Today I continue my tour across baseball, where I have been highlighting my fantasy baseball “sleeper” picks in both hitting and pitching. After a stop in Baltimore on Thursday, I journey to New England, focusing my attention on Boston Red Sox‘ SP Jon Lester – who’s got tons of sleeper appeal.
The World Series trophy has made its home in Boston over the winter, and if the Red Sox want to keep it there, they’ll need their ace to pitch like he did last year. The Sox are not alone in that sentiment, as fantasy baseball owners who draft Lester will be hoping for the same thing:
Jon Lester, SP (current ADP: #158):
Jon Lester became somewhat of a forgotten man following the 2012 season, but he turned things around last year, putting him back on the fantasy baseball map.
The Red Sox were a mess in 2012. An epic collapse at the end of the 2011 season – where they blew a nine-game lead and failed to make the playoffs — seemed to carry over and affect the entire team.
The Sox finished the season with 69 wins — their worst total in a non-strike year since 1965 – and Lester was a big part of that. The big lefty compiled a 9-14 record and a 4.82 ERA in 33 starts. The wins were his lowest since his second year in the league in 2007, and the losses and ERA were the worst of his career.
With all the negative flow surrounding the Sox — and due to his terrible season — Lester was not a hot commodity in fantasy baseball drafts last season, yet he proved to be very valuable as the year went on.
Lester ended his 2013 campaign with a 15-8 record, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 177 K. If you exclude his abysmal month of June, in which he allowed 24 earned runs, Lester would’ve finished the season with a 3.16 ERA. He was a big part of the Red Sox’ World Series run, but is still being undervalued again in this year’s drafts.
Owners shouldn’t think 2013 was a fluke season for Lester – his 2012 season was more of the fluke. Yes, his ground ball rate of 45 percent was much better than in previous years, and his HR/FB ratio (8.3%) was well below his career mark of 9.8 percent, but his FIP (3.59) and his BABIP (.300) were nearly identical to his career averages of 3.71 and .301, respectively.
Lester is currently the 158th player being selected in fantasy drafts, according to FantasyPros.com. He’s getting taken after the likes of the Atlanta Braves’ Kris Medlen (121) and the Cleveland Indians’ Danny Salazar (155). Those two pitchers are very good, but I’d rather have the No. 1 starter on the World Series Champs, than Medlen — who was inconsistent last year — and Salazar — who while extremely talented, is still very young and inexperienced.
Taking Lester as your third or fourth starter will give you a reliable pitcher in your team’s rotation, something he has been in Boston for the majority of his career.
2014 Projections: 16-10, 3.80 ERA, 184 K, 1.31 WHIP, 210.0 IP