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):
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.
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.”
Lance Berkman – Last 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.
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?!”
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?
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.
Carlos Quentin – It’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!
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.
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.
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.