There are a couple of fantasy baseball deep sleepers each year that can make the difference for your team. The following 2012 profile of Desmond Jennings will analyze the chances that he might be one of the next big sleepers. He was selected based on my simple selection process which is detailed in this introductory post.
ADP as of this posting: 53.96 (Round 5 in 12-team league)
Projected 2012 Role: Starting OF
2011 Production: .259 AVG, 10 HR, 44 R, 25 RBI, 20 SB in 287 PA
My 2012 Prediction: .280 AVG, 15 HR, 100 R, 50 RBI, 50 SB
Despite only playing in half a season, Desmond Jennings is hardly a sleeper as he’s projected to go in the 5th round of your drafts. Due to that fact, this particular post will be slightly different than the usual sleeper posts and will be more about whether he’s going to give you even more value than a 5th round pick or not. I already touched upon my initial thoughts with Jennings in a post last week where I said something that went a little like this:
Former top prospect Desmond Jennings came into the league by stealing 20 bases while hitting 10 HR’s in half a season last year. Now he’s slotted to be about a 5th round pick it seems. One thing is for certain: the Rays like to steal bases as they’re almost always among the leaders in SB attempts. While the stolen bases seem to be a sure thing, the power is a bit more of question mark and the answer to that question will determine if he’s more of a Carl Crawford or Juan Pierre. In 2010, he hit only 3 HR over nearly 500 PA but then he jacked 22 HR’s in 2011 between AAA and the majors. Looking at his full career and his PA/HR, we see that both years seem to be out of the ordinary. His power numbers might regress slightly based on that past history. I’d bank on him hitting closer to 15 HR over a full season as opposed to 25 but that’s still pretty awesome to go with 40 to 60 SB.
Jennings has two roto categories in which he is far above average: SB’s and Runs. In each of the other categories, he can give you league-average production and that’s what separates him from guys like Brett Gardner and Coco Crisp who will hurt you in pretty much all other categories.
It should be noted that Joe Maddon loves to steal bases. Since taking over in 2006, the Rays have the most SB attempts by a large margin in the league. You may attribute some of that to Carl Crawford but they actually led the league in attempts last year even without him. Unless he is able to raise his batting average a bit more or his home run totals, Jennings will likely never be a 1st round fantasy pick. But he certainly has the potential to deliver 2nd or 3rd round value without the high price tag.
Sleeper Verdict: Sleeperific. You can draft for power and average in the first four rounds then get a well-rounded speedster like Jennings a bit later.