It is that time of the year again. Spring Training is in full swing and Strat's opening day (although being delayed this year) has come and gone. Now it is time to dig into the cards and start figuring out how to put together a winning team. So what makes up a sleeper in strat? It's very similar to Roto or Fantasy. You really are trying to get the best group of players on your roster for the lowest price. Now in Strat (unlike Roto or Fantasy) we know exactly what we are getting when buying (since the cards are built cased on last years stats). What I have found is that a players value may have as much to do with their reputation as it does their cards. So the idea for this article is to try and identify players with good cards whose owners may not realize exactly what they have on their hands.
There are four absolute studs this year that will lead many teams to championships (Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Chris Carpenter and Felix Hernandez). If you have one (or two) of them then bully for you. But for the rest of us here are some names that will come close to replicated their stats at a more reasonable price.
Javier Vazquez: He gives it up a bit vs. Lefties (25TB/2.6 HR/4 BP) but is a monster vs. righties (12.1 OB/14.6 TB/.2 HR/0 BP). He is older so go after him if he is on a rebuilding team.
Ubaldo Jimenez: There are still some folks who don't really feel comfortable owning a Colorado pitcher. But in humidors we trust! Ubaldo has a fantastic strat card. A little high on the walks vs. Lefties (30.3 OB/20.1 TB/0 HR/0 BP) but rock solid vs. righties (14.8 OB/12.4 TB/1.2 HR/1 BP).
Gavin Floyd: A very solid strat card and some people may not trust that he can keep it up. He gives up a few HR's vs. Lefties but his TB is low enough to prevent too many big innings (24.6 OB/19.9 TB/2.4 HR/ 3 BP) and against righties he is solid and does not give up the long ball from this side (23.5 OB/27.1 TB/1 HR/ 0 BP).
Barry Zito: I know, I know, so many people have been burnt before by the soft-tossing lefty. But that just means his price may be much more reasonable than you envision. Despite the normal caveats that come with owning a lefty SP in Strat, Barry has a decent card (17 OB/24 TB/1.2 HR/2 BP) vs. L and (26 OB/23 TB/1.6 HR/ 3 BP) vs. R. I would feel very comfortable with him in the middle of a rotation in a 20-team mixed league.
Darren O'Day: Every year there are great RP cards available in almost all Strat drafts. You shouldn't go overboard with these if you are rebuilding since they are so unreliable from year to year. O'Day's card is fantastic vs. L (13.9 OB/13.9 TB/0 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (17.3 OB/4.9 TB/0 HR/0 BP).
Brian Sanches: Another card with very little HR's on it either way. Both O'Day and Sanches are ideal for a park with a lot of BP HR's. Sanches vs. L (14.8 OB/16.1 TB/.6 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (16.1 OB/15.3 TB/.6 HR/1 BP).
Alberto Arias: Some people will not like the walks, but I love cards like this as I usually play in HR friendley parks. His card vs. L (32 OB/34 TB/0 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (25 OB/22.4 TB/0 HR/0 BP).
Evan Meek: This card will likely be real easy to pickup in the draft. High OB, but low HR's is my type of card. Meek vs. L (30.8 OB/35.6 TB/0 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (28.8 OB/3.2 TB/.8 HR/0 BP).
Derek Jeter: The name brand with Jeter is as high as ever. But let's face it, he isn't getting any younger. So if you see him on a roster of a non-contender see if you can pry him away from his current team. He absolutely crushes lefties (61 OB/56 TB/2.1 HR/2 BP) and has a great OB vs. righties (47.5 OB/39 TB/1.4 HR/1 BP).
Todd Helton: The luster was off his star the last couple of seasons and I think this might be a swansong as opposed to the start of a resurgence but this card is solid. And the price should be low. You might think of platooning him with someone who crushes lefties, but his card vs. R is great (52.1 OB/45.5 TB/2.3 HR/4 BP).
Michael Young: The shift from the middle infield to 3B over the years might have left his current owners with no place to play him. If you can grab him in a deal he should serve you very well at 3B. He card vs. L is nothing special, another canidate for a platoon. But his card vs. R is well above average (42.8 OB/54.2 TB/3.2 HR/5 BP).
Garrett Jones: Ok, ok, he won't be cheap. Maybe you can get lucky as he did come out of nowhere to post a monster card. The AB's are low, but look at these numbers vs. R: (45.4 OB/57.3 TB/6.4 HR/8 BP). He can still mash vs. L but his 15.7 OB vs. southpaws will leave you wanting to maximize his 314 AB's vs. righties.
Michael Cuddyer: Boing! This guy has bounced on and off Strat rosters the last several years, but last year his numbers vs. lefties has me longing to get him on my team (36 OB/71.9 TB/11.6 HR/8 BP). Yes, 71.9 TB vs. Lefties!!! His numbers vs. righties are servicable as well. So bat him 3rd vs. L and down in the 6-7 spot vs. R and he will put up some numbers for you.