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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers from Every Expert (Part 2: Hitters)

by dave
Feb 28, 2012

Dayan Viciedo is currently #246 Overall and the #75 Outfielder. Will his ECR rise after this post?

Last week we revealed sleeper pitchers from 25 fantasy baseball experts. This week we’ve one-upped ourselves by pulling together sleeper hitters from 26 experts. Amazingly, only three players were named multiple times and no player had more than two mentions. I guess if everyone had the same sleeper he wouldn’t really be a sleeper.
Before we dive into the picks, if you haven’t already set up your leagues, you should consider creating a free one at Yahoo. By doing so you’ll be able to use our coolest product, My Playbook, to import your leagues directly from Yahoo. Our soon-to-launch My Playbook feature provides free lineup alerts, news and advice…all customized for your fantasy teams. We’ll support a few other league commissioner services too, but we’re shamelessly promoting Yahoo for now since we’ll receive a small referral fee for new sign ups (this is where I tell you about my family’s rising diaper costs and my dwindling beer fund).
So let’s get to the sleeper picks. To view a player’s Expert Consensus Ranking and which experts like/dislike the player, just click on his name. We also encourage you to visit each expert’s site to get more insight and advice.
Name your favorite sleeper (Hitters) and tell us why you think he might surprise us this year.
Dayan Viciedo (CSW)
“At 5-foot-11, 240-pounds, Viciedo can squat elephants. Blessed with tremendous raw power, the alleged 22-year-old showed flashes of his potential last year jacking 20 bombs in just over 450 at-bats with Triple-A Charlotte. Though he only reached the cheap seats once in 102 at-bats with the senior club, the experience he gained should prove invaluable. With Carlos Quentin now hoofing it in San Diego, he’s expected to nail down the everyday right-field gig this spring. Assuming he does, he’s a dark-horse 25-30 HR candidate and a bargain basement buy at his current 232 ADP.” – Brad Evans, Yahoo! Sports
“The 22-year-old Cuban outfielder is expected to be the everyday right fielder for the White Sox in 2012. Although he only has 219 big-league plate appearances (.282/.324/.417) in the past two seasons, Viciedo hit 40 home runs with an .833 OPS in 205 games at the Triple-A level between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Nicknamed “The Tank”, this big right-handed hitter plays his home games in a homer friendly stadium, so expecting approximately 20-25 home runs isn’t out of the question over the course of a full season. With regular playing time and a patient approach at the plate, Dayan is a late round grab for fantasy owners looking for decent batting average and power numbers.” – Reggie Yinger, BaseballPress
Dexter Fowler (COL)
“To end 2011, we finally saw a glimpse of the “five-tools” that have always been associated with Dexter Fowler. His OPS was 1.000, .799, .901 in the months of July, August, and September respectively. He stole 10 bases during that stretch, as well. The Denver Post reported Fowler has gained seven pounds of muscle and trimmed down four percent of body fat this offseason. If he stays healthy, he will bat lead-off atop a strong line up, get on base, hit for double-digit power, and steal bases. That’s not too bad for the ECR’s 214th best player.” – Ben Pritchett, The Hardball Times
“Fowler gained 13 lbs. while shedding 4% body fat and raising his bench press from 185 lbs. to 260 lbs. during the offseason.  That shows me that he is extremely motivated to continue his second half breakout last year where he hit .288/.381/.498 with 5 HR and went 10 for 13 in SB.  His added strength should turn some of his triples (29 in the last 2 years) into home runs, and he has way too much speed to steal just 12 bases again.  Leading off for the Rockies with his on base skills (11.9 career BB%), speed, and added pop, he should be good for at least 90-10-50-20-.275, which would make him a top 45 outfielder, but his FantasyPros ECR and MDC ADP are currently 57 and 61 respectively among outfielders.” – Eric Radom, FansFantasy
Jason Heyward (ATL)
“After a prolific rookie season, Jason Heyward all but literally crapped the bed in 2011.  Playing with a bad shoulder, Heyward could never find his swing last season.  He was barely able to break a .700 OPS.  Heyward has never struggled at any level before this, so he should definitely bounce back.  He’s being ranked as about the 30th best outfielder, but he has the potential to be in the top 10.” – Tim Young, MLBSoup
