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As a great man once said, “If you win your fantasy league, you will get the girl.” No, that wasn’t Bill Clinton talking at a nerd convention, but let’s pretend it was. Who wouldn’t want him as your wingman? Today, I’m here to help you get the girl in OPS leagues. Is the girl Tim Lincecum? No, that will be in a future article when I finally acknowledge the presence of pitchers. But until then, consider me a denier ever since I created the 5 x 0 fantasy baseball league. Now, I’m not a fan of outright punting positions in most cases, but there are times when I’m content waiting on a position if I don’t get one of the players I want early on (or middle on?). My online acquaintances, today I am here to detail some of the players at each position that I’m likely to grab in OPS leagues if I decide to wait on that position.

Can I call this a list of sleepers? Matthew Berry’s been acting like Adrian Beltre and Bryce Harper are sleepers, so I think we can throw the definition of sleepers out the window, or defenestrate it for you vocabulary-inclined readers. On a related note, if I get enough attention to a particular player or position from you lovely commenters, I may follow up with a more detailed post on those guys (so comment wisely!). Anyway, here are my OPS sleepers (sorted by position):

Catcher

Alex Avila – Really? I start my list with this guy? Well, I suppose so because the backspace key isn’t working on this keyboard. Yes, I expect him to improve and could see him approaching his career average of .261/.359/.432.

Ryan Doumit – His .275/.320/.461 line was close to his career average and I expect similar numbers next year. The at bats are a bonus for somebody qualifying at catcher. Nobody really wants him on their team, so he will likely go later than he should.

Brian McCannI previously said he’s worth the gamble. No, I wouldn’t trade Rudy for him. I don’t think that’s even legal in this country.

Carlos Ruiz – Do you have DL or bench space and need some veteran presence on your team? Then he’s the player for you.

Yasmani Grandal – Take what I said for Ruiz and replace “veteran presence” with “naughty, succulent upside.”

First Baseman

Lance BerkmanLast week I said, “The only question is if he stays healthy, but that gamble is easily worth the late round pick that he’ll cost. Could he post a .900+ OPS in Texas? Yes sir. I’d conservatively project a .270/.370/.480 line, but he’s been much better than that in the past.” I still agree with what I said. Yay for short-term consistency! Sorry, Matthew Berry.

Chris Carter – His .239/.350/.514 line ranked highly among first basemen last season. I could see a slight decline in his HR/FB rate, but he is easily capable of an OPS over .800 and he should get plenty of at bats. Sky also recently covered him.

Garrett Jones – For those of you who want 90% of LaRoche several rounds later…

Adam Dunn – I don’t really want him on my team because he is the PacMan of batting average. Either he wants to gobble it up for you video gamers or shoot it up for you football fans. His walk rate brings his OBP back up to passable levels, and his OPS should still top .800. I would only consider him in deep leagues.

Mark Reynolds – Is there much difference between him and Dunn? Not rhetorical.

Second Baseman

Chase Utley – To quote my recent self, “He is another one of those productive when healthy players. I don’t expect any worse than the .256/.365/.429 line he posted last year. He’s even got some slugging upside and is worth considering in the middle rounds of drafts.” He typically goes in the middle rounds, but I’ve seen him fall to the late rounds too…

Jedd Gyorko – He’s one of the few bright spots among the late rounds of second basemen. Speaking of which, trying to draft a second baseman in the late rounds was a recent nightmare of mine. “NO! Why won’t this mouse work? Why is Marco Scutaro at the top of my draft board? Am I using Brian Sabean’s rankings?!”

Shortstop

Jed Lowrie – Draft him at your own peril, or “pearl” if he stays healthy. He’s my diamond in the sky, so long as Chris Brown doesn’t try to give him his patented high five that misses. He could approach an .800 OPS.

Andrelton Simmons – He performed well in his limited plate appearances and his numbers weren’t completely unexpected when compared to his minor league performance. There aren’t many red flags with him, but there doesn’t appear to be much immediate upside, aside from stolen bases. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him approach his 2012 line of .289/.335/.416 in 2013.

Stephen Drew – He’s a lesser version of Lowrie. How’s that for a compliment?

Third Baseman

Todd Frazier – Grey has him very high, but others don’t. I wasn’t sure about him, but then I saw Grey’s mustache, now I’m a believer! And I wrote about him here.

Kevin YoukilisI also wrote about him at length. If at length means a couple hundred words.

Will Middlebrooks – He’s projected to be king of the universe, so sayeth Bill James. If that wasn’t awkwardly phrased enough, how about that I think he’s all trigger and no patience? In other words, he’ll shoot your eye out in OBP leagues, but will be solid in leagues that count slugging. I like Steamer’s .271/.317/.467 projection for him.

