The 2009 MLB season is about a month away, and fantasy baseball drafts have been running since mid-February, so it's safe to say baseball is back.
This new season ushers in a new cast of faces who will rise from obscurity to become prominent fantasy players for years to come.
The talent and depth of this year's class of players surpasses last year's by a wide margin.
With so many great sleeper picks, bargains and potential breakout players this year, it would be hard to name all of them and their skills in one column, so I am just going to focus on the top five underrated, sleeper pick, bargain or potential breakout players.
My potential breakout player pick goes to Alexi Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox. He is eligible at second base and shortstop, two very important positions.
His average draft position of 48.1 indicates people are hoping for a great return for a modest investment of a fourth round pick. Fantasy Forecast for 2009: .285 batting average, 85 runs, 90 RBI, 25 home runs and 21 stolen bases.
My bargain pick goes to Ryan Ludwick of the St. Louis Cardinals. His average draft position is near 100 right now, which means that the outfield position is pretty deep this year.
He had 113 RBIs and 37 home runs last year in 538 at bats and he's a value in rounds nine or 10. Fantasy Forecast for 2009: 118 RBI, 40 home runs, .296 batting average and 108 runs.
Hideki Matsui could qualify as a bargain pick, but I'm going to label him a sleeper in this case.
His average draft position is well above 100, and you can get him in rounds 12 through 15 for a low risk and a high reward kind of pick. Fantasy Forecast for 2009: 98 Runs, .289 batting average, 105 RBI and 30 Home Runs
Another bargain pick that I've been scoping out is Zack Greinke, a starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.
His average draft position is in the hundreds, but he's a real bargain considering his 3.47 ERA, 13 wins and 183 strikeouts. Fantasy Forecast for 2009: 16 wins, 3.30 ERA, and 203 strikeouts.
My second sleeper pick is Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants. In just 145 at bats last season, he compiled 24 runs, three home runs, 24 RBIs and a .345 batting average. He's eligible at catcher, first base, and third base, which makes him a valuable commodity. Fantasy Forecast for 2009: 65 RBI, 25 Home Runs, 60 Runs and a .315 batting average.
See you next week with a dose of fantasy basketball.