2018 Sleepers Fantasy Baseball

  1. Fantasy Baseball Sleepers And Busts
  2. Mlb Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2018
  3. 2018 Sleepers Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

View the latest fantasy baseball articles and advice for Sleepers. Get waiver wire picks, up-to-date rankings, strategy tips, & sleeper advice. Dave Swan sorts through the refuse to identify four catcher sleepers who might help you gain an advantage in 2021 fantasy baseball. Shortstops to Consider Fading – Risky Profiles & Questions Corbin Young brings you his shortstops to consider fading in 2021 fantasy baseball due to their risky profiles and huge question marks. 2021 MLB Top Prospects: Rookie pitcher sleepers for fantasy baseball redraft, dynasty leagues. Top rookie pitchers. MLB Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 300 cheat sheet for 2021.

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Sep 3, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) hits a two run home run against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Yankee Stadium.

Over the last three seasons, we've seen 75 starting pitchers drafted in the top 100 in ADP, an average of 25 per season. How many of those have finished as a top-100 overall player that season? 10 in each season, or just 40%. 22 of those 75 finished outside of the top-250, so you were only slightly more likely to get a top-100 player from your early-round pitcher as you were to get a player who wasn't worth rostering in most leagues.

Pitching is always a risky investment, in other words. Of course, there's a big difference between a pitcher drafted in the first two rounds and ones drafted in the eighth or ninth round, right? Well, last season, only two pitchers drafted in the top two rounds ended up finishing inside of the top-100 players, though six out of eight managed it in 2019 and 2018, including five top-36 finishes.

Which is to say, while pitching is a risky investment, that risk doesn't typically rise with the cost. The most expensive are the most expensive because they are the rare pitchers who have both elite production and a track record of health to back it up; outside of the first few rounds is when you start to see the guys who could be aces, but who have one or more question marks around them.

If we consider a top-100 overall finish to be a 'hit' for a starting pitcher, here's the hit rate among pitchers based on NFC ADP round over the last three seasons:

  • Rounds 1-2: 8/14 (57.1%)
  • Rounds 3-4: 7/23 (30.4%)
  • Rounds 5-6: 12/22 (54.5%)
  • Rounds 7-8: 3/17 (17.6%)

And if we consider a top-50 finish a 'smash', here's what it looks like:

  • Rounds 1-2: 7/14 (50.0%)
  • Rounds 3-4: 6/23 (26.1%)
  • Rounds 5-6: 6/22 (27.3%)
  • Rounds 7-8: 2/17 (11.7%)

At least over the last three seasons, you had a worse chance of hitting on a starting pitcher in Rounds 3 and 4 than you did in Rounds 5 and 6, and your chances of getting a good return on your investment was well below 50% for all pitchers outside of the top 24. The hit and smash rate for hitters is higher at every point in the draft, too.

So, does that mean you should buck the trend of pushing pitchers up draft boards and focus on hitting early? Well, not necessarily -- early pitchers are better investments than later pitchers, after all, and you still need good pitchers to contend in Fantasy. However, it's worth remembering that, at least over the last three seasons, SP6-12 in ADP have been about as likely to hit as SP13-20, so it might be smarter to still treat the second tier of starters with more skepticism. That's not to say you should skip the Walker Buehler (18.3 overall) through Luis Castillo (30.8) tier in ADP, but that you should include the Zac Gallen (40.5) through Carlos Carrasco (59.8) group in that same tier.

And this may be more true for 2021 than any season ever, given how many more question marks we have at the position than usual. Pitching is always volatile, but now we're coming off a season where nobody threw more than 100 innings, including the post season, meaning there are significant workload concerns and sample-size issues across the board, in addition to the normal attrition rate at the position?

Was Trevor Bauer's breakout for real? Was Max Scherzer's inflated ERA a sign of the end of his run as a dominant starter? Was Ian Anderson's late-season run for real? What about Corbin Burnes? Those are all questions you'll have to have an answer for fairly early on in your drafts.

My ideal start would probably see me end up with one of the top three pitchers -- Jacob deGrom, Shane Bieber, and Gerrit Cole -- and then focus on hitter for a few rounds, before dipping back into the pitching pool in Round 4-8. But, you might find pitchers going off the board so fast this season that you can't help but invest early. At least now you know the risk you're taking on.

