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We're still arguing about what a sleeper actually is and we always will be. So let's get this out of the way. For my first installment of 2018 sleepers, I'm looking for players who aren't being ranked in the top 144 according to Fantasy Pros consensus rankings.
More specifically, I'm looking for players outside of the top 144 (12 rounds) who I believe are being severely undervalued. Let's start with four guys who could be league-winners.
All you really need from Evan Gattis is health... and for the Astros to stick to their stated plan. That plan entails using Gattis as the team's primary DH, which should result in more plate appearances and a lower injury risk. While Gattis had a down year in 2017, his 500 PA pace was still 18 home runs and 85 RBI. Those would have ranked eighth and second at the position. He was fifth among starting catchers in Fantasy points per game despite the fact that 10 percent of his appearances came as a pinch hitter. If you just look at Gattis' starts, he outscored every other starting catcher on a per game basis other than Gary Sanchez. And that was in a down year. Gattis could legitimately be the No. 1 catcher in 2018 if he gets 500 PA (which he should) and returns to form.
The most intriguing name on this list is Carlos Rodon. He was one of my favorite breakout candidates heading into to 2017 before injuries derailed his season. I don't believe that breakout potential is gone at all, and now you don't have to pay for it. Rodon is a still a 25-year-old starter who strikes out more than a batter per inning. If Rodon's changeup can become a more effective pitch, he still has ace potential.
I'm not sure what it is about Cesar Hernandez that the industry hates so much, but when I figure it out I'll let you know. Hernandez was one of the best best 2B in Fantasy last season before his injury and finished top 12 in average, runs and stolen bases despite missing 34 games. The Phillies offense should be much improved this year with a full season of Rhys Hoskins and the addition of Carlos Santana. I still expect Hernandez to lead off, which gives him 110-run upside to go along with an average near .300 and around 20 steals.
It seems really weird calling Mike Zunino safe, but I feel pretty confident in what he did last year other than his batting average. Zunino should be one of the best sources of home runs at the catcher position and certainly has upside in terms of his run production numbers.
Raul Mondesi not having a top-400 ranking on Fantasy Pros is kind of amusing to me. Mondesi was an elite prospect just two years ago. The Royals rushed him up, and he fell flat on his face. But as a 21 year-old he just slashed .289/.320/.513 at Triple-A with 13 HR and 21 SB in 93 games. The year before he had a .790 OPS across three minor-league levels and stole 24 bases in 52 minor-league games. Judging by the rankings, he's going to be available in the final round of most drafts and could be an absolute steal. If Raul Mondesi had never played a major-league game, he'd be a top-10 prospect right now.
Josh Hader is a pitcher who really excites me, and it's not just the hair. In fact, if the Brewers give him the chance to make 15-20 starts, he could absolutely be the best SPARP in baseball for the first half of the season. I do expect he'll also spend his fair share of time in the bullpen, which limits his upside.