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2012 FANTASY BASEBALL SLEEPERS by Al OHarra
1B Ike Davis, NYM
In 2011 he started off hot, got hurt, and the season was lost. But this guy has a great eye and solid power. Draft him with the expectation of .300, 25 HR's and 80 RBI's and you will not be disappointed. If the Mets can put a respectable lineup on Citi-Field now that they have lost Reyes, he has a legitimate shot at 100 RBI's.
SS Zach Cozart, Cin
Similarly to Davis above, Zach also got injured. He had to undergo Tommy John surgery to his non throwing hand and was lost for the season after only 34 AB's in 2011. But in that short time he scored 6 Runs, with 2 Hr's and 3 RBI's. In his absence both Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria did a job worthy of Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker naming Cozart the shortstop to beat in spring training- a job he will win easily. Look for him.
SS Dee Gordon, LAD
After being called up, this 150 pound 23 year old speedster looked overmatched in his first month in the big leagues, but in September he torched the ball at a .373 clip in 113 AB's and ended the season at .304 with 24 SB's in only 224 AB's. This guy will likely draft behind shortstops Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus, Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, and possibly Erick Aybar, Derek Jeter, and others. When the year ends, we are betting he will prove more productive to your fantasy team than many of them.
P Yu Darvish, FA
A long list of teams that include the Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, and others lined up to throw buckets of money at this 26 year old Japanese hurler. In the end, the Rangers got him at 6 years, 60 million. For the right to negotiate with Darvish, the Rangers will pay a posting fee of over 51 million to his Japanese club, The Nippon Ham Fighters. Darvis has come with a staff ace pricetag and I have to believe these heavy hitters have a clue as to what they are doing. He is a KO machine and should be top 10 at his position...It is unlikely he will go unnoticed enough to warrant a sleeper tag. This kid is no Kei Igawa, this KO machine will produce. Don't wait too long.
2B Jason Kipnis, Cle
In 2012, Kipnis will get a full year and take his place as one of the elite 5 tool second basemen in Major League Baseball. Batting in the number two position last season the rookie only got 136 AB's, but used that paltry number to roll up 24 Runs, 7 HR's, 19 RBI's and 5 SB's. Like most power hitters, he will roll up big strikeouts and a subsequently mediocre BA, but while most positional draft sheets are rating him 11th-13th in second basemen draft position, you should have him no further than 8th behind Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Philips, Uggla, Utley and Weeks.
OF Shin-Soo Choo, Cle
Shin Soo stunk up Progressive Field in 2011 before finally, thankfully, getting injured. But prior to 2011 he showed himself as a 5 tool player worthy of being drafted in the top 20 outfielders. He brought a .300 average and strong power and speed numbers. You rarely see players draft 10 or so rounds later than the year before, but this is one of those times. While we would normally join the club and avoid, in this case, we like Choo enough to recommend that you be the guy that takes the chance that he will bounce back.
P Chris Sale, CWS
In 2011, Sale put up 79 Strikeouts in 71 innings to a 2.79 ERA and 8 Saves. But Sale was always a future starter and all the talk has him becoming a starter in 2012. As a reliever, he is an asset on any staff. If he starts, he is a serious acquisition which you need to go get.
OF Adam Dunn, CWS
Never known for his BA, Dunn put up HR numbers of 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38 between 2004 and 2010 while averaging over 100 RBI's per season in that 7 year span. In 2011, well, he had one of the worst years ever put up by a player with over 400 AB's as his 11 HR's and .159 BA were an obstacle to overcome in too many White Sox rallies, and a detriment to even more fantasy baseball team owners. That kind of a historic failure will scare away the almost anyone, but you can expect a bounce back year even though Dunn will never help your BA.
OF Mike Trout, LAA
At 21 years old, Trout is coming off an unimpressive 2011 when he had 123 AB's and hit .220. His 5 Hr's and 4 SB's in that time are a good indicator of the 5 tools he brings to the table. Trout has a more than enough talent to not only be in the mix for a starting position, but will likely win a starting spot in 2012, and produce very solid numbers. We recommend grabbing him up late in the draft.