We’re doing a little recreational fishing here at MillionDollarSleeper.com. Today, we’re ignoring the trophy fish that took Fish Fishburne to lunkerland, we want those rough, ugly fish; the fish whom nobody pays attention. Round 25 and beyond, no one who goes before our 288 ADP cut-off. We’re looking to net some Shortstops and we don’t have much for bait. Scoop some spam from that dented can and grab a piece of corn, we’re fishing for bottom-feeders. Make the jump for the underrated few who the public largely (and mistakenly) ignore.
12-team Mixed League
Yunel Escobar -ADP 378- It’s somewhat surprising to see Yunel passed over by so many when he has a career .289 Batting Average and plays at the thinnest position in our game. While he doesn’t post eye-popping power numbers, the few Stolen Bases he nabs helps his value. His struggles last season (.256 AVG, 4 HR), were directly tied to a bad-luck BABIP and HR/FB%. The 18% Line Drive Percentage from 2010 was only 0.8% below his career average for the statistic. He should not have suffered a 30 point drop in BABIP. The 3.3% HR/FB% was a career low for Yunel. He doesn’t possess big time power, but he was improving in the area with each season until last year. These types of deviations make our game somewhat unpredictable and helps provide us with our sleeper candidates. Yunel, who had an ADP around 150 last season, makes for a great example of this as he should bounce back with ease as he hits between Rajai Davis and Jose Bautista in the Blue Jays batting order. If you don’t land Hanley or Tulo, Yunel should make for a Top Ten Shortstop who you can get very, very late in your draft. One caveat, Yunel has the most day-to-day injuries I have ever seen in a three-year span (22). 2010 Projection: .295-12-84-70-5 (515 AB)
Alcides Escobar -ADP 350- Riddle me this: how does a man, who is fleet of foot, hit 21.5% of his Batted Balls for Line Drives and 44.5% for Ground Balls, yet have a .264 BABIP? I don’t know. If you want the answer, you’ll have to ask Alcides Escobar because I would have thought that to be impossible. The Brewers former top prospect did everything right; he kept the Strikeouts minimal (13.8%), hit a gang load of Line Drives and Ground Balls, yet was punished for his deeds. On top of that, he played for a coach who instilled fear into his players when it came to stealing bases. Alcides will get a fresh start in Kansas City, away from Ken Macha. It doesn’t take much to believe in the kid; like I said earlier, he doesn’t strike out much, hits Line Drives, puts the ball on the ground, is fast (42 SB in 430 AAA At Bats) and he has the pedigree. You’re basically getting Starlin Castro in Round 29. 2010 Projection: .284-6-81-47-25 (580 AB)
Mono-leagues (AL and NL Only) and Deep Mixed Leagues
Erick Aybar -ADP 339- As our 14th ranked Shortstop, Aybar doesn’t quite make the 12-team Mixed League cutoff, but he does make for a fine replacement player when Tulo, Reyes, Rollins, Aviles or Furcal inevitably come up limping. Aybar is essentially a less exciting version of Alcides Escobar. He’s not very consistent either so we don’t know what we’re exactly getting from Aybar this season. Will he post a 10% K% or a 15% K%? Will he put up a 15% LD% or 20% LD%? How low/how high will the BABIP be? We’ve seen it as low as .289 or as high as .338. At least we know Mike Scioscia loves to send his players running, Aybar should be a solid bet for another 20 plus SB. This projection uses a 13.7% K% and a .302 BABIP. 2010 Projection: .268-6-77-46-23 (570 AB)
Tsuyoshi Nishioka -ADP 341- The newest Japanese import is confirmed to be the Twins everyday Second Baseman and will likely bat between Denard Span and Joe Mauer. He shares a similar skill set to the man he’s replacing, Orlando Hudson. Nishi will likely take a few more walks, he’s been improving in that area the past few seasons, and will steal more bases than Hudson, but the power contributions will be minimal. He doesn’t have gorilla wire strength and Target Field will suppress whatever power he does have. Nishioka did win the batting title in Japan last season, but that was based off an inflated BABIP. He likes to steal bases, but he’s doesn’t possess the horsepower of a Mercury V-Twin. More often than coaches would like, he was caught with his legs(?) in the cookie jar (68% success rate from 2008-2010). This puts him in the green light gray area. Gardy may stop giving him the go-ahead if he’s not successful, especially with Mauer and Morneau coming up to the plate. We also have some injury concerns here. I know people can be lured in by a shiny new toy, but let’s not go too crazy over Nishioka. 2011 Projection: .274-3-85-47-19 (500 AB)