Starting Pitcher Preview

25. Sonny Gray

26. Dinelson Lamet

27. Kyle Hendricks

28. Max Fried

29. Zack Wheeler

30. Jose Berrios

31. Chris Paddack

32. Framber Valdez

33. Ian Anderson

34. Dylan Bundy

35. Jesus Luzardo

36. Charlie Morton

37. Lance McCullers

38. Sixto Sanchez

39. Julio Urias


40. Patrick Corbin

41. Sandy Alcantara

42. Kevin Gausman

43. Joe Musgrove

44. Pablo Lopez

45. Mike Soroka

46. German Marquez

47. Frankie Montas

48. Marco Gonzales

Don't forget about ..
Starting Pitcher Sleeper, Breakout, & Bust
Starting Pitcher Top Prospects

1. MacKenzie Gore, Padres

Age (on opening day): 22

Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A

2019 minors: 9-2, 1.69 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 101 IP, 28 BB, 135 K

The left-hander was suspiciously bypassed for the Padres' postseason push, with some chatter about him possibly underachieving at the alternate training site. But there are no challengers to his top spot among pitching prospects, and with his high leg kick, big extension and deep arsenal of four plus pitches, he's well equipped to dominate.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

2. Ian Anderson, Braves

Age (on opening day): 22

Where he played in 2019: Double-A, Triple-A

2019 minors: 8-7, 3.38 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 135 2/3 IP, 65 BB, 172 K

2020 majors: 3-2, 1.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 32 1/3 IP, 14 BB, 42 K

The No. 3 pick back in 2016 had mostly gathered detractors since then, but it all clicked for him at the alternate training site, where he refined his changeup into a true put-away pitch on the level of Luis Castillo. From his one-hit debut against the Yankees to his three scoreless playoff outings, he showed unusual confidence in a three-pitch mix that included a loopy curveball.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

3. Sixto Sanchez, Marlins

Age (on opening day): 22

Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A

2019 minors: 8-6, 2.76 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 114 IP, 21 BB, 103 K

2020 majors: 3-2, 3.46 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 39 IP, 11 BB, 33 K

The questions about Sanchez's strikeout potential persist, but he actually had a better swinging-strike rate in his major-league stint than Anderson and dominated the other two legs of the FIP triangle with an elite strike percentage and sinking 98 mph fastball. Those two skills will take him far even if he never fully develops the third.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

4. Michael Kopech, White Sox

Age (on opening day): 24

Where he played in 2019: did not play -- injured

2018 minors: 7-7, 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 126 1/3 IP, 60 BB, 170 K

2018 majors: 1-1, 5.02 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 14 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 15 K

The prospect hype for Kopech has gone a bit stale because of some uneven minor-league performances followed by Tommy John surgery followed by his decision to opt out last year. His fastball was as breathtaking as ever in spring training, though, and he made huge strides in the control area prior to the 2018 promotion that ended with him hurting his elbow.

Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

5. Nate Pearson, Blue Jays

Age (on opening day): 24

Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A, Triple-A

2019 minors: 5-4, 2.30 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 101 2/3 IP, 27 BB, 119 K

2020 majors: 1-0, 6.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 18 IP, 13 BB, 16 K

Pearson was one of several high-profile pitching prospects who didn't quite pan out in 2020, his big fastball and wipeout slider failing to translate to whiffs as expected, but he ended on a high note, striking out five in two scoreless playoff innings following an IL stint. HIs careful handling to this point may hinder his progression some.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

6. Tarik Skubal, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 24

Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A

2019 minors: 6-8, 2.42 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 122 2/3 IP, 37 BB, 179 K

2020 majors: 1-4, 5.63 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 32 IP, 11 BB, 37 K

Skubal's secondary pitches are a little underdeveloped since he was able to dominate using mostly his fastball in the minors, notably averaging 17.4 K/9 in nine Double-A starts. But he gained confidence in changeup during his major-league stint and ended it on a high note. The tools are there.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

7. Casey Mize, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 23

Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A

2019 minors: 8-3, 2.55 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 109 1/3 IP, 23 BB, 106 K

2020 majors: 0-3, 6.99 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 28 1/3 IP, 13 BB, 26 K

Mize's debut in 2020 was memorable only because of how unimpressive it was, and despite him being the first pick in 2018, many evaluators aren't extending the same grace to him that they are to, say, Nate Pearson. His pitches are impressive individually, but since they're all variations of a fastball (splitter, cutter, etc.), he may need to go back to the lab for more.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

