Ready for your fantasy baseball draft or auction?
Not yet huh? Well, you’re ready to get jarred awake with a batch of sleepers for this year. Some of these names below fit to mold because they’re coming off a riddles season, or because to possess to a potential for breakout campaign that hasn’t quite to come to pass yet, or because they just so happened to endure an inexplicably unlucky year.
Whatever to reason, these players are flying under to radar as a draft option in most draft circles, yet they have to ability and/or upside to pay off contributors and then some. In other words, if you like candidates to provide high rewards at low risk — really who doesn’t? Consider grabbing these 10 ballplayers for your mixed-league roster into the middle to late rounds.
Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
DeJong burst onto to scene in 2017 as a rookie, registering .285 average and a .857 to go with 25 home runs in only 108 games after being called up in May. That mad a hot commodity during to draft a year ago and something of a disappointment when his stats dropped across to board in 2018 (.241 ave, .746 ops 19 hr) in slightly more games (115).
Paul DeJong’s season was interrupted by an injury he had in mid-May when he was hit by a pitch and lost nearly two months with a fractured left hand. At the time he went down, DeJong was hitting a respectable .260 ave with .824 ops. Upon returning on July 6, he struggled with a .209 average and .664 ops through to the end of August. I think that a carryover from his injury. He bounced by to full strength in September. (.269 ave, .777 ops).
Shortstop is one of to deeper positions, so DeJong might be overlooked, but to 25-year old is capable of crushing 30 home runs. He gets to hit in a run-producing portion of to Cardinal with a lineup that features Paul Goldschmidt.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Like DeJong, Schoop was a sought-after infielder in the fantasy circles just 12 months ago. After all, he hit .293/.338/.503 with a whopping 32 long balls and 105 RBIs in 2017, making the infielder that went 30-100 that year.
So much has gone wrong for Schoop on his way to a .233/.266/.416 line last season, starting with a right oblique strain in mid-April that cost him nearly a month of action and impacts mentally and physically upon his return in May. Throw in the fact that he was in saddled with a depleted Orioles lineup, and it’s hard to see why he struggled most of the year, only got red-hot with seven home runs and 15 RBIs over his final nine games with the Orioles. At this point, they traded Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers, where he saw irregular playing time while trying to adjust to a whole new league.
Schoop still comes in with a batting average risk given aggressive approach (3.7% career walk rate), but the power is legitimate, he still slugged 21 home runs during his struggles and expect last years average .261 to bump up closer to .296 mark. He has a fresh start with the Minnesota Twins plus Schoop is at his prime age of 27. He might be available to play at shortstop in fantasy after playing 17 games there. He is a bounce-back candidate of a sleeper at second base, a position in the midst of some uncertainty and turnover.
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Redsox
Rodriguez was having his best season yet, with a 3.44 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and 110 strikeouts over 104 2/3 innings through 19 starts in the first half. Then he got injured, as the southpaw missed six weeks with serious ligament damage in the right ankle, yet another in a long line of leg related injuries.
Staying healthy for a full season is Rodriguez’s bugaboo, his career high in starts is 24 and innings pitched is 137 1/3, both in 2017, but feel confident that you’re going to get a solid fantasy rate stats from him on the mound. At an ERA in the 3.50 to 4 range and the WHIP around 1.25 to 1.30 will play, and there’s still room for improvement for the 25-year-old, who was averaging 10 K/9 rates across 2017-18.
If Rodriguez manages to get 30 starts for a powerhouse Redsox, he’ll rack up plenty of wins and should enjoy a true breakout.
Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Not too far removed from being the top prospect, Winker was really starting to emerge as an offensive force right last season before he suffered a serious right shoulder injury that wound up requiring season-ending surgery. This lefty-hitter finished only with seven home runs and 43 RBIs in 89 games, but his .299/.405/.431 line is more walks (49) than whiffs (46) are an indicator of his upside.
While Winker’s power has been his biggest question mark so far as a pro, consider this: After going 44 games without a home run to start 2018, he hit all his long balls in the next 45 games. It could be a sneaky pop there, particularly now the 25-year-old is fully healthy and has shown he hits the ball hard on a consistent basis. Plus, playing at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Parks won’t hurt.
