My Pre-Season Top 10 Endgame Sleepers, Revisited

Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

In reviewing my Top Ten Endgame Sleepers post from March, I take a look at the calls worked and the ones that didn't. I'll let you guess which category Chris Sale ended up in.

It's that time of year for reflection. To look back at where we went right and where we went wrong so that we can learn from it and do better next year. Last year I told myself to take some more chances with the back-end of my pitching staffs and to not worry so much about positional scarcity when selecting my studs. Everyone can learn lessons from the mistakes they made the previous season.

With that in mind, I'm taking a look at one of the last pieces I wrote prior to the start of the season to see how I did. On March 30th, I wrote a post taking a look at my 10 favorite endgame sleepers for drafts. You can read the full post here. Now, the qualifier here was that these were all players outside the Top 250 in Average Draft Position -- meaning that they were available in the later rounds of most 10 and 12 team drafts (some were available much later). Looking back at this piece, I'm very proud of a number of my calls. Here are all ten guys, with how the calls went (in order of pre-season ADP):

1) Francisco Liriano, SP, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 260)

What I said: "Regardless of when you've owned the guy, you're not going to find a pitcher in this group with higher upside than Liriano has."

Results: 6 wins, 5.24 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 163 K in 153 IP
Rank: #163 SP, #562 overall

I actually ended up drafting Liriano in exactly zero leagues, as people got a little too excited about him again this March -- but he was certainly worth the risk as a 20-something round pick. It just didn't work out (well, everything but the K's).

The remaining nine are coming after the jump (I promise, they get a lot better)...

2) Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox (ADP: 273)

What I said: "[Sale] is my personal favorite of the 2012 class of reliever-to-starter conversions. It's also very difficult to find pitchers this late in the draft who have a legitimate shot at putting up more than a strikeout per inning. There are workload concerns here, but I think they're well priced in at this point."

Results: 17 wins, 2.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 185 K in 188 2/3 IP
Rank: #8 SP, #22 overall

I'd call this one a win. I was all over Sale this March, grabbing him wherever I could -- and although he hasn't carried over his great ground ball rate (45% in 2012 vs 50% prior to this year), it hasn't much mattered. He's held up and it's been a beautiful thing to watch.

3) Kelly Johnson, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP: 286)

What I said: "It's true his .222 average was a disappointment last year, but he did hit 21 HR and stole 16 bases. The biggest difference between last year and this year though is that he'll be hitting in front of Jose Bautista."

Results: .224 with 15 HR, 53 RBI, 58 R and 13 SB in 494 AB
Rank: #24 2B, #294 overall

Since he is sitting within 10 spots of his ADP in overall value, we'll call this one a wash -- but he certainly underperformed my expectations. What didn't help was that he only had 95 AB hitting in the 2-hole in front of Jose Bautista (where he did have a .776 OPS - highest of any of his lineup positions). What also didn't help was that he had a career high K rate (27.4%).

4) Yonder Alonso, OF, San Diego Padres (ADP: 302)

What I said: "[Alonso] can potentially hit for high average with average power (15-18 HR), and there's no reason he can't do that this season in San Diego. In a year where the position thins out pretty quickly, he's a very attractive option as the 83th OF off the board."

Results: .275 with 9 HR, 60 RBI, 59 R, 3 SB in 516 AB
Rank: #81 OF, #275 overall

Clearly he was undervalued as the 83rd OF off the board, since he's ranked 81st. I was a little bullish on his power during his rookie campaign, but I still think it will come. In fact, it's starting to come already. In the second half, he's hitting .291/.360/.439 with 6 HR in 223 AB (versus .263/.344/.362 with 3 HR in the first half). I'll be back on this bandwagon this spring.

5) Addison Reed, RP, Chicago White Sox (ADP: 311)

What I said: "Second, I think Reed laps them both [Sean Marshall and Greg Holland] in K's and notches at least 15 saves. His ADP has fallen since Thornton was "named" the closer, but it's only made him a better value."

