Working a bit without a net on this sleeper post. There’s a chance that Anthony Rizzo isn’t a sleeper due to how he’ll be ranked by others. My guess (which is better than your guess, but not as good as your Uncle Rick’s guess — your Uncle Rick is a good guesser!) is Rizzo will outperform his draft ranking. I can see him giving top 50 value and there’s no way I see him being ranked in the top 50, so that’s a sleeper, yah? Yahtzee! What’s keeping him from ranking in the top fifty already is the dreadful year he just had and, more specifically, his inability to hit lefties. He says he sees every lefty pitcher like the little kid in his fourth grade class that had lefty scissors glued to his hand and ran at him screaming, “You wanna play?!” Rizzo claims lefties scare him like Forest Whitaker’s droopy eyelid scares the average person. Why’s it drooping?! Rizzo’s got problems. He’s young enough that he can overcome his issues (will only be 24 for the better part of 2014), but if he continues to struggle vs. lefties there’s not a chance he gives top fiddy value. Not by swinging any magic stick. So, what can we expect of Anthony Rizzo for 2014 fantasy baseball and what makes him sleeper?
He hit .189 vs. southpaws last year and .208 vs. lefties in 2012. That’s an alarming trend. For a second, let’s assume he’s going to hit lefties at least at a .250 clip. If he did that, he’d hit .295 with 30+ homers and be on the verge of a top 20 pick in 2015. That’s possible. Highly unlikely. But possible. Then again, I’m really only saying that so by some miracle he does do it, I can quote myself back to you. It’s like me saying, “Rizzo could also hit .195 and be out of baseball in five years.” It’s not because I believe it but because I’m covering my bases (pun?) so in five years I can take that quote out of context and tell you I predicted it. Rizzo did hit lefties in the minor leagues and he’s young enough to turn things around. He hit a combined .305 vs. lefties in 2011 and 2012. Maybe it takes him three years to adjust. Wouldn’t be the first time a player took that long. This year Rizzo will either break out in a big way or be seen as a Brandon Moss-type platoon player. The Cubs could probably take that approach right now, but let’s hope they don’t because for most fantasy leagues a platoon player hurts counting stats too much. More good news is his walk rate ballooned in 2013, and his BABIP was more than fifty points off his 2012 rate, so he was a tad unlucky. Also, he plays every day, barring injuries. Last year, he suited up for 160 games. With all of that good news, we still have to assume he’s going to struggle to hit .220 vs. lefties. Hope for more, pray it’s only that bad. For 2014, I’ll give him the line of 82/28/92/.256/8. As I said about 75 times in this post (maybe twice), there’s a chance here for huge upside here and I’ll definitely be looking at drafting him.