The Reds can also deploy Winker near the top of the loaded lineup to best take advantage of his on-base skills (.397 career OBP) and that could mean plenty of opportunities to score runs ahead of Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Yasiel Puig.
Ketel Marte, 2B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Marte has played parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues but still only 25. Sometimes, when players break into the Major Leagues that young and don’t immediately pan out, it usually takes a few years to realize their potential. Marte has a feel to him at this stage, you’ve probably owned him or at least been intrigued by him at some point in the past, but no longer see much appeal because he’s been easy to overlook.
Well, Marte’s 2018 was something of a hidden gem. While none of his final numbers jump out at you, it was the first time the switch-hitter posted 500 plate appearances, and he nearly doubles his career home run total (eight entering 2018). Marte’s performance might have gone unnoticed for another reason, too. Here are his stats broken down between his first two months and his final four months:
From March 29 through May 30: .216/.273/.309 with one home run, 17 runs, and 13 RBIs on over 52 games.
From June 1 through September .285/.365/.512 with 13 home runs, 51 runs, and 46 RBIs over 101 games.
As a bonus, Marte is eligible at both middle-infield spots and is being groomed for center field in 2019, so he’ll add another position in his flexibility, making him an enticing option to plug into your starting lineup.
Cody Allen, RP, Los Angeles Angels
Last season was a disaster for Allen, as he posted a 4.70 ERA and 1.36 WHIP while finishing with 27 saves after losing his longtime closer role with Cleveland to Brad Hand. His worst year came at the wrong time because it hurt his market in the free agent market this off-season, to the point where had to settle for a one-year contract with the Angels.
Prior to the 2018 season, Allen has been one the more consistent late-inning pitcher in baseball: For his rookie season in 2013 through 2017, his ERA ranged from a low of 2.07 to a high of 2.99, and posted K/9 marks between 11.3 and 12.9. He also reached a 30 save plateau every year between 23015-17.
Now in Anaheim, Allen has a chance to return to that version of himself, if the 30-year-old can lower his walk rate from last year’s 4.4 per nine toward his 3.4 career mark entering 2018 while also limiting what has become his biggest issue: the home run. He allowed a career-high 11 taters in 2018 after (eight in 16 and nine in 17). On the plus side, the strikeout stuff is still there, Allen whiffed 80 over 67 frames, and does not have much competition for closer in a Halos bullpen lacking proven relievers. You will definitely do worst if you take a late-round gamble on Allen as your third saves-getter in fantasy.
Jake Lamb, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Lamb’s never had a chance in 2018. He injured his left shoulder in the fourth game of the season on April 2, returned in mid-May for a little more than two months, and then re-injured the same shoulder. His season came to an end on July 26 with the line of .222/.307/.348 and all six home runs in 56 games, as he required surgery to repair his shoulder fraying of his rotator cuff.
Don’t forget though, the 28-year-old slugger in his prime averaged 30 home runs and 100 RBIs to go with 85 runs scored and .843 ops across the 2016-17 seasons. Assuming that he back in full health, it’s not hard to envision Lamb who primarily will be playing first basemen in 2019 with Eduardo Escobar starting at third base returning to those numbers.
Keep an eye on how Lamb looks this spring training. If he’s playing regularly and without restrictions, go ahead and grab him after you grab studs at third and first basemen. Lamb could be a cheap spot as a starter.
Adam Frazier, 2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
If you weren’t paying close attention last season, you probably have no clue how good Frazier was once he came back up for good in late July after being sent to Triple-A twice amid a disappointing first half.
From July 25 on, the lefty swinger hit .306/.357/.533 with 20 doubles and seven home runs over his final 196 plate appearances or one-third of a full season. That has earned him the inside track at not only at the starting second base spot in Pittsburgh, but also the leadoff spot in the Pirates lineup.
Don’t expect a massive all-around production or anything, but Frazier’s profile of quality contact hitter who should hit for average and some pop will keep you happy if he gets off to a quick start. The 27-year-old’s dual eligibility, he can also be spotted into your fantasy lineup at outfield, adds another benefit to what very well could be a more noticeable campaign in 2019.