“Heyward is an ideal bounce back candidate. He has spent the entire offseason rebuilding his swing and getting into shape, reportedly dropping more than 20 lbs from last spring. Expect more of the Heyward from his rookie campaign and quite possibly more.” – Matt Viere, FantasySportsPrime
J.D. Martinez (HOU)
“As a hockey guy, I’ve always had a rule that even on bad teams, somebody has to score. Martinez, who hit .300 and slugged .500 at every level as he breezed through the minors, carries that philosophy over to baseball.  Even though he’s just entering his first full season in the majors, Martinez will bat in a premium run production spot in Houston, which should give him a great shot at 70+ runs and 80+ RBI.  Toss in an average in the .285 range and 15 to 20 homers, and you’re looking at a sneaky fourth outfielder or utility play who is currently going undrafted in 98% of Yahoo leagues and 80% of the drafts on Mock Draft Central.” – James Meyerriecks, Fantasy Info Central
Emilio Bonifacio (MIA)
“With Yoenis Cespedes no longer an option for the Marlins, Emilio Bonifacio is the slam-dunk starter in center field, making him potentially one of the biggest bargains on draft day if he performs as well for new manager Ozzie Guillen as he did for interim manager Jack McKeon. From the time McKeon took over on June 20 last year, Bonifacio hit .310 with 36 steals in 89 games — or what amounts to half a season. Though other managers had no doubt preached the same message, the old man finally got through to Bonifacio that his job is to slap his way on base and run wild when he gets there, and now that he has that mentality, he’s not suddenly going to lose it. He’s basically another Michael Bourn, only he happens to be eligible at shortstop and third base in addition to the outfield.” – Scott White, CBS Sports
Cameron Maybin (SD)
“It often seems like the highly-touted superstars of the future take 3-4 years to live up to the initial forecasts and hype. That’s the case with Maybin, who put up some useful fantasy numbers as a Padre last year, racking up 9 HR and 40 SB in 137 games. Look for Maybin, who will turn 25, to have a Carl Crawford 2007-type season (the year he too was 25), with only a lower batting average.” – Gavin Tachibana, Fantasy Baseball Champ
Adam Lind (TOR)
“Adam Lind is a great source of power late in the draft. He’s being consistently overlooked for reason beyond me. Guys like Mark Trumbo and Paul Goldschmidt are being taken significantly ahead of him. Lind is in a potent offense and I feel is easily capable of 30+ homeruns and 100+ RBIs. Last year he was unlucky with his BABIP, and had the lowest walk rate of his career as a starter. Bill James has him project for a huge bounce back season, and so do I. Look to pounce on this guy late in drafts.” – Jeremy Manning, ClubHouseGM
Ben Revere (MIN)
“There’s a lot of talk about how the outfield ranks are thin this year, but there’s one outfielder that can give you 40-plus stolen bases at the end of the draft. Ben Revere stole 34 bases in only 117 games for the Twins last season and had eight steals at Double-A before his call-up for a combined total of 42. Revere knows his game and thrives as a contact specialist who doesn’t hit too many fly balls, making sure his biggest asset, his speed, isn’t wasted on pop-ups.” – Charlie Saponara, FantasyBaseball365
Mike Moustakas (KC)
“Moustakas is being drafted over 50 spots behind postseason darling David Freese, which is simply ludicrous. Moustakas’ five homers in 365 plate appearances, with a mundane .263/.309/.367 triple-slash, look unimpressive until his September breakout is considered: four of those homers came in his 88 at-bats in the final month. Additionally, his .352 batting average, supported by a .380 on-base percentage and .580 slugging mark, was 15th among qualified players in said month. He has the leash, the pedigree, and the momentum (if you believe in that shtick) to breakout fully in 2012, and is being drafted well behind a David Freese who has never played in more than 97 games. Laugh all the way to the bank.” – Nick Fleder, The Hardball Times
Kendrys Morales (LAA)
“There are several first basemen this season trying to regain All-Star from after suffering from significant injuries. Out of them all, Kendrys Morales’s situation exudes the most optimism. Early reports out of camp are very positive for Morales, who may be healthy enough to start the season in the starting lineup. It’s easy to forget about Morales’s breakout 2009 season, where he batted .306 while blasting 34 home runs and driving in 108 runs. He hasn’t played a game since breaking his leg in embarrassing fashion during a celebration in May 2010, but he may finally be ready to resume tearing the cover off of baseballs.”  – Justin Sablich, The New York Times
Jose Altuve (HOU)
