It’s that time of year again, the fantasy baseball off-season! Where anyone and everyone has a chance for that trophy at the end of the year. While the real off-season is slower than the Jersey Turnpike, that doesn’t mean you have to sit around like your favorite team. Here are five sleepers that could possibly be your ticket to the playoffs.
The following ADPs are from Fantrax, which slightly skews towards dynasty drafts, but until Yahoo opens, this is the closest we can get to where these five players go.
- Miguel Cabrera: ADP-101.13, 2017 Statline: 16 HR, 60 RBI, .249/.329/.399
Miggy a sleeper? Not shocking considering his terrible 2017 statline. When players start getting into their mid-30s and a sudden decline happens, fantasy players get scared. Cabrera is heading into his age 35 season in a lineup that is suddenly without stalwarts like Ian Kinsler. There are plenty of reasons I could list on why Miggy should not be drafted, but why should he be drafted? For one, I don’t think Miguel Cabrera is done yet. 2017 was the first time his slugging was below .500 since his rookie season in 2003. His BABIP also took a tumble, dropping more than 30 points in 2017. Add in that his walk rate was about the same as it has always been and you have a prime rebound candidate here. If you are still not convinced that he will rebound, his Hard hit rate was actually above 2016 and his soft contract rate was a paltry 9.9%.
- Carlos Santana: ADP-165.88, 2017 Statline: 23 HR, 79 RBI, .259/.363/.455
Santana recently signed a 3 year, 60 million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He is in a surprisingly good lineup with the likes of Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Jorge Alfaro, among others. He is also one year removed from a 32 Home run season. He had a solid walk rate of 13.1% in 2017 while only striking out 14.1% of the time. In other words, he makes a lot of contact. His hard contact rate was right along with his career mark at 33%. What really bolsters his value is Citizens Bank Park, if you overlay his hits from Progressive Field to Citizens, he would have had more than 30 home runs last season. If you missed first base early, this is a guy you can grab late.
- Ian Kinsler: ADP-209.04, 2017 Statline: 22 HR, 52 RBI, .236/.313/.412
Second base is pretty deep this year, perhaps that is one reason why Kinsler goes so late. Regardless, Kinsler deserves plenty of attention despite a lackluster 2017 season. As you probably know by now, Kinsler was traded to the Angels this off-season, putting him in a lineup with Mike Trout, Simmons, Cozart, etc. That alone should help his fantasy value. So why else should you draft Ian Kinsler? Last years 9% walk rate was his highest since his 2011 season with the Texas Rangers. He also managed to cut down strikeouts by 2.9% over last year. His hard contact rate also rose by 3% over 2016. Add in the fact that he still steals bases, (14 in 2017), and you have another bounce-back candidate in a good lineup. If you don’t grab an Altuve or Jose Ramirez early, Kinsler is a great fall-back option.
- Jake Faria: ADP-214.57, 2017 Statline: 5 Wins 4 losses, 3.43 ERA, 1.177 WHIP.
Faria had a breakout campaign in his first season in the Big Leagues, but it seems like people have hardly noticed. His walk rate was a little high at 3.2, but you can chop that up to it being his first taste in the Major Leagues. It is a rare sight to see a pitcher dominate right out of the gate anymore. It seems most pitchers need a couple years before they really get going, for example, Jose Berrios. Faria had an 8.7 K/9 last year which is definitely fantasy-friendly. This could be the last year you get Jake Faria at a discount, as he seems primed for a 2018 breakout campaign in his first full season.
- Blake Snell: ADP-218.67, 2017 Statline 5 Wins 7 Losses, 4.04 ERA, 1.330 WHIP
Faria’s teammate Blake Snell had a much improved year over his 2016 campaign despite the higher ERA. He reduced his walk-rate by more than 1 batter per 9 innings. This had a huge effect on his WHIP, bringing it from 1.618 to 1.330. His K per 9 also fell, but that can be chalked up to him being more inside the strike zone. What really gets juicy about Snell is his 2nd half. In the 2nd half, Snell had a 3.49 ERA with a BB/9 of 2.91. Compare that to his 1st half numbers where he had a 4.85 ERA and 5.88 BB/9. It’s clear that Snell was able to control the ball much better in the 2nd half and it led to more success. Unlike Faria, Snell did not have success immediately when he reached the Majors. However, 2018 might finally be the year Snell flashes what his pedigree tells us he can do.
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