44 Players To Target in Your 2012 Draft
THUMBS UP: The Nationals' Danny Espinosa may not have national recognition, but he swatted 21 homers last season.
Value picks. Fantasy baseball is all about buying low and getting value. Getting players that exceed the typical expectations for that player.
Here’s our list of players that we’ll be targeting in our 2012 fantasy baseball draft.
Pedro Alvarez, Third Base, Pittsburgh Pirates — After a great rookie season when Pedro Alvarez hit 25 homers and drove in 104, he suffered the proverbial sophomore slump and even a mid-season demotion finishing a dismal .201 on the year. We look for a bounce back year from Alvarez.
Elvis Andrus, Shortstop, Texas Rangers — Elvis Andrus is just 23 and his defense won’t hurt you in fantasy baseball. Won’t give you any power, but is a consistent 35+ stolen base guy who had a career top .279 average last year.
Jason Bourgeois, Outfield, Kansas City Royals — If Jason Bourgeois plays every day, he has tremendous stolen base potential as a late round pick. The probably won’t happen so he’s a good late round pick in deep leagues to add stolen bases to your ball club.
Michael Cuddyer, Second Base, Colorado Rockies — Michael Cuddyer can give you outfield home run power with second base qualifications and that’s why we love him as one of our top sleepers for 2012. A move from Minnesota to Colorado certainly won’t hurt his power numbers which hit 32 in ’09.
Ike Davis, First Base, New York Mets — Ike Davis, not David Wright of the New York Mets, is poised to be the primary beneficiary of the fences coming in at Citi Field. His upside potential in 2012 is 30 home runs.
Ryan Doumit, Catcher, Minnesota Twins — You don’t often expect a good year out of a guy that moves to Minnesota, but Doumit has power and will primarily be used as a DH. He’ll also qualify at catcher and will qualify in the outfield once the season gets going. A move to DH should save him from being injury prone.
Lucas Duda, Outfield, New York Mets — Lucas Duda is another guy that will benefit from the fences moving in at Citi Field and he has 25 home run potential entering his 26-year-old season. He should be able to lock up the right field position.
Danny Espinosa, Second Base, Washington Nationals — Danny Espinosa will hurt your batting average, but his consistent home run and stolen base totals for an infielder make him a nice addition on a much improved Washington club.
SHOWTIME FOR DEXTER: After a foul start, Fowler came on strong in the second half last year.
Dexter Fowler, Outfield, Colorado Rockies — After hitting .211 with 0 homers and 2 stolen bases during the first half, Dexter Fowler earned himself a visit to Colorado Springs. He must have been scared straight as he came back with .288 and 5 HR’s, 11 SB’s in the second half. He’s at the perfect age of 26 and has upside of 18 home runs and 25 stolen bases.
Dee Gordon, Shortstop, Los Angeles Dodgers — We love this guy’s speed and he’s going to get a chance to show it for an entire season as the Dodgers’ leadoff man. He won’t wow you with his eye or on base percentage and his .304 average last year is likely out of reach to be achieved again this year. But, Dee Gordon is a 50 stolen base guy for LA this year.
Chris Heisey, Outfield, Cincinnati Reds — In only 279 at-bats, Chris Heisey drilled 18 homers and drove in 50 runs last year for the Reds. Heisey is at our favorite age, 27, and has 30 homerun potential.
Jason Heyward, Outfield, Atlanta Braves — Jason Heyward had a sophomore slump in 2011 and fantasy baseball managers are not doubting the hype. His batting average of .227 in 2011 was an aberration based in part from a shoulder injury and being limited to 396 AB’s. His BABIP fell from .330 in his rookie year to .260 last year. Heyward, 22, is still a pup. He’s going to bounce back with a good season.
Eric Hosmer, First Base, Kansas City Royals — Eric Hosmer’s numbers in his rookie year were .293/19/78/11. No sophomore slump here; Hosmer will be a 30 home run guy in 2012.
Desmond Jennings, Outfield, Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays kept Desmond Jennings packed up in the minors until mid-season, but when he came up, he showed his potential hitting .259 with 10 HR and 20 SB in just 64 games played. For keeper leagues, this is one guy to stockpile for many years to come.
