MLB - Fantasy Baseball - Top 10 2013 Infield Sleepers
Every fantasy season owners study player rankings and hope they have best prepared for their drafts. We all envision a draft where we are able to select our top picks, derail the efforts of other owners and grab those sleeper picks that will boost our team's value. The following article outlines those players which I feel could be categoriezed as infield sleepers. The positions covered will be catcher, first base, second base, shortstop and third base. Each of these players has the potential to provide your team with maximum bang for your buck - that hopefully being a mid to late round pick-up or later waiver wire addition that will produce solid fantasy points.
This list includes guys that you should be able to strategically target in your draft or stash away on a waiver wire watch list. As we all know, underrated players impact our fantasy teams every season. If you can draft some of these infield sleepers you might surprise your opponents or hold them for trade value later. Players are listed with their fftoolbox positional ranking and average draft position.
1. Jonathan Lucroy, C MIL - 13th ranked by fftoolbox and 143 ADP
Lucroy is tiered as a low level starter in our rankings. His average draft position at 143 is likely due to the fact that his 2012 season was nothing special, with his loss of two months due to an unfortunate accident off-field. Ranked just below the top ten catchers in most expert rankings, Lucroy might be a steal in your draft as he is highly likely to out-perform several of the top ten catchers this season if he is active and healthy. Mock drafts from various sources show Lucroy available in later draft rounds and he is being picked up by owners who have chosen to wait on a draft pick for the catching position. If you can hold out for Lucroy in a later round and benefit from his contact rate and hard contact average, he is worth it.
2. John Jaso, C OAK - 25th ranked by fftoolbox and 252 ADP
John Jaso is a catcher who appears on most rankings as a bench player. Oakland has prospect Derek Norris that they are grooming for the position, but until that time officially comes, Jaso is a player who could add value to your team. His on-base percentage and consistently high batting average should be something of interest to some owners looking for a well-rounded bench. If nothing else, Jaso could surprise and be trade bait down the road.
3. Eric Hosmer,1B KC - 17th ranked by fftoolbox and 91 ADP
Hosmer is 23 years old and beginning to make a name for himself. He has been notably working on his hitting and it has paid dividends. He most recently supported Team USA and his spring training batting average is over .390. His improved swing mechanics are helping him avoid his ground outs and he should be a player you can count on for a solid batting average this season.
4. Brandon Moss, 1B/OF OAK - 40th ranked by fftoolbox and ADP N/A
Brandon Moss was a beneficiary of the trade between Houston and Oakland that included Chris Carter and Jed Lowrie. Moss settles right to the bottom of the fftoolbox first basemen rankings as a fringe player ranked 40th with no average draft position for the most part. Last season in just under 300 at-bats, he hit 21 home runs. This season he figures to potentially receive 500 or more at-bats and this means his value could increase significantly. Additionally, Moss is available not only at first base, but also in the outfield.
5. Josh Rutledge, SS/2B COL - 16th ranked at 2B and 13th ranked at SS by fftoolbox and 221 ADP
Josh Rutledge is one sleeper that many experts feel has huge potential. This could be good or bad considering how many fantasy owners in your draft have Rutledge on their radar. The one concern currently with Rutledge is his place in the Colorado lineup. He has yet to solidify his role at second base, but it seems as if he will fill this position. Last season he jumped in at shortstop when Tulowitzki was injured and performed well. Filling-in for 73 games, he hit 8 HRs in 277 at-bats, had a battng average of .350 and stole seven bases. If he plays the entire season in Colorado, Rutledge is a fantasy asset given his batting average, stolen bases and on-base percentage. His only downside might be his tendancy to fade as the season progresses.
6. Jedd Gyorko, 2B SD - 20th ranked by fftoolbox and 252 ADP
Gyorko is officially a third baseman. However, San Diego has Chase Headley at third and it appears Gyorko will slide to second base this season. The team is evaluating his ability to cover second base defensively and if all goes as planned, he might prove to be a significant fantasy value at the position. Gyorko is a great hitter and his minor league numbers show his prowess. Last season between Double and Triple-A he combined for 30 HRs and 100 RBIs - need I say more.
7. Jean Segura, SS MIL - 25th ranked by fftoolbox and 320 ADP
Jean Segura is a speed machine. In 151 at-bats last season he stole seven bases. He does however, need to work on his eye as a hitter. His .317 on-base percentage and near .280 batting average are some aspects of his game he can work on. If Segura is on your radar for late rounds it is likely because he has the ability to net you 35-40 stolen bases.
8. Jed Lowrie, SS OAK - 23rd ranked by fftoolbox and 288 ADP
Jed Lowrie is one of those fantasy players that you have to think twice about drafting. His tendancy to end up injured or on the disabled list has to be a concern. However, you might want to use this stereotype as an advantage. Let your opponents think that you throw Lowrie into the "always injured" pile and then grab him when others have lost interest. The shortstop position is one in fantasy that causes some of us to pull out our hair. With his move from Houston to Oakland, Lowrie might prove all those injury-prone doubters wrong. It is a question whether he will make it past 100 games this season, given his past, but if he does he could be worth a look. His .244 batting average from 2012 is nothing great, but he has potential in the HR and RBI categories. Lowrie is a gamble, but one that could produce.
9. Todd Frazier, 3B/1B CIN - 25th ranked 1B and 18th ranked 3B by fftoolbox and 197 ADP
Todd Frazier joined the bigs last season full-time at first base when Joey Votto was injured. Frazier ranks higher on thirdbase lists than firstbase this season and is expected to take the thirdbase position in Cincy. Frazier exhibits power, but his batting average of around .275 is a concern. In his total of 586 major league at-bats he has hit 25 HRs. Frazier also has the ability to steal bases when the opportunity arises. He should be on your radar for a bench spot if not as a potential sleeper at third. I like Frazier's value-add of 28-30 HRs this season.
10. Trevor Plouffe, 3B MIN - 20th ranked by fftoolbox and 243 ADP
Trevor Plouffe might be just the bargain thirdbaseman you have been looking for. In 422 at-bats last season he hit 24 home runs. If you compare these stats to others at the position and review average draft positions, Plouffe is going at a steal. He did not produce as expected last season because of his thumb injury, but the move from shortstop to third base should give him a chance defensively to stay in games. Plouffe's batting average is nothing to write home about, but his HR potential keeps him interesting. If he can cut down on his strikeouts and hit 20-plus HRs he has value if you pick him up in late rounds.
Jeb Gorham -
Fort Collins, CO
FFToolbox Fantasy Football Writer since 2007
Fort Collins, CO
FFToolbox Fantasy Football Writer since 2007
I have been involved in sports since a youngster, growing up playing nearly every sport imaginable. Short Track Speedskating was my main sport with six years competing at national and international levels. For the past ten years I have worked in the sports, fitness and wellness industry. Beginning in the Fall of 2011 I will be Assistant Professor of Management - Sports Management at Southern Vermont College. I have my masters degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland, College Park and my Ph.D. in Sport Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. I am an avid cyclist and fantasy sports are one of my many hobbies.
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