Ross Stripling, SR/RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite a promising showing last year, Stripling presents a tricky case as a sleeper, as he’s not guaranteed a spot in what might be baseball’s deepest, most fluid rotation. In fact, there’s a good chance that his 2019 could look a lot like 2018 did: The 29-year-old will put up a strong performance when he starts, it’s just the number of starts he makes might be limited.
The righty began in LA’s bullpen last season, and it took until May before he got a real opportunity in the rotation. Stripling ran with it, posting a 2.68 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and mighty impressive 102-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 90 2/3 innings in 16 starts from May 6 to August 9. At that point, a lower back issue cropped up and costing Stripling almost a month, after which the Dodgers played it conservatively in September.
Given the way that most clubs are using all but the very elite starting pitchers in recent years, only a dozen is allowed 30 starts and even reached 180 frames, year in and year out. A savvy fantasy owners should seek out the arm who has talent and stuff and will strive when the opportunity comes, even if it’s only 10 to 15 starts. Stripling fits that bill and getting to throw for an always competitive Dodgers team and in a pitcher-friendly park certainly helps.
Domingo Santana, OF, Seattle Mariners
Just when it seemed like Santana had established himself as a burgeoning fantasy star, his role was reduced when the Brewers brought in fellow outfielder Lorenzo Cain (via free agency) and Christian Yelich (via trade) last winter.
That leaves Santana in a fight for playing time that he ultimately lost. He wound up in all of his 235 plate appearances after being relegated to Triple-A from late June through August. (He did fare rather well in Colorado Springs, slashing .285/.403/.489, in case you were wondering).
The Mariners rescued Santana who is still only 26 years old, by the way acquiring him in December and while hitting in T-Mobile Park is much more challenging than hitting in Miller Park, the hope is that the slugger will see plenty at-bats with Seattle. Adjusting to a new league also could be a factor, as could Santana’s tendency to swing and miss (31.8% in his MLB career), but if he comes anywhere close to his 2017 fantasy stats at 88 runs, .278 average, 30 home runs, 85 RBIs, and 15 steals, he’ll be worth a late-round flier.
Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies
You expected 10 sleepers, but this list has 11.
Gray has become a fascinating story. He has shown that he could succeed at Coors Field (3.13 ERA, 1.22 WHIP in 2017). He has had seasons that were good (3.67 ERA in 2017), bad (4.61 ERA in 2016) and ugly (5.12 ERA in 2018) and yet that ugly campaign was astonishing unlucky to the extent that the gap between Gray’s ERA (5.12) and FIP (4.08) was the 23th largest by a qualified pitcher over the past decade.
It was really remarkable how outlandishly unlucky he was, including a .322 BABIP and a 67.9 left-on-base percentage. Both of which ranked third worse last year among all starters to qualify for the ERA title. Meanwhile, Gray’s 17% K-BB% rate (that is strikeout percentage minus walk percentage) was 20th best by a starter, up there with names like Mike Foltynewicz (18%), Jose Berrios (17.7%) and David Price (17.6%). There’s a potential put-it-all-together season awaiting 27-year-old former no. 3 draft pick
Beyond that, rotation mates Kyle Freeland and German Marquez prove last year the Rockies pitchers actually can be very valuable fantasy assets. Gray’s campaign was so rough on the surface that you shouldn’t have to burn more than a very late-round pick or a few dollars on him in auctions. The return, however, could be a very big if that full breakout happens.
Looks like baseball is going to be interesting this year. I’m still wondering where Manny Machado and Brice Harper is going to go. They are going to be good picks, but they are not going to be sleepers. Majority of these players on this list I will probably pick this year in my fantasy baseball lineup. I’m not going to start drafting until the day before the regular season game. Soon as I get my lineup, I’m sharing it on that post that I wrote that day. A friend of mine told me that the regular season of baseball doesn’t start in another 45 days. My first lineup will be up in 44 days. Sometimes, a couple of hours before the game, I would have to change my lineup because the players I chose might not start or play. In FanDuel when it is about 1 or 2 hours before the game they will be a green number next to their name. That means that they are starting. If there is not a green number next to their name before the game switches him out. That determines on if you win money or if you go home empty-handed.