Fantasy Baseball 2014: Gattis, Eaton Among The Top Sleeper Picks – Forbes

There’s a fun debate to be had over whether Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera is more deserving of the first overall pick in 2014 fantasy baseball drafts. But if you’re lucky enough to make that choice, odds are you really can’t go wrong. The real challenge in fantasy drafts is finding value where the competition couldn’t, which means the late-round pickups who can help carry your team to the top of the standings.

Last year there was Kenley Jansen, who entered the season as the Dodgers’ set-up man for Brandon League and was barely a top-200 player, according to his average fantasy draft position. Yet he quickly took over the team’s closer job and posted 28 saves, 111 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA. And there was Jean Segura, the Brewers shortstop who was being taken outside the top 300 players but finished the year with 44 steals, a .294 average and as arguably the best shortstop in fantasy baseball.

So who are this year’s late-round value picks? It’s obviously not an easy question to answer, else fantasy baseball wouldn’t be such a hard game. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. In an effort to give readers a step up on the competition, we collected ten potential sleeper picks, or the guys who aren’t being treated as top players at their positions but have the upside to rank among them by season’s end.

Some of the above-listed players are talented guys simply coming off an injury-hampered year, like Arizona’s Aaron Hill and Chicago’s Adam Eaton Eaton. Hill is a talented veteran who, if not for a broken hand, may have been a top-five second baseman last year. And Eaton suffered an elbow injury that derailed what was expected to be a breakout 2013 season. Hill is typically being drafted tenth at his position and Eaton is barely a top-60 outfielder in some leagues, yet both appear primed for strong bounce-back seasons.

Others, like San Francisco’s Brandon Belt and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, have just been consistently improving players who seem ready to take the next step. Belt has made strides in each of the last three seasons, and he was among the league’s top hitters in the latter months of 2013. Though he may not provide the gaudy power numbers of the league’s top-tier first basemen, he is a great all-around option, especially for a guy not even going top-20 at his position. Kluber is meanwhile on the verge of becoming a stud, and last year posted a 3.85 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 136 strikeouts. He’s not even getting picked as a top-50 starter.

Then there are guys like Evan Gattis and Everth Cabrera, who are being drafted as middling options but have a good chance to lead their positions in certain categories (home runs and steals, respectively). And finally, you have players like Kyle Seager and Hiroki Kuroda. They have been nothing if not consistent, and with Robinson Cano headed to Seattle and the Yankees picking up fresh arms to help carry the rotation’s burden, both have the opportunity for big years.

For a more detailed breakdown, see our full list of 2014 value fantasy picks.

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