2010 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: AL and NL West

Scott KasmirEvery fantasy baseball owner is asking themselves the same question heading into the 2010 Fantasy Baseball season: who is out there than no one else knows about?

Whether they are players that can be classified as bonafide fantasy baseball gems, or are on the cusp of rounding the corner and earning extra playing time, there are always a few players that will take the fantasy baseball world by surprise.

We continue our look at each MLB division with a focus on the AL and NL West.

AL West

Scott Kazmir, Angels

Kazmir, 26, may be starting the season on the 15-day DL, which will certainly cause owners to stay away and with good reason. Kazmir has often been injured in his six-year career but there is still hope. After the trade from the Rays last year, Kazmir started 6 games with the Angels and posted a 1.73 ERA. Now in a weaker hitting division, Kazmir should be able to post better numbers than he has with the Rays over the last two seasons. If Kazmir can stay healthy and start around 25 games, he should make more than enough impact for his current value.

Cliff Pennington, Athletics

As a former first-round pick, Pennington was expected to have already taken the starting shortstop job. He started to shows signs of having enough big-league talent to start last year playing in 89 games while recording 18 extra base hits, 7 steals and a .279 batting average. I expect a season stat-line around .290/15/70 with around 25 steals.

David Aardsma, Mariners

With most people concentrating on getting elite closers like Mo, Papps, or K-Rod, Aardsma will go overlooked and be taken in the area of the second or third group of closers in most drafts. Of course, Aardsma came out of nowhere last year so it is hard to believe he can do it again. His numbers however, would lead me to think he will not fall off too far. He posted 80 K’s in just over 71 innings, while having an ERA just over 2.5. To me the most important stat is his WHIP, at only 1.16 for the year. If he keeps his numbers close to that of 09 he will be right there with the elite closer group and should be considered a sleeper.

Neftali Feliz, Rangers

Feliz pitched 31 innings last season, and in those 31 innings he posted a 39 K’s, a 1.74 ERA, and a .68 WHIP. All signs of an absolute stud. If he continues to throw the ball like he did last year and Frank Francisco has any issues at all, the Rangers would be foolish not to make Feliz the closer. With that being said, the Rangers may try to groom him into a starter as the Yankees did with Joba. I just hope they don’t set him back as much as the Yanks did with Chamberlain.

NL West

Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks

Jackson had his best year as a professional in 2009, and then got traded to the National League. For this reason I think…I know, he will improve on his career best 3.62 ERA from 09. The NL West is a much weaker hitting division than then AL Central where Jackson played last season with the Tigers. Jackson should move into to the top 10 as far as starting pitchers in the league.

Eric Young Jr., Rockies

Son of former big league base stealer, Eric Young, Jr. has been blessed with even more speed than his father. He is only 24 and is still learning how to hit. The Rockies have an abundance of good young infielders so I don’t expect Young to start. However, Jr. should find his way into the lineup as a decent utility player and great base runner. Eventually, he has to be given a shot whether that is in the outfield or infield. He will be a menace to pitchers and catchers when on the base paths.

Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers

Kuroda was hurt last year and could only record 117 innings pitched, he has looked healthy and very strong this spring and should be ready for a solid year. Kuroda will be an above average starter with a well below 4 ERA. If he stays healthy he could get you in the area of 12 wins. Kuroda is a bargain for where he is being valued currently.

Clayton Richard, Padres

After being traded from the White Sox to the Padres in the Jake Peavy Deal, Richard, 26, began to show signs that he is going to be a very good pitcher for years to come. With the White Sox, Richard had a 4.65 ER, and with the Padres (in probably the worst hitting division in baseball) he posted a 4.08 ERA. Richard should improve his K/9 total drastically in the NL and over the course of a year he should reach the double-digit win mark with the Padres, which is a victory in itself.

Buster Posey, Giants

This young ex-Florida State phenom has all the potential in the world…as a batter. As a major league catcher he is still a bit suspect, which is why he hasn’t won the job from Bengie Molina just yet. The belief is that Posey will be used at first base in order to get his bat in the lineup. Posey should get enough at-bats to near the 20 HR and 80 RBI total as he learns the game. These numbers may be a bit of a stretch, but if I were the Giants I would keep him in the lineup no matter how much he struggles.

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