Week 4 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers Stock Market: Wait, Then Sell High

The closer carousel might be spinning at its fastest ever this season as a two more closers emerge as legitimate fantasy baseball sleepers this week. Not to mention a couple of familiar faces that we can all but hope build on their 2012 success. Let’s take a look at some great pickups to bolster the ol’ fantasy lineup – as well as a few guys you may want to consider moving when the time is right.

fantasy baseball sleepers
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Jose Valverde 46 pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of game four of the 2012 ALDS at Oco Coliseum Kelley L Cox USA TODAY Sports

Jose Valverde: Strong Buy. Well, the inevitable happened and Papa Grande is back closing games for the Tigers. He’s been snatched up in plenty of leagues already but definitely grab him if you still can. Last year’s 35 save, 3.78 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.3 K/9 was one of the worst lines of his career. In his first two seasons with the Tigers Valverde put up 75 saves, a 2.59 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 8.8 K/9. At 35 he should have plenty left in the tank for another good year.

Jose Quintana: Strong Buy. I’ve been mentioning him for a couple weeks but he keeps pitching well and he’s still unowned in more than 70% of Yahoo leagues. In his last three starts he’s allowed a scant 10 hits, four walks, and two runs while striking out 17. Not saying he’ll keep his 0.96 ERA the rest of the way but something between his rookie season 3.76 ERA/1.35 WHIP/5.3 K/9 and his 2.76 ERA/1.17 WHIP/10 K/9 in his minor league career still sounds pretty good.

Carlos Ruiz: Solid Buy. I’m not entirely sold on Ruiz but he’s returning from his 25-game amphetamine suspension and if he can produce around last season’s .325 BA (.275 career), .935 OPS (.781 career), 3.8 HR% (2% career), and 5.5 AB/RBI (7.5 career) pace he would be a good get in a catcher position that’s much deeper than it used to be. I don’t think he will but we have yet to see him play except for 11 games in spring training so he could be worth taking a shot on, at least in deeper and NL-only leagues.

Kevin Gregg: Short-Term Buy. I’m shaking my head as I write this but a closer is a closer and even a terrible one is worth something in most leagues. He’ll probably be out of the role when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from his sprained forearm (can you sprain a bone?) but Fujikawa has yet to even throw a bullpen session so he can get some saves if the Cubs can manage some wins.

Bartolo Colon: Deep League Buy. I’ve never been a Colon fan but he’s off to a solid 3-0, 2.42 ERA, 0.92 WHIP start and he had a good bump in production after joining the pitching-centered A’s. Last season’s 10 wins in 24 starts, 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP are all solid but don’t expect much more than that nor a K/9 higher than 6.0.

Sell:

Quick Sidenote: None of these guy’s are “drop” candidates. Just widely owned players that people’s expectations might be a bit too optimistic on. Hold off until one of them gets hot, then sell ’em off, assuming you’re in not too deep a league and you can find a solid replacement.

Edwin Encarnacion: Everyone was shocked when Encarnacion produced at the rate he did in 2012, and for good reason. His career 4.3 HR% (6.5% last year), 6.5 AB/RBI (4.9 last year), and 1.75 SO/BB ratio (1.12 last year) are all a huge jump from anything he’s done before. After putting up 23 home runs in the first half of 2012, he’s batting just .210 with four homers, 12 RBI, 10 R, and one steal. His OPS is .695. I think he can have a good season, I just don’t think you can expect much more than 25-30 HR, 80+ RBI, and 65-75 R.

Giancarlo Stanton: It’s hard to imagine Stanton producing much in the weakest lineup in the league and his completely irrelevant start has to give you more cause for concern. For one, he doesn’t have enough protection to get anything to hit. He’s already walked 10 times in 15 games after walking just 46 times in 123 games last season. He’s not a walker, just no one in their right mind would pitch to him when they can just challenge any of the other eight guys in the lineup. His .200 BA, 0 HR, three RBI, four run start is just a bad couple weeks for a guy who’s been banged up to start the season but he’s not the .290 batter he was last season (in general, but especially in this lineup), and I can’t imagine him producing even the 86 RBI, 75 R around his homers that he did last season.

Melky Cabrera: Not to say that Melky’s huge jump in production is Kansas City was the result of a certain banned substance he was suspended for last season but let’s be honest – Melky isn’t a 90 RBI candidate. Prior to his “breakthrough” year in 2011, Melky was averaging a .267 BA, eight homers, 54 RBI, 60 R, and 10 SB in a ridiculous potent then-Yankee lineup. Hardly worth his current 86% ownership (in Yahoo leagues) and not much worse than what he’ll likely put up this year after starting with out with no homers, six RBI, and eight runs in his first 22 games.

Fernando Rodney: When a guy who owns a 4.29 ERA career ERA over 430 IP puts up a 0.60 ERA, you have to know something’s up. When a guy who owns a career 1.46 WHIP puts up a 0.78, you have to know something’s up. There is absolutely no way Rodney comes close to last season’s numbers because he’s shown nothing but a track record of good stuff yet mediocre production. Also, after allowing a whopping five earned runs last year, he’s already allowed four runs, a homer, and 14 base runners in 7.1 IP.

Brandon Morrow: This guy is under the same category as Rodney. Before his out-of-nowhere 2.96 ERA, 1.12 WHIP over 124 IP last year, he was a starter mired in mediocrity. In his previous three seasons he put up a 4.58 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Plus, who knows what his numbers would have been if he managed to last a full season in 2012. If you’re expecting last year, I wouldn’t. Especially after allowing 19 runs, four homers, and 44 baserunners in his first 27 IP.

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