Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - AL West

Although baseball season is still a few weeks away, fantasy baseball season is here as draft rooms are opening and people are spending fake auction dollars on their favorite players. Everybody knows about the Mike Trouts and Clayton Kershaws of the world, so what you need to do stand out is find those hidden gems on each roster to propel yourself to fantasy greatness. I am going to go through each MLB roster to find at least one underrated player who will have you looking like a genius at the end of the season.

Today, we continue the series with a lack of East Coast bias and look into the AL West.

Houston Astros - Lance McCullers
Obviously, the big concern with McCullers is is health. He had major struggles with injuries last year, and it's definitely a concern going into this year, but there are very few young pitchers where injuries aren't a big concern. the other concern is his control as he walked five batters per nine last year, and that's not good. I think part of that is the injuries as he was just never able to get comfortable and find a groove druing the season. I think he can at least get his walk level back to its 2015 level, possibly even better. He's ranked 244 despite having a 3.22 ERA the last two years and striking out over a batter per inning (over 11 K/9 last year). He's probably not your 200 inning ace, but he could give you a really nice 160 innings, and getting that late in the draft sure sounds like a steal to me.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Ben Revere
Real talk, I had no idea that Ben Revere was on the Angels. I also kind of forgot that Cameron Maybin was on the Angels. But I'm still going with Revere, even though I'm not sure if he'll beat out Maybin for the starting job. I figure between Maybin's injury history combined with Albert Pujols getting another year older and needing some time off, they'll be able to find some space for Ben Revere. Two years ago, he hit .300, then his BABIP dropped by 100 points below his career average, and he batted .200. I think things just balance out again this year and he gives you a .300 average, with top 10 stolen base numbers and a good number of runs scored. He may not be the sexiest hitter, but he will be valuable.

Oakland Athletics - Marcus Semien
Semien managed 27 home runs last year, and I do think his average can come up from the .238 he hit last year. His BABIP was only .268, so if that gets closer to .300, it will not only increase his runs and RBI, but he can probably get closer to 20 stolen bases. Right now, he's ranked as the 18th best shortstop. Even if he doesn't improve, he'll be able to reach that level, but if the BABIP does bounce back and the power continues, you're looking at a top-10 guy.

Seattle Mariners - Mike Zunino
This pick is not sexy pick. Zunino is ranked as the 18th best catcher, and considering his struggle in the batting average category, he's probably never going to be a top guy. But he did rake at AAA last year and showed progress when he was in the major leagues. He hits for good power, and there are guys in the top-10 like Evan Gattis and Brian McCann who probably aren't that different than Zunino who you can probably pick up as a free agent.

Texas Rangers - Nomar Mazara
One of my common themes when picking guys is post-hype sleepers. Mazara got a ton of love at the beginning of 2016, but it seems as though he wore down as the season went on, and his numbers dropped accordingly. Last year, he still managed 20 home runs, and although I don't see the power taking a big step forward, I think the guy can flat out hit. He could easily be in the .280-.300 range, and with solid power, he'll be right in the middle of the Rangers lineup to rack up those counting stats. He's currently ranked as the 58th best outfielder, and I'd say it's a fairly good bet that he exceeds those expectations.

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