Searching for sleepers

Let’s take a look at several players’ Average Draft Positions—found on Mock Draft Central—to see if we can go bargain shopping in mid-January. Keep in mind, of course, that it’s incredibly early, and there always is—and surely this year will be no exception—a lot of volatility and shifting that takes place in ADP from January to April. Still, there is some merit in discussing. Shall we?

Madison Bumgarner (20th SP taken at an ADP of 79)
The artist currently known as Mad-Bum is being taken behind the likes of Ian Kennedy, Mat Latos, and James Shields. Good. Let’s hope it stays that way: Bumgarner had normal BABIP and strand rates, a HR/FB that is no doubt low but can be attributed to his giant home stadium, and a better FIP and xFIP than all three pitchers taken immediately ahead of him. I’d rather have Bumgarner, despite his shortcomings in the WHIP department.

Doug Fister (50th starting pitcher taken at an ADP of 176)
A career win-loss of 20-31 has certainly detracted from Fister’s fantasy value in the past, but that doesn’t mean the trend will continue. People seem to be ignoring the fact that Fister put up nasty numbers in his 10 starts in a Tigers uniform. He put up a triple-slash of 1.79/2.49/2.75 and won eight games, almost tripling his three wins put up in his previous 21 starts with the Mariners. Overall, Fister put up a 2.83 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and 6.07 strikeouts per nine innings, which looks much better, again, in the context of his Comerica days (7.29 in his Detroit stint). It’s rare you see such disregard for someone who put up $21 of value in a standard 12-team league, but Christmas sometimes comes in January. Keep tabs and see if he’s still severely undervalued in April: I’d guess not.

Grady Sizemore (76th outfielder taken at an ADP of 224)
Drafted so far in only 52.8 percent of leagues, you could do much worse with a late-round flier than Sizemore, who is indeed the same man who put together no worse than 5.8 WAR and no greater than 8.0 WAR in the 2005-2008 years, known in the Sizemore household as the “good old days.” He hasn’t been on the field a lot lately to prove his worth, and when he has—notably, his 77-game cameo last year—he faced strikeout woes (rate was nearly 30 percent in 2011) and batting average lows (.224 showing last year was well below his .269 career mark). Once upon a time, though, Sizemore graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was proclaimed, “without a doubt, one of the greatest players of our generation.” He might fizzle—in fact, he should be expected to, considering how brittle he is—but don’t forget the talent that once existed. He’s a lottery ticket worth buying at present price.

Frank Francisco (40th relief pitcher taken at an ADP of 230)
This isn’t to say I like Frank Francisco; I wouldn’t want you to think that, now. I don’t think much of him as a major league pitcher. He’s clocked in at somewhere around average in his major league career, perhaps slightly above. But relief pitchers are all about saves. Particularly if you play without innings limits, you’ll find that a pitcher who throws only 50 innings for you will have little bearing on your ratio stats; that is, unless his name is Ryan Franklin, circa 2011. Francisco had a solid 3.36 xFIP last year, and his 12.7 percent HR/FB should go down substantially in Flushing. He’ll be an asset in strikeouts and saves, though it’d be risky to count on anything more than 20 based on his past inability to hold a job. To get him in the 23rd round of a 10-team draft would be a certain steal, though. Where’s the risk?

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JR Ewing
JR Ewing

Didn’t the Jays sign Sergio Santos? Wouldn’t he have the inside track to saves over Franky? If so you’re getting a mediocre late-middle relief pitcher. Or am I wrong about Santos and who would get the edge to close?

Nick Fleder
Nick Fleder

JR, I do like Santos, who should have the Jays gig locked up all season. Franky, on the other hand, signed a two-year deal to pitch for the Mets, and should hold the gig for much of the year over Jon Rauch, in my opinion.