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Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ANTHONY RIZZO 1B CHICAGO CUBS

                                                           Anthony Rizzo

It is very tough to qualify as a fantasy baseball draft sleepers two years running but that is the case for Chicago Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo.  I actuality Rizzo is what I like to call a POST-HYPE SLEEPER heading into 2014 due to the fact the slugger still retains very good potential value but who overall let down those who took a shot with him last season.  However in my view the skills are all still there waiting to be unleashed and the draft price will be that much cheaper this time around.  So without further delay let's take a deeper look at Rizzo in order to figure out where this could be headed.

Before we go on any further let's take a look at the numbers Rizzo put up last season in his first full campaign with the Cubs after coming over the season prior in a trade from the San Diego Padres. 

.233 23 HR 80 RBI 71 R 6 SB

In looking at the numbers listed above, the first thing that stands out to me is the power which Rizzo has with some more on the way.  While coming up in the San Diego system, Rizzo put up some ridiculous home runs and RBI totals while also batting well over .300.  At 6-3 and 220 pounds, Rizzo has the classic slugger's frame and at only 25-years-old this season, is still a few years away from his power peak.  We all know Wrigley Field is a solid home run ballpark and when you combine everything together, Rizzo stands a very solid chance of approaching 30 home runs this season.  With power becoming increasingly rare, Rizzo becomes that much more valuable if he can go near that mark.  The RBI of course will come along for the ride and a push to 90 is the easy call.

Now let's get to the batting average.  The .233 was pretty ugly no doubt and a lot of the blame can be aimed at the 127 strikeouts Rizzo had in his 606 at-bats.  That is not an awful Ryan Howard-like number by any means however and with another year of experience under his belt, Rizzo should easily push upwards there this season.  Also Rizzo took 76 walks which not a horrible mark either.  You want you 1B to walk over 100 times but Rizzo is not that far from there which also will help his batting average.  Finally, Rizzo was a victim of some pretty poor luck in the BABIP department and that right there is the biggest indicator that the batting average will take a nice upward swing.  We are talking about .280 territory when you combine the three areas I just discussed.  You know like the .285 Rizzo batted in 2012. 

As far as the rest of the stats are concerned, since Rizzo is not a pure hacker per se, he could score 80 runs and he also has a bit of speed which could lead to a repeat of the 6 steals he had last season.  Just don't go crazy expecting anything more than those numbers.

So once again we are looking at a situation where Anthony Rizzo is a decent-sized sleeper investment this season in fantasy baseball and the power alone makes him very intriguing.  The price will be that much cheaper this time around as it is for all post-hype sleepers and those who purchased the draft guide know I di a whole feature on the importance of investing in players like this.  Post-hyper sleepers yield some of the best values in the entire game each season and this guy absolutely qualifies under such a heading.

2014 PROJECTION:  .273 28 HR 91 RBI 82 R 5 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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