March 25, 2012; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) grounds out to score center fielder Joe Mather (not pictured) during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
I mentioned I have several money league draft coming up in the next few weeks, with one on Thursday, one on Friday, then two more on Good Friday and the Saturday after. I have already completed the Fake Teams Dynasty League draft, the Fake Teams H2H Points league draft, and Jason and I are almost done filling up our roster in the BBA Blogzkrieg slow auction mixed league draft.
Heading into these drafts, I had targeted certain players that I think are going to have excellent/breakout seasons in 2012. All fantasy owners should know by now who they think can outperform their draft ranking in 2012. Now, this doesn't mean the player will outperform their ranking, but you should have a list of guys you are targeting. Targeting a player does not mean you will get every player, but you hope to get at least two or three of your targeted players, even if that means you draft them a round early.
So here are the 10 players I am targeting in 2012, in no particular order:
1. Matt Wieters, BAL - I have written about him a few times here. I think Wieters will have a breakout year in 2012, and see him hitting in the .275 range with 27-28 HRs and 85 RBI. He should be the 3rd or 4th catcher taken in mixed league drafts.
2. Dee Gordon, LAD - surprised? I didn't think so. Some still have the belief that pitchers can knock the bat out of Gordon's hands as he is thin as a rail with zero power. But Gordon has an excellent contact rate, a solid work ethic and is one of the fastest runners in all of baseball. He was timed from home plate to first base in 3.79 seconds over the weekend. I see 50+ stolen bases from him this season, with potential for more.
More of the 10 players I am targeting in 2012 after the jump:
3. Jay Bruce, CIN - Bruce finally broke the 30 HR barrier in 2011, and I think he can approach the 40 HR barrier in 2012, with 35 HRs a slam dunk. He lost 15+ pounds in the offseason, so there is a chance he will run more this year as well. He has increased his stolen base total in each of the past two seasons from 3 in 2009, to 5 in 2010 to 8 in 2011. I would not be surprised to see him hit 35 HRs and steal 10-12 bases this season.
4. Alex Gordon, KC - while some fantasy writers are expecting some regression in Gordon's numbers from his 2011 breakout season, I expect him to duplicate those stats this season. i can see a 20 HR - 20 SBs performance from him with 100 runs scored and around 80 RBI.
5. Jaime Garcia, STL - ever since I read Bret Sayre's Holy Trinity piece on Jaime Garcia, I have grabbed him in most of my mock drafts and in the Fake Teams Dynasty League draft and the Fake Teams H2H Points league draft. I am even trying to trade for him in the UBA NL-Only keeper league, but the current owner wants an arm, leg and half a year's pay for him. I think Garcia can take a step forward in 2012, possibly winning a few more games with a low 3s ERA as well.
6. Andre Ethier, LAD -Ethier is in his walk year and I see him electing for free agency at the end of the year. It's quite possible new ownership will decide to sign him long term, but something tells me he could end up with either the Red Sox or Yankees in 2013 and beyond. I think he would be the perfect candidate for a DH role in a few years. He has had two disappointing years after his breakout 2009 season, and I think his real performance level is around .290-.300 BA, 23-25 HRs and 90 RBIs.
7. Trevor Bauer, ARI - Bauer is probably not on many fantasy owners radars, but he is eligible in some fantasy leagues, including two of the leagues I am participating in. Jason and I auctioned him for $1 in the BBA Blogzkrieg Experts league over the weekend. This is not a keeper league, so that does not come into play, but that might be a nice thing to discuss for next year's draft actually. He is also available in my second NL-only keeper league where we get to draft off of the 40 man rosters for each team. I think Bauer will be up with the Diamondbacks by mid-late May and will provide solid strikeout totals for fantasy owners.
8. Dan Haren, LAA - Jason and I auctioned Haren in the BBA Blogzkrieg mixed league auction for $15 and I think that is a steal. I think Haren is a solid candidate for AL Cy Young this year. His strikeout rate dropped by a strikeout per nine in 2011, but so did his walk rate, and his FIP was below 3.00 as well. Haren has won 14 or more games in 6 of the last 7 years, but has never won more than 16 in any one season. I think 2012 is the season where he can win 18-20 games.
9. Zack Greinke, MIL - I own Greinke in the UBA NL-only keeper league at $20, as well as the BBA Blogzkrieg Experts league at $28, and I will be targeting him in my NL-only redraft league on Thursday night. I actually am considering taking him after Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, and Cliff Lee are off the board, as he could easily lead the NL in strikeouts in 2012. He struck out 201 batters in just over 170 innings last season, and that includes Greinke missing the all of April.
10. Starlin Castro, CHC - Castro is such a great hitter and he is only 22 years of age. He already has a .300 season under his belt, and I can see him being a consistent .300 hitter in his career, and see his power increasing a bit in 2012. I can see a 15 HR, 70 RBI, 100 runs scored and 20-25 stolen bases from him this season.