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Sleeper Draft Targets for Home Runs (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Kurland | @Mike_Kurland | Featured Writer
Mar 3, 2023
Fantasy Baseball Draft Lottery Tickets (2023)

This is the first time in recent memory that power is so sought after. It used to be the easiest to come by, but last year turned that on its head. Now we are looking for power bats to fill the lineups. Here are eight names going late in drafts you can target to fill the home-run void if you are light on power. Here are other sleepers to target for stolen bases & runs.

8 Sleeper Targets for Home Runs

Joc Pederson (OF – SF)

There is a lot to like here for Joc Pederson. The underlying metrics are top-tier.

  • 23 HR in just 433 PA
  • 87th-percentile max exit velocity
  • 95th-percentile barrel% & xwOBA
  • 98th-percentile Hard-hit%

The only red flag is that he is in a platoon. The good news is he is on the strong side and is a great option when the Giants face a ton of RHP or in daily formats. Even while platooning in 2022, Pederson proved he can be a difference-maker in power output. Let’s root for a healthy 2023.

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)

Jarred Kelenic is flashing the power upside early in spring. No one doubts the tools — and they shouldn’t. He enters 2023 with a job to call his own. It will be solely on him if he loses said job. He set a career-high mark with a 114 mph max exit velocity and a career-high barrel rate of 13.6% last season. That combination of power potential and quality of contact could lead to a lot of home runs.

Kelenic should also benefit at least a little bit from the shift being banned, but that is to be determined. If he can cut down on the swing-and-miss rate, the power should be able to play up. We are seeing it on full display early in Spring Training as well. It all comes down to the strikeouts because the playing time and skills are there.

Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL)

Marcell Ozuna had a rough year. Even so, he managed 23 home runs in 507 plate appearances. This also came with the usual underlying metrics. There is some concern about the approach. He appeared more willing to chase than usual, but was it due to pressing or deterioration in skills? That is still to be determined, but as we enter 2023, Ozuna has a path to playing time at DH and made the effort to strengthen his arm this offseason so he can be a better outfielder.

Jorge Soler (OF – MIA)

After seeing a few spring lineups, Soler could be in line for batting second on this team. If that holds, we are taking top-tier power potential and adding more plate appearances than we might have anticipated. We did see the strikeouts spike last year (29.4%), but he never really had the chance to correct that. Soler still had a max exit velocity of 117.6. This put him in the 99th percentile in the MLB. Elite power potential there. He consistently barrels the ball well. 12.9% is his career barrel rate, and the last time it was under 12% was in 2018. He is healthy entering the season, has that elite power upside, and a clear path to playing time. He is checking all the boxes.

Nolan Jones (OF – COL) and Sean Bouchard (OF – COL)

Only one will likely start out of spring for the Rockies as Randal Grichuk recovers from hernia surgery, so they are grouped together. Whichever wins the job is who you want from these two. Unless you are in a very deep league, then you might just take both in the reserve rounds. Let’s start with Sean Bouchard. In 97 plate appearances at the MLB level last season, Bouchard showed a strong plate approach. He struck out just 25.8% and walked 21.6% of the time. This was following a 14.1% walk rate in Triple-A. His ability to keep the ball elevated and make contact will play up in Coors.

Meanwhile, Nolan Jones was a top prospect in the Guardians’ system and they made a point to get him this offseason. In his small sample last season, Jones flashed the power potential. The underlying metrics were strong. He has good on-base skills, but the strikeouts are a concern. The power metrics that stood out in the said small sample:

  • 80th-percentile max exit velocity
  • 14.5% Barrel%
  • 49.1% Hard-hit%

Taking that quality of contact and power metrics and transplanting them into Coors is intriguing. Can it hide the swing-and-miss rate is the question? Because the strikeouts were an ongoing issue and remain a concern entering 2023. The bright side is it appears to be more of an issue with being overly patient, as he also has high walk rates. If he was more aggressive at the plate, it might pay off.

For more information on Nolan Jones (and a couple of other names), here is a video to check out:

Jack Suwinski (OF – PIT)

Jack Suwinski enters the season with a job. Or is expected to have one, but it could be a short leash or up for grabs in spring. He flashed the power with an 85th-percentile max exit velocity, but the hard-hit rate was about average at 40.4%. The issue here is the swing-and-miss rate. This can cause him to be streaky. When he connects, he tends to make good contact, as he posted a 12.2% barrel%. This is a deep-league option for power entering 2023.

Jesus Sanchez (OF – MIA)

Jesus Sanchez had the power metrics. He had a 114.7 MPH max exit velocity with a 9.9% barrel rate. This came with a middle-of-the-pack hard-hit rate. He simply fell flat on his face in 2022. After getting sent down, Sanchez came up for the final two weeks and showed signs of life. There might be a platoon in his future, but it will be on the strong side. The power is not a question, but the playing time is. Early reports indicate that it appears to be his job to lose. The tools are there, so if there is any truth to this report then Sanchez has as much power upside as anyone going where he is in drafts.

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