It has been a long awaited 4 months, and baseball is finally here!! Now that baseball is back, it means that fantasy baseball has arrived! It is time to start drafting teams, but before you start drafting, you need a plan of attack. You need to know whom you will get the best value for, and whom you just need to avoid altogether. My advice, look for sleeper picks that no one will expect to have a breakout year. My top sleeper pick for this year is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1st baseman, Pedro Alvarez.
Pedro Alvarez is a former 1st round pick of the Pirates out of the Vanderbilt. Pedro Alvarez debuted for the Pirates in 2010 and he played in 95 games and had 16 homeruns, 64 RBI’s, and the highest batting average in his young career at .256. Pedro was injured in 2011 and only played in 74 games that year.
Pedro Alvarez bounced back in 2012 hitting 30 homeruns and tacked on 85 RBI’s. He looked absolutely fantastic and toped that performance in 2013. Alvarez hit a National League leading 36 homeruns and had 100 RBI’s in the Pirates historic season. Alvarez helped lead the Pirates to their first playoff berth in over 20 years. Alvarez’s success was in huge part to his mental strength in 2013, but in 2014, that mental strength faltered.
Pedro Alvarez led the National League in errors by a 3rd baseman in 2014, and this mental lapse led to a slump at the plate. Alvarez hit 18 homeruns and only had 56 RBI’s. Super utility man Josh Harrison replaced Alvarez at 3rd base. Harrison came on strong and led the Pirates to many victories and a playoff berth once again, alongside All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Manager Clint Hurdle needed to find a way to get Pedro Alvarez the confidence that he once had, so Hurdle decided to make Alvarez shift from 3rd to 1st. This effort came on toward the end of the 2014 season, but Alvarez adapted quickly. His batting average rose and his production increased, but not near where his 2012 and 2013 production was.
All spring long Alvarez has been working at 1st base, and he has looked extremely comfortable playing on the opposite corner of the diamond. He has been taking grounder after grounder and throw after throw, and he looks to be making significant progress. Baseball is as much or more a mental game than it is actual skill and performance. If your mind isn’t in the right place, you will not perform to the best of your ability. Last year, Alvarez was not in his correct mental place he needed to be, but now he is finding his groove.
Alvarez is going to be a key contributor to the Pirates’ success in 2015, and I truly believe that he will regain that 2012 and 2013 form in 2015. Alvarez is not very high on a lot of people’s draft boards, so you will be able to get him in a later round. In an auction draft style, he shouldn’t go for more than $6 or $7 because people do not want to take a risk on him, but greater risk equals greater reward, right? Exactly! However, I do not see Alvarez as a huge risk because he has produced in the past, but just slumped last season. I look for Alvarez to bounce back and have a career year this year, so I would draft him when you can because you do not want to miss out on the fantasy production he will bring!
Photo: Pittsburgh Post Gazette