Drafting solid core players in the early rounds paired with the ability to pick players that will outperform their draft position in the later rounds is the formula for any successful fantasy baseball draft. For the purposes of this article, a “sleeper” is any player whose value over the course of the season is likely to be higher than his cost on draft day. Below is our list of 2011 fantasy baseball sleepers. If you have any fantasy baseball questions about a sleepers, busts, or who to draft, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Sports Forum.
We like McGee for many reasons, but there are two things that we really like about him. First reason is he played great last year in limited time in the majors, and we think he can pick up right where he left off. The other big thing we like about him is that he only has to beat out Kyle Farnsworth for the closer role. We aren’t sure if McGee will start the year with the closer role, but he should take it over at some point in the season.
If Kimbrel was locked in as the closer then we would have ranked him as a top 10 relief pitchers. There is still a chance that Venters might steal some of the save opportunities, but we still think Kimbrel is the guy to own. He was nothing short of amazing in his 20.2 IP last year, and he could be a nice surprise this year.
Chapman is one of the biggest pitching prospects in the game, and he could be a great late round pick. He is more then likely going to spend the year in the bullpen, but there is a good chance he will end up with the closing role. Even if he isn’t able to over take the current closer Cordero, he should still have some value as a setup man.
It looks like Hellickson is going to have a spot in the rotation for the Rays this year. In his 4 starts last year he had about a K per inning, a 3-0 record, and a 2.05 ERA. This 23 year old has one of the biggest upsides out of all young pitchers, and he is worth a draft pick in the middle rounds.
Hudson is one of our favorite sleeper starting pitchers. You are going to hear a lot about him this spring, but we still think he will offer great value for where you can get him in the draft. He is only 23 years old and he was one of the most dominant starting pitchers after the all-star break last year. After the break he posted an 8-2 record with an ERA just barely over 2.
Norris is a guy that is going to go pretty late in most drafts, but he could be a sneaky pick this year. He was among the league leaders in strikeouts per innings pitched, and if he can get his walks under control he could be a top 25 starting pitcher this year. We think he is well worth a pick in one of the last rounds.
Moreland doesn’t have the first base job locked up, but he is clearly the front runner. Even if he doesn’t win the job he could see some time in the outfield, so you can count on him getting a lot of at bats this year. In limited work last season he was very impressive across the board with 9 HR’s and 3 SB’s in only 145 AB’s. His batting average could be better, but this youngster has a big upside and should be considered in the later rounds.
Eric Young Jr.
It’s hard to say at this point how much playing time Young is going to get this year, but if he gets over 500 AB’s he could lead the league in stolen bases. Young is crazy fast and he averaged a steal every 10 AB’s last year. He will have second base eligibility which is a nice plus, and if he ends up starting he could be great value late in the draft.
This 22 year old could be the steal of the draft in 2011. He is going to go in the early middle rounds, but he could offer top 20 talent this year. His batting average and strikeouts are a couple of weak points, but this youngster has the potential of being a great power hitter. Stanton is far from a guarantee, but we think he is a great guy to target in the middle of your draft.
If Stubbs can get his batting average up then he has the potential of doing it all. This former 1st round pick had a break out year last year, and we see no reason why his numbers can’t go up. Stubbs is a guy that we think is a great gamble in the middle rounds, and we truly believe he has the potential of being a 30/30 guy.