The Game Haus presents our fantasy baseball 2017 top sleeper candidates at each position for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.
According to Yahoo.com, the following players average draft positions, or ADP, are in, or after round 22. Standard fantasy baseball drafts range from 23-25 rounds, so these players are low risk, high reward.
They offer greater value than other players at their position, as they are being overlooked and selected in much later rounds than players who offer similar value.
Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
The 2012 first-round pick has struggled in his time in the show, but 2017 is his year to earn his spot. Zunino is a pure power hitter who has hit fifty career home runs in 350 games.
He will bat sixth behind Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Cano. If this doesn’t get you excited, then I don’t know what will. He will have plenty of chances to rack up some RBIs.
Unfortunately for Zunino, the Seattle Mariners traded for veteran Carlos Ruiz from the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason. This is a bit unnerving, as Ruiz will inevitably steal some at-bats from Zunino. However, I believe that it will be Zunino’s job to lose.
His ADP is currently above 260, as he is commonly going undrafted.
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Boston Red Sox
The Gold-Glove award winner in 2016 heads north to join Boston’s star-studded lineup lead by Dustin Pedroia and the killer B’s. Moreland will be the everyday first basemen for the Red Sox and will bat sixth or seventh in the lineup. The Red Sox are looking to make a World Series run in 2017, and Moreland will be a key contributor.
He is currently being selected in the 23rd round, after fellow first basemen Travis Shaw, Brandon Moss, and Danny Valencia. I prefer Moreland to the aforementioned options for multiple reasons.
First, he has a more proven track record, hitting twenty plus bombs three times in his career. Second, the Red Sox lineup adds immense value, as we all saw how well Travis Shaw produced in the six hole last season. Finally, Moreland’s glove will keep him on the field, so there is no need to worry about losing at-bats to Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, or Allen Craig.
Moreland should do just fine in his first season in Boston.
Jose Peraza, 2B, SS, OF, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds have officially traded second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Atlanta Braves for two pitching prospects. This means that it is officially Jose Peraza time!
Peraza is a top 100 prospect according to MLB.com, Baseballprospectus.com, and Baseball America. The speedster has stolen 244 bases in 611 career games. Also, he has logged innings at second base, shortstop, and center field in his professional career, which will help him remain in the lineup throughout the season.
Peraza will primarily play second base, and will presumably start the season batting at the bottom of the order, but a promotion to the leadoff spot could be in order if he continues to find success at the plate. He has a career batting average of .312 at all levels.
He offers tremendous value through his speed and versatility in 2017.
Yangervis Solarte, 3B, 2B, San Diego Padres
Solarte, once a utility man for the Padres, will have the everyday third basemen job in 2017. He will bat in the heart of the order behind All-Star first basemen Wil Myers, allowing him to have plenty of opportunities to do damage. Solarte played in only 109 games in 2016, but managed to manufacture 71 RBIs on 15 home runs, while batting .286.
El Nino may be the most overlooked player in 2017, as he is a clean-up hitter playing an everyday role, but is being selected after utility players like Sean Rodriguez, Jurickson Profar, and Howie Kendrick.
Solarte has a great opportunity to surpass all of his career highs this upcoming season.
Danny Espinosa, SS, Los Angeles Angels
New doors have been opened for Espinosa, as he heads from Washington to Los Angeles to be the Angels everyday second basemen. The slugging middle infielder hit 24 home runs with 72 RBIs in 2016, surpassing his former career highs.
He will bat towards the end of sneaky deep Angels lineup, which will give him ample RBI opportunities. Espinosa is being selected in the 23rd round, after other shortstops including Alcides Escobar, Jose Reyes, and J.J. Hardy.
The 29-year-old can still improve his approach at the plate, and I would not be surprised by a 30 home run, 70 RBI campaign.
Michael Saunders OF, Philadelphia Phillies
The first-time All-Star in 2016 signed a one-year deal with a team option for a second with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason. He will be one of their everyday corner outfielders and will bat sixth behind the young Phillies core of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, and Tommy Joseph.
Saunders provides great upside as he hit .298 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs before the All-Star break in 2016. His value comes as he is being selected in the 23rd round after fellow outfielders Nick Markakis, Melvin Upton Jr., and Steve Pearce.
Saunders will have to bounce back to his first half form from 2016 if the Phillies want to have any serious success in 2017.
Chris Tillman SP, Baltimore Orioles
Tillman has completed four consecutive seasons with over 170 innings pitched, with an average of 147 strikeouts per year. He will be atop of the Baltimore Orioles rotation for another year as he looks to improve on his career high win total of 16 from 2016.
Tillman had a phenomenal first half last season, sporting a 3.4 ERA and 7.8 K/9. His second half was atrocious, but he has shown enough consistency in the past to not warrant any serious regression.
I suspect Tillman to make adjustments, as he did from 2015 to 2016, where he went from a 4.99 ERA to a 3.77. Also worth noting that he had a sub three ERA on the road, and a four plus at home, so take that into consideration as well.
He is being selected in the 22nd round, after other starters including Clay Buchholz and Mike Montgomery. Tillman will eat innings and have great opportunities to win games for the Orioles come 2017.
Fernando Rodney, CL, Arizona Diamondbacks
The veteran closer signed a one-year contract for $2.75 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason. He is coming of a 25-save season where he exhibited a K/9 of 10.2, which is well above league average. His K/9 has surpassed 10 three times in his last four seasons. This is encouraging as his K/9 have not dipped even though his velocity has.
The 39-year-old will be the closer for the Diamondbacks to start 2017. With the return of A.J. Pollock, David Peralta and others, Rodney could be in store for an abundance of save opportunities. He is being selected in the 24th round, after many set-up men, including three Chicago Cubs, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Koji Uehara.
Rodney’s value should spike as owners realize his value as a closer, so do not be afraid to “reach” for him in 20 or 21st round.