Baseball players use spring training to work on a new swing, stretch out their arms and soak up sunshine. On the surface, preseason stats mean nothing.
But buried deeper, we can find nuggets worth sinking our teeth into.
With an average draft position around 127, Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton is more mid-round value than true sleeper. But those with an eye on spring will take him far closer to the fifth round than the 10th. The 23-year-old Hamilton already has six walks and 10 hits in 33 plate appearances, squashing the concerns he won’t be able to get on base enough to use his speed. He’s tied with Dee Gordon for the most steals in spring training with nine.
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Last year, Jimmy Rollins hit .252 with six homers, 39 RBIs and 22 steals. Yet some are absolutely convinced he still has something left in the tank. The Phillies aren’t among those people, especially given recent rumors they want to trade him as soon as possible. Rollins is hitting .091 with one homer and one steal through 27 spring plate appearances. There’s a lot more name than game in the 35-year-old Rollins. Avoid him at all costs.
Just like in the NFL, position battles are crucial elements of the exhibition season. Exhibit A is in Seattle, where Brad Miller is putting a hurting on Nick Franklin for the starting shortstop gig. Miller, a 2011 second-round pick, is hitting .412 with four homers though 34 plate appearances. The beating has gotten so bad that Franklin is reportedly now on the trade block. With speed and power to burn at a scarce position, Miller is an ideal sleeper candidate.
NBA pickups ...
1. Jarrett Jack, PG, Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving (biceps) could be done for the season, leaving Jack’s usage sky-high.
2. Dion Waiters, SG, Cavaliers – The gifted scorer off the bench is now the starting shooting guard.
3. Harrison Barnes, SF, Warriors – Andre Iguodala’s knee woes mean the highly athletic Barnes is a starter.
With the fantasy playoffs here, give a bump to these guys:
1. Robin Lopez, C, Blazers – LaMarcus Aldridge is banged up and Portland plays a league-high five games next week.
2. Greg Monroe, PF/C, Pistons – Andre Drummond’s scary neck injury allows Monroe to play his natural center spot.
3. Kendall Marshall, PG, Lakers – Now that Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar are done, Marshall is back to 35-plus minutes nightly.
Follow Metro fantasy writer Adam Levitan on Twitter @adamlevitan.