Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2014
Fantasy Baseball 2014
Risk vs. Reward
Did Matt Harvey carry your fantasy baseball team for long stretches last season? Did Yasiel Puig prove to be great player to take a risk on starting, as a rookie? Did both of these players have a key role in helping you win a fantasy baseball championship in 2013? If you want to find this year's versions of Yasiel Puig and Matt Harvey, I have some great suggestions for you!
Jose Fernandez posted great numbers while playing all of 2013, as a result, he is no longer a fantasy sleeper, even though he is just 21 years old in 2014. However, just because Fernandez will be a high draft pick, this does not mean that good young pitching will not be available after some of the bigger names are taken off the board. Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals is a very good sleeper pick, but because of his playoff success, and breakout month of September in 2013, he could be higher on the draft board than the typical sleeper would be. Wacha currently ranks as the 47th pitcher in the ESPN fantasy baseball rankings. Zack Wheeler of the New York Mets could be a great sleeper pick in 2014. As a rookie in 2013, he struggled with some control issues at times, but overall he put together a really solid season. He will look to continue this success in his second season with the Mets, and his great fastball velocity should allow him to rack up a ton of strikeouts. Since he is not pitching opening day for the Mets, he probably will have a chance to win a lot of games in 2014, without being matched up against other team's opening day starters. Zack Wheeler is ranked 61st in the ESPN fantasy baseball pitcher rankings. Another young pitcher to consider taking a risk on, is Oakland's Sonny Gray. He announced his arrival to the big leagues, when he pitched eight scoreless innings against the Tigers in the postseason. He also has a great fastball, which should allow him to rack up the strikeouts and continue the success that he built the foundation for, late last season. Sonny Gray is ranked 65th in the ESPN fantasy baseball pitcher rankings. Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals, is another pitcher who has retained his rookie status for 2014. Keep an eye on Ventura, to see if he breaks camp with the Royals this season, because he was a late season call-up in 2013. Ventura possesses a great fastball, and complements it with plus breaking stuff, that allows him to punch out batters. Ventura recorded the fastest pitch thrown by a starter in the big leagues last season, when he threw a fastball that registered 102 miles per hour on the radar gun last season. Yordano Ventura is ranked 149th in the ESPN fantasy baseball pitcher rankings.
Last season it was a Cuban phenom that led fantasy baseball teams to glory, and this year, history could repeat itself. Jose Abreu, first basemen of the Chicago White Sox is a great fantasy sleeper among batters this season. Abreu is the complete package offensively for a middle of the order bat. He has homerun power to all fields, he is patient at the plate and he is likely to hit cleanup for the Chicago White Sox. Abreu is likely to give fantasy teams a significant boost in on base percentage, homeruns, RBI, slugging percentage and OPS in 2014. Jose Abreu currently ranks 93rd in the ESPN fantasy baseball batter rankings. Another hitter who has fallen under the radar in the fantasy baseball rankings, is Brian McCann. McCann joins the Yankees in a strong lineup that plays 81 home games in a very hitter friendly ballpark. McCann will bat somewhere in the middle of the order for the Yankees and get many RBI opportunities with Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Jeter at the top of the order for the Yankees. McCann currently ranks 83rd in the ESPN fantasy baseball batter rankings. While McCann does not have position flexibility, he does play catcher, and he may post bigger numbers this season than some catchers that get taken ahead of him.
Who to avoid
In order to avoid having your fantasy baseball season derailed by injuries, you need to avoid drafting some of the more injury prone players. Aramis Ramirez, third basemen of the Milwaukee Brewers, missed a lot of time last season and is already listed as day to day in exhibition games. Albert Pujols missed time with injuries last season, and even if he is in the lineup everyday, he is unlikely to meet the expectations that come with his top 50 batter ranking. Albert Pujols has seen his lower half break down since joining the Angels, with foot and ankle injuries becoming too painful for him to play through last season. Power hitters generate a lot of their bat speed through the rotation of their core and legs, so when player has a bad wheel, their production can take a nosedive. Matt Kemp is another player to avoid taking early in the draft, because he also missed significant chunks of the season last year due to injury. Matt Kemp has not produced to the level of his ranking, ever since he got injured in May of 2012. Kemp has dropped in some rankings, but he has not dropped far enough to match the drop-off in his production. As a result, missing out on him in the draft may spare you the headache of having to scramble to replace him after placing him on the DL in the upcoming season.
While another Jose Fernandez or Matt Harvey may not emerge this season, taking a risk on the talented young pitchers mentioned above, will lead to depth and success on your fantasy baseball team. Another month like Yasiel Puig's first month in the big leagues is unlikely from an emerging player this year, but steady contributions from underrated middle of the order bats, should be able to give your fantasy team an advantage. With this in mind, avoiding players that are at a high risk of injury, could be enough to give your team the advantage you need in whatever league you play. Also, keep in mind the scoring system, and apply this advice as it best fits the scoring within your league.