Results: 3 wins, 28 saves, 4.73 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 53 K in 53 1/3 IP
Rank: #46 RP, #255 overall

The strange part with Reed is that he's been worth the draft pick, but not for the reason I thought. It turns out, the opportunity for him was there, but the performance has been disappointing. Though don't let this dissuade you from getting back on board in 2013 -- these unimpressive overall stats may keep his draft day value down, but Reed still has the 100 K potential he showed in 2011.

6) Matt Harrison, SP, Texas Rangers (ADP: 315)

What I said: "Another guy who should be getting more love than he does, Harrison sits alone as the unsexy guy in the Rangers rotation. Harrison's got the pure stuff to raise his K rate from last year's 6.1 per 9, and he can support another season of an ERA under 4.00."

Results: 17 wins, 3.17 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 126 K in 201 1/3 IP
Rank: #29 SP, #111 overall

If you want to read more about what I think of Matt Harrison, his skill set and his future value, check out this post I wrote at my personal site, The Dynasty Guru. Hint: I still like him.

7) Ryan Doumit, C, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 339)

What I said: "There are many important adages in fantasy baseball, and one of them is 'when you can take a catcher who won't be playing the position, you have to do it.' He'll be getting most of his at bats at DH, and some at 1B while Morneau gets his sea legs back -- and a .275 average, 15 HR, 75 RBI season is a real possibility."

Results: .274 with 17 HR, 70 RBI, 55 R, 0 SB
Rank: #11 C, #241 overall

I nailed this one, down to the raw stats. Doumit stayed healthy and ended up being a great option in 2-catcher and deeper 1-catcher leagues. Not only that, but he played enough at the position to maintain his catcher eligibility going into 2013. Love it.

8) Alcides Escobar, SS, Kansas City Royals (ADP: 367)

What I said: "Escobar should be able to steal 25-30 bases and could surprise in batting average, potentially hitting .280 or higher. He was a career .293 hitter in the minors and he’s gotten pretty unlucky the past two years. There’s room for some serious upward mobility here and he’s being drafted in the nether regions of the position."

Results: .293 with 4 HR, 50 RBI, 67 R and 31 SB in 580 AB
Rank: #8 SS, #78 overall

Again, nailed it. Escobar has been great -- even hitting himself up into the #2 spot in the Royals lineup. This is not a fluke, it's sustainable. The expectations should be .280 with 30 steals again next year.

9) Jeff Niemann, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP: 383)

What I said: "After a slight tweak to his setup, between July and September Niemann had a 7.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 50.0% GB rate. It was also just announced this week that he will be the Rays fifth starter over Wade Davis. Plus underlying stats along with plus defense behind him on a winning team? Sign me up."

Results: 2 wins, 3.08 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 34 K in 38 IP
Rank: #139 SP, #481 overall

Oh, what could have been. Niemann was just as great as advertised for as long as he was healthy -- unfortunately it was only for 38 innings. The skills are there (and sometimes it just takes a little longer in taller starters) and I'll be back on his bandwagon again next year as long as he's healthy in the spring. The broken leg which kept him out for three months was a fluky injury.

10) Trevor Bauer, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (ADP: 395)

What I said: "Yes, seriously. I believe he'll be up by Memorial Day and he's got a real chance to be a top-30 pitcher once he does make it to the majors. I know in some leagues it's tough to stash a guy who won't play at all for a month or two, but Bauer is one of the guys it's worth it for. Even more so than Bryce Harper."

Results: 1 win, 6.06 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 17 K in 16 1/3 IP
Rank: #245 SP, #853 overall

Oops. I am still a huge believer in Bauer's long-term potential, but thought he would be more ready to take that step this year. This list would have looked much better with either Harper or Trout in this spot, but the logic was that more often than not, it's easier for rookie pitchers to have immediate success than hitters. If people are jumping off the Bauer Train, he could end up being a nice value in 2013.

Follow me on Twitter at @dynastyguru.
Check out more of my stuff at The Dynasty Guru.

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