8. Matt Manning, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 23

Where he played in 2019: Double-A

2019 minors: 11-5, 2.56 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 133 2/3 IP, 38 BB, 148 K

The third of the Tigers' big pitching prospects is the most conventional and the favorite of some evaluators, but a forearm strain prevented him from debuting alongside the other two. Blessed with height and extension as the son of an NBA player, his high-90s fastball and downer curve have made him a consistent bat-misser in the minors.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful

9. Logan Gilbert, Mariners

Age (on opening day): 23

Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A, Double-A

Download bet9ja virtual app. 2019 minors: 10-5, 2.13 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 135 IP, 33 BB, 165 K

Gilbert dominated across three levels in 2019, which might have positioned him to debut if he had a better team or a longer schedule to work with in 2020. His velocity has picked up since signing and plays up because of the extension on his 6-foot-6 frame, but it's his four pitches and command of each that make him largely foolproof.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful

10. Spencer Howard, Phillies

Age (on opening day): 24

Where he played in 2019: Rookie, high Class A, Double-A

2019 minors: 3-1, 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 71 IP, 16 BB, 94 K

2020 majors: 1-2, 5.92 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 24 1/3 IP, 10 BB, 23 K

Howard had barely played above A-ball prior to his debut, and while his velocity was down in 2020, his slider still played up nicely, presenting a path to success even if his development slows from here. He was shut down early with a stiff shoulder, too, so it's likely we weren't even seeing him operate at full capacity.Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

So which 2021 Fantasy baseball sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Will Smith's huge breakout last season, and find out.

Not all leagues are 10-team standard mixed.

There are 12-, 15- and 20-team mixed leagues, including those that draft as many as 50 players to a roster rather than the traditional 25. There are 'only' leagues, in which the player pool is divided among only American or National League players. Nowadays, if you can think of a fantasy baseball format, there's probably a league for it somewhere.

Among my favorites are those AL- and NL-only 12-team leagues, where we're scraping the bottom of the barrel to find hidden value. Practically everyone even remotely relevant gets drafted in those, so you're challenged to unearth talent from beyond the All-Star tiers in the rankings. Doing the research on these effective no-names is one of my most enjoyable offseason exercises.

These gems I find I call my 'Deep sleepers,' since they're the types of players who actually fit the 'sleeper' definition: They're players no one expects to contribute much, but whom I think can provide good results.

As has been the case in seasons past, my goal with these picks is for the players to earn at least $10 of fantasy value in 'only' leagues. That might not sound like much if you do play in the aforementioned 10-team standard mixed, but it's still a threshold where the player could become a viable option for you as a midseason pickup. If you're in said league, print this list out and keep it tucked away for later.

Franklin Barreto, 2B, Oakland Athletics

His pro-career path reminds me a lot of Rougned Odor's -- hitters who were much more contact/line drive-oriented during their minor league days who subsequently sold out for power at the big-league level. Barreto simply hasn't enjoyed the amount of opportunity that Odor has to date, with only 57 games and 151 trips to the plate on his big-league résumé. Barreto's power metrics in that limited sample are awfully interesting, though: He has seven home runs, .208 isolated power, a 31.8 percent fly-ball rate and Statcast metrics showing a 41.5 percent hard-contact rate and 23.2 degree launch angle. Players like this require more time than others to fully adapt at the big-league level due to the extensive changes to their approach, and I'm unwilling to forget that Barreto was a top-40 overall prospect as recently as 2016, with much of the reason for that lofty ranking centering upon things that weren't his power potential. If the Athletics can squeeze him onto their roster as a utilityman come Opening Day, I think they'll find ways to use him enough to matter.

Price point in LABR: Second-round reserve pick.

Fantasy Baseball Sleepers And Busts

Ty Buttrey, RP, Los Angeles Angels

If you read my 'Not on my team!' column, you already know I'm not a big believer in Cody Allen's skill set, and therefore his prospects of holding a closer role for another 162-game schedule. Buttrey therefore seems like one of the most obvious -- and necessary -- handcuff candidates among setup men, after flashing 28.6 percent strikeout and 57.8 percent ground-ball rates in 16 appearances for the big club following his acquisition in the deadline Ian Kinsler deal. This isn't to say Allen shouldn't open the year in the role, as Buttrey could stand to polish his slider, which generated a 25 percent swinging-strike rate but he placed in the rulebook strike zone only 38 percent of the time, not to mention show that his improved overall control wasn't a mere small-sample blip. Buttrey seems to have future-closer stuff, though, and after Allen it's a wide-open race in the Angels' bullpen.