Howie Kendrick, Second Base, Los Angeles Angels — Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick surged late in 2011 and finished up with 18 homers, 14 steals, 63 RBIs, 86 runs scored and a .285 batting average. His HR total was an all-time high and he has momentum going into 2012 with 10 of those round trippers having been hit in the last two months of the season.
Brett Lawrie, Third Base, Toronto Blue Jays — Brett Lawrie’s 2011 rookie debut was delayed by a broken hand and then ended early by a broken finger. That didn’t disappoint the Blue Jays faithful, however, who saw Brett Lawrie crack 9 homeruns in just 150 at bats and hit .293. His limited at bats last year may have fantasy baseball managers overlooking him in 2012.
Evan Longoria, Third Base, Tampa Bay Rays — Evan Longoria had a good power year with 31 bombs last year, but his average fell from .294 in 2010 to .244 last year–an average that is not indicative of an all-star caliber player. Longoria is another one that had bad luck in 2011 as his BABIP dropped from .336 to .239. ”Eva” will rebound with a big 2012.
John Mayberry Jr., Outfield, Philadelphia Phillies — Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. smacked 15 homers in 2011, with 49 RBIs, 37 runs scored, eight steals and a .273 batting average in 267 at-bats. That gave the Phillies the impetus to allow veteran Raul Ibanez to walk into free agency. We’ve upped our Mayberry Jr. 2012 projections to 25 home runs and 90 RBI.
Jesus Montero, Catcher, Seattle Mariners — A great debut last year for the Yankees and then traded in a surprising deal of budding young superstars. He’ll mostly be the M’s DH and will catch a couple times per week thus keeping the 22-year-old’s bat fresh for many years to come. Montero is a 25 HR guy in 2012.
Miguel Montero, Catcher, Arizona Diamondbacks — Miguel Montero smacked 18 homers in 2011, to go along with 86 RBIs, 65 runs scored, one stolen base and a .282 batting average. That makes the 28-year-old one of the top NL catchers and a cheaper option than Brian McCann.
Logan Morrison, Outfield, Miami Marlins — 23 homers in his first full season, Logan Morrison now joins a stronger lineup in Miami. Logan Morrison has 35 HR potential and he’s still only 24!
Eduardo Nunez, Infielder, New York Yankees –Eduardo Nunez appeared in 112 games with a .265 average, 5 homers, 30 RBI, and an eye opening 22 stolen bases last year as the Yankees’ utility man. The trade of Jesus Montero means that A-Rod and Jeter will spend more time in the DH role, thus opening up an infield spot for Nunez.
Wilson Ramos, Catcher, Washington Nationals — Wilson Ramos is best known as the guy who got kidnapped in Venezuela this off-season before a daring rescue saved him. But, he may be quite more well-known in 2012 now that Pudge Rodriguez is gone. The 24-year-old’s ability to hit for power and average makes him an enticing sleeper for 2012. In just 389 at bats, Ramos hit .267 with 15 homers, 52 RBIs and 48 runs scored.
Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton, Outfield, Miami Marlins — I plan on announcing “Giancarlo Stanton” at my fantasy draft and hoping that nobody knows that this is the artist formerly known as Mike Stanton. That’s the same Mike Stanton that belted 34 homers last year at just age 22.
Jose Tabata, Outfield, Pittsburgh Pirates — Unusually high (61%) ground ball rate means that there isn’t ever going to be much power out of Jose Tabata, but we like his speed. He had 38 stolen bases in 2010, but was hampered by several injuries last year. At age 23, he has a lot of upside remaining.
Matt Wieters, Catcher, Baltimore Orioles — Sports Illustrated believes that Matt Wieters is due for a breakout season and it’s easy to see why. Wieters didn’t live up to his early hype, but last year’s 22 homers may have made them believers. Upside potential is a 30 home run season in 2012 for the Birds.
David Wright, Third Base, New York Mets — Last year’s back issues kept David Wright on the shelf for 2 months and it was his worst season of his career. All the pundits say he’ll be greatly helped by the fences moving in at Citi Field as his power is to right-center. He’s probably lost his .300 average potential, but 30 homers is not out of the question.
BARGAIN SALE: Chris may come in at a set up man's prices, but at a starting pitcher's value.
Andrew Bailey, Relief Pitcher, Boston Red Sox — Closing for the Red Sox is a more important job than closing for the Athletics. Andrew Bailey takes over Papelbon’s job in Boston and could be a 35 save closer in 2012.
