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Top 9 Sleepers in 2020 (Fantasy Baseball)

May 19, 2020

Rich Hill is primed to benefit mightily from the shortened season

The details of the latest MLB proposal figure to have a heavy impact on fantasy baseball. A universal DH would lead to solid NL hitters who have little defensive impact now becoming everyday players. An 82-game season will result in increased value for starting pitchers who would otherwise have an innings limit. Expanded rosters open up the potential for top prospects like Wander Franco and Adley Rutschman to be a part of their teams’ everyday lineup, especially now that more teams will get a shot at the postseason with the playoffs being expanded.

There are so many different possibilities. Now that we have a greater idea of what baseball could look like in 2020, it is the perfect time to get our featured pundits together and see which late-round players will benefit the most from the shortened season.

2020 Draft Kit: View printable cheat sheets, sleepers & mistakes to avoid >>

Q1. Who is one hitter outside the top 120 in hitter ADP you are high on because of the shortened season and why?

Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL): ADP – 256th Overall | H159
“Swanson displayed the potential that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick in the first half last season. He hit .270 with 17 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 58 runs scored to go along with a .330 OBP and .822 OPS. However, a heel injury derailed his career season, forcing him to play only 38 games in the second half. He struggled to the tune of hitting just .204 and didn’t hit another home run the rest of the season. However, there are plenty of positive vibes for the Atlanta shortstop as we head into the 2020 season (hopefully!). Swanson played huge in the postseason. He hit .389 with three doubles in the NL Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Swanson had a career-high in isolated power last year (.172) and has improved his hard-hit percentage from 29.3% (2017) and 35.6 % (2018) to 42.5% last season. He hits in a high-scoring offense, so he should have plenty of opportunities to produce fantasy numbers that will outplay being the 159th hitter taken off the draft board.”
– Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

Wil Myers (1B/3B/OF – SD): ADP – 284th Overall | H172
“Myers wasn’t projected to be a starter for San Diego prior to the delay, with Trent Grisham reportedly locking down the center field job and Franchy Cordero in right. But with the likely implementation of the universal DH, Myers will almost certainly start for the Padres and should not just be drafted everywhere, but should be started in most fantasy lineups. Although his strikeout rate ballooned to over 34% last year, Myers reportedly made some adjustments this winter and early returns in spring were positive (.300 average, 1.097 OPS, six strikeouts in 11 games). Even if they weren’t, his 162-game pace over the last four seasons is 26 home runs and 23 steals and he continues to hit the ball hard. A power-speed combination like the one Myers offers isn’t available everywhere and his stock rises significantly with the delayed season.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Robinson Cano (2B – NYM): ADP – 318th Overall | H191
“Cano is better than his 2019 .256 batting average and if the MLB plan is for the AL East and NL East to face one another, he will have a lot of at-bats against poor pitching staffs that allowed a lot of home runs last year and haven’t gotten better heading into this season (Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, and Miami) or pitchers that play in hitter-friendly ballparks (Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Rogers Centre, and Yankee Stadium). The Orioles, Phillies, Yankees, and Marlins all ranked in the top 10 in home runs allowed. Plus, the Blue Jays and Red Sox were 12th and 17th, respectively, while the Mets, Braves, and Nationals ranked 20th, 21st, and 22nd, respectively. BA is hard to find and Cano is going to hit some home runs by accident in those tiny ballparks against a schedule almost entirely composed of teams in the top 22 in home runs allowed during 2019. That’s a juicy schedule for an ADP of 318 (197th among hitters).”
– Chris Mitchell (FantasyData)

Sam Hilliard (OF – COL): ADP – 381st Overall | H225
“Hilliard was a stud in the minors last year, hitting 35 dingers, scoring 109 runs, and driving in 101. Oh yeah, he stole 22 bases. While this insane production resulted in “only” a 107 wRC+, he carried that production into a cup of coffee with the Rockies last year, slashing .273/.356/.649 over 87 plate appearances — good for a 138 wRC+ in that limited sample. Given that his max exit velocity was 114 MPH, the power is real. With the universal DH, I’m expecting Hilliard to get significant playing time in the outfield or at DH. With half of his games at Coors, he could be a league winner. The Rockies have to play their best players at some point, right?”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Mark Canha (1B/OF – OAK): ADP – 207th Overall | H126
“Last year we saw what Canha is capable of in a “shortened” season. Playing in 126 games, he hit .273 with 26 home runs. It is nearly impossible to find a hitter with that average and power combo late in drafts, yet Canha is sitting there for the taking. With an extended offseason to continue working on his selective and patient approach that did well for him after adopting it last season, Canha is ripe to come out of the gate right where he left off.”
– Jason Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Q2. Who is one starting pitcher outside the top 60 in starting pitcher ADP you are high on because of the shortened season and why?

