How many times can you pay $1 for a hitter who earned $20 (or close to it) a mere two years ago?
Typically, what you're buying is a player in the twilight of his career. While that player might have a bounce back season, it's more likely that you're buying a part-timer who is about to disappear (cue up the sad music for Garrett Anderson).
Mike Aviles, on the other hand, probably should have been more than a $1 player...especially in leagues that auctioned in late March or early April.
I don't talk much about sleepers. I hate the terminology, primarily because in serious Roto leagues, there is no such thing. The only time Billy Butler is a sleeper is when his head hits the pillow. However, if you are going to look for sleepers, Aviles fit all of the characteristics I'd look for:
1) Past success, but not past his prime. Aviles is 29 years old. He's not a young by any means...but this actually made him more attractive as a sleeper, since a 24-year-old with Aviles' profile probably would have went for much more money.
2) Weak regulars ahead of him. A lot of people were foaming at the mouth over Chris Getz, but despite the potential for 20-25 SB, he really didn't offer much with the bat. Yuniesky Betancourt's career is riding on a defensive reputation that hasn't been warranted for 2-3 years now. The opportunity here belonged primarily to Alberto Callaspo (who also didn't go for enough money this spring), but Aviles also should have been seen as someone who had a chance as well.
3) Poor stats with promising interiors. A few people pointed to how Aviles fell off the table in 2009 and simply wrote his 2008 off as a fluke. While his 2008 certainly was the product of a somewhat favorable BABIP, his 2009 was the product of a far more unfavorable BABIP in the other direction. Yes, the strikeout spike in '09 was also a culprit, but Aviles' poor season should have been seen by more analysts as a result of at least some bad luck.
This isn't to say that Aviles is going to go back to being a $20 earner this year. His power numbers remain very low, and while his HR/FB% is a little lower than it should be, I wouldn't expect him to do much more than hit the 10 HR he hit two years ago. Still, if he can hit .280-.290 and wrest most of the playing time from Getz at some point, I anticipate that he'll be a pretty solid MI bargain in A.L.-only leagues when I do the accounting at the end of the season.