It’s time to start preparing for the 2013 fantasy baseball season. Start by getting a really cool fantasy baseball team name. Then start ranking players for Draft Day. Then begin looking for sleeper picks – those guys you can snag dirt cheap in the late rounds of your fantasy baseball draft but who have the potential to be a diamond in the rough.
If you’re not familiar yet with the names Salvador Perez, Anthony Rizzo, Will Middlebrooks and Manny Machado, read up on them because they’re the most common “sleepers” out there. Problem is, they’re already widely owned in fantasy baseball leagues.
So here are some sleepers you actually have a shot at grabbing.
Tyler Flowers, C, Chicago White Sox
Now that A.J. Pierzynski suits up for the Texas Rangers, Flowers appears to be the No. 1 catcher for the White Sox. In limited action (136 at-bats) last season, he batted .213 with 19 runs, 7 homers, 13 RBI and two stolen bases. He’ll cost you in batting average, but the potential is there for 20 homers, making Flowers a decent prospect as your second or back-up catcher.
Logan Morrison, 1B, Miami Marlins
Morrison’s 2012 season was cut short by a knee injury, but he still managed to bat .230 with 30 runs, 11 home runs, 36 RBI and a stolen base, which is roughly on par with his 2011 numbers. He also qualifies at OF in Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues, providing a little flexibility in your lineup.
Chris Nelson, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Nelson has nice all-around appeal, batting .301 with 45 runs, 9 HR, 53 RBI and two stolen bags in 345 at-bats last season—an improvement over his limited action in 2011. He also has the minor league numbers to indicate that he can keep his batting average decent, provide some pop from his bat, and steal some bases. Nelson appears to be the Rockies’ choice at third base, but he also qualifies at 2B in Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.
Alex Cobb, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Cobb posted 11 wins, 106 strikeouts, a 4.03 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP last year for the Rays, coming on strong over the latter part of the season. His fastball and curve are dangerous, but his changeup is his strong suit. It’s nice that he plays his home games in a pitcher-friendly park, too.
Vinnie Pestano, RP, Cleveland Indians
Pestano is Cleveland’s set-up guy, but the inevitable implosion or trade involving current closer Chris Perez puts Pestano on our sleeper list. He’s worth tucking away in the event that Perez talks or throws his way out of the closer role or Cleveland altogether, and in the meantime, Pestano’s three wins, two saves, 2.57 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 76 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched in 2012 tells us that he’ll help out your pitching corps even before he becomes the Indians’ closer.
How did we do with our sleeper picks last year?
Brandon Belt: .275 average in 411 at-bats, 47 runs, 7 HR, 56 RBI, 12 SB
Bryan LaHair: .295 average in 61 at-bats, 5 runs, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB
Dee Gordon: .228 average in 303 at-bats, 38 runs, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 32 SB
Kenley Jansen: 65 IP, 5 wins, 25 saves, 99 K, 2.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP