There’s different levels of sleepers. Some sleepers are great for 10-team mixed leagues and others are bargains late in, say, a 10-team AL-Only league. Some sleepers never wake up. Todd Frazier, it’s June 11th, c’mon, man, you’re gonna be late for the season! With the Indians fielding more outfielders than fro-yo shops in the Fro-Yo Jungle of So-Cal, Michael Brantley won’t play every day. He’ll come close, but I know in shallower leagues, you’re gonna get sick of moving him in and out of your lineup for when the Indians face lefties. For those in shallower leagues, skip ahead to the comments and compliment me on my manscaping. If you’re here for a deep league special, Brantley just had a career year, hitting 10 homers, .284 and stealing 17 bases. If that were his peak, I wouldn’t be piqued — turn of a phrase point! If that were his apex, I’d be looking for the apexit — can I make it three?! If that were his pinnacle, I wouldn’t be a cyclops with a monocle. Okay, now I’m just rhyming shizz. So, what can we expect from Michael Brantley for 2014 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
I’ve gone to this well more times than Baby Jessica’s rescuers, but in Triple-A, Brantley stole 46 bases in 116 games. Now, unless the bases are closer than 90 feet at the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus (who, by the way, would’ve approved of the team name Indians, but would’ve thought he was on a different continent), I don’t think that kind of speed just disappears. Kipnis has stolen a ton of bases with the Indians, so there’s no red light across the organization. Maybe Brantley has just taken longer to get acclimated to the major leagues than any other red-blooded man (that’s red-blooded man, protestor looking for a fight over the Indians logo and mascot). Brantley is also entering his 27-year-old season (around the age when hitters come into their own) and just finished his biggest power year. Sure, it was only ten homers, but if he can get to 15 homers and somehow, some way manage to find those other 30 steals that he left back in the minors, he’ll be a top 15 outfielder for all of baseball, not just the AL. That’s a bit of a pipe dream like Chong has, but if he’s headed for a career year, the Indians will find a way to play him every day. He has no margin of error though. If he’s struggling, he’ll be playing around four times a week and have no viability in most leagues. He hasn’t shown much power as a lefty facing lefties, but he hasn’t exactly embarrassed himself either. Last year, in 174 ABs vs. lefties, he hit .276. That’s playable. If the League of Ordinarily Gentlemen weren’t all battling him for playing time, I’d put him down for 600+ ABs and tell everyone to draft him. For 2014, I’ll say he gets 522 ABs and a line of 69/12/77/.280/20. Easily putting him within the range of Shane Victorino-types for a fraction of the cost (1/3rd; that’s the fraction.)