Outfield

Adam Eaton – I covered him here and here. I don’t do that for just anybody, you know, so consider yourself special, Adam! Now, when will you return my calls?

Carlos QuentinIt’s been one week since I looked at him and said, “Speaking of injuries, Quentin had something of a renaissance during the limited time he remained healthy on the Padres, with a .877 OPS. I expect some regression, although the fences coming in at Petco could balance it out. A .250/.350/.490 line should be attainable when healthy. Seems like he’s more of an afterthought in drafts too…” Chickity China the Chinese chicken!

Corey Hart – I love Corey Hart so much this year that I compared him to Allen Craig.

Brandon Belt – I bet he and Domonic Brown are good friends. As long as Belt receives consistent playing time, I expect him to improve his slugging and maintain his other numbers from last year, with a .270/.360/.450 line.

Leonys MartinGrey went over him at the end of last year. I agree that he’s a Shane Victorino-lite.

Cody Ross – Could he approach last season’s .267/.326/.481 line? Affirmative.

Matt Joyce – Average out his last two seasons to get what I expect for him this year. Oh, you don’t want to do it on your own? Eh… ok, just stop with the puppy dog look. Mr. Platoon gets a .260/.340/.460 line according to simple math.

Dexter Fowler – I think worst case is a .270/.360/.450 line, but he’s got upside oozing everywhere. Thankfully, Dr. Freeze isn’t planning to check that out.

Logan Morrison – How about Matt Joyce minus ten points of slugging? That’ll do LoMo, that’ll do.

Jonny Gomes – His name amuses me. Is that a category nowadays? I’d give him a similar projection to Matt Joyce.

Brandon Moss – Had just 296 plate appearances last season, but his .291/.358/.596 line was the stuff of legends.

I would like to dedicate this post to caffeine and the picture of Shrek Bartolo Colon hanging on my wall.

  1. j-bird says:
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    Quick trade question
    12 team 5×5 roto

    5 keepers per team

    Granderson’s owner wants to dump him due to his injury and Allen Craig is my 5th keeper – worth dealing him for Grandy?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @j-bird: I’d hold onto Craig there since he’s a few years younger and I worry about how Grandy’s injury will affect his power, which is his most important skill.

  2. wynams says:
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    @tom Both Todd Frazier and Youk’s links point to a Youk article

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @wynams: I talk about both of them in that same article.

  3. SwaggerJackers says:
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    Are these lists for each position sorted by your draft order preference? For example, are you recommending taking Carter before Dunn, Quentin before Hart, etc?

    At what point in a draft would you draft Chris Davis, Dunn, and Reynolds in leagues that use OBP instead of AVG?

    Do you think The Gyork has a starting job at this point?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @SwaggerJackers: No, they weren’t meant to be in a particular order. It was more me brainstorming as I went, although they happened to be close to how I’d rank them besides outfield.

      In those leagues, I’d start to look at those guys around pick 100.

      Yes, I think it’s Gyorko’s job to lose. I see Forsythe as more of a utility player.

  4. Curt says:
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    Keeper league, Austin Jackson at 10 or Freeman at 15??……I have Fielder at 1 as a keep.???…..thanks.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Curt: I’d go with Jackson there.

  5. Principle Blackman says:
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    How do you feel about Josh Rutledge in OPS leagues? He flirted with an 800 last year, and he’s eligible for ss as well as 2b. However, last year was his first year above A-ball. What do you think his chances are of turning in an 800 OPS over the course of a full season? What do you think his ceiling is?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Principle Blackman: I wrote about him here: http://razzball.com/i-wish-you-would-step-back-from-rutledge-my-friend/

      In summary, I knock him down a bit in OPS leagues, mainly because of his walk rate and my concern that he will fall somewhat short of last year. I think a .260/.300/.450 is a reasonable expectation. I didn’t cover his ceiling, but the absolute best case scenario in my mind would be .280/.325/.475, which would require a higher than expected BABIP and HR/FB.

  6. Onion Knight says:
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    14 team 5 x 5 OBP insead of average I need to choose 6 guys out of Moore, Machado, Wright, Butler, McCutcheon, Latos, and Choo?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Onion Knight: As much as it pains me, I’d throw back Machado for this year.

  7. Last Chance says:
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    12 team 6×5 keep 4 (3 batter/3pitcher max or 2 of each). Keeping Braun at 1, Goldschmidt at 10. Got offered Matt More (9) and Austin Jackson (15) for Carlos Gonzalez (2). I have two 9th round picks and two 6th round picks. Comments? Suggestion? I personally love the deal, would like a second opinion.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Last Chance: I’m a fan of that deal too – go for it.

