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Fantasy Baseball Hitter Sleepers (2020)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 16, 2020

Sleepers. It’s a term that you hear every year, but what does it really mean?

Well, in the past, it was about players who were legitimately under the radar, who you could target in your drafts hoping that you had info that others in your league didn’t.

Those days have been long gone for years now with all of the amazing tools and content that we have at our disposal. Seriously, it’s a great time to be a baseball fan and a fantasy baseball player with all of the talented content creators out there.

What does sleeper mean now? It’s a term that fantasy sites use for SEO purposes where we highlight players that everyone has heard of, but we label them sleeper to drive traffic to our respective sites because people still use it.

It’s hard to find true sleepers unless you’re looking at a draft list of about 1,000 players, but you can still identify value players who are going later than they should in drafts with the ability to bring a lot of value to your fantasy team.

That’s who we are going focus on today, as we are highlighting hitters who are going after the 200th pick who have the ability to make a fantasy difference for you.

Luke Voit (1B – NYY) ADP: 198
OK, so we are going to cheat here a bit. Top 200 is an arbitrary endpoint anyway, so two spots don’t really mean much.

In his Yankees career, Voit has played in 157 games, which is essentially a full season. Here are his numbers during that time:

.298/.392/.577, 35, 95, 100.

That’s a damn good player and one who should not be going off the board at pick 198. One of the concerns that gets brought up often is that Voit may lose playing time — but to who? Mike Ford

Voit was at risk last year because the Yankees had Didi Gregorius playing shortstop, but he’s gone, which leaves Voit as the everyday first baseman. If you wait at the position, grab Voit late.

Kevin Newman (2B/SS – PIT) ADP: 206
If you’re drafting Newman, you’re doing it as a second baseman or a middle infielder since shortstop is so deep.

Newman quietly had the season and fantasy impact that we hoped Cole Tucker would have had when he got the call, but it’s Newman who is set to hit atop a Pirates lineup that, while it isn’t great or even good, has some usable pieces behind him.

The easiest category to punt in fantasy baseball is batting average, and if you take that approach early in the draft, you can grab a player like Newman in the late rounds who can give you a .275-.280 average with 15-18 stolen bases. You’ll struggle to find a player at this point in the draft who can give you those stolen base numbers and won’t hurt your numbers elsewhere.

Luis Arraez (2B/OF – MIN) ADP: 236
Speaking of punting batting average, Arraez is another great fallback option if you ignore the category early in your drafts.

Right now, it’s looking like Arraez may hit seventh or eighth in the Twins’ loaded lineup, which will help his RBI totals. But what if Jorge Polanco doesn’t replicate his success from last year? What if Mitch Garver goes back to being an afterthought after a late breakout? There are opportunities for Arraez to move up in the order.

Trent Grisham (OF – SD) ADP: 328
Wil Myers. Tommy Pham. Trent Grisham. That’s your starting outfield. With Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe out of town, the Padres’ once-crowded outfield is finally pretty open, and although Franchy Cordero will get his starts here or there, he’s not going to play significant time.

So why, then, is Grisham going so late? He has the prospect pedigree, he performed fine when he was called up from by the Brewers, and they traded Luis Urias, who San Diego held in high regard, for Grisham. Buy, buy, buy.

Shogo Akiyama (OF – CIN) ADP: 248
Here’s what we know about the Reds — they have six outfielders for three spots. We also know that Nick Castellanos is going to play every day and that the Reds invested three years into the soon-to-be 32-year-old. He’s going to play, and he’s going to play a lot. 

When he plays, he’s going to hit leadoff, presumably against right-handers. From his profile, he has a lot of Adam Eaton to him, and he’s going more than 60 picks later than Eaton is. 

Looking at projection models, I think that ATC has it right: .274/13/70/55/9. That’s more than enough value on pick 248.

C.J. Cron (1B – DET) ADP: 255
Forget Comerica Park. Forget that lineup. Cron is going to hit 35 home runs this year. Think that’s a reach? He hit 25 in 125 games in 2019 and 30 in 140 in 2018.

If you need a disconnect from your job or the world, look at Cron’s Baseball Savant page. It will cheer you up, and you’ll see why he should be going inside the top 200.

Some highlights:

  • Exit Velocity — 84th percentile
  • Hard Hit% — 82nd percentile
  • xSLG — 91st percentile
  • xwOBA — 86th percentile
  • Brls/PA% — 6th in baseball 

Make sure you have at least one share of Cron in 2020 as your utility or corner infielder. He’s going to absolutely rake and play as many games as his body can handle in Detroit.

Other sleepers to consider:

Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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