Rich Hill (SP – MIN): ADP – 390th Overall | SP117
“I have Twins southpaw Rich Hill on my fantasy radar as a deep sleeper in my upcoming drafts. The Twins signed him to a low-risk, high-reward venture this past offseason and fantasy managers should take a similar plunge on the veteran lefty. Hill wasn’t originally expected to pitch until June after undergoing elbow surgery, but is already throwing since the MLB Opening Day projects to be July 1. The addition of Hill improves a potentially formidable Twins rotation with him being the only southpaw. Plus, he has been an elite fantasy pitcher when healthy. He has posted a 21.1% K-BB% over the past five seasons, which includes recording an ERA below four in each of the last four seasons. In 58 2/3 innings last year, the lefty pitched to a 2.45 ERA with 11.0 K/9 against 2.8 walks and should be projected to throw 100 quality innings with an ERA below 4.00 along with an elite strikeout rate on a playoff-caliber team. Hill is a fantasy stud when healthy and at his current draft capital of the 117th starting pitcher selected, he should benefit from the shortened season for the Twins and fantasy managers.”
– Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

“My love for Rich Hill in this shortened season runs deep. This half-season was meant for him, given that he routinely pitches 135 innings or less since he revived his career in 2016. His strikeout minus walk rate has been extremely consistent in that time period (between 21-22% each year). He also has shown the ability to regularly induce weak contact, ranking in the top-15 percent of the league at least three times in the last four years in xERA, average exit velocity, and barrel rate (per Statcast). Add in that every game counts for more in a shortened season and I can see the Twins having a long leash with him. He has the potential to be an SP2, but he’s barely in the top-120 starting pitchers by ADP.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

A.J. Puk (SP/RP – OAK): ADP – 221st Overall | SP62
“Puk was slated to begin the year on the injured list with a shoulder injury, but should now be ready to begin the year as the A’s fifth starter. There are still plenty of question marks surrounding Puk — he’s pitched 22 1/3 innings above Double-A, his control isn’t perfect, and he’s thrown just 36 2/3 innings since 2017. However, his raw stuff and upside are enormous and both his fastball (.188 xBA against in the majors last year) and slider (.118 xBA against) are elite. With time to recover from his shoulder injury and the abatement of innings concerns in light of the delay, Puk is one of the biggest gainers from the delay.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Dustin May (SP/RP – LAD): ADP – 274th Overall | SP81
“May is a great candidate to turn heads in a shortened season. While Julio Urias, Alex Wood, and co. are around to seemingly keep him from a rotation spot, I believe that May’s skill set is just too exciting to keep him out of the Dodgers’ rotation for long. In a shortened season, teams that are smart will have shorter leashes for players knowing that every game counts more than ever. The Dodgers are a smart team and will use him as a starting pitcher if/when they realize he gives them a great chance to win games. His impressive 3.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 8.3 K/9 last season offered a glimpse of what ‘Gingergaard’ can do. ”
– Jason Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Nathan Eovaldi (SP/RP – BOS): ADP – 319th Overall | SP98
“The extended rest due to the delayed start of the 2020 season, a shortened season, and the presumed plan that the AL East will face the NL East all help a starting pitcher that has the raw stuff to start or close. The Red Sox have needs all over their staff, putting Eovaldi in position to strike out a batter per inning as a starter or possibly shift into the closer role with Brandon Workman being one of the less formidable roadblocks to saves in baseball. He’ll pitch in some friendly parks against some mediocre offenses with a flier price of a No. 329 ADP (129th off draft boards among starting pitchers). Plus, his dual RP/SP eligibility is a nice little wrinkle that enhances his value.”
– Chris Mitchell (FantasyData)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their top sleepers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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