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 2012 fantasy baseball sleepers. If you have any fantasy baseball questions about sleepers, busts, or who to draft, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Sports Forum.
Alejandro De Aza
De Aza has the potential to do it all for the White Sox. In limited at bats last year he proved he can bat for average, power, and throw in some speed. He had an extremely high batting average for balls in play, but even if he isn’t as lucky this year I still think he can bat over .300.
I think the Diamondbacks have a star in the making with their young first basemen. Last year in the majors his average wasn’t that great and he struck out a lot, but he had 8 HRs and 4 SBs in only 156 at bats. He has sleeper written all over him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits over 30 HRs this year.
This young pitcher is going to be on everyones sleeper list, but he is currently still going late enough in drafts to offer great value. He has all of the tools to be a great fantasy pitcher for many years to come, and we say he is worth the gamble. During his time in the minors he had a 2.64 ERA and he had a very impressive 700 strikeouts in 497 innings pitched.
Reed is one of the most interesting young relief pitchers, and I think he will get a chance to pitch in the 9th for the White Sox this year. Matt Thornton had a decent year last year, but I think Reed will prove that he is the better option in the 9th. He looked good in limited work in the majors in 2011, and his minor league stats were pretty amazing. In 78.1 innings of work in the minors in 2011 he had 111 Ks and an ERA of 1.26.
Jansen has the potential to be one of the best closers in the league. The only thing standing in his way is Javy Guerra. Guerra had a solid year last year, and he isn’t going to give up the closer role without a fight. Jansen had one of the best strikeout per innings pitch ratios in the history of the league in 2011, and I am really excited to see what he has in store for us this year.
There are a lot of reasons I like Kipnis as a great guy to target late in drafts. Not only do I think he has the potential to fill up the stat sheet, but he also plays a really tough position to fill at second base. I don’t think he will have amazing numbers in any one category, but I think he will be solid across the board.
Belt is one of the biggest first base prospects in the league, and he proved last year that he can hit the long ball in the majors. He hit 9 HRs in 187 at bats, and if he can find a way to get his batting average up he could put together a great year. He is going to be on everyone’s radar, but he should still go late enough in drafts to be a fairly low risk with the potential of a high reward.
In his first full year in the majors Beachy put up some solid numbers. He was among the league leaders in strikeouts per inning, and he posted a solid ERA. All signs are pointing to Beachy being a solid pick this year, and I think he is a great gamble in the later rounds.
The young catcher for the Royals made the best of his first 148 major league at bats. He had a .331 batting average, and racked up 13 extra base hits and 21 RBIs. The catcher position is fairly deep this year, but if you miss out on the big names I really like Perez has a late round backup plan.
It is going to be a gamble taking Darvish since it’s always tough to predict how japanese talent translates to MLB. While it is a gamble, we think it’s one worth taking. Last year with 232 innings of work in Japan he had 276 Ks and an ERA of 1.44. I don’t think these numbers are realistic for him this year in the states, but I think he could get close.