FANTASY PLAYS: Sleeper picks for 2017 fantasy baseball
Having a list of sleepers to queue up on draft day is not only an integral part of the draft prep process, it's a big part of what makes draft day fun.
The key to a successful draft is finding value, and picking the right sleepers is central to getting the most out of your auction dollars or picks. Plus, when your sleepers perform better than your league-mates thought they would, you get to take the credit.
A sleeper isn't just a player who comes out of nowhere to make an impact; a sleeper is anyone who has a profile that suggests he will outperform his draft position.
Some potential sleepers for 2017:
CHRIS DAVIS (1B, Orioles)
Davis' stock is down after losing 41 points in batting average and 103 points in slugging percentage in 2016. However, he was just two homers shy of the 40 mark, and most of the power he lost was of the doubles variety. Don't be concerned about the one-year drop in his line drive rate that is behind that; expect a rebound.
DOMINGO SANTANA (OF, Brewers)
He does strike out too much, but Santana has great home run and line drive power. He slashed .280/.344/.508 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) in 37 games after returning from an elbow injury late last season. It's a small sample, but the performance appears sustainable.
JORGE SOLER (OF, Royals)
Soler has even bigger issues with making contact than Santana, but strikeouts were not a serious problem for him in his minor league career. At 25, he is young enough to improve in that area, and he has already demonstrated impressive power. In moving from the Cubs to the Royals, playing time should no longer be an issue.
ADAM FRAZIER (2B/OF, Pirates)
As Frazier does not have a starting job as of now, this is more of a deep league play, but his is a name to remember in all formats this season. A great contact hitter who sprays the ball to all fields, Frazier has the makings of a perennial .300 hitter with speed. If Jung-Ho Kang misses significant time due to his DUI charges, Josh Harrison could move to third base, opening up second base for Frazier.
ABRAHAM ALMONTE (OF, Indians)
Similarly, Almonte does not currently have a place to play regularly, but an Indians outfield of Michael Brantley (shoulder), Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall offers the potential for a bench player to fill in and steal playing time with a strong performance. In limited play, Almonte has gone 15 for 16 in stolen base attempts over the last two seasons.
DANIEL NORRIS (SP, Tigers)
Norris had trouble staying healthy last season, but the 24-year-old made significant strides in the 69 1/3 innings he pitched for the Tigers. The lefty added more than 1 mph to his average fastball velocity and dramatically increased the rate at which batters whiffed on it. He could be a surprisingly good source of strikeouts and wins.
PATRICK CORBIN (SP/RP, Diamondbacks)
Corbin's 2016 season was so miserable that he got booted from the Diamondbacks rotation to the bullpen in August. However, he figured things out during his time as a reliever, posting a 0.95 ERA with 22 strikeouts over his final 19 innings. Corbin has a good chance to reclaim a rotation spot this spring and build on his late 2016 success while in a starting role.
TONY WATSON (RP, Pirates)
Watson is not a big strikeout pitcher, and he blew three saves during the two months he served as the Pirates closer late last year. Those struggles were largely confined to a 19-day period, and Watson has been a master at inducing soft contact over the course of his career. Owners may overlook Watson on draft day, but he could be one of the steadier sources of saves outside of the pricey elite closers.
CARTER CAPPS (RP, Padres)
Because Capps is coming off Tommy John surgery, he is almost sure to be overlooked, but Padres manager Andy Green has told reporters that he could be the team's closer. The last time we saw Capps pitching in the majors, he notched 58 strikeouts and seven walks in 31 innings with the Marlins in 2015. Even if Capps is somewhat short of his top form, he could be a dominant closer.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com