Rafael Betancourt, Relief Pitcher, Colorado Rockies — Rafael Betancourt will win the Rockies closer job, despite his advanced age. Future closer Rex Brothers yields too many walks to be effective at Coors and Betancourt is signed for two more years. He could become the first pitcher ever to notch his first double digit save year after age 35.
Madison Bumgarner, Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants — What’s not to like about this third year hurler at just 22-year-old? Madison Bumgarner turned around a first half 4-9 record by going 9-4 and 2.70 in the second half. Solid WHIP numbers make Bumgarner a solid pick for many years to come.
Yu Darvish, Starting Pitcher, Texas Rangers — Yeah, I know Yu Darvish has been filled with more hype than any previous Japanese ballplayer and he was married to Baseball’s Hottest Wife. Ladies, we even have pictures of Yu Darvish nude on our site. But, if you’ve ever watched the movement on his ball, you’ll see why Yu’s one of our picks.
Yovani Gallardo, Starting Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers — A high strikeout rate and entering his 27-year-old season make Yovani Gallardo an attractive pitcher for 2012. Not to mention, Gallardo won 17 games last year.
Matt Garza, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs — Matt Garza had his best ERA year (3.32) last year to go with a consistent WHIP. Garza’s new approached saw his fly ball % drop from 45% to 33% last year–an especially good idea when pitching in Wrigley.
Gio Gonzalez, Starting Pitcher, Washington Nationals — Several solid seasons in Oakland mean that Gio Gonzalez is not an unknown any more. No worries, he’s now on a more competitive team and moving from the AL to the NL.
Zack Greinke, Starting Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers — Zack Greinke’s fortunes have fallen dramatically from a 2009 campaign when he went 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. We like that his K/9 was the best of his career at 10.54 last year. In 2011, Greinke got off to a miserable start with a 5.63 ERA in the first half, but improved to 2.80 in the second half. We’re seeing that second half carry over to 2012.
Jim Johnson, Relief Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles — There was thought of making Jim Johnson a starter, but a bad back makes his move to the bullpen permanent. He was the closer in September after Kevin Gregg’s season took a turn for the worse. Johnson is a solid third tier choice for relief pitcher that you can likely get on the cheap.
Brandon McCarthy, Starting Pitcher, Oakland Athletics — ESPN cover boy and husband of Hot Wife nominee Brandon McCarthy re-invented himself as a ground ball pitcher in 2011 with a career high 47% ground ball percentage. Playing in pitcher friendly Oakland makes McCarthy a solid pick. He’ll pitch on opening day in Japan on March 28.
Matt Moore, Starting Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays — If you want to start off your MLB career with a bang, fan 11 Yankees in 5 innings; that’s what Matt Moore did last year enroute to a 13-3 season. Moore dominated minor league hitters posting a .190 batting average against.
Michael Pineda, Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees — Michael Pineda’s rookies season in Seattle saw him post a .211 batting average against and a 1.10 WHIP. His 3.79 ERA was deceiving based on his skills. Pineda is a future Cy Young candidate.
Chris Sale, Starting Pitcher, Chicago White Sox — In two seasons as a reliever, Chris Sale’s opponents have hit .199 against him. He now moves into the rotation. Sale could get you 200 strikeouts this year if the White Sox aren’t so far out of it that they shut him down late in the season.
Johan Santana, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets — Johan Santana sat out all of 2010 with a shoulder injury, but the former ace is back. He’s no longer an elite pitcher, but could be a solid late round pick if he isn’t overrated by your competition.
Max Scherzer, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers — Max Scherzer saw a huge jump in ERA last year to 4.43, but his underlying stats were similar to his solid 2010. Plus, he’s on the best team in the AL (sorry Angels and Rangers).
Drew Storen, Relief Pitcher, Washington Nationals — Drew Storen has developed into one of the most reliable closers in the National League. Storen saved 43 last year. Is 50 a possibility for an improved Nationals team?
Julio Teheran, Starting Pitcher, Atlanta Braves — One of the games top prospects, Julio Teheran is batting to win a starting job on a team loaded with young pitching talent. Teheran tore up Triple-A last year with a 2.55 ERA. Just 21, Teheran is on the short list for Rookie of the Year candidates.