Before every fantasy baseball season, every owner has a favorite sleeper (or two, or eight) that they think will win them the championship. As we’ve all learned very well, sleepers don’t always exactly pan out the way in which we envision, so that’s why value picks are my favorite. Simply put, a value pick is a guy who has outperformed his ADP (average draft position) statistically. Let’s take a look at this list of guys considered fantasy duds who are playing like fantasy studs.
C: John Buck, Toronto: .279 AVG, 15 HR, 55 RBI
After falling out of favor in Kansas City and failing to live up to his hype, Buck took his talents up to Toronto and has found a home across the boarder. In fact, the 30-year old catcher even made it to the All-Star Game this year in what has to be the most memorable of his life. Fantasy baseball owners probably weren’t expecting this type of contribution from the underachieving veteran and most likely came at pennies on the dollar.1B: Gaby Sanchez, Florida: .287 AVG, 16 HR, 72 RBI
Another illustration of just how well the Florida farm system is working out, Sanchez has entrenched himself at first base for the team in his rookie season. He’s exceeded all expectations and is having an outstanding inaugural campaign. Despite possessing less power than most owners would like at the position, Sanchez came at a cheap discount in the latter rounds of most fantasy drafts and has really held his own. He should only continue to get better with time and is a real gem for those in keeper leagues.
2B: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee: .271 AVG, 25 HR, 75 RBI
In a real make it or break it year for Weeks, the scrappy second baseman has done everything that the Brewers have asked of him and more. After really failing to live up to his billing as an uber-prospect, Weeks has displayed all of the tools that scouts were salivating about a short time ago. With many owners surpassing him due to injury concerns, he’s rewarded those who gambled on his potential.
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt, Kansas City: .267 AVG, 15 HR, 65 RBI
I’m not sure where Betancourt found his production from this season, but perhaps Betancourt has finally found a comfort zone in KC. Apparently he visited the fountain of power over the offseason as he’s been keeping the long balls coming at a rather consistent pace. Betancourt is a very solid option in mixed formats if owners filled the SB categories at another position and most likely came as a post-draft pickup.
3B: Adrian Beltre, Boston: .321 AVG, 24 HR, 91 RBI
When Beltre signed his “pillow contract” in Beantown, many owners were left wondering what the sight of the towering Green Monster would do to the third baseman’s plate confidence. Apparently, it’s elevated his swagger to a previous time when Beltre was still with the Dodgers. The veteran is enjoying his best season by far within the last few years and was viewed as a backup plan for most owners on draft day.
OF: Jose Bautista, Toronto: .269 AVG, 43 HR, 103 RBI
The MVP of the all-value team, Bautista’s career year has been baseball’s biggest mystery of the 2010 campaign. After never belting more than 16 taters in a single season, Bautista’s 43 (and counting) shatter his previous career high. He’s also broken the 100-RBI plateau for the first time in his career and has undoubtedly been the biggest steal of the fantasy baseball season. For a guy that wasn’t even guaranteed a spot on the team, he sure has left his mark.
OF: Angel Pagan, New York (N): .294 AVG, 10 HR, 57 RBI
Seen exclusively as a part-time player before this year, Pagan found himself in yet another timeshare with Gary Matthews, Jr. to start the year in Carlos Beltran’s absence. That didn’t last too long as Pagan vastly outplayed the aging veteran and quickly earned an everyday spot in the lineup. He’s been one of the Mets most consistent producers this season and has really contributed in every category across the board. He was overlooked in even the deepest of formats and is now seen as a very important piece to the team’s future.
OF: Nick Swisher, New York (A): .295 AVG, 25 HR, 80 RBI
Swisher’s power has always made him fantasy relevant, but he’s usually in the Adam Dunn average range rather than his current mark. Swish has become a fan favorite for the Bronx Bombers and has really made his presence felt this season in the middle of an already stacked lineup. Drafted as a backup outfielder on most teams, the charismatic lefty has emerged as a must-start in 99% of formats.
SP: Max Scherzer, Detroit: 10-9, 3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 151 K
Scherzer has been both a mega disappointment and a source of utter delight for owners this year. After a tumultuous first month of the season that got him sent back to Triple-A, many frustrated owners gave up on him and cut him from their roster. Upon his return, Scherzer has been downright dominant and has posted elite strikeout rates. As long as he continues to pitch as he is currently, he will be a consensus top-15 fantasy pitcher heading into next season and (more than likely) came at a bargain bin discount rate for his current owners.
SP: Mat Latos, San Diego: 13-5, 2.25 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 160 K
Despite still not getting the attention that he deserves, Latos has been a dominant force on the mound all season long. At just 22 years old, Latos has let up two ER or less in his last 14 straight outings, becoming the first to do such a thing since Greg Maddux back in ’93-94. He’s already established himself as a fantasy ace and should be considered a lock for top-tier production for the future. While many had him pegged as a popular sleeper selection, almost nobody thought that he’d be this good already.
SP: Clay Buchholz, Boston: 15-5, 2.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 101 K
Buchholz burst onto the scene and surprised everyone by tossing a no-no back in ’07. Just three seasons later, the still young Buchholz found himself in a very critical year considering he’s toiled in mediocrity since his electric debut. He’s really proven that his success is for real as he’s already tallied 15 wins this season with a dazzling ERA. While his strikeouts are a little on the low side, owners who took a chance on his potential certainly have to be satisfied with the results.
SP: CJ Wilson, Texas: 14-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 140 K
Let’s be real here; Wilson wasn’t even on the fantasy radar to begin Spring Training. Transitioning from reliever to full-time starter for the first time in his career, C.J. has made it seem easy, as he’s been brilliant all year long. The lefty has a dangerous arsenal of pitches but control has always been his problem. He’s been able to keep his walks in check, though, which has allowed him to escape the “big inning”. Owners who scooped him off of the wire and chose not to sell high, kudos are in order.
SP: Trevor Cahill, Oakland: 14-6, 2.82 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 90 K
Coming into this year we had limited info on Cahill: he doesn’t win a ton of games, he’s not an overpowering strikeout guy, and he pitches for the offensively challenged A’s. Sounds like a bunch of red flags to me, but Cahill has certainly proved me wrong as he continues to enjoy his All-Star season. Not only has the new ace of the A’s staff pitched well this season; he’s taken the mound with confidence in every start thus far. He doesn’t offer much in terms of peripherals, but he can certainly be a very viable starter on any staff.
SU: Arthur Rhodes, Cincinnati: 4-3, 2.19 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 44 K
Easily the oldest player to make the team at age 40, Rhodes has found the fountain of youth in Cincinnati. He made it to this year’s midsummer classic and deservedly so as he’s been one of the best (if not the top dog) in this year’s class of set-up men. Currently enjoying his best season since 2001, Rhodes has been a phenomenal option for those in leagues that reward true set-up men.
CL: Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay: 2-1, 1.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 46 K
After coming over from Atlanta in the offseason, Soriano is currently enjoying his new home in Tampa Bay and leads the league in saves. Despite being touted as a tier-two closer for most of his career, Soriano’s electric arm has forever had the potential to succeed at any moment. After being struck in the head a few years back in Seattle, Mr. Soriano seems to have regained his power presence on the bump and is providing top production despite his discounted price tag.