      • Last Chance says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Thanks for the timely response, other GM was looking for an answer. Trigger has been pulled, thanks again.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Last Chance: No problem. Good luck!

  8. Jay says:
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    my league one can keep *up to* 4 keepers each year. briefly here are my most probable keeper options and corresponding cost ($260 total budget; 12 team; 5×5…OPS instead of BA)

    i. desmond ($6)
    a. rios ($7)
    j. upton ($31)
    j. bruce ($32)
    i. kinsler ($24)
    m. cain ($22)
    z. greinke ($24)
    d. wright ($22)
    a. reed ($7)

    desmond and rios seem obvious…otherwise the others seem basically at market value…who would you try to lock up at the cost shown?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Jay: Yeah, they do seem basically at market value, aside from Desmond and Rios. I’d go with Upton and Wright.

      • Jay says:
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        @Tom Jacks:

        any worry about wright’s brutal 2nd half last year? (BA dropped nearly 100 points) i was also leaning upton. would you still go wright @ $22 even over the 2 SPs?

        • Jay says:
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          @Jay:

          sorry i shouldnt say it dropped 100 pts overall, i meant 1st half = .351, 2nd half = .258.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Jay: I’m not too worried about Wright’s second half because his first half was so good. I’d look at his season more on the whole in this instance. I wouldn’t choose either of the SPs over Wright, but that’s my personal preference and I wouldn’t have a problem with that choice.

  9. Marty says:
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    have 4 th pick in draft rank the following

    Kemp pujols votto fielder cano.

    I am keeping Craig Frazier j upton Joey bats bumgarner and samardzjia

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Marty: In an OPS keeper, I’d rank them Votto, Fielder, Cano, Pujols, Kemp. If you’re not using OPS, I’d swap Pujols and Votto.

  10. M says:
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    I think of a “sleeper” as someone who nobody in your league has ever heard of. I drafted Everth Cabrera in 2009 for $1 at the very end of the draft. I just needed a SS and our league was deep so there wasn’t much left to choose from. I’d never heard of Cabrera – he wasn’t even mentioned in that year’s Baseball Prospectus. He went on to steal 25 bases that year, and that to me is a sleeper.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @M: Yeah, fair enough. I was approaching it more as late round guys. Not sure who people haven’t heard of anymore since it seems like everybody is more aware of minor leaguers. Maybe bench players or Japanese players?

  11. M says:
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    Or instead of defining sleeper as “someone nobody in your league has ever heard of,” maybe you could define it as “someone who would likely go undrafted in a 10-team NL-only or AL-only league, and might very well go undrafted in a 12-team NL-only or AL-only league.”

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @M: That works. I think some of the outfielders listed would still go late in those leagues, but I don’t think they would go undrafted.

      • costaricanchata says:
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        @Tom Jacks:
        @ M

        i think that you should both look at mastroianni .

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @costaricanchata: He seems solid for steals, but not sure about his OPS. Although, he could be worth a shot in deep leagues…

  12. MVPunisher says:
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    6×6 QS and SLG…also use OBP instead of AVG

    4 of my 5 keepers are locked in- Stanton, Reyes, Mauer, Zimmerman…I need to select 1 of the following. Unlimited years keeping.

    Desmond Jennings
    Matt Moore
    R.A. Dickey
    Roy Halladay
    Kris Medlen

    I believe in the knuckleball…?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @MVPunisher: Wow this is tough. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Dickey too, but in a keep forever league I tend to default to the young guys when it’s close, which would leave Jennings, Moore, and Medlen. To me it’s fairly close there too, so I again default to the hitter, but I wouldn’t have a big problem with choosing a pitcher. Jennings is valuable in these leagues because he could get you a ton of steals, among other stats, without hurting your OPS. Otherwise, any chance you could work out a 2 for 1 trade? Maybe Jennings + pitcher for a better outfielder?

  13. Bill says:
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    What about Trumbo? He has eligibility at 1b, 3b and OF in Yahoo. I was offered a 9th round pick for him this season. Is he a sleeper worth a 9th round pick?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Bill: Grey has him ranked 78th and I’d bump him up even higher than that if he has 3B eligibility.

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @Tom Jacks: I should’ve clarified that’s 78th overall. So he would be worth giving up a 9th round pick.

  14. Sam says:
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    Is it a bad idea to draft the whole Braves outfield in a roto league? (Upton/Upton/Heyward)

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Sam: No, I don’t have a problem with that at all. I’d have a slight concern in a head-to-head league, but not roto.

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