Jhonny Peralta -ADP 301- I can’t look at Peralta’s name without thinking of Dusty Diamonds All-Star Softball, the greatest baseball game ever created. The 8-bit NES game killed R.B.I. Baseball. Jhonny was one of the slow, tough guys with big hair. He could hit Home Runs, but you had to plow over the other kids if you wanted to advance on the base paths. Basically he was the original Jhonny Peralta. The Tigers’ Shortstop will provide us with 13-23 Home Runs and very few, if any Stolen Bases. The Home Runs depend on Jhonny’s varying HR/FB%, it has reached a high of 18% and a low of 7.5%. His HR/FB percentages have been above 10% three times and below 10% three times in his six full seasons of MLB play. I rolled with a 9.4% HR/FB% for this projection; there’s room for upside here. 2011 Projection: .266-15-69-82-1 (575 AB)
* You can find Dusty D emulators online if you want to play the game. It’s considered a semi-rare game if you want it in cartridge form. Wikipedia has it all wrong, Alan was the best player in the schoolyard. He could pitch for 5 Innings and then slug in the middle of your batting order. Everyone loved Sparky and Mikey, but Alan was the Babe Ruth of the game. Dust-heads unite!
Cliff Pennington -ADP 374- How does a Shortstop who hit six HR and stole 29 bases go undrafted in most mock drafts? Well, he’s a Pennington so you know his shoulder can fall off his body at a moments notice. Cliff underwent surgery for a torn labrum last October and hasn’t appeared in any Spring Training games. Apparently he’s batting in simulated games (I think that means he’s playing The Show on PS3) and should be fine for Opening Day. The track record says the K% and BABIP won’t be anything special, so that combine with the minimal power output means we shouldn’t expect any help in the Batting Average department, but 35 combined HR and SB isn’t anything to sneeze at. Especially if you’re a Pennington, sneezing has been known to cause shoulder dislocations. 2011 Projection: .249-7-68-50-27 (510 AB)
Orlando Cabrera -ADP 323- Maybe I shouldn’t have included Orlando in this list. He’s 36-years old, a Cleveland Indian and doesn’t have any special powers. He’s not going to turn green and hit double digit Home Runs, he’s no longer faster than a speeding bullet (he’s still capable of chasing down unruly paperboys though) and his Batting Average is about as exciting as Ben Affleck in spandex (not good). Now I do regret including Cabrera, but he did score a 60.1 in the Shortstop Rankings and Projections. He’s nothing special, but he is an adequate Middle Infield option for the deeeep leaguers out there. The track record is there for all to see, he’s old. 2010 Projection: .265-7-65-67-12 (570 AB)
Jed Lowrie -ADP 389- Jed Lowrie is the best Shortstop on the Red Sox roster. He is better than Marco Scutaro right now. However, the team has handed over the job to the veteran and Jed’s progress will stall while the team wastes time with the stiff-necked Scutaro. I expect Jed to overtake Marco at some point this season, the question is when. Right now, neither Red Sox Shortstop is worth drafting outside the deepest of leagues. Lowrie is someone to keep on your watch list for now. 2011 Projection: .272-8-37-35-1 (250 AB)
Reid Brignac -ADP 345- For the record, I don’t like Reid Brignac. I just see him being touted as a deep league sleeper and I want to squash those rumors. The guy has a .455 OPS with zero, count ‘em zero, HR in 66 At Bats against Lefties. I demand a recount. Zero. OK, that’s settled. He sucks against LHP and people are trying to extrapolate his 257 AB vs RHP to come up with solid numbers. Not happening Captain. This 20 HR power people speak of hasn’t shown up since 2007 when he was playing single-A and AA ball. The combination of a 26% K%, .307 BABIP and scarce power will lead to a crippling Batting Average. He’s the starting Shortstop in Tampa for defensive purposes, this is a cost-saving move for the Rays. In the Recreational Fishing series, we are using Reid Brignac as a sinker, he’s dead weight. 2011 Projection: .238-10-60-59-8 (550 AB)
ADP numbers provided by MockDraftCentral