Fantasy Baseball 2011: Sophmore Slumps and Jumps

Last year's group of fresh faces was one of the best in recent memory and may go down as one of the most talented rookie classes in the history of the game. Then there were the ones who didn't live up to expectations. The sophmore season gives these players a chance to build on their success or start again in hopes of having a solid career. Like every year there will be a few sophmores who slump and a few who will make the jump to become solid MLB regulars. Continue reading after the jump for Fake Teams' picks for Sophmore slumps and jumps.

The Slumps:

Starlin Castro - The .300 AVG in his rookie year will have owners hoping for more but there isn't a lot more to be had. He has little to no power and will need to dramatically improve his stolen base success if he hopes to ever become a fantasy mainstay. Even the .300 AVG is likely to come down.

Stephen Strasburg - Something tells me his 2011 isn't going to be as dominant as his 2010 but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Jaime Garcia - Garcia's xFIP of 3.73 suggests he is more of a mid to high 3 ERA pitcher not the 2.70 he put up last year. He will need to reduce the walks if he hopes to become a useful fantasy pitcher for years to come.

Mike Leake -Leake faded down the stretch and now he may be on the outside looking in on the Reds rotation. His 8-4 record and 4.23 ERA are more a testament to his luck than his skill. He is likely to start the year in the minors or the bullpen.

Austin Jackson - The .396 BABIP makes Jackson one of the surer bets in the game to see a drop in AVG. With fewer hits he is going to see fewer stolen base opportunities so he will have to run in more situations if he wants to maintain the SB totals. This could put his SB% at risk. His AVG should still be above .270 but hoping for 100+ runs is a fool's errand.

The Jumps:

Gaby Sanchez - Sanchez had a great rookie season and could build on it by adding more power. He hit 37 doubles last year and we can hope a few more of those well hit balls go over the fence. Even without a jump in power he is a good bet to repeat his 2010 performance based on his minor league numbers.

Alcides Escobar - Escobar was well hyped heading into the season and disappointed with a .235 AVG and only 10 SB. BABIP had something to do with the low AVG and the Brewers' lack of a running game limited his steals. Now in Kansas City he will have a chance to hit higher in the order and should get more chances to run. He has similar offensive skills to Starlin Castro with more speed.

Wade Davis - Davis had a great debut in 2009 then disappointed in his first full season. The strikeouts he flashed in the minors were nowhere to be seen. He turned things on in the second half and only got stronger as the season went on. He will go unnoticed in many drafts and could be a bargain come September.

Brian Matusz - Owners were worried he might not become what we thought he would but he was superb from August onward. Matusz looks poised to take another step forward and could be a good source of Ks, ERA and WHIP. The revitalized Orioles offense may even be able to provide him with 15 wins.

Justin Smoak - The Smoak Monster finally showed why we were so excited about him last September and he hopes to carry that success into the new season. He has elite patience at the plate for a player his age and growing power. Hitting in Seattle won't help his power numbers but he could approach 20 HR with a respectable AVG and plenty of walks. If only there were someone to drive him in all those times he will reach base.

Brett Wallace - A terrible debut and multiple trades have soured people to Wallace but he is still young and will be starting everyday for the Astros. He can hit for a good AVG and is capable of power in the mid teens. Think of a fatter Lyle Overbay. It's nothing special but considering no one is likely to be clamouring for him on draft day you should be able to get a good bat in the late rounds of NL Only leagues.

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