NL Offensive Sleeper
In the early draft season in the high stakes market, Dansby Swanson is just an afterthought as a bench option. In his first season in the majors, Swanson hit .232 with six HRs, 51 RBI, and three SBs in 488 at-bats. This production is well below expected value, but a Fantasy owner has to understand that 2017 was Danby’s AAA season. In his minor league career, Swanson only has 38 at-bats at AAA after being the first overall pick in 2015 by the Diamondbacks. His approach is strong enough to hit near the Braves starting lineup. His experience in 2017 will lead to a huge jump in his value this year. Danby will get 550 at-bats with the Braves leading to run at 20 home runs and double-digit steals with a neutral batting average. Excellent cheat middle infielder in 2018.
NL Offensive Bust
In a similar theme as Whit Merrifield, Tommy Pham is my NL Bust. There is no doubt Pham was one of the better free agent pickups in 2017. My big question is: where have you been? Tommy will start the year at age 30 while never having over 450 at-bats in 12 seasons in the minors. Early in his career, Pham battled strikeouts while showing an intriguing combination of power and speed at three levels of A ball. 2017 was the healthiest season of his career leading to a career-high in at-bats (536) between AAA (92) and the majors (444). At this point in his career, he’s performed better in St. Louis (.281) than the minors (.258). Maybe the light bulb clicked on last year, but my gut tells me an injury or a weaker approach will lead to falling back in production while failing to live up to his ADP.
AL Offensive Sleeper
Strike zone control will be key to the value of Yoan Moncada in 2018. His bat has a unique power/speed skill set. Moncada had 94 steals between 2015 and 2016 in the minors over 711 at-bats while also offering 20+ HRs with a full season of at-bats. In the minors, Yoan had a K rate of 25.4 percent, which is better than George Springer (26.4) and Kris Bryant (26.6) who entered the majors with high expectations. Buy the power and speed while covering his risk in batting average with the foundation of your first three or four bats on draft day. Yoan looks to have a 15/40 skill set out of the gate with the skill set to hit at the top of the White Sox batting order.
AL Deep Offensive Sleeper
The two players that stood out for me as deep sleepers in the AL when doing my outlooks on each MLB team were Jorge Soler and Leonys Martin. Both players were getting drafted after round 25 in the early high stake’s market in 15-team leagues. They have different skill set while each player should hit in a favorable part of the batting order. You can see my write-up on both players on the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals outlook pages. I can’t pass on a three or four hitter with 30+ HR upside and talent in 2018, especially with an expected full-time opportunity. Soler is my offensive AL sleeper in 2018, and they will give him to you on draft day unless he continues to hit HRs in spring training.
AL Offensive Bust
In my time playing in the high stake’s market in baseball, I’ve been bitten more than once by the hot second baseman from the previous season. When a player lacks a supporting major league or minor league resume, it is difficult to be in a great mindset in back-to-back years. Whit Merrifield had a breakout 2017 (.288 with 80 runs, 19 HRs, 78 RBI, and 34 SBs over 587 at-bats) at age 28. His stats will be inviting for sure and his combination of power and speed with by a unique skill set on draft day. The change in the offensive structure in the Royals’ starting lineup will create less scoring chances and possibly more red lights on the base paths. His minor league career paints him as a .270 hitter with low double-digit power and 20 stolen base upside. I believe a shape Fantasy owner will find a similar output much later in the draft while Whit falls well short of his previous success.
NL Pitching Sleeper
My definition of a sleeper pitcher is going to be a lot different than most home league players. I play Fantasy baseball at the high level against the best players in the country. I can’t trade my way back into contention, and I can’t win the game by being the quickest player to computer when I see job opportunity within a game due to an injury. I need to do my research and formulate a winning plan to put my self into position to win.
Tyler Glasnow isn’t going to be a sleeper by name, but he will be by draft value. He’s been a train wreck in his 22 games in the majors in 2016 and 2017 (2-9 with 6.75 ERA and 80 Ks over 85.1 innings) thanks to his inability to throw strikes (six walks per nine) and serve up home runs (1.6 per nine). He’ll 2018 with two seasons of dominance at AAA (2016 – 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA and 133 Ks over 110.2 innings and 2017 – 9-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 140 Ks over 93.1 innings) while showing growth in his walk rate (3.1) in the minors last year. Glasnow is the type of talent that wins overall championships, and his price point is just about free in early March.
