2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

nationals Gio Gonzalez

The most exciting part of a draft for me has always been those last few rounds where I can take a shot on sleepers and gamble on them outperforming their draft stock. The thing I love the most about this is that it is a no-lose situation. If you take the player and he outperforms his draft value then he could be that little piece that pushes you over the edge and gives you the shot of winning your league. However, if he doesn’t do well then it’s a no cost guy who you can drop and replace with the hot player of the moment on the waiver wire. The key here is don’t get so attached to your sleepers that you can’t bring yourself to drop them and just keep thinking it will happen soon because then they can become a dead roster spot and possibly even a negative for your team.

In this series we are each going to pick three sleepers to try and help you find that piece of the puzzle who can help push you over the edge and give you that shot of winning your league. For me I am defaulting to a 12 team league so looking at players with an ADP on fantasy pros of 240 onwards and are therefore either bench options or the very last starters you are drafting.

 

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Currently we are going division by division as we preview the season having covered the AL Central, NL West, NL East, AL East and AL West.

Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals 
ADP: 267

There is no denying there has been a downward trend in the output from Gonzalez since 2012 when he was a stud. As a predominantly ground ball pitcher he has always had a reasonably high WHIP but last year the ERA joined it and when they are both that bad it is concerning. However, he had some factors go against him that I have to think come back closer to the career norms in 2017. His HR/9 rate doubled from 2015 to 2016 and in previous seasons when we have seen it climb over 0.75 it has always fallen back closer to 0.5 the following year and playing in the National League I see no reason why that won’t happen again this year. Additionally, his FIP and xFIP were both nearly a whole run below his ERA and the Nationals fielding cannot be as bad as it was at times last year so I don’t see any reason why his ERA cannot come back closer to his career average of 3.73.

Add that he has always been a superb strikeout pitcher, having only once dipped below 8.5 K’s/9 in his career, and has pitched 175+ innings in 6 of the last 7 years and I feel confident that we are talking about a guy with a 150 strikeout floor. Right now Gio is the 73rd overall pitcher off the board so is likely either your sixth/seventh starter or a bench option and that price for a guy that gives you a great K/9 and plays in the NL with a team that should help him win reasonably regularly feels a bargain for me.

Padres Yangervis Solarte

USA Today Sports

Yangervis Solarte, 3B, San Diego Padres
ADP: 273

Solarte was a guy I picked up from the waiver wire each of the last two years hoping for a decent (0.260-0.270ish) average with just of a touch of power. What I have got each of those two years has surpassed my expectations as he has gone from 10 homer in 2014 to 14 in 2015 and then last year he managed 15 in just 109 games. Usually when we see a power increase like that we see the average drop away to compensate but again he has improved that each of the last two years as well going from 0.260 in 2014 to 0.286 in 2016.

Given that he is a young player still developing I think we can trust the power increases of the last two years and therefore I am projecting 20 home runs this season. I think the range of outcomes is 15-25 and no matter which end of that spectrum he hits then I am going to be more than happy given that he will be a last round pick. Average wise I don’t think he can stay as aggressive at the plate as he has, his strikeout rate jumped from <10% to 14.2% last year, and hit 0.286 again across a whole season. Therefore, I would project a 0.270 average but for a 20 home run hitter at the back end of the draft that is a great value for me.

Add in that he is able to field all around the infield and could gain eligibility at 2B and 1B and you find yourself onto a winner taking a late round gamble on Solarte.

Brewers Lewis Brinson

Shane Roper – MiLB.com

Lewis Brinson, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
ADP: 380

Now this sleeper is a bit of a shot in the dark but the upside is massive especially if he ends up in the majors early in 2017. Brinson rocketed through the Rangers minor league system in 2015 logging time at four different levels. Last year was spent in AA with the Rangers and then AAA with the Brewers. He struggled a little with strikeouts at both levels but managed to log a 15/15 stat line across the two. He also hit an impressive 0.382 with the Brewers AAA team and that will have caught the eye. He has had a decent spring but I don’t think it will be enough to put him in the frame on opening day. However, it wouldn’t shock me if he was up by the middle of May and playing close to everyday and then we are talking about a guy with the potential to be a dual home run and stolen base threat who has shown the ability to hit for decent average at multiple levels in the minors. Yes there will be growing pains but for a young guy with power there aren’t many place better than Miller park to start your career and when you chuck in the Brewers happiness to see Villar run wild last year we are talking about a guy who could have 20/20 potential even in a shortened season.

The reason I am boisterous on the Brinson seeing decent ABs in the majors this year is I have little faith in both Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton being successful this year. One is extreme power and the other extreme speed but both have flaws that could lead to them hitting 0.230 and Brinson can definitely match that average and probably beat it whilst offering a combination of power and speed. The third option is a Ryan Braun trade and every year that becomes more likely.

Brinson is a guy I am taking in the last rounds of pretty much every draft this year because he is a true no loss situation. If he gets called up I think he can be awesome and if he doesn’t I will find a bench hitter on the waiver wire in mid-May. Brinson can truly be the guy who takes you over the edge to win your league at a price so cheap you aren’t really paying anything at all.

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