Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2013: Best Reclamation Projects Available

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2013

March 27, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts (1) attempted to bunt in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In every fantasy draft, there are players written off as "done" or "washed up" who then proceed to have excellent seasons. As a result, all fantasy owners are left to eat some crow and admit they were wrong.

This year is no exception. Players who had bad 2012 campaigns or just underachieved, be it due to injury or bad luck, have been put on the fantasy shelf and not even given a second look, but I'm here to prevent you from making that mistake.

From veterans looking to go out with a bang to formerly perennial All-Stars, these players are in a position to make a key impact for their teams this season. If they are available toward the final rounds of your draft, definitely be sure to give them a look.


Travis Hafner, DH/1B, New York Yankees

There was a time when Hafner was one of the most dominant hitters in all of baseball. He spent 10 seasons playing for the Cleveland Indians and, in 2006, hit .308 with 42 homers, 117 RBI and a phenomenal on-base percentage of .439.

Today tells a much different story. Hafner is set to turn 36 in June, and while he still has some pop in his bat, he has not appeared in more than 120 games since 2007.

However, the man is not to be written off this year. He is on a team that only needs him to be a power hitter and isn't counting on him do absolutely everything. More importantly, the fact that the Yankees' offensive approach is about taking lots of pitches should take some stress off of his body and allow him to relax more at the plate.

If you're looking for some pop off the bench or play in a competitive league where OBP counts, like I do, then Hafner could be the man for you.


Brian Roberts, 2B, Baltimore Orioles

Thanks to various injuries, Roberts has only appeared in 112 games over the last three seasons. At one point in his career, the switch-hitter was regarded as one of the league's best second basemen.

From 2003 to 2009, Roberts hit .288 with 1,176 hits and 235 steals before injuries took over.

He appears to be healthy this year, having hit .309 with a homer, five RBI and three steals in spring training. The man is no longer a spring chicken at age 35, but should still be a reliable contact hitter at the foot of Baltimore's lineup.

If you want to boost your team's batting average and maybe rack up some steals, look no further than Roberts.


Carl Crawford, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Prior to signing with the Boston Red Sox in 2011, Crawford was the star outfielder in Tampa Bay. He hit for average, had some power and possessed incredible speed.

Two things happened once he was in Boston: injuries took over, and his managers tried to make him into more of a pull hitter as opposed to a pure contact hitter and speedster. This is understandable, given the short porch in right field at Fenway Park, but it proved disastrous for Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142 million deal with Boston.

He ended up hitting just .260 with 14 homers, 75 RBI and 23 steals in 161 games over two years with the Red Sox, and underwent Tommy John surgery last summer before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a now-infamous blockbuster trade. His comeback has gone smoothly thus far, as he hit .348 in spring training this year.

Just how Crawford performs upon his return remains to be seen. The surgery he had is no joke, but he is still a great hitter when in the right situation. Since the Dodgers only need him to hit well and get on base as opposed to smack balls out of the park, he should be fine so long as he stays healthy.

In fantasy terms, this means great numbers in batting average, OBP and steals if he's available in the late rounds.