We are at that time of the year again. Depression is setting in and you now realize that we have to many months until fantasy baseball is back. Before we know it February will roll around and you will get that itch again, and Fantasy Baseball will be right around the corner. Like most, your analysis will start and the community will identify their favorite “sleepers” for the approaching season. I felt with the season ending for most yesterday, it would be a good time to take a gander at the sleepers and how their season’s panned out in 2017. I picked the five names I that appeared up most frequently when I searched “Sleepers” in Google and my favorite place, r/fantasybaseball.
The Haniger hype may have been one of the largest heading into 2017, and for April it seemed to be coming to fruition. He slashed .342/.447/.608 with 4 HR/2SB. He looked like the real deal until he strained his Oblique on April 25th. It wasn’t until June 9th that we saw Haniger back on the field and he wasn’t the same guy. He hit .205 from his return from injury until the start of September. Along with the drop in his average, Haniger saw his counting stats suffer. He managed only 5 HR and 1SB, along with 21 R. When the hype had passed on Haniger, but he has rebounded in September. So far in September, he has looked like his pre-injury self. Haniger is slashing .348/.375/.576 with 5HR/13R/2SB. While Haniger’s full season has fulfilled his hype as a sleeper for the 2017 season, he has shown months of promise. I expect his stock to be on the upswing next season and for him to get the “sleeper’ tag again.
Overall: C-, If you could own Haniger in April or September, and not the other months then you would think this grade is low. I look forward to seeing if Haniger can put together a full consistent season heading into 2018.
Last March, you could barely go a day without hearing the name, Greg Bird. In Spring training Bird ended up leading the MLB in XBH (16), OBP (.556), SLG (1.098) and OPS (1.654) and tied for the HR lead (8), and he was one of the most popular “sleepers”, but boy did he disappoint this season. He fouled a ball off his foot at the end of spring straining and never quite looked comfortable in the box after. His season long stats are ugly, slashing .171/.275/.357 with 6HR/17R/22RBI/0SB. To be fair to Bird, he only managed 149 PA in 2017 due to the mysterious foot injury. Bird has shown a problem with striking out, his 28.4% strikeout rate, will make it hard to succeed in the MLB unless your name is Aaron Judge.
Overall: F After his injury in Spring Training Bird hit .100 until being placed on the DLand when your stock as a sleeper rises to the levels that Bird’s did (around 170 ADP) you are expecting some form of success. Unfortunately Bird was nothing but a negative in April, most people cut their losses when he went on the DL. To Bird’s credit in the 23 games since returning from injury he has hit 6HR/19RBI. It should be interesting seeing where the community ranks Bird heading into the 2018 season.
I wrote an article on Keon Broxton talking about about the hype that Broxton was getting heading into the 2017 season. He had the power/speed combo that makes men salivate and funny enough he actually managed to go 20HR/20SB in 459 PA. But,many expected more stolen bases from him after he stole 23 in 244 PA in 2016. Broxton’s number’s this season so far are .222AVG/66R/20HR/49RBI/20SB. Like I said for Bird, player’s with high K% struggle to succeed in the MLB, and impressively Broxton raised his 36.1 K% in 2016 to 37.5% in 2017. Of players with more than 450 PA in a season, that is the highest K% in a season from 1990 to 2017. Unlike Bird and Haniger, Broxton did not have to deal with an lengthy injury that kept him from playing, his down year was down to poor performance.
Grade: D Broxton failed to make an impact on the fantasy season. His counting stats don’t look atrocious from a distance but unless you are in a deep NL only league, he held little value. With Lewis Brinson waiting in the wings, Broxton days as a starter should be numbered next season.
In the middle of Feburary Brandon “Dat Dude” Phillips was traded to the Braves, opening a spot for the speedy youngster Jose Peraza at second base. Peraza got his first taste of everyday major league baseball in 2016 with the Reds and was a moderate success. He managed a .324/25R/3HR/25RBI/22SB fantasy slash in 256 plate appearances. Fast forward to spring training, with the vacancy at 2B and the increased importance of players who can steal bases Peraza was gaining momentum. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Peraza failed to capitalize on his playing time. Primarily batting 7th for the Reds, Peraza managed just .256/49R/5HR/ 37RBI/22SB fantasy slash in 503 PA. Peraza show a sharp decline in his average, and despite over 230 more plate appearances only added one more SB. There is some other worrying signs for Peraza going forward, he has a league worst 26% Soft hit rate, and the second worst ISO at just .068. Peraza will never be a slugger, but with his low average and dismal 4.0% BB% he doesn’t have enough opportunities to steal bases.
Grade: C, Peraza looks to be the Wal-Mart brand version of Dee Gordon, they both hold poor walk rates and ISO’s but Peraza just isn’t a good enough hitter to get on base like Gordon. I can see Peraza getting some play next season in deep leagues or NL-Only formats but unless he raises his average he won’t be a regular fantasy contributor.
Ole’ Scooter Conforto may classify better as a post-hype sleeper because he was everybody’s darling at the start of 2016 before his production fell off a cliff. Conforto’s brutal second half of 2016 and the Mets crowded outfield helped keep the Mets right fielder Average draft position (ADP) at 325 according to NFBC data. The people who took a shot at Conforto in the 300’s rewarded owners handsomely, to the fantasy slash of .279/72R/27HR/68RBI/2SB in 440 plate appearances. His 147 wRC+ ranks 14th among players with 400+ PA, his SLG% was 15th, and his OBP was top 20. But, like most Mets players Conforto got injured. He tore his posterior capsule in his shoulder on a swing, and underwent surgery at the beginning of September. Conforto’s shoulder injury is a bit of an unknown and will cause concern for owners next season, and typically the player does not swing a bat for 3 months.
Grade: A, When healthy, Conforto was absolute steal for anyone who took a shot at him. With his 325 ADP that means he went undrafted in most leagues, but he delivered as a top 50 player when healthy. In a healthier lineup than the Mets posted in 2016 you would have seen more RBI and Runs.