Let me share a little secret of the Fantasy Sports industry. As far as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) goes, the term “sleepers” gets searched more on Google than any other term when it comes to Fantasy Baseball. That’s why here in mid-January you are already seeing plenty of articles built around sleepers and busts. Heck I’m doing it right now.
What I want you to get out of this though is to take most of these articles with a grain of salt. In the last few days I’ve seen sites pimping Mookie Betts and Jean Segura as sleepers. Really? These guys aren’t sleepers for completely different reasons.
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I love Mookie Betts. He will be what Dustin Pedroia is supposed to be. BUT, he’s not a sleeper now, and he definitely won’t be a sleeper when the hype machine kicks into full gear. In fact there’s a really solid chance he gets overvalued. First he’s got Shane Victorino to contend with. I fully expect Betts to start and lead off for the Red Sox, but if Victorino isn’t traded, they’re going to get him in the lineup a few days a week. Then what happens if Hanley Ramirez and Big Papi don’t like Betts messing around on the bases when they come up to bat. Betts can contribute in many ways, but speed is one of his best assets. If he doesn’t run much, he loses a lot of value.
Jean Segura? The site in question basically gave identical weight to two good months and one and a half bad years. Segura’s numbers may bounce back a little, but his minor league numbers suggest 2014 wasn’t too far off.
I don’t write this to dump on Betts and Segura. I just encourage people to do their own thinking on sleepers and busts. Go ahead and read all the articles. Just make sure there’s some kind of rationale behind the picks.
How You Can Identify Sleepers
To me a Sleeper is just a player who I expect to outproduce his draft cost. Sleepers come in many forms.
- Look for players who are expected to get more playing time than in the past. Think Steve Pearce and Marcus Semien.
- Check out stats like BABIP and SIERA and specifically how they relate to that player’s career.
- You might even target older players who may not get the hype, but still have something to offer. Think Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday.
- Look for new players in an offense-friendly ballpark. Nick Hundley is not a great hitter, but what’s Coors Field going to do for him if he gets 400 at-bats?
- Look for players returning from injuries. Players like Mark Trumbo may get lost in the shuffle in some drafts. His power plays nicely when power around the league is going down.
Lastly, while I’ve suggested that you not put too much weight on Sleepers and Busts type articles, that doesn’t go for anything I’ve written. I’m never wrong. Michael Pineda and Brandon Beachy were great picks last spring… well, maybe if you were playing for 2015… or 2016.
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