Price point in LABR: $1.

Steven Duggar, OF, San Francisco Giants

He's a speedy player with a hint of pop, and has an excellent opportunity this spring to carve out a prominent role for what is a Giants team precariously thin on quality outfielders. Duggar began his pro career as more of a light-hitting speedster, but the team worked with him on elevating his launch angle in the upper minors, to the point that he posted a 37.7 percent fly-ball rate in his career at the Triple-A level (2017-18) and 34.4 percent in his brief stint for the big club last year, giving him a chance at a double-digit home run output if he gets regular at-bats. Better yet: He has been batting leadoff in the games he has started this spring, and is the odds-on-favorite to capture that role on Opening Day should he claim the starting center field role, things that will only benefit him in terms of plate appearances and with them stolen base opportunities and runs scored. Duggar could be a sneaky 10/25 player in the best-case scenario.

Price point in LABR: $2.

Mlb Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2018

Phillip Ervin, OF, Cincinnati Reds

While he finished last season with a mere .192 batting average in September, Ervin's second half to 2018 couldn't be characterized as anything but encouraging: He batted .263/.327/.441 with seven home runs and five stolen bases in 59 games following his mid-July promotion. He's off to a scorching start this spring, too, which is something he needed to do in order to lock down a role on a Reds team that is loaded with options in the outfield. Ervin fits the description of the modest-pop, good-speed performer whose main knock is a blocked path to playing time, but when it comes to scouting sleepers, take the skills over role every time. He'll have to force his way into the corner outfield picture due to his so-so defense, but he's a good player to stash at the back end of your team in an NL-only league, hoping he'll hit his way into the lineup.

Price point in LABR: Second-round reserve pick.

Domingo German, SP, New York Yankees

The news of the past week that both Luis Severino (shoulder) and CC Sabathia (knee, heart) will probably begin the season on the injured list has brought more attention to German, and if we were to re-do the LABR auctions of the March 2-3 weekend, I'd anticipate he'd fetch a price closer to $5 than $1. Still, German is no lock to stick in the Yankees' rotation, though he possesses enough raw ability to force the team into a difficult decision once the veterans mend come mid-April. No one was talking about his performance in his 14 starts last season, but in those, he had 26.2 percent strikeout and 15.5 percent swinging-strike rates, which ranked 33rd and 10th among 156 pitchers with at least 14 starts. German has the stuff to succeed, and he's now got the opportunity to exhibit it.

Price point in LABR: $1.

2018 Sleepers Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Pablo Lopez, SP, Miami Marlins

Those who read my annual 'Kings of Command' column might recall Lopez as the pitcher who narrowly missed the cut due to not having faced enough major league hitters. If you lump in his Double- and Triple-A contributions before his June 30 big-league debut, however, he had a 2.75 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 22.4 percent strikeout and 6.0 percent walk rates in 22 starts last season, numbers that give him the look of a low-risk prospect at minimum cost. Lopez is already off to a strong start this spring, including four perfect innings in his most recent outing this past Saturday, a good sign for a pitcher whose 2018 ended early due to a shoulder issue. While he has more work to do improving his curveball in order to truly break out at the big-league level, he has a good enough three-pitch array to be at least a matchups candidate in 2019.

Price point in LABR: Second-round reserve pick.

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays

How did Lowe make the list? (Speaking of which, Lowe rhymes with how.) He possesses the combination of patience and pop that you like to see in a prospect, with a 10.8 percent walk rate and .236 isolated power between Double- and Triple-A combined in 2017-18, and a 10.8 percent walk rate and .217 isolated power in his 43 games for the Rays in the final two months of last season. Lowe's Statcast metrics backed his power potential up, as he had a 43.5 percent hard-contact rate and 10 'Barrels' on 92 balls in play, and he was an at-least-adequate fielder for the team at second base and in left and right field. The Rays could find these traits useful even in a reserve role initially, but what if Joey Wendle can't repeat his 2018 contact rate or either Kevin Kiermaier or Tommy Pham again misses time due to injury?

