You don’t want two shortstops on your team. You don’t even really want one shortstop, but rules dictate you have to have one. So if you only want one shortstop that means you need two 2nd basemen if you have a middle infielder slot. To take that one step further, you need a sleeper from the 2nd basemen in most instances because you’ll be drafting your middle infielder late. Then you have Crappy Team Problems (CTP). CTP is a problem all fantasy baseballers (<–my mom’s term!) encounter. You want a sleeper that will be guaranteed playing time, but teams that actually think they can win don’t give rookies and sleepers playing time. The only way you find those sleepers are on Crappy Teams. One major CTP is no one wants to watch/root for a Crappy Team. This doesn’t seem like it would play into fantasy, but I think there’s a bias out there with some people just avoiding certain teams. Another issue, Crappy Teams don’t generate much offense, which hinders your sleeper’s potential. But this drawback can also be a positive because teams with nothing to lose, except losing lots of games, will thrust sleepers into advantageous spots in their lineup. But what makes them attractive in the first place is also their drawback, no one wants them, so they’re available for you. So now that I got that verbiage out of the way that sounded much better in my head than on virtual paper, it brings us to Jose Altuve and what makes him a 2012 fantasy baseball sleeper?
In 2011 between three pro ball stops (including a stint with the Astros), Altuve hit 12 homers and stole 31 bases. A large chunk of that speed was High-A which accounted for 5 homers and 19 steals in 52 games. He wasn’t nearly as dominant in Double-A for steals (only 5) but he hit 5 homers in only 35 games. Then he skipped Triple-A (or maybe he didn’t skip it but the Astros simply consider their major league team their Triple-A affiliate), and on the Astros in 57 games, 2 homers and 7 steals. I imagine it’ll be up to Altuve to sink or swim this year in the majors. And he’ll probably do a little of both. As alluded to above, Altuve will be in the heart of the Astros’ order in 2012, so his counting stats should be good (for an Astro). In the top 20 2nd basemen for 2012 fantasy baseball, I gave Altuve the projections of 80/12/40/.265/24. As I said there, that’s crazy optimistic, but not undoable. The steals should be a lot easier to come in those projections. The power might be a pipe dream like Pookie from New Jack City used to have. Even if I were to be conservative and tell you he’s closer to a 6/17 guy, he’s still worth drafting for the chance for more.