March 31, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) celebrates with center fielder Nyjer Morgan (6, right) after an opening day baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. The Indians defeated the Athletics 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball: 10 Sleepers from Opening Day Lineups

Mar 31, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Emilio Bonifacio (64) reacts while in a run-down against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth inning of an opening day baseball game at PNC Park. The Pirates won 1-0 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can lead to fantasy paydirt.

As teams get going this season, where players hit in the lineup is key to determining their fantasy value.  Obviously lineups can change as the season goes on, but there were some interesting lineups turned in on Opening Day that point to a value increase for some widely available players (Current ownership in ESPN leagues included in parentheses).

Here are 10 sleepers who could emerge as options if they can be productive in their current roles:

Emilio Bonifacio-OF/2B-Chicago Cubs (4.2%)

Bonifacio landed with the Cubs late in the offseason and started the season with a flourish going 4-5 with a stolen base from the leadoff spot for Chicago.  The Cubs offense isn’t great, but if Bonifacio hits leadoff and steals bases he’ll definitely be a contributor at a shallow 2B position. He still carries eligibility at a number of positions and could bounce around a bit, so make him an early pickup if you are looking for early season speed and runs and can sacrifice a bit in average (lifetime .264 hitter).

Abraham Almonte-OF-Seattle Mariners (0.4%)

Mar 31, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Abraham Almonte (36) doubles in the seventh inning driving in catcher Mike Zunino (3) in an opening day baseball game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Another leadoff man worth knowing is M’s center fielder Abraham Almonte who hit atop a overhauled Seattle lineup on Opening Day and when 2-5 with a double and an RBI.  He did get thrown out trying to steal, but that could be a good sign that he has the green light going forward.  If he can keep the leadoff job, Almonte will be a player to know as he emerges as a solid prospect from the Yankees and Mariners’ systems.

Daniel Nava-OF-Boston Red Sox (3.4%)

Nava didn’t have a great Opening Day going 0-5 but he hit leadoff for the Red Sox, and with Shane Victorino on the shelf he should get a long look at the leadoff spot over the next couple weeks.  He’s an OBP fiend, but not really a stolen base threat.  He does normally excel against righties making him worth a flier if you need an outfield bat or a matchup play.

Kolton Wong-2B-St. Louis Cardinals (15.4%)

If it’s speed your after, Wong is a great place to look.  He was drafted in some leagues in the closing rounds as a cheap stolen base option, but he could quickly become more than that after hitting second in the Cards’ Opening Day lineup. He went 1-3 with a walk and a strikeout yesterday, but he’ll steal bases and score runs in bunch if he hits in front of the meat of the lineup.

Mar 31, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee (9) connects for an RBI double in the eighth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Casey McGehee-1B-Miami Marlins (0.5%)

After a year in Japan, McGehee returned to the Major Leagues hitting cleanup for his new team right behind Giancarlo Stanton.  For at least a day, the 31-year old vet provided Stanton with good protection going 2-4 with two doubles and four RBI.  If he keeps hitting cleanup, he’ll continue to get chances to drive runs in and could be a sneaky cheap pickup.

Chris Owings-SS-Arizona Diamondbacks (1.2%)

Owings won the D-Backs starting job out of camp relegating Didi Gregorious to the Minor Leagues for now and eventually probably to the trading block.  In his three games so far this season, he’s 4-9 with a walk and a run scored, but the thing worth noting is that he’s won the job and is in the Snakes’ lineup on a daily basis.

Juan Lagares-OF-New York Mets (0.9%)

Lagares hit second in the Mets order and came through with a home run while going 2-4 with three runs scored and a walk. Lagares will continue to start because of his exceptional defense and the lack of depth in the Mets’ outfield, but he’ll be worth knowing as a fantasy option if he continues to hit in front of David Wright and Curtis Granderson.

Nyjer Morgan-Cleveland Indians (0.2%)

With Michael Bourn on the DL, Morgan got the start in CF and the leadoff position for the Tribe late last night in Oakland.  He went 0-2 with a walk and an RBI driving in the winning run in the top of the ninth.  Morgan should get the chance to steal a few bases and earn a long-term spot in the next few weeks as Bourn recovers from a hamstring strain.  Morgan is a short-term fill-in or daily league bargain, but his position with the club long-term is a big tenuous.

Kurt Suzuki-C-Minnesota Twins (0.4%)

Not just because he went 2-4 with three RBI, Suzuki is a good option if he continues to hit second and start everyday behind the plate now that the Twins have moved Joe Mauer to 1B on a full time basis. Suzuki is a contact hitter, but he could be a bargain option worth considering as you fill out your daily league roster or need a fill-in behind the plate.

Alex Gonzalez-SS-Detroit Tigers (0.3%)

Gonzalez went 2-4 with a triple and two RBI including the the game-winner in his Tiger debut.  From not having a job to being the everyday SS in a good lineup, Gonzalez definitely deserves an upgrade although he won’t maintain this level of production.


Tags: Boston Red Sox Casey McGehee Chicago Cubs Daniel Nava Emilio Bonifacio Fantasy Baseball Fantasy Baseball Sleepers Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wires Juan Lagares Nyjer Morgan Seattle Mariners St. Louis Cardinals