Do you have any friends that are music snobs? You know the kind I’m talking about…the ones that tell you about a band years before they’re popular, but then hate that same band two years later after they make it big. I had a friend tell me about The Black Keys years ago, but I didn’t really get around to listening to them until a year or two later.
When I finally did get around to listening to them, I was excited to talk to my friend about what I thought would be our new shared interest but was instead greeted with a dismissive, “They’re OK. I liked their older stuff better…”
Why am I talking about music snobs in a fantasy baseball article that’s supposed to be about sleeper outfielders and daily league strategy? Because in our own unique way, us fantasy owners are just like music snobs. We’re always looking for that next up-and-coming prospect so that we can be the one that says, “I told you that Jacoby Ellsbury was going to be a top-10 player!”
When it comes to DailyJoust.com daily baseball salary cap games, sleepers are a little different than in season-long fantasy games. You’re not going to be able to draft a guy before the season and stash him on your bench until later in the season, but you will still be able to find some sleepers that will help you win your daily contests. Since you can’t draft a roster full of Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp, it’s going to be all-important to find those diamonds in the rough to round-out your roster at a bargain-basement price.
As such, let’s take a look at some of this year’s top-10 outfield sleepers that I’ve broken-out into two categories:
Josh Reddick All-Stars
Outside of Red Sox diehards, there probably weren’t many baseball fans that had heard of Josh Reddick before the 2011 season. He didn’t exactly light-up the league, but there was a period of time in late-June/early-July where Reddick played a big hand in winning me quite a few daily contests.
- Jason Kubel – Arizona Diamondbacks
Kubel had a great start to the 2011 season before he sprained his foot in June and only played 38 games the rest of the year. Because of the injury, he finished with 292 DailyJoust points but things are looking up for Kubel as we enter the 2012 season. He swapped a pitcher’s park in Minnesota for the friendly confines of Chase Field in Phoenix, and should enter the year as the Diamondbacks’ starting left-fielder. He struggles a bit against lefties (so be mindful of his daily pitching matchups), but Kubel has the potential for 20+ home runs in that park and will be a cheap outfield option to fill your roster.
- Peter Bourjos – Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have a fairly crowded outfield, but Bourjos is all but assured of a spot in centerfield due to the premium that Mike Scioscia places on defense. In 2011, the 24-year-old played 147 games and finished the season as the 16th-ranked centerfielder on DailyJoust.com with 413 points. He had 11 triples and 82 runs, as well, and should be able to improve on that number as he will most likely be batting in near the top of the Angels’ lineup (ahead of Albert Pujols). Bourjos won’t come at a budget-busting price, and has a very realistic shot at 15 home runs and 30 steals in 2012.
- Dayan Viciedo – Chicago White Sox
After hitting 20 home runs in 452 minor league at-bats last year, Viciedo struggled (only one home run in 201 at-bats) after being called up at the end of August. That being said, Viciedo will enter camp as the White Sox’ starting left fielder and will have every opportunity to produce as Chicago enters a rebuilding phase. He will likely come cheap after last year’s semi-debacle, but don’t let the small sample-size fool you. Viciedo is only 23-years-old and has the talent to chase 20+ home runs this year.
- Will Venable – San Diego Padres
Venable is thought of as a platoon outfielder in most fantasy circles, but that can play right into daily leaguers’ hands (especially if he’s able to improve on his plate discipline and translate that into a full-time gig). Venable showed promise last year, but couldn’t put it all together on his way to finishing ranked 24th among right fielders on DailyJoust.com with a total of 332 points. I don’t put a lot of stock into spring training results, but Venable has looked good this spring and has a good chance at 10 HR/25 steal season if he can carry the momentum into the regular season.
- Ben Revere – Minnesota Twins
Revere was a great low-cost option last year as he filled-in for Denard Span in center field to the tune of 34 steals in 450 at-bats. He finished ranked 20th among centerfielders with 362 DailyJoust points in 2011, and will enter this year as the starting right fielder in Minnesota. Revere doesn’t have much pop, but he has a great contact rate and should approach 35-40 steals this year if he can improve his on-base percentage.
- Michael Brantley – Cleveland Indians
On paper, Grady Sizemore is the Indians starting center fielder. However, no one has ever accused Sizemore of being durable and I’d be willing to bet my first-born (ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme) that Brantley will play more games in center this year than Sizemore will. Even if Sizemore does miraculously stay healthy, Brantley will still get time in left field and will most likely hit leadoff no matter what outfield position he’s playing. He won’t wow you in any category, but he does have 10 HR/20 steal potential and will be a great buy-low option in daily contests this season.
- Alejandro De Aza – Chicago White Sox
After being called-up midway through the 2011 season, De Aza put together a very solid line of .329/4 HR/12 steals in 152 big league at-bats. He will enter this year as the Pale Hose’s starting centerfielder and leadoff man, which should give him the chance to improve upon his small sample-size from last year. His average should go down a bit as he benefitted from a generous BABIP (.404) last year, but I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t put up 5-6 home runs and 20-22 steals (which is a great return for what you’ll have to pay for De Aza).
Melky Cabrera All-Stars
It may be hard to believe, but Melky Cabrera finished 2011 with the fourth-most DailyJoust points of all centerfielders. The Melk-man’s surprising final total of 670 DailyJoust points ranked him ahead of more household names like Andrew McCutchen, Shane Victorino, and B.J. Upton. While the players listed below aren’t your prototypical “sleepers”, I want to take a quick look at some of the players that could be poised for a Cabrera-type breakthrough in 2012.
- Michael Cuddyer – Colorado Rockies
Due to his move to Colorado (and Coors Field), Cuddyer has been so over-hyped this spring that I was a little hesitant to include him in an article about sleepers. However, I don’t have any problem throwing him into this section since I’m talking about potential breakthrough players here. Cuddyer finished 2011 as the 11th-ranked right fielder on DailyJoust.com with 487 points (and that was in only 139 games). He’ll be 33 years old on Opening Day, but he’s moving to a notoriously hitter-friendly park and should be chasing 30 home runs and a spot in the top-5 for right fielders this year.
- Logan Morrison – Miami Marlins
@LoMoMarlins is one of my favorite baseball players to follow on Twitter. Because of this, I know that the Marlins’ youngster is a bit of a knucklehead and wasn’t at all surprised by his August demotion due to “conduct detrimental to the organization”. Twitter and demotions aside, Morrison has all the potential in the world and is still only 24 years old. Despite playing only 123 games last year, LoMo finished as DailyJoust.com’s 13th-ranked left fielder with 427 points. As long as he can stay out of his own way this year, Morrison could put up 25+ home runs and has a very good shot to finish the season as a top-5 left fielder.
- Colby Rasmus – Toronto Blue Jays
Similar to Logan Morrison, fantasy owners have been hearing about Rasmus’ potential for years. However, the young outfielder still hasn’t put all the pieces together and finished the 2011 season as DailyJoust.com’s 23rd-ranked centerfielder. As with Morrison, Rasmus is still young (25) and will have every opportunity to produce in his first full season in a Blue Jays uniform. I’m not as high on Rasmus as I am Cuddyer and Morrison, but his talent didn’t disappear overnight and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit 20-25 home runs to go along with 8-10 steals in 2012.
Written by Nick Raducanu exclusively for www.DailyJoust.com. Nick Raducanu is the founder and mystery man behind TraderX at www.FantasyTrade411.com. You can follow him and ask him for fantasy advice on Twitter @FantasyTrade411.