“To me, being a sleeper goes beyond simply outperforming draft position, and extends to being draftable in the mid-to-late rounds.  With that line of thinking in mind, Altuve fits the mold.  He’s part of an awful Astros lineup.  That could prove a blessing in disguise.  Altuve should hit second in the lineup, and it’s likely he’ll be given the green light on the bases.  The Astros will have to manufacture runs, and a big part of that will be taking extra bases.  His efficiency in the minors stealing bases was subpar, but he was successful stealing seven bases in 10 attempts.  He was perfect stealing bases against right-handers (six stolen bases), and struggled against southpaws stealing one base and getting caught stealing three times.  With a full season of at-bats, I expect him to steal 15-20 bases.  Despite being small in stature, he has enough pop to hit 10-15 home runs.  The best aspect of Altuve’s skill set in reality, and fantasy, is his ability to hit for a high average.  He makes a ton of contact, and rarely strikes out.  He’s also incapable of drawing walks.  His inability to coax ball fours should help him maximize his high batting average in the same way Ichiro did for years.  The difference between a .300 hitter in the mold of Todd Helton, who has a large gap in plate appearances and at-bats, and that of Ichiro, who has a small gap in the two, is often overlooked.  He isn’t a starter at second base in standard leagues, but Altuve is a solid middle infield option and a player I’ll be looking to handcuff with injury risk second baseman like Ian Kinsler and Rickie Weeks.” – Josh Shepardson, The Hardball Times
Alex Rios (CSW)
“Rios was awful last season, awful. Still, I have a hard time understanding how he’s barely going off the board in the top-60 at the outfield position behind guys like part-timer Juan Pierre, guy without a starting spot (Brandon Belt) or guys who may not even open the year in the big leagues (Bryce Harper and Mike Trout). Just one year removed from being the only player in baseball with a .280-20-85-95-30 line, people are running from the 31 year old as if he had bubonic plague. If you look beyond his 5×5 numbers last season you will see a performance that wasn’t appreciably different in a variety of categories than his efforts during his massive 2010 campaign. Here are more of my thoughts on Rios.” – Ray Flowers, BaseballGuys
J.P. Arencibia (TOR)
“I’m always one to wait on catchers and I’m targeting the Blue Jays’ backstop in all of my leagues.  Last year was Arencibia’s first full year in the majors, so there’s room for improvement on his admittedly atrocious batting average.  Even with that batting average risk, the poor-man’s Mike Napoli is one of only a handful of catchers who can hit 25+ homers. His ECR and ADP are both currently 10th at his position, so targeting Arencibia later in the draft will allow you to focus your earlier picks on other positions without sacrificing power from your catcher spot.” – Greg Smith, TheFakeBaseball

Adam Jones (BAL)
“While I was agonizing over the fact that I missed on Andrew McCutchen in our annual industry mock draft, I realized that I drafted almost the same player in Adam Jones in the seventh round. Jones clearly doesn’t fit the prototypical “sleeper” mold, but you will likely get a a similar value to McCutchen, with a five-to-six round discount. In Jones, you’re going to get a slightly higher average, at the cost of 10-15 stolen bases over the course of the year. Recently agreeing to a one-year deal with the Orioles to avoid arbitration, Jones is likely to meet or exceed his 2011 numbers while he searches for that much desired long term contract. A .280/25/75/90/15 season is on the horizon, don’t miss out.” – Alan Harrison, TheFantasyFix
Tyler Greene (STL)
“Greene will battle with Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumaker for the second base job in St Louis this spring. Descalso has only managed a career .296 wOBA (basically a measure of overall offensive production/value) in 412 PAs, a number that is in the bottom 10% in all of baseball. Schumaker has a career 4.6 WAR in over 700 games. Neither Descalso or Schumaker offer any significant upside, so while Greene is far from a sure thing, he should have a good shot to earn the starting job. In triple-A in 2011, Greene produced a .323/.422/.579 line, with 14 home runs and 19 stolen bases in just 303 plate appearances. With a K% in the mid-twenties he will never hit for that kind of average (not even close), but he might be able to hit 10-15 home runs at the major league level. His speed is legitimate as well; he stole 11 bases in just 121 major league plate appearances in 2011 and would have 25+ steal potential with regular at bats. Greene should be very cheap on draft day, even in deep leagues, but has the potential to approach top-10 value among second basemen if absolutely everything falls into place.” – Jesse Sakstrup, RotoSummit
