AL Offensive Sleeper – Marcus Semien
NL Offensive Sleeper – Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber was overvalued in recent seasons, and now he’s worth the risk. He hit 30 home runs as a part-time player last season and lost 20 pounds in the off-season. He was sent to Triple-A last season in the middle of the year, and the final two months, he hit .257 with 27 runs, 13 home runs, and 26 RBIs in 144 at-bats. Schwarber needs to improve against left-handers after batting .171 in 82 at-bats against them last year. Schwarber only hit .211 last season, but if the changes made in the final two months can stick and he’s in better shape, he could hit 35-40 home runs.
AL Bust – Aaron Judge
There’s risk to taking Judge in the Top 20, and that’s the price to acquire him. The power is legit, and he draws walks, making him more appealing in on-base percentage leagues. Judge struggled in 27 games as a rookie in 2016 and didn’t show the level in the minors that he produced last year with 52 home runs and 114 RBIs and a .284 average. A 30.7 percent strikeout rate always presents risk, although Judge offsets it with an 18.7 percent walk rate and a 45.3 percent hard-hit rate. Judge also had surgery on his left shoulder in the off-season. Judge could put up similar numbers to Khris Davis with a little higher average. That’s an outstanding Fantasy player, but not Top 20.
NL Bust – Robbie Ray
Ray is gaining even more steam with the humidor expected to diminish offensive production in Arizona. The cost is too high in the third and fourth rounds. He’s going to pile up strikeouts, but he’s not going to repeat last year’s numbers. He had a 2.89 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 32.8 percent strikeout rate. The negatives were a 10.7 percent walk rate, a lucky 84.5 percent strand rate, a 40.4 percent hard-hit rate, and a .267 BABIP, which is below his career average of .319. Ray averaged fewer than six innings per start. While the majority of starting pitchers are going fewer innings, that’s not ideal from your No. 1.
AL Pitching Sleeper – Mike Clevinger
Clevinger recently secured a spot in the starting rotation so the sky’s the limit. In 121.2 innings with the Indians last season, Clevinger had a 3.11 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, a 27.3 percent strikeout rate and a 12.4 percent swinging strike rate. The one issue is the 12 percent walk rate. Even with that high number, he was good enough to put up good surface stats. Clevinger threw more first-pitch strikes in the second half, and that will be critical for him to take the next step. Clevinger had good minor league numbers, including a 2.91 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 127 innings at Triple-A. With a good slider and changeup, the components are here to succeed.
NL Pitching Sleeper – Taijuan Walker
Walker, 25, showed some strides last season and missed some time due to blisters. Walker could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the humidor. In 71 innings at home, he had a 4.18 ERA and a 1.4 HR/9, and on the road in 81.1 innings, he had a 2.92 ERA and a 0.63 HR/9. Walker had a 3.49 ERA with an 8.35 K/9 last season. He averages 94 miles per hour with his fastball, and the slider and curve could be better at home. Walker allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 28 starts last season.
AL Comeback Player of the Year – Aaron Sanchez
Sanchez was overvalued in last season’s drafts with people paying for his 2016 stats. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the clear answer since he barely pitched and was on the disabled list a few times due to recurring blisters, which a few pitchers had problems with due to new baseballs. Sanchez has been good so far in the spring, which is a good sign. Sanchez went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.55 K/9, and a 2.95 BB/9 in 192 innings. He keeps the ball on the ground with a 54.4 percent rate. The underlying numbers indicate that he’s not as good as those stats, but he’s free in drafts
NL Comeback Player of the Year – Gregory Polanco
Polanco had an awful 2017 season, and it was mainly because of injuries. He was limited to 108 games. Polanco injured his shoulder in March, followed by injuries to the groin, ankle, and a trip to the disabled list three times because of a hamstring injury. He batted .251 with 39 runs, 11 home runs, 35 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .695 OPS. Polanco electing to add power by lifting weights before the 2017 season and he said it didn’t work because his muscles were tight, so he went back to his previous trainer. The focus this off-season was on agility. Two years ago, Polanco had 22 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He is often being drafted in the double-digit rounds.
AL Stash and Cash – Austin Hays
Hays looked like he might start the season with the Orioles, but the signing of Colby Rasmus could keep Hays in the minors to begin the year. He had a huge breakout last season, batting .329 with a .593 slugging percentage with 32 home runs between High-A and AA. He’s also a good defensive outfielder. He only struck out 15.1 percent of the time last season. Hays hasn’t played at Triple-A yet, but he profiles as a good average hitter with good power.
NL Stash and Cash – Scott Kingery
The Phillies don’t have a clear opening in the infield with Cesar Hernandez, J.P. Crawford, and Maikel Franco. If Hernandez or Franco struggle or injuries strike, Kingery could be up from the minors early. He has played some outfield in the spring, but if he continues to mash in the minors, the Phillies will find a spot. Cody Bellinger played his way into the majors in April and stuck the whole year. Kingery only hit eight home runs in his first two seasons before a power surge last season. Between AA and AAA, Kingery batted .304 with 26 home runs, 65 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 543 at-bats. The speed alone will make him an impact player.
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AL Offensive Sleeper
White Sox 2B
White Sox 2B
NL Offensive Sleeper
AL Pitching Sleeper
White Sox SP
NL Pitching Sleeper
AL Comeback Player
Blue Jays SP
NL Comeback Player
AL Stash & Cash
White Sox OF
NL Stash & Cash