Batting Average/OBP Sleepers (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
This article will nail down fantasy baseball sleepers in the average and on-base percentage categories. Those stats aren’t nearly as fun as home runs or RBIs, but that creates draft-day value with so many people chasing the long ball while ignoring on-base machines.
I’ll examine these AVG/OBP champions by utilizing FantasyPros’ convenient ADP Consensus Board to reference draft expectations and lurking sleeper candidates. One more note: rounds are decided through standard 12-team leagues and may differ depending on the size of the draft.
With that, let’s dive into the good stuff!
The fantasy baseball community seems split on Daniel Murphy this season. Moving to Colorado’s hitter-friendly atmosphere inspires optimism. However, he’s 33 years-old while coming off microfracture surgery that limited his 2018 campaign. We aren’t sure how the Rockies will handle his playing time either, as they could grant regular days off to preserve their new acquisition. Regardless of those concerns, Murphy will likely hold an average north of .300 with upside in the .320 level. The spacious outfield in Denver should help, and Murphy makes for a fine lift with an ADP of 69 — especially for those locking in some confident AVG/OBP metrics. It should be noted that Murphy has a wide ADP range of 62-105, so you could find value if he slips beyond the consensus.
I also view Justin Turner as a way to supplement AVG/OBP numbers. Expecting 20 HRs might be a stretch, but he will provide an elite average and OBP while racking up 85-ish runs and RBIs throughout the season. If you are already covered from a home run standpoint but need somebody to boost your average, Turner is your guy. Dealing with a wrist injury through the first half of 2018, he bounced back to hit .356 with 41 runs and 33 RBIs through 55 second-half games. Look for him to pick up that production this season. You can target him in the seventh or eighth round of standard drafts with an ADP of 95.
Mid-Late Round Sleepers
It’s an exciting time to be an Astros fan, as adding Michael Brantley to their already potent lineup should be fun to watch. Brantley is a career .314 hitter with the only blemish coming from injuries in 2016 and 2017. That’s why it was great to see him play 143 games in 2018 with a .319 average, 17 HRs, 76 RBIs, and 12 SBs. It seems that 15-20 long balls are his maximum as a line-drive hitter, even in Houston’s favorable ballpark for lefty sluggers. Similar to Turner, you’ll need to weigh that trade-off when considering Brantley’s bankable .300+ average, which could realistically jump into the .325 range with exceptional lineup security.
All three players discussed so far are established entities who should safely produce in the average and on-base percentage categories. Now we move to the “wild card” of this group: Eloy Jimenez. He hasn’t played in a major league game, but the 6’4″, 205-pound slugger is a top-10 prospect who could rake upon his debut. Like any rookie, we aren’t sure how he’ll take to big league pitching right away, but all the tools are there to smack 25-30 HRs with a .280 to .290 average. Jimenez hit .355 in Triple-A last season with small 13.2% strikeout rate that helps inspire confidence in his transition to the majors. On top of that, he just inked a six-year contract with the White Sox, so we don’t have to worry about service time keeping him in the minors. Jimenez is certainly a risk/reward pick, but he’s one of few guys in this ADP range (127) who can deliver elite power and average.
Late Round Sleepers
Yuli Gurriel isn’t an exciting fantasy pick, but he’s an interesting value candidate with an ADP of 183. Having multi-position eligibility at first and third base (and second in some leagues with 15 games played) doesn’t hurt either. He holds a .302 career average that represents a solid baseline moving into this season. Playing within an elite Houston offense will inherently bring about plenty of run-scoring and RBI opportunities for anyone with a solid average. Gurriel doesn’t offer much in terms of power, but he’s a bench/utility asset who will regularly contribute in average, runs, and RBIs.
Jesse Winker may be the most important sleeper of this article. He’s an AVG/OBP hero who hit .299 with a .405 on-base percentage through 89 games last season. Following the theme of these write-ups, you’ll sacrifice power with Winker’s projections topping out at 15 or so homers through a full season. The only real downside comes from uncertain playing time in the suddenly crowded Cincinnati outfield. Winker deserves a look with an ADP of 190, and he could be a steal if the playing time flows his way. He’s a solid bench outfielder with upside as a bonafide starter on your fantasy squad if things pan out for him. That’s pretty much what we’re looking for this late in drafts.
Adam Eaton is another divisive player in the fantasy baseball community. He has been hurt each of the past two seasons, but the veteran is a solid bet for average, on-base percentage, and runs whenever he’s healthy. Bryce Harper‘s departure helps secure playing time as well. Eaton is probably past his prime at 30 years old, and one has to wonder if the injuries have taken a toll on his hitting profile. However, he’s flying under the radar in fantasy drafts with an ADP of 192. That’s worth a selection while hoping Eaton can hold an average around .290 with a .370 OBP.
Andrelton Simmons is the furthest thing from an exciting fantasy pick. However, he’s a reasonable candidate for infield depth with an ADP of 205. His glove will keep him in the lineup almost every day, and the strikeout rate stands under double-digits. His 6.2% walk rate isn’t great for OBP leagues, but a realistic .275 to .290 average could help your squad as a depth candidate or filler in deeper leagues.