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10 Sleepers & Busts for the Shortened Season (Fantasy Baseball)

Jul 15, 2020

Baseball action will be returning in just about a week and we can finally look forward to staring at our fantasy teams again. Whether your league is waiting on drafting until the season is as close to starting as possible or if you’ve already drafted, but are hoping to swing some early moves, this is the one final sleeper and bust article that you’ll need. We reached out to our featured pundits below to get their thoughts on the one player they absolutely want to target and avoid for the 2020 season. Of course, not all experts will agree as you’ll see two conflicting takes on Fernando Tatis Jr.

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Q1. What one player is your must-have sleeper this year and why?

Sam Hilliard (OF – COL): Overall Consensus Rank #325
“It was Sam Hilliard, it is Sam Hilliard, it will always be Sam Hilliard. Look, Hilliard isn’t a lock to succeed, but the idea that you can still easily snag a player who hit 42 home runs and stole 24 bases and is in line for a starting job in Colorado in the late rounds is mind-blowing. Hilliard has plenty of power with a maximum exit velocity of 114 miles per hour and a 40% fly-ball rate and has never stolen fewer than 23 bases in a full professional season. I try to get him in every draft, as should all fantasy managers.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

David Peralta (OF – ARI): Overall Consensus Rank #201
“After a 30 HR season in 2018, Peralta had shoulder issues last year, limiting him to just 12 HRs in 382 ABs. His average dipped to .275 from .293 in ’18. With Peralta improving his walk rate last year, and with health – we can expect some nice rebound, yet drafters are not giving him the credit. He is a multi-round bargain this year, and a good late source of average and modest power.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B – WAS): Overall Consensus Rank #261
“I’ll have Kendrick by the end of every draft. Not only does he play multiple positions but he was extraordinary at the plate last season, batting .344 with a homer every 19 at-bats to go with 62 RBIs and 61 runs in just 334 at-bats. With a shortened season and the designated hitter now in the National League, Kendrick’s highly efficient bat should end up in the lineup much more often.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Ross Stripling (SP – LAD): Overall Consensus Rank #221
“Now that he appears poised to replace David Price in the Dodgers’ rotation, Ross Stripling could easily produce as a top-20 fantasy starter this season. Los Angeles has often shuttled him to the bullpen because of its superb depth, but that’s not an indictment of his performance. In 36 starts over the past two seasons, Stripling has submitted a 3.47 ERA and 3.64 FIP with a higher K-BB rate (22.2%) than Jack Flaherty, Charlie Morton, Mike Clevinger, and teammate Clayton Kershaw. Manager Dave Roberts said Stripling should be able to reach 100 pitches out of the gate, so don’t be afraid to jump a bit above his rising 221 ECR — well above his 328 ADP that consists mostly of spring drafts — if necessary.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Dustin May (SP/RP – LAD): Overall Consensus Rank #246
“An extreme ground ball pitcher, who limits walks, and can strike out a batter per inning. This is my type of guy and the recipe for a successful fantasy baseball pitcher. Welcome to The Show, Dustin May. It is frustrating to own Dodger arms when things are running as planned, but one thing we do know is they are not afraid to use their entire arsenal. This spells good news for May (ADP 246th), who will be 23 in September, and will find his way to the mound. Outside of the top 20 or so starting pitchers, does anyone truly feel locked into guaranteed innings? This is where May will help, as I expect him to be used in a variety of ways, all of which should be good for your ratios.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

Q2. What one player is your must-avoid bust this year and why?

Marcus Semien (SS – OAK): Overall Consensus Rank #75
“I like Semien but I just cannot buy him at anything remotely close to last year’s numbers. And it’s really not about whether his underlying metrics and batted ball data supported his season – for the most part, they did. But when a 28-year-old randomly breaks out, it’s usually a good idea to wait to see it for another year before in investing, especially when so much of his production was based on volume (747 plate appearances last year, most in the majors). At the deepest position in baseball, and with a year drastically different than any other in his career, I’d bet on Semien disappointing relative to his ADP and I am avoiding him.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF – ARI): Overall Consensus Rank #40
What happens when a player hits 30 points over his BABIP? Regression. What happens when a player hits for double his HR/FB rate in a season? Regression. Plus – Marte’s walk rate has also been steadily going down each year, and his average fly ball distance is subpar. All of this tells me that 2019 was somewhat of a fluke, or at least that a 3rd round ADP makes little sense. Let someone else take Marte’s regression on their team.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI): Overall Consensus Rank #76
“After rising to elite ace status in 2018, Aaron Nola posted an underwhelming 3.87 ERA and 4.03 FIP last season. Washington and Atlanta particularly roughed him up to a 5.53 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 10 starts. He’ll see a quite a bit more of those NL East rivals in addition to the Mets, whose lineup could take a major leap into an elite territory with J.D. Davis and a healthy Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup all year. Including three of Philadelphia’s interleague opponents (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays), six of Nola’s possible nine opponents ranked 10th or higher in wRC+ last season. His ECR is 30 spots below his 46 overall ADP for good reason.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD): Overall Consensus Rank #18
“While I don’t think Fernando Tatis Jr. will be a longterm bust, I won’t be drafting him at or near his ADP this season because I don’t think he will return 2nd or 3rd round value. All of his underlying metrics scream significant regression from his BABIP to his hard-hit rate, HR/FB rate and K-rate. It is much more likely that he will hit .260 with marginal power this season than anywhere close to what we saw in his rookie campaign.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jose Ramirez (3B – CLE): Overall Consensus Rank #13
“Normally, I would love a guy who is in his age 27-32 prime window, especially one who has shown above average production prior to this point. But with Ramirez (ADP 13th), there are entirely too many question marks for me to feel good about taking him at the back of the 1st/start of the 2nd round. Does he do it all? Yes, in 2018 he did. Has he done it all consistently? Not in the slightest. If I’m expecting a 20/20 season with .250 BA, I am certainly not investing it with one of my first two picks. It’s way too much of a premium to take that gamble, especially with a younger and more exciting Tatis going just a few picks later.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

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

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