The 2010 fantasy baseball season is closing in, which means you’re either biting your nails over your roster, or you’re gearing up for your fantasy league’s draft.
Before you start making changes to your roster or begin drafting, take a look at who makes the grade this year as possible fantasy baseball sleepers.
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Edwin is only 27 years old and was traded from the Reds to the Blue Jays last season in the Scott Rolen deal. Encarnacion has always had power but has had trouble putting the bat on the ball. After the change of scenery he hit 3 more homers with the Jays in one less game played than with the Reds and hit for an average 31 points higher than he did in the NL. He should hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup and be able to produce more runs in the AL than the NL with the help of a DH.
Sean Rodriguez, Rays
Rodriguez, 24, came over to the Rays from the Angels in part of the Kazmir deal. If manager Joe Madden finds a way to get this kid on the field he should be able to continue to receive playing time as a utility player with his athleticism and fielding. He has a small amount of pop and can get steals here and there. Rodriguez should have a set position if someone gets hurt or when one of the Rays young studs moves on through trade or free agency.
Joba Chamberlain, Yankees
Many fantasy players are probably sick of hearing Joba’s name tossed around, especially with knowing he will be in the pen to start the year. However, if someone is to get hurt in the rotation, Joba could be next in line and even better if something happens to Mr. Reliable, Mariano Rivera, Joba would certainly take over as the closer on the AL’s best team.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
Dice-K is set to go on the 15-day DL to start the season so he will not be available until mid April at earliest. With that being said, Matsuzaka will need a year like his 2008 20 win season to gain respect from fantasy players again. It is no secret the World Baseball Classic, and his own ignorance, held Dice-K back last year. He is said to be in the best shape since coming to the MLB and I expect a sub 4 ERA and around 15 wins when he comes back healthy.
Garret Atkins, Orioles
Just like Encarnacion, Atkins will be a new face to the AL. For this reason I could see him playing like his old self. Atkins had a bad year last year but if he can stay healthy he can help this young team add some runs and maybe some wins. Expect around 25 home runs if he stays healthy the entire year.
Jeff Francoeur, Mets
At only 26 years old I, believe Francoeur has yet to reach his full potential. In order for the Mets to keep up with the NL East favorite Phillies, I think he will need to do just that. After being traded from the Braves to the Mets for Ryan Church, Jeff doubled his home run total for the season and also hit 61 points higher with the Mets than he did with the Braves. His arm in right field has always been amongst the best in the game- he will need to show he can take his offense to the next level if he ever wants to be considered in the group of the game’s best outfielders.
Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
Sanchez is the favorite to take over the starting first base position for the Marlins with posting a .387 average in spring training. Sanchez is still young at 26, but if he plans on being a mainstay for the fish he better show up this year.
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
Strasburg, a.k.a. “Jesus” as he is known by his teammates, is only on this list because many people may disregard him in their drafts because he will start the season in the minors. Don’t let that fool you- he will play for the Nationals this year and will dominate. In his first outing in the minors Strasburg struck out nine. IN ONLY 4 1/3 INNINGS! If for some reason management won’t decide to bring him up, the lack of fans in the stands will certainly change that decision.
Kris Medlen, Braves
If it wasn’t for all the hype (he deserves it all) surrounding Jason Heyward he would certainly be the choice for the Braves sleeper. With that being said, I believe Medlen can make an impact on this team in his own right. He will probably start the year in the pen, but if something happens to one of their starters he should be first in line. His first season in the big leagues he posted a 4.26 ERA and had more K’s than innings pitched.
Cole Hamels, Phillies
Most people will probably judge Hamels based on last season, rather than his 2008 season. I expect Cole will be overlooked somewhat for this. Hamels should post the highest win total of his career if he can keep it together physically and emotionally. It will certainly be helpful for Hamels having stud Roy Halladay battling the opposing teams ace most of the time.