The time has finally come; the greatest time of the year, MLB Opening Day! After a horrid PR and marketing blunder that lead to the baseball season starting on March 22 in Sydney Australia…. at 4AM EST, the MLB season is 2 games in the books…. while 28 teams are still playing spring games. So as the Dodgers and Diamondbacks sit on their hands waiting for their next opponent to finish exhibition play we can take a moment to look over our fantasy baseball draft and see how we did. Time to examine some sleepers and busts in the 2014 season. Keep in mind that classification speaks to the players fantasy value and where they will or have likely been drafted and not their on field value. Players listed may be fantastic additions to their team or even your fantasy team… just not worth being taken where they have been projected.
Giancarlo Stanton OF Miami Marlins
Baseball fans coast to coast love the 6’6″ 242 LB right fielder of the Miami Marlins and he might be one of the best young players in the game. He has been and will continue to be a part of trade rumors especially after his breakout campaign in 2012 where he posted a league leading .608 slugging percentage along with 37 HR in only 123 games. Stanton is deservedly so known as a fantastic defensive outfielder with one of if not the best arms in baseball, and while this is a great skill to have when you man the right field corner in one of the biggest ballparks in baseball what does it mean to your fantasy team? The answer to that question is absolutely nothing. What does matter to your team is that Stanton has been riddled with injuries in his short career leading to him only playing in 123 and 116 games in each of the past 2 years. Despite missing an average of 43 games in that time frame Stanton has still managed to strike out over 140 times each year; striking out on 33% of his at bats. Also take into consideration that Stanton provides you little to no help stealing bases; Giancarlo has 17 career stolen bases including only 1 in 2013. His track record of efficiency isn’t great either; he was thrown out on 2 of 8 attempts, 5 of 10 attempts, and 2 of 7 attempts in each of the previous 3 seasons with a career high of 6 swipes. While stolen bases isn’t the most important category for a corner outfielder with a big bat it could have been a way for him to increase value while he finds that power stroke again. Stanton also has his situation in Miami working against him; what I mean of course is the horrid team he plays for and the gigantic ballpark he plays his home games in. Stanton has never surpassed 100 RBI in a season and I wouldn’t expect that trend to change as he continues to be penciled into a line up featuring Donovan Solano, Christian Yelich, and Adeiny Hechavarria. Not to mention he plays in a division where he will regularly face pitchers like Gio Gonzalez, Steven Strausburg, Zach Wheeler, Doug Fister, Julio Terhan, and Ervin Santana. Giancarlo can add your team some depth and value if you are able to pass on him early and steal him in the middle rounds but as a 3rd round pick he will likely go far to early based simply on name recognition.
Players ranked lower with more value: Jose Bautista, Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, Sterling Marte
Jose Altuve 2B Houston Astros
I have to admit I’m dumbfounded on this one… I just don’t get it… I just don’t see what other people see in this guy. A quality player but absolutely nothing special about him; a slap single hitter who hits below .300 with no power who plays league average defense with a below average arm. This is the “big prospect” teams are climbing all over each other to get a look at? Altuve’s biggest strength is his speed and his ability to steal bases swiping over 30 bags in each of the past two seasons; while that looks impressive consider that Altuve was also caught stealing 11 times in 2012 and a league leading 13 times in 2013 making his net stolen bases far less impressive. His run production is almost non-existent with 7 homers, 37 RBI, and 80 runs scored in 2012 along with 5 homers, 52 RBI, and 64 runs scored in 2013. Don’t expect these numbers to skyrocket in a pathetic Astros line up; while not quite as bad as Stanton’s crew Altuve’s supporting cast is still destined to hold down the cellar or the AL West. Jose will hit some doubles and sneak in a few triples but not nearly enough to make up for his lack of power as his OPS dropped .62 in 2013 to a well below average .678. He can brag that he was 3rd in the league in singles last year….. but I’m not sure that is a stat you want to boast about. If you are looking for some depth and a utility guy who can swipe a few bags, hit some singles, and throw in a couple doubles for you he will be a good pick up but by the end of the year there will be a lot of guys with more value drafted after him.
Players ranked lower with more value: Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill, Jedd Gyorko, Martin Prado, Daniel Murphey
Carlos Gonzalez OF Colorado Rockies
Tough to call this guy a bust because he is an absolutely fantastic baseball player but considering his Yahoo ranking of 6th overall and 3rd outfielder behind only Trout and McCutchen he will likely underwhelm on your fantasy team. Like many busts in both fantasy and reality Gonzalez will be held back by his inability to stay on the field but over-valued by his breakout season of 2010. Fantasy owners are still trying to latch on to his 2010 season where he led the league with 197 hits, a .336 avg, 351 total baseas, and smacked 34 homers, 34 doubles, 117 RBI, and 111 runs scored while finishing 3rd in NL MVP voting and winning both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. What you need to be realistic about is that he is now 4 years removed from this stand out season posting 26, 22, and 26 home runs along with 27, 31, 23 doubles in each of the past seasons while he played in 127, 135, and 110 games. Gonzalez has been held under 100 RBI every year since 2010 and struck out 118 times in 110 games in 2013. Carlos will have another solid year and post great numbers again; the numbers the past 3 years have been very good….. just not deserving of a pick in the top half of the first round as his 6th overall status would indicate. Having a guy who hits 25 homers and 25 doubles could be a great asset to your fantasy team but you can find a lot more value in the first round. Gonzalez should be a late second to third round pick but will likely be taken earlier. Because of his high rating I included players in other positions in his draft value comparison below.