Eric Hosmer (KC)
“The 22 year old was called up in May last season and did not disappoint with nearly 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. More impressive was the 11 stolen bases he contributed last season.  He is currently the 11th first baseman taken 2012 fantasy drafts and will finish more like a top 5 first baseman in 2012.  I’m projecting 25 home runs, 100 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, and an .825 OPS from Eric Hosmer this season.”  – Jeff Boggis, FantasySportsEmpires
Salvador Perez (KC)
“Salvador Perez is Fantasy Pros’ 20th ranked catcher. If his brief taste of the big leagues is any indication, he’ll be a legitimate top ten fantasy catcher before long. In 39 games and 148 at bats Perez batted .331 with 20 runs, three HRs, and 21 RBI. His OPS was an impressive .834. Day or night, home or away, grass or turf. It didn’t matter he got the job done. He held his own against right-handed pitching hitting .291 with a .711 OPS. Perez absolutely murdered lefties though, hitting a ridiculous .484 with a 1.285 OPS in 31 at bats. He might as well have been facing minor league pitching the way he clobbered southpaws. Perez represents an excellent low risk/high potential catcher option.” – Ryan Lester, Lester’s Legends
Pedro Alvarez (PIT)
“Pedro Alvarez has been one many would call an underachiever in his first two seasons in the big leagues.  Although, the third baseman for the Pirates did have a fairly productive rookie season in 2010, hitting 16 HR and 64 RBIs in just 347 ABs.  He does strike out more than we’d like him to, but if he can play even at least 120 games, he’s capable of 20+ HR and 80+ RBIs.” – Zach Greubel, WinMyFantasyLeague
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)
“Despite being drafted (roughly) outside of the top 20 first basemen, Goldschmidt has big time power and showed us a glimpse of it in his brief stint with the D’Backs at the end of last season.  He hit eight homers in only 48 games after being called up, but he belted a total of 38 home runs between AA and the big leagues last year.  Surprisingly, Goldschmidt has decent speed for his size (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) and he stole 13 bases combined last year.  For those who take a chance on Goldschmidt, he has the potential/upside to deliver fantasy owners a season with 30 HRs, 100 RBs and 10 SBs.” – Kevin Hanson, EatDrinkSleepBaseball
Adam Dunn (CWS)
“What sane person would use a draft pick on a guy that hit below .160 last season? Exactly. This is exactly why you should take a flier on him. Dunn is still the same guy that was a guaranteed 40 HR threat every year. Assuming his talent wasn’t stolen Space Jam style, we should expect Dunn to regain form and knock close to 30 out of the park in a comeback year for the storybooks.”  – Jon Connolly, Fantasy Baseball Champ
Lucas Duda (NYM)
“As much as I like the 27-year old Chase Headley hitting in the middle of the Padres’ batting order, Lucas Duda is my number one sleeper. One word: Power. See ball, crush ball. Not even Yosemite Park will be able to keep his balls in the field of play. The 26-year old plays multiple positions which is a huge bonus in leagues with limited roster room. Check out his Expert Consensus Rank… you can’t find one expert who likes him less.” – Joseph Buccellato, FantasyLeagueGM
Matt Wieters (BAL)
“A classic post-hype prospect, who will remind everyone why the hype existed in the first place.  The 6 foot 5, 230 pound catcher is 26 years old this season, and we’ll finally see him produce bulging stats.  Crushed 15 HR’s in the second half last year, and his peripherals suggest a chance for 30+ HR to go along with a batting average correction.  That means we are looking at a potential 80-30-90-.285 catcher who is rated 5th or 6th at his position?!  Forget Napoli, Santana, or McCann.  Here is your #1 fantasy catcher for 2012.” – Derek Gerberich, MidwestSportsFans
James Loney (LAD)
“I’ll be following James Loney closely this spring after his huge second half. He made noticeable adjustments to his swing in conjunction with the burst of production. In August and September, he posted wOBA’s well above .400. Don’t expect him to be the second coming of Jose Bautista, but he could give you $10 value in a $1 package.” – Brad Johnson, The Hardball Times
That’s it for Part 2 of our fantasy baseball sleeper series. Part 3 will be an objective look at every expert’s sleeper based on his rankings vs. ADP. At the end of the season we’ll know exactly who hit and missed on their bold predictions. Speaking of accountability, we’ve been tracking preseason fantasy baseball rankings since last season, so stay tuned for the results of our accuracy study.

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