27 March 2006


To win your league, a key ingredient will assuredly be players targeted in the later rounds. In big drafts, somewhere between rounds 12 and 15 signals the beginning of the filler stage. It is here that you have two options:

1. Go for the "safe" bet.
2. Take a risk.

While superfluous risks are never a good idea, taking the sound road will almost always result in a roster stuffed with overaged, overvalued, and underperforming players. For example, when choosing a 5th starter, extra RP, or bench hitter, examine your options carefully. Check out these stats:

Player A: .277 20 89
Player B: .240 18 67

On first glance, Player A appears to be a much better option, beating B in every category. A, however, is Craig Monroe, a guy unlikely to get any better than the numbers posted last season. B, on the other hand, is Austin Kearns, the young but injury-prone Reds outfielder. At worst, he'll repeat last year's stats. At best, though, the sky is the limit. (Not to mention he's hitting the hell outta the ball this spring).

Another example, this time with pitching:

Player A: 14 wins, 3.46 ERA
Player B: 12 wins, 4.26 ERA

Again, like above, Player A posted better statistics than B last season. Who are the mystery guys? A is the aging Kenny Rogers, while B is the up-and-coming Chris Young.

Some of my favorite sleepers (minus rookies/prospects, whom you should familiarize yourself with separately):

Ramon Hernandez- should get more at-bats this season, could hit 20 homers.
John Buck- second year should bring better numbers.

First Base
Aubrey Huff- he's better than he showed last season.
Justin Morneau- could easily become one of the leading home run hitters this year.
Lyle Overbay- hitting prime age, moving into good park to boost power.
Brad Wilkerson- Texas will help his numbers...good OBP will continue.
Chris Shelton- Why is he hitting 8th? Regardless, could hit 30 homers and 90+ rbis.
Nick Johnson- He's on the way up, and if he doesn't get hurt again could become a

Second Base
Mark Loretta- has history of a .300 hitter...look for a rebound in Boston.
Bill Hall- supersub could go 20-20 with enough at-bats.
Jose Vidro- usually a star at the position...health key to a rebound.

Edgar Renteria- surely overrated, but also better than he played last season.
Nomar Garciaparra- like so many, health the key.
Clint Barmes- lit it up the first part of 2005, but got injured. A rebound in
Bobby Crosby- could hit 25 homers this year.
Orlando Cabrera- good bet to go 15-15 this year...better than last season.
JJ Hardy- decent pop...could hit 15 homers.

Third Base
Chipper Jones- a sleeper? Limited playing time last season proved he still has
Eric Chavez- again, huh? While he had a solid season, this writer is betting on
BIG things.
Scott Rolen- and...again! Should have no problem producing usual.
Adrian Beltre- not as good as 2004, but better than last season.
Joe Crede- can playoff wonders continue and help him realize his potential?
Dallas McPherson- post-hype production?
Edwin Encarnacion- plenty of protection in that lineup...could go .285, 18, 80.
Kevin Youkilis- time for Greek God of Walks to show what he can do.

Vernon Wells- has made it a point to state his intention of improving.
Will be a big bat on an improved team.
Matt Holliday- He plays in Coors.
Aaron Rowand- Playing in Philly, in that lineup especially, will boost
his numbers.
Jason Lane- power is obvious, should make more contact.
JD Drew- Cross the fingers and pray for health.
Rocco Baldelli- Forget the injury, concentrate on 20-20.
Alexis Rios- Must find playing time, but if he does, could be another
power-speed guy.
Austin Kearns- See JD Drew.
Corey Patterson- Hard-pressed to produce...last chance he has.
Matt Murton- Where'd he come from? Should hit close to .300 with 15-20

Starting Pitchers
Brandon Webb- Good peripherals, potentially better team could lead to
more wins.
Jason Schmidt- Look for a rebound...won't be CY quality, but still good.
Doug Davis- has gone virtually unnoticed past couple years...will win 15+
Jake Westbrook- Lots of wins in Cleveland.
Joe Blanton- The next Oakland star...joins Harden, Zito, and Haren.
Jeff Weaver- Wants to and could step it up big time this year.
Chris Young- Move to SD great. Could win 15 with a 3.50 era.
Ervin Santana- May not start in rotation, but has potential.
Josh Towers- Impressing, and could fill in nicely with 10 or more wins.
Jorge Sosa- Has unbelievable talent, could blossom this year or next.
Carlos Silva- See Doug Davis.
Jae Seo- Awesome numbers when given a chance...now he has a real one.
Aaron Heilman- Should end up in Mets rotation...Strikeout potential.
Odalis Perez- A rebound is highly probable.
Oliver Perez- Could go 18-9 or 9-18...era of 3.20 or 6.20.
Jerome Williams- See Jorge Sosa.
Edwin Jackson- May finally be on track...wins will be hard to come by,
but could post decent peripherals.

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