Fantasy baseball: High-upside sleepers to stash

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Fantasy baseball: High-upside sleepers to stash

Ben Davis on Phillies: 'I'm keeping the faith right now'

March 24, 2014, 3:15 pm
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Chase Headley (left) led the NL with 115 RBIs in 2012. Michael Pineda struck out 173 batters as a rookie in 2011. (USA Today Images)

Draft day is only one part of the equation in fantasy baseball, a marathon season that is highly dependent on waiver wire pickups and under-the-radar sleepers emerging.

If you already had your draft -- and most leagues did, with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks officially starting the major-league season last Saturday in Australia -- there are probably still a few intriguing names on the waiver wire.

They aren't necessarily guys who would be at the top of the list if you sort by 2014 projections, but they could make a difference on your team nonetheless.

3B Chase Headley, SD
It was just two seasons ago that Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 homers and a National League-leading 115 RBIs.

But he's off the radar because of a quiet 2013 season (.250, .747 OPS, 13 homers, 50 RBIs in 600 plate appearances) that was due mostly to injuries. Headley fractured his left thumb last year in spring training, then played through a torn meniscus later in the season.

Headley is on track to start for the Padres on opening day despite compiling just 10 at-bats this spring.

With so much talent at third base, Headley is going undrafted in 10-team leagues and in the very late rounds in 12-teamers. If he's on your waiver wire, go grab him immediately.

Keep in mind also that the spacious dimensions of Petco Park were brought in last season, making a notorious pitcher's park a bit more hitter-friendly.

If you're able to grab Headley, you may be acquiring a .280/25 HR/90 RBI player for free.

SP Michael Pineda, NYY
A stud in 2011 with the Mariners, Pineda missed all of 2012 and 2013 after shoulder surgery. He's battling to be the Yankees' fifth starters and has had a much better spring than his competitors.

Pineda, who no longer throws in the mid-to-high 90s as he did as a rookie in 2011, has a 1.20 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just one walk in 15 innings this spring.

In his rookie year, Pineda had a 3.74 ERA for Seattle with 173 strikeouts in 171 innings. He won't match those numbers in 2014 because of the decreased velocity and the Yankees' decision to put him on an innings count. But if all Pineda costs is an add/drop, why not take the chance?

SP Brandon Morrow, Tor
Everything went wrong for the Blue Jays in 2013. One of those things was another lost season for the immensely talented Morrow, who went 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts before being shut down with an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm.

Morrow has struggled this spring, allowing six runs in five innings, but will be the Blue Jays' fifth starter. And the former fifth overall pick has been very effective at times.

In 2010 and 2011 he had a 4.62 ERA, but struck out 381 batters in 325 2/3 innings, or 10.5 per nine innings. In 2012, he lowered his ERA to 2.96 over 21 starts as he focused more on ground balls and less on strikeouts.

Morrow's another buy-low starting pitcher to eye.

Catchers Carlos Ruiz (Phi), Miguel Montero (Arz)
Ruiz had a career year in 2012, hitting .325 with a .935 OPS and 48 extra-base hits in just 421 plate appearances, but wasn't nearly as productive last season after returning from an Adderall ban.

Montero had a brutal first half in 2013 but was one of the top offensive backstops in baseball the two previous years, hitting .284/.372/.454.

Catchers are always short in supply and prone to injury, so if you have room on your roster for a backup, it's hard to do worse than Chooch or Montero. Both have favorable home ballparks, as well.