MLB Betting: LT’s Fantasy Baseball Beat

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, May 9, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Friday, May. 9, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

LT Profits takes a look at Fantasy Baseball offensive sleepers for each position. These may not be the best players at each position but rather players that offer nice value.

With the fantasy sports wave taking off over the past few years, there are now more ways than ever to make some money with your MLB picks, and we are not talking about which teams are going to win their games, but rather which players are best suited to be on your fantasy teams to help you crush the competition.

We are focusing on value sleepers from each offensive position, and because of that, these are not necessarily the best players at their positions but rather the ones that offer the best value for the buck. That is especially critical in salary leagues, but even in more traditional rotisserie leagues you may be able to pry some of these somewhat hidden gems fairly cheaply from owners that under-appreciate them, or if you in a league with total novices, a few may be free agents!

Note that we are looking at offensive positions only with these Fantasy Beats. If you want some pitching advice, just check out our roughly bi-weekly FIP Leaderboards with our most recent one released last Friday, May 2nd.

The sabremetric stat that we like the most when evaluating offensive players is wRC+, which stands for Weighted Runs Created Plus, and while the formula itself is complicated, it is a park-adjusted synthesis of doubles, triples, home runs, strikeouts, walks, stolen bases and caught stealings into one convenient number that measures a player’s wRC+ vs. the league average.

Thus, a wRC+ of 100 means a player’s Runs Created are right at the league average, a wRC+ of 110 means that a player’s Runs Created are 10 percent higher than the league average and a wRC+ of 90 means that a player’s Runs Created are 10 percent lower than the league average. Not surprisingly, the players we are focusing on all have a wRC+ safely above 100 with most of these doing so while well under the radar.

So here is out first look this season at possibly lethal sleepers at every position, with all referenced stats being through games of Thursday, May 8th.

First Base
Adam LaRoche – Washington Nationals: First base is always a loaded position with many of the league’s superstars manning that slot just for their offensive production alone. With that being said, do you know who leads all Major League first basemen in wRC+ as of this writing? If you guessed LaRoche, you are either a Mensa candidate or you cheated! Yes, it is LaRoche that sports a whopping 165 wRC+ to lead the position. He has five home runs, 21 RBI and a .324 batting average overall, and best of all the left-handed hitter had not been intimidated by southpaw pitchers one bit, batting .320 with a .833 OPS against them!

Second Base
Dee Gordon – Los Angeles Dodgers: If someone had told you that Gordon would have an .812 OPS at this point of the year before the season started, you probably would have scoffed at him or her. But Gordon has maintained a .338 batting average and what he lacks in power, he makes up for with speed as his .444 slugging percentage has been keyed by legging out five doubles and three triples among his 45 total hits with one home run thrown in for good measure. Speaking of speed, Gordon leads the Major Leagues by a fairly wide margin with his 21 stolen bases as Rajai Davis and Eric Young are tied go second with 12 apiece, all helping lead to a nice wRC+ of 132.

Shortstop
Alexi Ramirez – Chicago White Sox: First of all, Troy Tulowitzki leads the galaxy with his obscene 232 wRC+, and the fact that he is a shortstop could make him a fantasy MVP is he stays healthy all season for a change. After that though, it is Ramirez that is second among all shortstops in wRC+ at 135. Alexi has tantalized White Sox ownership and the fantasy community for a few years with periods of greatness mixed in with lots of inconsistency, but could it be that he has figured things out now at the age of 32? The lifetime .280 hitter is batting .338 with some nice pop for the position, as he has seven doubles and one triple to go along with four home runs for a .466 slugging percentage.

Third Base
Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals: Rendon is hardly a household name, but he has been an imposing hitter this season and he is versatile as he also qualifies for second base, although he is currently filling in at third for the injured Ryan Zimmerman. He has arguably been the Nationals’ best all around player this year with five home runs, 23 RBI, a .295 batting average and an .849 OPS bolstered by a hearty .518 slugging percentage. Washington is apparently cornering the market on qualifying corner infield sleepers as, like LaRoche at first base, Rendon leads all Major League third basemen with his 133 wRC+.

Catcher
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Miami Marlins: Until now, one of the biggest distinctions for Saltalamacchia was having the most letters in his last name than any other Major Leaguer. Now however, he is fulfilling the promise he had when he first came up with the Atlanta Braves, supplementing his .287 batting average with seven doubles and six home runs for a .535 slugging percentage, contributing to a .921 OPS. “Salty” leads all Major League catchers with his 157 wRC+, making him a major piece of what has been a surprisingly good Miami Marlin offense thus far.

Outfielders
Shin-Soo Choo – Texas Rangers: Some questioned the wisdom for the Rangers signing Choo to a lucrative free agent contract during the off-season following a breakout year in 2013 after lacking much consistency throughout his career previously, but so far at least it looks like a shrewd signing. Choo is batting a hearty .343 with 10 of his 34 hits going for extra bases, resulting in a .515 slugging percentage. He has also drawn 23 walks, helping lead to a .481 on-base percentage for a whopping .996 OPS! Choo’s wRC+ of 174 is second among all outfielders behind only Jose Bautista and third among all Major League hitters at any position.

Justin Upton – Atlanta Braves: Next in line among all Major League hitters in wRC+ after Tulowitzki, Bautista and Choo is Justin Upton, who is tied for fourth in the majors with his nine home runs to go along with a .303 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and a fat .597 slugging percentage for a .974 OPS, and he has even mixed in four stolen bases while not yet being caught stealing. Add that up and you get a quite lovely wRC+ of 172. Upton is not without a flaw, with that being his 46 strikeouts, but that only makes the rest of his wRC+ components that much more amazing!

Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies: It should not be surprising that someone that plays his home games in Colorado would be considered an offensive sleeper. However, who would have thought that it would be Charlie Blackmon? And yet, after hitting six home runs and driving in 22 runs last season in 246 at-bats, the 27-year-old is blossoming this year with seven home runs and 25 RBI already in 132 at-bats to go along with a terrific .348 batting average and a rousing .968 OPS! And Blackmon is another left-handed batter that has hung in vs. left-handed pitchers with a sensational 1.008 OPS against southpaws in the early going. Blackmon is eighth among outfielders with his 155 wRC+.

Designated Hitter
Victor Martinez – Detroit Tigers: Now in some leagues that have a designated hitter position, this slot could be filled by any offensive player, while in others it much be filled by a qualifying designated hitter. Among the latter group, Martinez has the highest wRC+ at 153. Now, Martinez is not as much of a sleeper as the other players on this list as he is probably the biggest name, but he is not the first pure DH you would think of. Victor is on his way to batting over .300 for the fourth straight season that he has played (he missed all of 2012) as he is currently at .333 with seven home runs and six doubles contributing to his .577 slugging percentage and .965 OPS.

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