AL Pitching Sleeper
Michael Kopech has a lot in common with Tyler Glasnow. He has a huge K rate (11.5) with high risk in his command (4.5 walks per nine). After missing most of 2016 with an injury, Kopech flashed his stud upside last year. Over 119.1 innings at AA, he went 8-7 with a 2.87 ERA and 155 Ks. The White Sox gave him three starts at AAA (3.00 ERA and 17 Ks over 15 innings) in 2018. Michael has a great fastball that can reach triple digits, but major league batters will hit him if he becomes a one-dimensional pitcher due to his number of walks (60 in 134.1 innings. Kopech will be in the majors this year, and he will offer plus Ks with WHIP risk unless his command makes a big step forward.
AL Stash and Cash Minor Leaguer
The minor league player pool heading into this season doesn’t have the elite talent ready to huge impact in 2018 compared to some recent years. Next year I expect much more intrigue with Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. being one step closer to the majors.
My top minor league player to stash in the American League is Stephen Gonsalves. The Twins are loaded with question marks at the backend of their starting rotation pointing to Gonsalves being a nice upgrade after a few more starts at AAA. His resume in the minors is impressive (41-17 with a 2.39 ERA and 514 Ks over 478.1 innings. Stephen has dominated AA (16-4 with a 2.28 ERA and 185 Ks over 161.2 innings) in 2016 and 2017, but he did struggle last summer after his promotion to AAA (5.56 ERA and 22 Ks over 22.2 innings). Gonsalves should be in the majors by June with his command being the key to his major league value in 2018.
NL Stash and Cash Minor Leaguer
In 2018, the Reds will be wheeling out Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett, and Eugenio Suarez at 2B, SS, and 3B. All three players have major league value, but none offer impact upside. Nick Senzel is the future at third base, and he is going to push his way to the majors quickly. Senzel handled himself well in 209 at-bats at AA in 2017 (.340 with ten HRs, 34 RBI, and five SBs) putting on track to play at AAA this season. In spring training, Cinci mentioned that they would give Nick playing time at second base and shortstop to help open up a better window to the majors. Senzel has 20/20 upside while offering a winning edge in batting average. Buy his talent while understanding the players blocking him won’t get in his way when he’s ready to make a move to the majors this summer.
AL Comeback Player
Twice in the last three seasons, Miguel Cabrera fell short of expectations in his power production. Before 2017, Cabrera hit over .300 in ten of 11 seasons in the majors. There is something to be said for an anchor high average bat, and Miquel has the best major league resume to produce that skill set. His downfall in power in 2015 (18 HRs) and 2017 (16 HRs) was due to health issues. I don’t like the supporting cast in Detroit. A hot start by Cabrera could lead to a trade out of town to a contender with a much stronger starting lineup. His ties to Dave Dombrowski points to a future move to the Red Sox in a salary dump by the Tigers. When drafting in 2018, look back at the career resume of Miguel, and you will see plenty of reasons to expect a huge comeback season.
NL Comeback Player
This draft season I believe Fantasy owners are sleeping at the wheel on the value of Matt Kemp. Two years ago Kemp had an ADP of 90 to 100 when he delivered 35 HRs and 108 RBI. A hamstring string injury crushed his value last season over the last four months of the year while still being on pace for a 20/80 type season if he had 550+ at-bats. The move to LA does put speculation into his playing time, but he looks motivated to be a productive player. Matt lost weight over the winter, and I expect him to lock down the third slot in the Dodgers batting order while playing almost every day. He may even add a few steals in 2018 after not running in 2016 and 2017. At the minimum, Kemp will have 25 home runs and 85 RBI while I expect something closer to 30/100.
Click the expert’s name in the header if you’d like to view their writeups!
|High-Stakes Winner||Dr. Roto||Adam Ronis||Shawn Childs|
|AL Offensive Sleeper||White Sox 2B|
|White Sox 2B|
|NL Offensive Sleeper||Rockies OF|
| Cubs OF|
|AL Bust||Astros UTI|
|NL Bust||Reds OF|
|AL Pitching Sleeper||Mariners SP|
|White Sox SP|
|NL Pitching Sleeper||Cardinals SP|
|AL Comeback Player||Royals OF|
|Blue Jays SP|
|NL Comeback Player||Pirates OF|
|AL Stash & Cash||White Sox OF|
|NL Stash & Cash||Reds 3B|