Sleepers for Runs (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
What defines a “sleeper” when every fantasy player has a scouting report readily available for every big-leaguer or prospect at the touch of a button?
The term might now be a bit dated, but the principle remains the same. Which players are further down most draft boards than they probably should be?
For this article, a “sleeper” will be anyone outside the top-125 hitters, according to current consensus ADP around the industry. The focus is on players in a position to score a significant amount of runs in 2021.
Check below for sleeper suggestions in other categories:
Leody Taveras (OF – TEX) – ADP 238
The Rangers are in rebuild mode and hope Taveras — the organization’s No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline — will be one of the centerpieces of that effort. It thus makes perfect sense for them to let the switch-hitting speedster run with the leadoff role to see what he can do over a whole season.
Taveras showed some of his potential in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Though he managed just a .227/.308/.395 slash line while striking out 32.1 percent of the time, Taveras delivered 11 extra-base hits, a .168 ISO, a 10.4 percent walk rate, and scored 20 runs over 33 games.
When dealing with youngsters, the good usually comes along with the bad. However, Taveras has a great aspect of his game as well. He can flat out fly on the basepaths. An 8-for-8 performance in the steals department last year has many intrigued. Given that speed and placement atop the batting order, Taveras should cross home plate plenty of times this season regardless of how weak the Rangers offense might be.
Aaron Hicks (OF – NYY) – ADP 253
Unlike Taveras, Hicks will work with one of the game’s strongest lineups. That alone adds notable fantasy appeal for the 31-year-old veteran and his disciplined approach.
Since the beginning of the 2017 season, Hicks has a .362 OBP despite a lackluster .247 batting average. Health is always a question, but he played 54 of 60 regular-season games last year and all seven of the Yankees’ postseason outings. Hicks demonstrated his patience at the plate once again in 2020, posting a .225/.379/.414 slash with six homers, four steals, 28 runs scored, and an impressive 38-to-41 K/BB ratio.
With his combination of pop, speed, and ability to get on base, Hicks should score runs in abundance as part of the Yankees’ potent batting order.
Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM) – ADP 251
Similar to Hicks, Nimmo is an on-base machine. Health has also hindered his overall output as well as (understandably) his draft status. That presents a real opportunity in the late rounds this spring, particularly considering the Mets’ upgraded lineup.
Nimmo has had just one year (2018) in which he has seen more than 254 big-league plate appearances. Across 535 of them that year, Nimmo produced a strong .263/.404/.483 triple slash with 17 deep drives, 28 doubles, eight triples, nine steals, and 77 runs. That could easily be considered a breakout.
A neck injury limited him to just 69 games of lesser production in 2019, but Nimmo rather quietly returned last year to virtually the same offensive pace as 2018. Over 55 games in 2020, he put up an .888 OPS with eight homers and 33 runs scored.
Nimmo should at least occupy the leadoff spot when the Mets oppose a right-handed starting pitcher this year. That gives him the potential to score a ton of runs.
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