Monday, December 30, 2013

Five 2014 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

As 2014 rolls around, it is officially time for fantasy baseball owners to start thinking about draft day. Sure, it may be 4 months away, but it's not like you're busy with fantasy football anymore.

1. Ryan Howard- 1B, Phillies

People seem to forget that a mere 2 years ago Howard was an all-star with good power and the ability to drive in runs. The past two seasons were injury-filled for Howard and even when he did play, it was evident that he was not 100%. An off season of recovery should benefit Howard and he could be a major steal in 2014.

2. Jackie Bradley JR.- CF, Red Sox

Entering 2013 Bradley was one of the most hyped prospects in baseball. He raked in spring training and amazingly earned a spot on the Sox opening day roster. A woeful April led Bradley to be demoted again before a few brief stints in the majors. After the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury, Bradley should have a starting spot on the Sox and will prove that 2013 was a fluke.

3. BJ Upton- CF, Braves

To be blunt about it, Upton sucked in 2013. He was truly one of the worst players in the MLB but people are quick to forget that this is the same player who almost went 30/30 in 2012. A closer look at the peripherals suggest that 2013 was an anomaly for Upton and he should definitely be targeted by owners in the late rounds of 2014 drafts.

4. Josh Johnson- SP, Blue Jays

Josh Johnson's 2013 season is the perfect example of how luck plays a major role in professional sports. His BABIP against was an astonishing .361, meaning opposing batters reached base on 36% of all balls they put in play. Compare that to Johnson's career average of .307 and it is easy to see how he struggled so much in 2013. Even his xFIP, or expected ERA with an average defense behind him and a league average HR/Fly ball rate, was 3.68, well below his actual ERA of 6.20. Even if Johnson's peripherals can come back to near his career averages in 2014, he should have a bounce back season and provide major value for owners.

5. George Springer- CF, Houston Astros

Springer is truly one of the most exciting players in baseball. In 2013 he played 135 games between AA and AAA and ALMOST went 40/40. Yes, you read that correctly, a 24 year old prospect almost went 40/40 last year AND he plays for the Astros. We aren't quite sure why Springer isn't getting more hype (he was recently rated the 58th best prospect in the MLB) but he certainly deserves it. We expect Springer to go at least 20/20 this season and in a few years, don't be surprised if Springer joins the elite 40/40 club.

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