With the MLB season rapidly approaching, it is time to revisit my 2017 fantasy baseball sleepers.
WHAT QUALIFIES A PLAYER AS A “SLEEPER”?
First, a player must be undervalued.
A player’s average draft position, or ADP, must be below the ADP of other players with similar statistics to be undervalued. Rick Porcello was selected as the 230th player off the board last year according to ESPN.com. He finished as the sixth-best starting pitcher in 5X5 ESPN standard leagues. His teammate, David Price, was selected as the 27th player off the board, yet he finished as the 21st overall pitcher.
Porcello was tremendously undervalued last year, and I intend to help find undervalued players that can help contribute to 2017 fantasy championship.
Second, a player must be overlooked.
Some people argue that players can be considered “sleepers” if they are drafted in the third round, but have first round value. I argue that this makes a player undervalued. A player must be overlooked and passed on until later rounds in the draft to be a sleeper.
Jose Ramirez went undrafted last year in the majority of leagues, and managed to finish as a top 50 overall player. Ramirez went overlooked, and I aim to inform you about players that cannot be overlooked heading into 2017.
Yangervis Solarte, Third Base, San Diego Padres, (277)
Yangervis Solarte has been creeping up fantasy boards all spring, but has remained my sleeper of the year. The 29-year-old is primed for a breakout season since he will have an everyday role for the first time in his career.
He totaled 15 home runs and 71 RBIs in just 109 games last year, which would have put him on pace for 22 home runs and 105 RBIs. The everyday third basemen will slot in somewhere ahead of young studs Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe, which will positively impact Solarte’s run production.
Solarte’s ADP of 277, according to fantasypros.com, makes him the 28th third basemen taken off the board, which means he is currently going undrafted in majority of leagues. Solarte will make for an incredible late-round pick if you miss early on a third baseman.
Austin Hedges, Catcher, San Diego Padres, (305)
Austin Hedges has been working his way up the minor league system since 2011. This season will be his first as an everyday catcher.
Hedges made his way into the lineup with his defense and rocket arm, but his hitting progression has been outstanding over the past year. His batting average from 2013-2015 was a mere .235. He batted .312 last year at the AAA and MLB levels.
The 24-year-old will finally have his opportunity. At a price tag of a top 300 pick, he is well worth a draft selection in 2017.
Corey Dickerson, Left Field, Tampa Bay Rays, (317)
Corey Dickerson was drafted in 2010 by the Colorado Rockies in the eighth round. He’s enjoyed some early success, along with some nagging injuries.
Owners tend to forget that Dickerson batted .312 and .304 in two consecutive seasons with the Colorado Rockies. That shows he has the potential to be an elite hitter in this league.
The 27-year-old has dropped 25 pounds heading into 2017. That will give him a better chance to find a spot atop the Tampa Bay Rays’ lineup. The weight loss will also help him possibly steal more bases, as he has not stolen double-digit bases since 2012 (24).
Dickerson is a threat for 30 home runs and solid production all around whether it’s at the top or bottom of the order. His current ADP is 317, which is very low for someone with .300/80/30/80/10 potential.
Mitch Haniger, Center Field, Seattle Mariners, (319)
Mitch Haniger came over to Seattle along with Jean Segura as a lesser known piece of the Taijuan Walker trade.
Haniger has gotten off to a hot spring, slashing .406/.472/.719 in 32 at bats. This has earned him the everyday right fielder spot against American League foes, as well as the starting left field position during interleague play, when Nelson Cruz is forced to move from designated hitter to right.
The 26-year-old’s combination of power and speed makes him a threat to be a serious producer atop one of the most talented lineups in the league. Haniger could explode in 2017. I see a floor of .260/90/20/80/10, and a ceiling of .280/100/25/90/15. I believe this make him well worth the top 300 selection you would have to spend.
Tyler Naquin, Center Fielder, Cleveland Indians, (340)
Tyler Naquin has been regarded as the Cleveland Indians top prospect for the last few years after being drafted in the first-round in 2012.
Naquin played in mainly a platoon roll with Rajai Davis and Abraham Almonte last year. Center field will be all Naquin’s this year. The 25-year-old has a great set of tools and is a career .296 hitter with some speed and pop.
Naqiun will bat toward the bottom of the loaded Indians lineup, although a stat line of .290/70/20/70/15 should not be out of the question. He is well worth the his current price tag of a top 350 pick.
“From Our Haus to Yours”