Every season, Fantasy Baseball owners get super excited about the incoming crop of rookies – and the returning group of Fantasy Baseball sophomores are quietly placed in the toy bin with everything else. Fantasy writers, however, are usually more excited about sophomores (check auction prices in LABR and Tout Wars in any given year).
I thought it would be a fun exercise to look back at last year’s rookies and rank them on their Fantasy Baseball value entering 2013. They’ve had a full offseason knowing they have a job waiting for them, and they’ve heard all of the sophomore jinx talk.
It’ll be interesting to see who can handle it and who will drift away like the Chris Coghlans, Bobby Crosbys and Angel Berroas of the world.
Ranking the 2013 Fantasy Baseball Sophomores
I posted the Mixed Roto ADP from 12-team leagues at MockDraftCentral.com, although these players are ranked in order of my overall rankings for 2013. This is not ranking them on how they did last year – and it’s not ranking them on their future keeper value.
1. Mike Trout, OF, L.A. Angels
There’s no doubt that the player tabbed “The Next Mickey Mantle” is the best sophomore coming into 2013. Many sites have him ranked among the top three overall players, and more than a few people are drafting him No. 1 overall. I’m not in that camp, and I do have him just outside the top-five overall. But I do agree – he’s going to be a super soph! Mixed Roto ADP: 1.03
2. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington
Much is expected from the NL Rookie of the Year, even though he was overshadowed by his AL counterpart in Anaheim. The 2013 season could be the first 25/25 season of many to come – and he doesn’t turn 21 until October. Mixed Roto ADP: 2.03
3. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland
It was odd to see the A’s jump in and snatch the Cuban away from teams like the Cubs and Marlins. Then he hit a home run in three of his first four games, and everyone said, “Oh … He IS pretty good!” If you are leery of this Cuban sophomore, refresh your memory with his YouTube video from late 2011, “The Showcase.” (The 7:00-minute mark was the part that impressed me the most, strangely. He’s just not human.) Mixed Roto ADP: 4.10
4. Yu Darvish, SP, Texas
The other great international import from last season, Darvish struck out 221 batters in just over 191 innings. He finished seventh in the majors in strikeouts, even though he had the fewest innings pitched among the top 13 leaders in strikeouts. He also had a 0.88 WHIP over his final eight starts of 2012. Depending on Stephen Strasburg’s innings, Darvish could lead the majors in Ks. Mixed Roto ADP: 5.07
5. Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay
As a Rays fan and a Fantasy Baseball veteran, I knew that Moore couldn’t possibly live up to the expectations of what everyone placed on him after a few stellar appearances in 2011. But entering this season, he moves up in the rotation (with James Shields going to Kansas City), and the Rays need him to develop even quicker and get better command. He should reach 200 innings and 200 strikeouts this season – with a shot at 15 wins because of an improved offense and a very good bullpen. Mixed Roto ADP: 11.04
6. Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado
One of the best surprises among the 2012 rookies, Rosario overtook much-heralded Jesus Montero as the top rookie backstop. He led all catchers with 28 home runs and he should continue to be a big source of power from a relatively thin Fantasy position. There were only nine catchers that hit over 20 homers – and Montero had just 15 homers, despite getting nearly 120 more at-bats. Mixed Roto ADP: 4.06
7. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston
When Kevin Youkilis got hurt last season, the Red Sox had to call up Middlebrooks a little sooner than they wanted. Granted, he was still a 24-year-old rookie, so it wasn’t like they were putting the hot corner in the hands of a high schooler, but he still only had 112 at-bats above Class A ball. Mixed Roto ADP: 12.04
8. Norichika Aoki, OF, Milwaukee
A much-less heralded international import, Aoki turned in a solid season in Milwaukee, finishing with 30 stolen bases. He’s just one of 23 players to do so. While he’s not ever expected to do much in the power categories, he’s a speedy scorer and he hits for average. Mixed Roto ADP: 12.01
9. Jesus Montero, C, Seattle
In retrospect, a 15-home run season with a .260 batting average in Seattle is a very good rookie season for a catcher. But more was expected from him in batting average after coming over from the Yankees in the trade for Michael Pineda. Only six other rookies had more homers, and Fantasy owners have to realize that rookie seasons like Posey’s are VERY unusual, and catchers take a little longer to develop because they have to learn pitching and defense, and their bat is usually third in that order of importance. Mixed Roto ADP: 9.02
10. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
The 24-year-old was once a big hitting prospect with the Padres before they traded away Mat Latos to get 1B Yonder Alonso from Cincinnati. They didn’t believe in Rizzo after a subpar call-up in 2011. He hit just .141 in 49 games and seemed lost at the plate (one homer, 46 strikeouts). The trade to the Cubs was a gift for the youngster, and he learned patience sitting behind journeyman minor leaguer Bryan Lahair for half a season. He hit well (.285, 15, 48 RBI in 87 games), and Lahair is now playing in Japan. Unfortunately, he plays at the deepest position in Fantasy Baseball. Let others take the risk on Rizzo’s sophomore season. Mixed Roto ADP: 5.02
Are there some 2013 Fantasy Baseball sophomores you think should have landed in the Top 10? Some almost-rookie pitchers!?!
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.