What’s the saying? If I had a penny for everytime I heard this or that, I’d be a millionare. I wish I had a penny for everytime the word sleeper is used in pre draft evaluations. Why stop at millionare, Forbes would have me on the cover before rosters are expanded in September. Here’s the problem, the experts aren’t wrong. How could they be. By the end of the World Series until the beginning of April every minor league prospect that has a chance to make the “Big Club” has been called a sleeper worth watching. If you read every article and started scratching a few names down,you would be drafting Gordon Beckham in the first round so you could make sure to get all those “can’t miss” prospects. The other problem is that over time all those so called sleepers are no longer sleepers. The experts don’t want to be wrong and lose credibility, so they keep it safe and talk about the same guys as everyone else. Next you’ll get some mind numbing guy who over analyzes the numbers. “Well his fly ball to groundball ratios dipped last year, so that means that…..”…..and on and on he will go. The following year the same article is written about some other player and the trend continues. The truth of the matter is, you can’t trust any player to perform exactly like he has in the past. Who knew that Zach Greinke would be so dominate? Show me the statistical chart that predicted that. Show me the article that said David Wright would be mostly healthy all season and hit only 10 homeruns. It’s a joke to go to ESPN and look at there player projections. Let’s see, Roy Halladay had 17 wins last year, this year we’ll project he has 16. Last year 2.79 ERA this year 2.91 ERA. Who comes up with this stuff? Have some heart, go out on a limb. Have an original thought and stand by it even if it turns out to be incredibly wrong. I think Halladay will win 21 games and be the most dominate pitcher in the majors this year. Hands down Cy Young winner, league leader in strikeouts, and ERA. Why not, he ate up hitters in the superior American League. Oh wait he’s playing in Philly, a hitters ballpark….OH NO!!!! Of course it’s a hitters ballpark. But it has little to do with the opposition. Ever since they’ve opened the doors Rollins, Utley, and Howard to name a few have been bloating the statistics. Ironic isn’t it that the two time National League Champs play in a hitters ballpark in a hitters league. I’m getting off on a tangent . My point is projections are worthless. I’ll tell you what has helped me to win year in and year out. Gut instincts. When I watch a player, I look for composure. How does he handle himself in the batters box. Can he take a good pitch because he knows he can hit the next offering? Does he get rattled when the umpire does’nt give him the outside corner. Numbers don’t matter, they will come. So here are my top 5 players who’s numbers from last year could easily deceive you when it comes to making late round picks.
1. Francisco Liriano, Minnesota. Ok this ones easy. He’s had proven succces in the past. He plays for a winning organization. It comes down to one thing for him. His fastball. Some people would say it’s the slider, but that’s not true. If you can’t throw a fastball in the majors that is either fast or well located (preferably both) you won’t survive. Good hitters routinely take the first pitch, good pitchers throw first pitch strikes. Liriano pitched horribly at times last year. He couldn’t get ahead on anyone. But he held his composure and started showing signs of recovery. He will dominate again this year early. With that said, watch him in August. If his fastball is around 92 MPH or below, trade him no matter how good his numbers are.
2. Geovany Soto, Chicago. .218 Avg., 11 HR, 47 RBI are enough to scare anyone off. I could tell you about his walk rate and how he is becoming more selective. But that’s not what any fantasy player wants to hear. How many leagues count walks and On Base Percentage? Who cares if he’s taking more pitches. I only care about the ones he hits. For all I know he took more pitches because it hurt too much to swing the bat last year. Simple fact is, this guy can and will hit. Don’t waste a first or second round pick on Joe Mauer, wait till the end and grab Soto.
3. Magglio Ordonez, Detroit. Everyone wants to point to age and tell you he’s in decline. I agree, he’s not what he once was. But we are not talking about using a top or mid round pick on him either. If he’s available at the end of your draft you could do a lot worse than pick a guy who has proven he can hit. He still is an everyday player, on a solid team, hitting in the middle of the lineup. Give me a near .300 Avg. and 20 Homeruns from your 23rd pick and we’ll talk.
4. Bobby Jenks, Chicago White Sox. Abnormal 2009 . Enough said. Count on him to give you 30 to 35 saves. If you can pick that up on the waiver wire after the season starts then don’t worry about drafting him in the late rounds.
5. Ryan Ludwick, STL. This guy was every fantasy owners favorite pick last year that crashed and burned. Or did he? 22 HRs 97 RBI, not bad. The problem is, most drafted him thinking they had the steal of the mid round draft last year. Then he hit only 22 HRs and 97 RBI. I live in a cold weather climate. In the Spring when it gets up to 40 degrees we keep the jackets in the closet and boldly wear our t-shirts outside all day. In the Fall when it gets down to 40 degrees we put on a sweatshirt for the first time in months and complain about how cold it’s getting. Same temprature, differant attitude. It’s all about perspective. Draft him in the late rounds and you’ll love 22HRs and 97 RBI.