January 18, 2022

2011 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Top Ten Sleepers (Part III)

January 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Different editors/writers have differing definitions of the term, “sleeper”. The concept has been watered down in the current fantasy baseball lexicon, probably because there are writers who can’t be bothered to do the analysis required to uncover real “sleepers”. In my opinion, rookies have no place on a sleeper list. They aren’t sleepers. They are prospects who are hoping to have a major league career. Thus, there aren’t any rookies on my list. [If you feel you HAVE to have a rookie on your sleeper list, start with Craig Kimbrel and/or Jordan Walden]

I also don’t consider guys like Drew Stubbs (CIN, OF) to be a sleeper. He had nearly 600 plate appearances, hit 22 HR and registered 30 SB last year. On what planet is a 20/20 guy a “sleeper”? Yet, I have read several lists on which he has been labeled a sleeper for 2011. IMHO, if you are playing fantasy baseball and you don’t know about what he has done, give up fantasy baseball… try fantasy legislators. Stubbs is not a sleeper! Ditto Brandon Morrow (TOR, RHP), who led all of the major leagues with a 13.01 K/9 in 2010, yet somehow still shows up on numerous sleeper lists heading into 2011.

I believe the guys on my list fit the classic definition of a “sleeper”. They are big leaguers who have not put up the kind of numbers that were expected of them. In most instances, their names are familiar to you, but you might look beyond them either because of poor performance, a lack of opportunity, or injury. For those reasons, they are guys who might otherwise fly under the radar at your 2011 auction / draft… thus, they are a “sleeper”. Don’t get caught napping on them in March.

Here are my Top Ten fantasy baseball sleepers for 2011, presented in five installments over five days (one batter and one pitcher in each installment).

Part I was presented Monday… Part II was presented yesterday… after today, the remaining installments run through the end of the week:

Cameron Maybin, SD: Is Maybin one of those guys who is a Four-A player, too good for the minor leagues but not good enough to be an everyday major leaguer? He has struggled with his contact rate at the big league level (just 70% compared to a Triple-A rate of 81%), so you have to wonder whether he just hit a plateau against tougher pitching.

The key thing to remember about Maybin is that he is just 24-years-old. Expectations for him were unrealistically high and performance lagged, and as a result two organizations got frustrated and moved him to the next ballclub. Don’t make the same mistake – the tools are still there! He’s a speedster on the bases and will someday get on base enough to maximize his stolen base potential.

He has struggled with strikeouts, in large part because he has tried to do too much (he has a career strikeout percentage of 28.2%). The betting here is that Petco Park will be good for him – that he’ll stop trying to do too much and learn to just put the ball in play. Once it is in play, he can use his speed to beat out grounders, stretch singles into doubles, steal some bases and score runs.

Rick Porcello, DET: He had a nice season as a rookie in 2009, but came crashing to Earth in the first half of last year, posting some gawd-awful numbers while crushing the championship aspirations of many of his fantasy owners (4-7, 6.14 ERA and 1.692 WHIP).

A mid-season demotion seemed to grab his attention and things were far different in the second half. But as with others on my sleepers list, I expect many fantasy owners will look at Porcello’s overall numbers (10-12, 4.92, 1.39) and opt for other pitchers in this year’s auctions and drafts. Their loss is your gain.

He is just 22 years old and his second half performance shows he has outstanding growth potential (6-5, 4.00, 1.159). While he doesn’t strike out as many batters as you might like, his K:BB ratio was excellent after his recall (3.19). He is a ground-ball pitcher (GO/AO of 1.63) who will spend half of his games toiling in a pitcher’s park. There is tremendous upside here!

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