If you were in an AL only league, it is highly unlikely that you enjoyed a successful season without a few of these sleepers falling into your lap. Even in deep leagues, it is likely that most, if not all, of the list was either drafted very late or acquired as free agents. However they were acquired, they provided a much needed boost to owners who went on to win their leagues.
In a season that saw perennial Fantasy studs like Jorge Posada, Carlos Guillen, Hideki Matsui, Erik Bedard, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Chien Ming Wang all miss huge chunks of the season to injury, the skill of Roto players was tested throughout the season as free agent pickups became critical to each team. Missing from the list below were players like Texas Rangers’ CI/OF Chris Davis who were called up in midseason. Although their performance was terrific, it fell just short of our sleepers’ year long excellence.
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Catcher- Owners of Indians’ C Victor Martinez suffered through a miserable two months before his injuries became too much for him to deal with. Taking a little sting out of the high pick that was likely used to acquire the Tribe’s backstop, however, was Kelly Shoppach, whose performance as VMart’s replacement may have permanently moved Martinez to 1B. Shoppach belted 21 HR for Cleveland to lead all AL catchers and vaulted himself into the upper echelon at the position for 2009.
First Base-Even though he had produced a few 100 RBI seasons in Tampa Bay, it had been quite awhile since Aubrey Huff of the Orioles’ had drawn much fantasy draft day interest. That won’t be the case next spring as Huff was one of the AL’s most productive hitters. His .304 BA 32 HR 108 RBI were better than many that were picked in the first few rounds.
Second Base-Even though his post season performance brought him a lot of attention last season, there were not many who predicted the MVP caliber season turned in by Red Sox second sacker, Dustin Pedroia. His .326 BA was a mild surprise but his 17HR and 83 RBI vaulted him into the first three rounds of 2009.
Third Base-Melvin Mora of the Orioles managed to turn the clock back a few years in his most productive season since 2004. Melvin poked 23 HR and had 104 RBI despite going undrafted in many leagues.
Shortstop-In a weak crop, Royals SS Mike Aviles gave owners a mid season boost by posting a .324 BA, 10 HR and 51 RBI after being called up to the big club in June.
Outfield-Jack Cust had 33 HR and posted a .374 OBP in Oakland. In the Windy City, Carlos Quentin managed to win the AL HR crown despite missing the last month with a broken wrist. His 36 HR and 100 RBI were leading the MVP race when he went down. Milton Bradley rebounded from a knee injury and emotional meltdown in San Diego by making the AL All Star squad. Hitting behind Josh Hamilton in the Rangers’ powerful lineup, Bradley flourished.
Starting Pitcher- Cliff Lee came off of most free agent lists and onto the top of everyone’s Cy Young list. His 23-2 season was even more impressive considering the Indians’ season long struggles.
Reliever-With all of their sleepers, it’s no wonder the Orioles had their best season in a few years. RP George Sherrill rounds out the list. His 31 S in his first season as a closer boosted many owners into the top half of the standings.