Players ranked lower with more value: Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Gomez, Chris Davis, Hanley Ramirez, Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Beltre, Joey Votto
Alfonso Soriano OF New York Yankees
I know what you are saying already… SERIOUSLY??? ALFONSO FREAKING SORIANO??? THAT SCRUB? Yes the former Yankee, former Ranger, former Nat, former Cub, and current Yankee Alfonso Soriano is an absolute steal as the 38th ranked outfielder on the board just behind Dominic Brown. The Alfonso Soriano who hit 18 homers as a rookie then followed that up by being the only active player in major league baseball to hit 20 or more home runs every single year since 2002 including 34 and 32 in each of the past two seasons. The Alfonso Soriano who is now back home in New York playing in the hitter friendly Yankee stadium surrounded in the line up by Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, a healthy Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki who still has a little bit left in the tank. The Yanks line up might be old but they have guys who can get on base and Soriano is a guy with a big bat who can knock them in. Not to mention his great record in the AL east slugging .505 at Camden Yards, .492 at Fenway, .572 at Tropicana Field, and .529 at Rogers Center. Soriano’s home run totals for the past 10 years are 34, 32, 26, 24, 20, 29, 33, 46, 36, 28 and his doubles those same years are 32, 33, 27, 40, 25, 27, 42, 41, 43, 32. Not bad for the 38th outfielder off the board; a guy who doesn’t crack the top 200 on most big boards is it?
Jose Quintana SP Chicago White Sox
How did the Yankees and Mets ever let this guy get away? You can ignore the outing giving up 9 runs while not recording an out this spring; be real, not only is this one game but it’s a spring game at that. This kid is an absolute stud who is going to do nothing but get better this year and improve on the already impressive start to his career. Quintana totaled 200 innings last season in only his second season in the bigs posting an ERA of 3.51 (down .25 from 2012) and an WHIP of 1.220 (Down .13 from 2012) over 33 starts with a K/BB rate of 2.93. While he showed is durability starting 33 games in 2013 he also showed his consistency giving up more than 4 earned runs only twice in his 33 starts. Quintana stepped out on the national stage last year on the 4th of July when he shut down the potent Orioles line up for 7 innings allowing 2 hits, no runs, and striking out 11 O’s. This was just one of many impressive performances by a 25 year old with the potential to be an ACE. Despite all this Quintana will go UN-drafted in most 10 team leagues and some 12 team leagues and most sports sites have him ranked between 250-300. The 20th round is a pretty good place to find a guy with ACE potential who pitches most of his games against the Indians, Royals, and Twins.
Kyle Seager 3B Seattle Mariners
In 2013 Kyle Seager burst onto the scene in Seattle and is now considered one of the top third baseman in the American League…. well not so much. Seager plays baseball in the American north west far away from Boston, New York, and Los Angeles and much of his accomplishments have flown under the radar. Yahoo currently has Seager rated as the 140th best player and the 16th best third baseman in the league behind Pablo Sandoval who hit 14 and 12 homer runs in each of the past two years and Manny Machado who will start the season on the DL coming off of major knee surgery. Seager who is 26 years old has hit 20+ home runs and 30+ doubles in each of his first two full major league seasons with a respectable .260 average. Additionally Kyle seems to be developing as a hitter as his average increased only a point from 2012 to 2013 but his OBP jumped .22 from .316 to .338. This is a direct result from better plate discipline as the young hitter continues to grow and improve; always good to see young hitters trending up. While run production was low for Seager in 2012 and 2013 with 79 and 62 runs scored and 69 and 86 RBI I would expect these numbers to improve with the Seattle additions of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart. Seager’s home/road numbers are his only downside they include .228 13 HR, 34 2B, and .635 OPS at home and .289 avg, 32 HR 46 2B, .836 OPS on the road in his career. Seager is a fantastic player who is still performing despite being held back by Safeco Field. The bonus for Seager could be his current contract status; Kyle is in his final year of pre-arbitration status and is set to enter arbitration in 2015. While a contract year can always inspire a player to be at the top of his game in the case of Seager it could also mean a trip to the trading block considering the hefty salaries they have taken on in the past few years. If Seattle decides to move him after falling out of contention he could end up on a competing team which means getting him out of that horrible ballpark where he has posted those drastic home/road splits. If you have him as a utility option might be a good idea to rotate him out on long home stands but as the 140th ranked player and 16th third baseman he will be a steal in the middle to late rounds.
Other players who could be late round adds or could be un-drafted with upside: Miguel Gonzalez, Chase Headley, Alejandro De Aza, Kendrys Morales, Corey Hart, James Loney, Brandon Belt.