Fantasy Baseball Corner

Ben Arledge

Now that it is the 2012 baseball season, we have an extra reason to follow our favorite players and teams – fantasy baseball. Although I do not claim to be an expert by any means, I will still offer you my weekly add/drop ad-vice for your fantasy squad. I am assuming that most drafts are completed by now, but it is never too late to look into sleepers for the start of the season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at potential fantasy sleepers at every position.

First base sleepers are overshadowed by players like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez. However, first baseman Eric Hosmer has the potential to provide similar numbers at a much later pick. If you were not able to secure a top-tier first bagger, the Wizard of Hoz can give you a stat line around .290/25/90 (average, HR and RBI).

At second base, I like Howie Kendrick and Dustin Ackley. Kendrick is underrated and could hit near .300 with 20 HR this season. Ackley has a small sample size of statistics to go off of, but has tremendous plate discipline and great mechanics. This could be a big year for the young Seattle middle infielder.

Shortstop is always an interesting position to look at. This year, Dee Gordon is worth a look. He has been killing it in Spring Train-ing, and could legitimately hit .285 and snag 55 bases this season.

At third base, I suggest looking at two guys that were not even close to sleepers just one season ago: Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis. Both guys not only could, but should, hit for numbers comparable to the league’s best hot corner bats – at a much lower cost. They both still hit in the middle of possibly the league’s best two lineups. Still, keep the injury risk in mind and plan accordingly.

Here are four guys for you in the outfield: Desmond Jennings, Andre Ethier, Lucas Duda and Emilio Bonifacio. Jennings has all of the tools that make a great all-around player, so I suggest going after him. Ethier went from being overrated to underrated in one season, and he still has the ability to hit .300 with some power if he stays healthy. Duda is a bright spot in an otherwise dark New York Mets lineup and can drop 20 bombs this season. Finally, Bonifacio hits for average on top of a lineup that has the likes of Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stan-ton, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison. That most certainly means runs, runs and more runs.

Starting pitching is loaded with sleep-ers. However, I have two potential aces that are going late in drafts: Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright. If you are will-ing to take a risk or two, you suddenly have two studs. That is, if they can re-turn to form. If they don’t, then you only wasted late picks on two former Cy Young candidates. Enjoy the fantasy season and please, draft wisely.

Contact Ben Arledge at [email protected]