Now every, by a show of hands, let's see how many people knew about the Kansas City Royals, Gregor Blanco before the start of the season?
Kind of a trick question, at the start of the season he was an Atlanta Brave, but you get a C for effort, I'm not an easy marker. I'm even more strict when it comes to proclaiming early sleepers for next season, but I'll go out on a limb and proclaim Gregor Blanco as a 2011 sleeper candidate.
1- Full time player. In Atlanta he was a part time OF/Pinch Runner. Limited AB aren't conducive to fantasy production. The move that saw the Braves acquire Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth in exchange for Blanco and minor leagues, saw Blanco thrust into the spot light....well as much spot light as there can be in Kansas, and he's responded.
2- Magical Age 27- Yeah it could still be a myth but there are more then enough seasons in fantasy history to show that it may not be just a fluke.
3- Very few people will pay attention- The fact that he's owned in 2.8% of ESPN leagues , 7% in CBS, 1% on Yahoo! That means he likely won't be highly valued come draft day. The perfect kind of guy to target with your final pick.
So just why do I like him so much?
Here are his stats over the last 30 days, compared with a much higher regarded outfielder.
Blanco- 11 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 SB, .255 AVG, .336 OBP, .330 SLG, .666 OPS
Player B- 15 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 9 SB, .250 AVG, .370 OBP, .321 SLG, .691 OPS
I'll give you a hint. He plays for an AL team, he's also a center fielder, and his team is in first place. Give up?
It's 100% owned Brett Gardner.
Yeah that's right, Blanco has posted nearly identical numbers as Gardner has over the last month!
Now granted Gardner has a higher OBP, which is always important and is nearly guaranteed to score more runs in the Yankees lineup, but it does demonstrate two things- managers tend to be blinded when it comes to players, after all stats are stats, and two value can come from anywhere so don't be afraid to add a player that will make others ask, "WTF?", when they see it on the transaction list.
Just smile sheepishly as your waiver wire gem swipes as many bags as their mid-round stolen base fiend does.
The biggest knock/knocks against him are his lack of power and good but not great speed. He also has an inability to hit lefties, as do most left handed hitters do, and he performs much better at home, check out the splits. .216 AVG, 501 OPS vs Lefties, .297 AVG, .786 OPS vs Righties. .314 AVG, .786 OPS at home, and .232 AVG, .594 OPS on the road.
Come March/April drafts make sure to remember Blanco when you're looking at the later rounds, you could very well end up player that posts 70 R, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 25 SB, .275 AVG in 500 AB, that's not bad for a 23rd round pick, after all what did your 23rd round pick this year produce?