Price point in LABR: $1.

Tyler Mahle, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Call this one more of a hunch than a stats-driven pick, as Mahle's 10.18 ERA in his final six starts of last season, coupled with his calling a hitting-friendly environment his home, gave him the look of a 'no thank you' player for 2019. Here's what I saw: A pitcher who had a 3.83 ERA and 23.5 percent strikeout rate in his first 21 turns, during which time he registered at least 94 mph with his fastball 24 percent of the time. Mahle has been throwing hard again this spring, frequently hitting 95 mph with the pitch, with that added life giving him a better chance of at least providing matchups value to deep-mixed and NL-only teams. He's the likely No. 6 man behind a rotation that includes a trio of injury risks (Anthony DeSclafani, Sonny Gray and Alex Wood), and is well worth a stash based upon his heightened chance of making fill-in starts in 2019.

Price point in LABR: Fourth-round reserve pick.

Wade Miley, SP, Houston Astros

The Astros have made it a habit of unearthing pitching gems, and the fact that they invested in Miley, who is six games under .500 with a 4.26 ERA and 18.4 percent strikeout rate in an eight-year big league career, makes me think that they saw something exploitable in his late-2018 resurgence for the Milwaukee Brewers. During that time he went extremely cutter-heavy, throwing the pitch 45 percent of the time in 13 post-All-Star-break starts, with the result by far the best performance of his career against right-handed hitters: .240/.300/.345 triple-slash rates, the first time he had ever held them beneath a .400 slugging percentage or .300 wOBA (.288). That raised Miley's statistical floor significantly, to the point that he's a much, much safer matchups consideration for fantasy than people perceive -- perhaps even an every-start option in deep-mixed and AL-only, but probably not more since he misses so few bats. One more thing that was big for him: The move from Milwaukee's Miller Park to Houston's Minute Maid Park, while not necessarily perceived as such, represented a huge improvement for him in terms of park factors.

Price point in LABR: $4.

Matt Strahm, RP, San Diego Padres

I don't like to buy into 'best shape of my life' spring training stories, but when a pitcher like Strahm admits that he wasn't fully healthy last season and feels much more so this year, with the ability to handle the chores that come with a full-time rotation spot, I'm willing to listen. Improved confidence in his stuff alone might be enough for him to thrive in 2019, especially since he flashed four above average-performing pitches in a relief role last season and has a 3.12 FIP and 27.9 percent strikeout rate in eight career big-league starts as is. Strahm has enjoyed a lights-out start to his spring, and he's in the middle of a wide-open battle for three rotation spots with the Padres.

Price point in LABR: $2.

Christian Walker, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Through seven professional seasons, the past four of which were largely played at the Triple-A level, Walker has never received an extended opportunity to prove himself, nor earned high grades on any of the prospects ranking lists. He possesses two traits that should appeal to fantasy managers, though: Scorching Triple-A stats, slashing .279/.344/.494 in his career at that level while averaging 28 home runs per 162 games played there, and a near-guarantee of being on the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster due to his being out of minor league options. Walker suffered the misfortune of being stuck behind Chris Davis (when he was good) in Baltimore, then Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona through this stage of his career, but with Goldschmidt now traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, Walker's primary competition for at-bats in the desert are Jake Lamb and possibly Wilmer Flores. Walker should get a chance to hit his way into the everyday lineup, and he has a lot of upside for a player constantly overlooked.

Price point in LABR: $1.

Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians

Chalk this one up as potentially a 'one-year-early' pick, as deep sleepers often are, but all indications are that Zimmer is making great strides in his return from July right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and has an outside chance at resuming playing in games before spring training concludes. Considering the Indians' lack of outfield depth, he could force his way into the picture sooner than later, and don't forget that he was once a more highly regarded prospect for them than any of the options they currently have out there. Zimmer does, after all, have 10 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 135 career big-league games, despite having struggled mightily making contact during that time. Even a slight improvement coupled with better luck in the health department could make him quite the bargain power/speed pick.

Price point in LABR: $2.

Other deep sleepers to consider: Yusniel Diaz, Robbie Erlin, Jace Fry, Trevor Rosenthal, Caleb Smith, Myles Straw, Daniel Vogelbach, Luke Weaver.