2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Sleepers 1.0 offers draft day values at their ADP
There are a lot of ways to define a sleeper. Heath Cummings says the most simple way is also the most beneficial.
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Every year we have to have this discussion, so let's get it out of the way. What is a sleeper? Ugh.
There's no set definition everyone is willing to accept, so I feel free to define it as I see fit. Last year I wrote about NFBC ADP) and they're all being severely undervalued. You might even say the industry is sleeping on them.. In March, I'll give you a deep sleeper (outside of the top 300 in ADP) for every team. As for this piece, let's keep it simple. The 10 players below are all being drafted outside of the first 10 rounds (using
It is really difficult to understand how a starting pitcher with a 3.22 ERA over the past four seasons is available after the first 10 rounds. You could attribute it to his injuries and control issues in 2018, but we have every indication Carlos Martinez is fully healthy and it's not like he's had innings concerns in the past. He topped 195 innings in both 2016 and 2017.
Even acknowledging some risk, this price is a huge bargain. Guys like Mike Clevinger and Madison Bumgarner are going five rounds before Martinez with very similar projections. Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray and Kyle Hendricks are all going earlier. Unless some sort of red flag pops up during spring training, Martinez should be viewed as a top-25 starting pitcher in Rotisserie leagues and he has even more value in points because of his SPARP eligibility.
Much like Martinez, Archer's ADP suggests people are considering his floor and not his ceiling. Last year was the first time in four years Archer has thrown less than 200 innings or struck out fewer than 233 batters. All of the projection models on Fangraphs have Archer projected for an ERA below 3.90 and at least 200 strikeouts. And while he did have a down year in 2018, he finished with a 2.70 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in the month of September.
Archer has top-20 upside and his non-injury floor is very close to his ADP.
Buster Posey had a disappointing season in 2018, largely because of torn labrum and micro-fracture in his hip. I think we can all give him a pass on that. Even with that injury he hit .284 and walked almost as much as he struck out. In points leagues he was still one of the best catchers in Fantasy Baseball.
He may be worked in slowly at the start of the season, but if we're expecting a fully healthy Posey by May, we should expect an average close to .300 with excellent on-base skills and more pop than he showed last year. Posey isn't the third-round option he once was, but he should be taken before the double-digit rounds.
Andrew McCutchen is joining his third team in the last two years, but this situation is far better than his past two. The Phillies have a better lineup behind him and his home park is far more hitter friendly. That alone should be enough for you to expect McCutchen improves on last year's .255 average and .792 OPS.
His 20 home runs were his lowest total since 2010 despite the fact he posted a career-best 43 percent hard contact rate. He also had just 148 runs-plus-RBI, which was his second-lowest total since 2010. McCutchen should be a 25-home run guy with double-digit steals and a good chance to score 90 runs as long as he stays healthy. He'll be even better in OBP leagues.
Billy Hamilton has historically been a player who has been taken in the first six or seven rounds of Rotisserie drafts, simply because of the scarcity of steals. After a down year in 2018 (.236 average, 34 steals) he's falling to the end of the 14th round on average, which is a remarkable discount.
In his five full seasons he's posted three years with an average of at least .247, four seasons with at least 56 steals, and three with at least 72 runs. Now he finds himself on the Royals, who have built themselves almost solely around speed. Hamilton should have a neon green light that's flashing "GO!" every time he finds himself on first or second. I'd expect a return to 50-plus stolen bases.
In a down year, Cody Allen saved 28 games and posted a 10.7 K/9. But for four years before that he'd posted an ERA below three and he saved at least 30 games in three of them. I'm more prone to believe Allen's control (4.43 BB/9) and home run (1.48 HR/9) issues were a blip than a sign that he started declining at age 29.
Maybe the biggest boost for Allen is that he doesn't have to share with Andrew Miller any longer. I'd expect at least 30 saves for Allen in Anaheim with a significant chance he tops his career-high of 34.
Zack Godley was not particularly good last year. He was also terribly unlucky. Godley allowed a BABIP (.324) that was 20 points higher than his career-norm and posted a strand rate (67.5 percent) that was three points lower. That helps explain why his FIP was nearly a full run better than his ERA.
There's no guarantee he bounces back to 2017 levels, but he should be a serviceable fourth or fifth starter who is a solid contributor in strikeouts, at worst. The upside isn't hard to imagine -- 200 innings of a mid-threes ERA with 220 strikeouts and 15-plus wins. That type of upside isn't generally found in the 21st round.
A lot of the guys on this list struggled in 2018, which is why they're falling down draft boards. But Jed Lowrie is coming off a year where he posted an .801 OPS and set career-highs in home runs (23) and runs-plus-RBI (177). Those numbers may not seem like much, but they're gold for a second baseman who's available at the very end of the draft. And it shouldn't be that surprising if he continues to hit home runs. The Mets' home park is just about average for home run hitters while Oakland is one of the worst in baseball.
Shin-Soo Choo isn't young, he isn't exciting and he doesn't have much upside. But his consistency is worth more than his current ADP. Choo is going to give you around 20 home runs, 85 runs, and 70 RBI. He won't hurt you in batting average and he'll likely steal 5-10 bases. He'll be even better in points leagues because he walks so often. Choo is a solid, safe fourth outfielder who is available at the end of the draft.
Jake Lamb's value as a sleeper relies almost entirely on his left shoulder. He missed a good portion of 2018 due to a shoulder injury, but seems to be healthy heading into camp. In his last two full seasons he's hit 59 home runs and driven in 196. He should hit in the middle of the Diamondbacks order and be a solid source of power late in the draft. Lamb will gain first-base eligibility early in the year, which matters a great deal because of how thin that position has become. If he can regain his swing from 2017, he has top-12 upside at the position.
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