike Napoli will be better than Carlos Santana. Napoli was the best catcher last year after moving from the 25th best park to the best park for home runs. He hit a ridiculous .383 in the second half. Carlos Santana was good and has a very bright future, but the dude hit .249 in the second half last year. Everybody except Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN has Napoli ranked lower. Classic case of liking a young player just a tad too soon.
2. A-Rod is old and getting worse, but Pablo Sandoval has no right to go ahead of him in drafts. You’ve got a guy with the anti-midus touch and a guy with the Nutty Professor touch off the field, but disregard that for a sec. Kung Fu Panda has never driven in more than 90 runs, hit more than 25 home runs, or scored more than 80 runs in a season. A-Rod did it for 12 years in a row before last year. CBS, ESPN, Yahoo all seem to think that Sandoval is better anyway. Look, I know he’s old, you don’t like him, and you don’t want him on your team. All I’m saying is don’t pick Kung Fu Panda over him.
3. Howie Kendrick will be a better value than Brandon Phillips. Kendrick is going about 40 picks after Phillips in mock drafts, but the numbers of the two players were the same in terms of home runs and steals last year. Watch Phillips’ average drop 20 to 25 points this year and Kendrick to reap the benefits of Albert in the lineup to score more runs than Phillips.
4. Carl Crawford had a tough year, but he’s not that bad. Tristan Cockroft ranks Carl number 92 overall. Yahoo ranks him number 96 overall. Last I checked a player that is 30 years old is in the prime of his career. Since 2006 he’s ended the season in the top 30 players four times. It doesn’t get anymore bottom than it did last year for Crawford who isn’t the type of player that needs a contract season for motivation. He will be a top 60 player again this season.
5. Ryan Braun is a better pick than Jay Bruce. Even when I thought we were getting just 110 games of Braun, I would have picked him over 155 of Bruce. Jay Bruce just hasn’t proven himself as a consistent Major League hitter yet and is two categories to short to enter a player like Braun’s class. If you take out his month of May last season, Bruce’s numbers resemble those of Nick Swisher.
6. Michael Young will play more and therefore be a better option than Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis hasn’t had a season of 500 at-bats since 2008. Young hasn’t had a season without 500 at-bats since 2001. Young has been ranked higher the last three seasons. CBS ranks Youkilis 6th among third baseman and Young 9th.
7. Corey Luebke is better than like 20 dudes that are ranked ahead of him. He won’t get wins you say? He’s in a better situation for wins than Felix Hernandez and you will still draft him high. Luebke had better numbers and is a safer pick than Tommy Hanson, but you wouldn’t know it based on where the two are being chosen.
8. Mike Trout will finish 100 spots ahead of where Tristan Cockcroft thinks he’ll be. Cockcroft had him at number 214 overall in his rankings. The fact is that Trout will make it up this year and as he has done at every level, he will thrive.
9. Stephen Strasburg will be ranked in the top 30 and Matt Moore will be ranked in the top 75 overall players. With the numbers that Strasburg put together rehabbing last season, it’s pretty clear to me that he’s the same guy. The Nationals were probably coaching him with kid gloves saying you don’t have to go all out, but he was still dominating. Yahoo has him ranked 60th overall. Behind C.C. Sabathia, Matt Cain, and Yovani Gallardo. Unless he gets really unlucky with wins Strasburg will finish ahead of those three guys because he will have a lower ERA, WHIP and more strikeouts. Moore is almost as good in the strikeout department and has had the benefit of more time at the lower levels to develop his repertoire. Assuming a spot opens in the Rays rotation (and it will he’s more talented than Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann), he will be the next great pitcher.
10. Kenley jansen will close for the Dodgers and is worth a top 15 pick as a reliever. Javy Guerra was somewhat good and somewhat lucky last season, but he’s bound to get ousted by a more talented pitcher at some point this summer. Once Jansen becomes the closer he has the potential to put up similar numbers as Craig Kimbrel did last year with the Braves.
Mark Schruender is a fantasy baseball writer for Fantasy Baseball 365. He has been writing about fantasy baseball since 2008 and his work has been seen at Foxsports.com, FantasyPros911.com, and fantasybaseball.com.