Wednesday, January 10, 2018


So there are some certain yearly fantasy baseball publications out there that like top put their previous season's projected successes on the back covers of their books/magazines.  We don't do that in our annual draft guides but we do in fact like to take a look back at those we selected as sleepers and busts in those pages a year ago.  So with that said, here are the actual sleeper write-ups from last season's guide and an updated result analysis:


Wilson Contreras:  Still carrying catcher eligibility for 2017 fantasy baseball, the smooth-swinging Wilson Contreras has an immense amount of potential value attached to his name.  With good power that seems to translate to 20 home runs and with expected daily playing time as he also can start in the outfield, Contreras should be squarely on all your sleeper lists. 

Tommy Joseph:  While he was not much of a power hitter in the minors, Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph added that skill to his game during his 2016 debut with the team.  Overall Joseph swatted 21 home runs in just 347 at-bats and he makes for a nice upside play for your CI or UTIL spot. 

Jose Peraza:  This kid should be right at the top of your sleeper list this season as the Cincinnati speedster has potential five-tool ability at second base or the outfield.  Right out of the gate Peraza can steal 25 bases and hit .300.  He also is adding power as he develops which checks almost all of the offensive columns going into the season. 

Devon Travis:  We have already seen glimpses of upper-level ability from Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis over the last two seasons.  That is when he was not sidelined by ongoing shoulder trouble.  While Travis has had trouble staying on the field, his bat seems capable of 20 home runs and some steals for a dirt-cheap price tag at the draft. 

Whit Merrifield:  The Kansas City Royals will open up a battle for the second base job in spring training this February and the speedy Whit Merrifield has a good chance to come out on top.  Having stolen a ton of bases in the minors, Merrifield has hit as high as .340 while coming up the Royals minor league ladder. 

T.J. Rivera:  All New York Mets second base prospect T.J. Rivera has done in the minors leagues is hit for a .300-plaus average at every stop and he has a chance to be the team’s starting second baseman for 2017 if Neil Walker is not re-signed. 

A.J. Pollock:  The draft price will come down by a sizable margin for 2017 fantasy baseball but Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock’s ability remains second round-worthy.  2016 was a complete throw out for Pollock given the fact he missed most of the year with injury but his blockbuster 2015 numbers should be a reminder that he can be an outfielder 1. 

David Dahl:  Any young hitter coming up in the Colorado Rockies system is automatically a sleeper and this is especially true for the team’s former first round pick.  Outfielder David Dahl already began to show a burgeoning power/speed game last season in his cameo debut for the team and 20/20 is not out of the question for 2017. 

Michael Brantley:  Like with A.J. Pollock in Arizona, a decent price tag suddenly attaches itself to Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley.  An outfielder 1 on ability, Brantley will come cheaper this season after dealing with shoulder problems for almost all of 2016.  The guy is one of the best pure hitters in baseball and he has 15/15 ability as well in his power/speed game. 

Hector Neris:  The Philadelphia Phillies should have gone with the hard-throwing Hector Neris and not the mediocre Jeanmar Gomez to close games from the start of 2016.  After Gomez eventually got exposed, Neris got the much-deserved promotion to the ninth inning where he did well.  Capable of big-time strikeouts, Neris will be a high ceiling and solidly priced closer this season. 

Robbie Ray:  While Robbie Ray’s 4.90 ERA was far from impressive, 218 K’s in 174.1 innings certainly caught the attention of the fantasy baseball community.  Ray looks like he is on the verge of stardom and once he gets his ERA down into the 3.00-range, ace-level could be possible. 

Aaron Nola:  While Nola’s composite 4.78 ERA last season looked quite ugly, the underlying numbers pointed to a young pitcher that is capable of being a top-of-the-rotation arm soon.  Nola looked like an ace the first two months of the year before going into the tank due to injuries and fatigue but a 9.81 K/9 rate as a rookie is very impressive.  Don’t forget that Nola was also a 2011 first round pick (7th overall) of the Phillies so there is a lot of pedigree here.  Look past the ERA. 

David Phelps:  A very good setup man for the Miami Marlins in 2016, the interest meter went up by more than a little when he moved into the rotation down the stretch of the season.  Phelps pitched great in that role, averaging a K/IP and his stuff seemed to play well there.  We don’t know if Phelps will stay in the rotation or move to the bullpen for 2017 but if he ends up in the former, there is a decent amount of upside to work with. 

Lance Lynn:  Having missed the entire 2016 season after falling victim to Tommy John surgery, many in the fantasy baseball community will forget about St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn.  Keep in mind Lynn was a 200-K power pitcher who came close to ace status before the surgery.  While his always shaky control will be more of an issue in coming back from the Tommy John, Lynn is shaping up as a swell value.  

Edwin Diaz:  Boy do the Seattle Mariners have a closing talent on their hands.  Right from the start of his 2016 rookie season, Edwin Diaz began collecting strikeouts by the boatload (mammoth 15.33 K/9) which made him the easy choice to replace the struggling Steve Cishek in the ninth inning.  Turning just 23 this March, Diaz has the dominant K rate and overpowering stuff to be a top closer for years. 

Lance Lynn, Robbie Ray, T.J. Rivera, Hector Neris, Whit Merrifield, Wilson Contreras, Aaron Nola

David Dahl, Michael Brantley, Devon Travis, Tommy Joseph

Jose Peraza, David Phelps, A.J. Pollock

We nailed it big with Ray, Lynn, Merrifield, Contreras, and Nola.  To a lesser extent, we hit on Rivera and Neris as well.  Also on the opposite side, Dahl never suited up but we were far from alone there.  Also Travis and Brantley couldn't stay healthy; while Joseph was mediocre.  Overall this was a good batch and we we especially proud of Nola, Ray, and Merrifield.  


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