MLB - Fantasy Baseball - Top 10 2013 Outfield Sleepers
Top 10 Outfielders Sleepers
1.Shin-Soo Choo | Cincinnati Reds
After back-to-back 20-20 seasons and a .300 batting average, Choo was hit with injuries and limited to 85 games in 2011. Last year, Choo got things back on track. By the All-Star break he was sitting on 10 home runs, nine stolen bases and a .299 batting average.
However, Choo ended up four homers short of another 20-20 campaign and finished with a .283 average, losing 11 points in August. In his final 155 at bats, he left the yard just once. But perhaps the biggest concern for Choo was a feeble .199 average against left-handed pitching. From 2009-11, Choo had never hit worse than .264 against southpaws.
Choo admitted to reporters that inside pitches from lefties were still giving him some jitters. His broken thumb came from lefty Jonathan Sanchez and cost him to miss more than six weeks in 2011. Assuming Choo has moved on, the 30 year old should challenge for another 20-20-.300 season while scoring 90-100 runs.
Choo hit third most of the time during his tenure with the Cleveland Indians, but was very productive when he was moved to the leadoff spot last year. In addition to playing a very shaky center field, Shoo will now man the top spot in the Reds lineup, which sorely needed Shoo's career .381 OBP. The hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park is very generous to left-handed bats, making the fit in Cincy even more compelling for Choo.
2. Nick Swisher | Cleveland Indians
In eight full-time seasons, Swisher is averaging 25.9 home runs and 83.1 RBIs. He's never failed to belt 20-plus homers and has driven in more than 80 runs in four straight years. While Swisher will play a lot of first base this season he may need to play some right field since Drew Stubbs can't hit right-handed pitching.
The new-look Indians feature some respectable table setters in Michael Bourn, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis to give Swish ample of RBI opportunities in the middle of a respectable order. In 135 career at bats in Progressive Field, Swisher owns a .304 batting average to go with five home runs and 23 RBIs. The 32-year-old switch hitter is a safe, consistent option that gets on base and should be just fine moving out of pinstripes.
3. Josh Reddick | Oakland Athletics
In his first full-season spent in the bigs, Reddick belted 32 home runs and 85 RBIs hitting primarily in the three hole for the A's. The former-Red Sox prospect was not expected to produce that kind of power, especially moving to O.co Coliseum. However, Reddick had no issues with the deeper dimensions and hit 18 bombs at home versus 14 on the road.
Even if the power proves to be legit, Reddick may come up a bit sort of another 30 home run campaign. His batting average peaked at .274 on July 20th, but dropped to .242 at season's end. In his final 268 at bats, Reddick hit just .201 hit 11 home runs. He also struck out 66 times in those 66 games.
4. Nick Markakis | Baltimore Orioles
News of a slightly herniated disk could send Markakis' fantasy stock in free-fall, especially as Opening Day draws closer. No, he's not the guy that had 23 home runs, 112 RBIs and 18 stolen bases with a .300 average in 2007 anymore, but Markakis can hit in the .280s with around 15 home runs and 80-something RBIs if he can play through it. There's obvious risk here, but Markakis will inevitably drop in many drafts to the point he's worth it.
In addition to the aforementioned neck issue, Markakis missed games last year with separate hand injuries and went on the disabled list for the first time in June. He returned in mid-July, but suffered a broken thumb in September and missed the final 24 regular season games. In between injuries, Markakis hit .335 in 54 games.
5. Adam Eaton | Arizona Diamondbacks
On Opening Day, the 24 year old Eaton will most likely starting in center field and batting leadoff after doing the same in 21 games at the end of the last year. Prior to being called up, Eaton had scored 130 runs and stole 44 games in 130 minor league games, 119 of them coming at the Triple-A level where he also hit .381.
Eaton will be lucky to break double-digit home runs, but should steal 20-35 bases and score 80-95 runs. Even though Justin Upton is gone, the Snakes lineup will remain productive. In 2012, Upton only ranked fourth in home runs and fifth in RBIs among D-Back hitters.
6. Emilio Bonifacio | Toronto Blue Jays
Any value attached to Bonifacio is based his speed and his eligibility (or at least future eligibly) at second base. Last year with the Miami Marlins, Bonifacio played 51 games in center field to just 15 at second, so check your league setup prior to the draft. Anyway, Bonifacio figures to be a super sub for the Jays coming over in a big offseason trade.
Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis are competing for the starting second base job, but the latter's defense appears likely to win out. However, Bonifacio's versatility should earn him playing time and a speed-only option at middle field. Last year, he recorded 30 stolen bases in only 64 games.
7. Wil Myers | Tampa Bay Rays
Myers has yet to play a game in the major leagues and will probably start 2013 in Triple-A, but is certainly worth a draft and stash. Last year, Myers destroyed the minors by hitting .425 and belting 13 home runs in 35 Double-A games. After being promoted to Triple-A, he continued to dominate with a .349 average and 24 homers in 99 games as the gem of the Kansas City Royals farm system. Look for him to break into the bigs sometime in May as the Rays delay his contract clocks. Striking out could be an issue, but Myers should continue to mash his way to the middle of the Rays order before too long.
8. Jon Jay | St. Louis Cardinals
Moving from the two spot to the leadoff position made all the difference to Jay's fantasy value last year. He showed some on-base abilities with a career-best .373 OBP, but drew more than half his walks in a small 34 game span during the summer. Jay was nagged by a strained shoulder throughout the season although he hit just fine down the stretch. In his final 53 games, Jay hit .326 in 221 at bats. He's not the most efficient base stealer, but will swipe 15-20 bags and supply a nice batting average.
9. Domonic Brown | Philadelphia Phillies
Brown was among the top prospects in baseball until a series of injuries bogged down his performance each of the last two years. He's received a call-up each of the last three years, but is hitting just .236 in 147 combined big league games. The signing of Delmon Young signaled the team isn't fully sure about Brown, but Young is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and will start the season of the disabled list. Brown has responded in spring training by leading the team in total hits while displaying both power and patience.
10. Oscar Taveras | St. Louis Cardinals
Even though his path to the show has more obstacles, Taveras is another impact bat that will start in the minor leagues but could be worthy of a late-round selection on draft day. He played all 124 of his games in Double-A last season, totaling 23 home runs and 11 stolen bases with a .321 batting average. The fast track for Taveras getting to the majors is an injury to Carlos Beltran, who's about to turn 36 years old, or Matt Holliday, 33. If he goes undrafted, Taveras is an instant addition if either of the aging Red Bird corner outfielders go down.