Fantasy Baseball 2010: Be Weary of the Over-Hyped Sleepers.
One of the best feelings in fantasy baseball is being right about a draft day sleeper. By being right I mean picking up a guy you think will significantly outperform his draft position, and then watching him throughout the season do just that. The problem with some sleepers nowadays is that they can become over-hyped and subsequently drafted much too high. Let’s face it, everybody loves taking a high-upside young player who could be on the verge of a breakout year. Not many people take pleasure in drafting the Michael Cuddyers of the world. There’s nothing wrong with that. The thing people tend to forget is that they need to keep their expectations in check when drafting sleepers. Otherwise you end up drafting them way too high and they lose their sleeper value. It happened last year with Chris Davis, Josh Hamilton, and B.J Upton just to name a few. Here are a few guys who are getting a little too much love from in drafts early on. Just to be clear, I would be happy with all these guys on my team, but there’s no way I’m touching them where a lot of other people are.
Elvis Andrus- Ranked 98th on ESPN, which seems about right. But in some mock drafts, I’ve seen him go as early as the late fifties and early sixties. Then the person who took him likes to brag about how good of a pick it was, while I shake my head. We get it, you read an article about how Andrus is a sleeper this year and grabbed him. Congrats. If you’re gonna look for steals from a shortstop, don’t reach for Andrus. Wait for an Alcides Escobar or an Everth Cabrera type much later on. They really aren’t that different.
Gordon Beckham- Ranked 89th overall at ESPN, which again looks right to me. Beckham is one of my favorite young players. He can contribute in all five categories and will soon have multiple position eligibility. The problem is that he seems to be everyone else’s favorite young player as well. He is talented, but he is still young. I’d put his HR/SB ceiling at about 20/15 this year, but he also has a chance to be a bust, especially with all the pressure Chicago is putting on him. Don’t be the one who takes him in the sixth round like I have seen him go a few times now.
Pablo Sandoval- Ranked 33rd overall at ESPN. The ranking is too high, and I’ve even seen him go as high as the second round of drafts. If you’re drafting him that high, you’re banking on the power numbers spiking up. He hit 25 homers last year, which to me looks like more a ceiling then a floor. Also remember that the lineup around him flat out stinks.This year I’m looking for numbers similar to 2009, with the average taking a small hit and the power staying about the same. Not worth the high pick. Unfortunately for me, I still might have to draft him early. I just like the idea of telling people that I have a Kung Fu Panda on my team. Stupid good nickname…
Justin Upton- I love him. Who doesn’t? But 17th overall at ESPN? Ahead of Holliday? No thanks. I’ll take the safer pick early. There’s a decent chance that I end up eating my words, just because Upton is so gosh darn talented, but again keep expectations in check. He’s not gonna be a 40/30 guy. At least not this year. 25/20 looks more reasonable. Heck I’m even taking Sizemore ahead of him, even if he’s ranked 10 spots lower.
Jacoby Ellsbury- I know he doesn’t really belong on this list, but I feel I have to say something about him somewhere. He stole 70 bases last year, and was a huge help to his fantasy teams. Problem is there’s almost no chance he comes close to 70 again. I have a hard time projecting anyone for more then 50 steals in a season. (Unless his name is Ricky Henderson during the 80’s) There’s just too much that can go wrong. If you draft him early, and plenty of people will, don’t look for a repeat performance. He will still be good, just not that good. Be careful.