2017 Fantasy Baseball draft strategy: Ranking the top 10 late-round sleepers for home runs
Looking for power late on Draft Day? Our Heath Cummings lists 10 potential power sleepers you can target at the end of drafts this year.
The best laid plans can still leave you wanting in the late rounds, and if 2016 is any indication, one thing we’ll all want to add more is home runs.
Those that believe last year represents a new reality in power numbers must also recognize that you’re going to need a lot more. That has made many viewas more of a precious resource and that’s probably the right way to look at it.
Still, when you’re searching in the very late rounds no stat is easy to find, except for outs made.
The 10 hitters below are a combination of high-upside, high-risk players and boring reliable power production. I’ll let you decide which approach you prefer but I’ve ranked them in the order I would draft them.
Jorge Soler Kansas City RF
|My Rank: 224 ADP: 314 | Soler brings his prodigious power to Kansas City and everyone can agree that at 24 years old the upside is still huge. What we seem to disagree on is the floor. If Soler plays 150 games the reasonable floor is 23 home runs. For a fifth outfielder taken at the end of the draft with huge upside, I can’t see any reason you wouldn’t turn to Soler for power. Need more convincing? He’s also one of my favorite breakout candidates.|
Travis Shaw Milwaukee 3B
|My Rank: 225 ADP: 346 | I’ve also written a lot of words about Travis Shaw, though I’d view him more as a sleeper than a breakout. Shaw is a fly-ball hitter with a decent contact profile going to the best park in baseball for left handed fly-ball hitters. He doesn’t have Soler’s floor or upside, but 30 home runs are well within reach as a late-round corner infielder.|
Neil Walker N.Y. Mets 2B
|My Rank: 240 ADP: 298 | There is nothing sexy or exciting about Neil Walker, but he’s a good illustration of how deep second base is. It’s generally difficult to find power in the middle infield late, but Walker hit 23 home runs in just 458 plate appearances in 2016 and has at least 16 in each of the past four seasons. Much like Shaw and Soler, he’s available extremely late.|
Tommy Joseph Philadelphia 1B
|My Rank: 249 ADP: 282 | Now we’re back to the more exciting names. Joseph hit 21 home runs in just 347 plate appearances in 2016 and should get the chance to play nearly every day. He is an extreme fly ball hitter with a good hard-contact rate in a plus park. Scott White has some concerns about Rhys Hoskins, but if Joseph repeats his .505 slugging percentage from 2016, playing time won’t be an issue.|
Eric Thames Milwaukee LF
|My Rank: 256 ADP: 235 | Did you do a double take? Don’t beat yourself up. Thames is hardly a household name unless your household is in South Korea. Thames has hit 124 home runs over the past three seasons in the KBO with an OPS north of 1.100 each season. The transition back the majors won’t be easy, but his power numbers have a better chance of translating since he’ll be joining Shaw in Miller Park.|
Hunter Renfroe San Diego RF
|My Rank: 273 ADP: 233 | Renfroe showed well in his September callup and his power has translated at every level in the minor leagues. In 2016 he hit 30 Triple-A home runs in 563 plate appearances. He’s also struck out more than 400 times in his last three minor league seasons. There’s huge upside with Renfroe but his floor includes another trip to back to Triple-A.|
Jung Ho Kang Pittsburgh 3B
|My Rank: 293 ADP: 285 | Nobody questions Kang’s ability, but there’s a lot to question off the field. The Pirates third baseman will be sentenced later this month in South Korea after his third DUI. After that we’ll find out if there is any discipline forthcoming from MLB. If Kang was guaranteed to be starting on opening day he’d be a borderline top 12 third baseman. As it is, he becomes a late-round pick that could improve on last year’s 21 home runs if he gets enough at-bats.|
Chris Carter N.Y. Yankees 1B
|My Rank: 298 ADP: 286 | It’s weird to list last year’s NL leader in home runs as a late-round pick, but that’s exactly what he is after signing with the Yankees for what will be a part-time role. It’s difficult to imagine Carter reaching last year’s 160 games or 41 home runs. In 2015 he hit 24 homers in 460 plate appearances. That’s probably a reasonable expectation (with little help in other categories) unless the Yankees suffer a major injury.|
Marcus Semien Oakland SS
|My Rank: 296 ADP: 277 | I keep moving Semien up in my rankings and apparently I’m still too low. He’s a 26-year-old shortstop who just hit 27 home runs and he’s being drafted after the 20th round. Why? Well, he hit .238 and didn’t do a lot in the other categories. Semien likely has a little regression coming in terms of batting average, but he’s also going to lose some home runs from last year.|
Justin Bour Miami 1B
|My Rank: 301 ADP: 329 | The Marlins say they want to play Justin Bour every day. In theory that’s a good thing. He hit 15 home runs in 321 plate appearances last year, so one would expect him to approach 30 homers with good health and an everyday role. The problem is that a big percentage of his increase in plate appearances is going to come against lefties. Bour has 110 plate appearances in his whole career against lefties and he’s yet to hit a home run against a southpaw.|
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