Here is the fifth article in the series of 2012 fantasy baseball sleepers. Most fantasy baseball players have a wide range of feelings on the term sleepers with so much information now available on the internet. Whether you want to use the term “sleeper” or a value selection or profit performer, these players can provide you good value or better than expected value based on where they will be drafted. Here is a look at the 2012 fantasy baseball sleepers for the National League Central.
Bryan LaHair (CHC) – Carlos Pena left as a free agent and recently acquired Anthony Rizzo will likely start at Triple-A to fix holes in his swing leaving LaHair as the starting first basemen for the Cubs. He had been stuck at Triple-A since 2003 without ever getting a real shot in the major leagues. He has 195 career big league at bats with five home runs and 16 RBI and a .262 average. He has hit 89 home runs over his last three seasons in AAA, including 38 last season, so he has legit power. Definitely has value in NL-only leagues and I would be willing to use a reserve pick on him in mixed league formats.
Jimmy Paredes (HOU) – has Chris Johnson to compete with and also possibly former top prospect Brett Wallace who is now working out at third base which may push him down in drafts a little. Plays third base but has the skill set of a second basemen with little power and decent speed. Stole 50 bases in 2010 and 29 in 2011 in the minor leagues and has a 77% success rate for his minor league career. On the downside, he made the jump from Double-A so he may have some growing pains and he needs better plate discipline with nine walks and 47 strikeouts in 168 at bats. Worth targeting late in NL-only drafts if you need steals.
Alex Presley (PIT) – expected to start in left field and should be good for 8-10 home runs and 18-20 stolen bases. Hit .291 in his minor league career, but still needs work on his plate discipline and base running as he was successful just 66% of the time on stolen base attempts. His competition of Garret Jones and Nate McLouth hit left-handed like he does so he should not have to worry about falling into a platoon with them.
Mat Gamel (MIL) – the loss of Prince Fielder leaves a big hole at first base that Gamel has first shot at. He has struggled to hit in small trials at the major league level with a .222 average in 171 at bats with 67 strikeouts. For his minor league career he has hit .304 and he hit .310 last season at Triple-A with 28 home runs and 96 RBI. He will likely qualify at a utility spot in most leagues because he played a total of eight games in the field in 2011.
Shelby Miller (STL) – will start the season at Triple-A but I expect him to be up at sometime this season, possibly by the All-Star break. Between Chris Carpenter’s and Adam Wainwright’s injury history and Jake Westbrook’s ineffectiveness, I think Miller will find himself in St. Louis sooner rather than later. He has posted a 3.17 ERA in the minor leagues with a 1.22 WHIP and he has struck out 312 in 247 innings.