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Post-Hype Sleepers for 2018: Looking for the Big Pay-Off

Post-Hype Sleepers for 2018: Looking for the Big Pay-Off
Doug "RotoDaddy" Anderson Senior Writer February 15, 2018 7:32AM EDT
That little football game is two weeks in the rear view and you’re pining away? Get over it. Make like Annie. The sun will come out tomorrow, and tomorrow is today. Because today is the perfect time to fully turn your attention to Fantasy Baseball. Of course some of us have been at it for awhile now. So far in my search for hidden value, I’ve looked at some potential BABIP Rebounds, discussed why you should add middle relievers to your Fantasy arsenal, and highlighted the Top 20 Middle Relievers to Target. Today we look to a set of players that offer a huge chance for profit at your draft; the Post-Hype Sleeper.

What is a Post-Hype Sleeper?

There is no entry for Post-Hype Sleeper in the Webster Dictionary. I checked. That means it is what we say it is. I say a Post-Hype Sleeper is any major prospect who gets the full hype treatment and then fails to meet expectations. Fantasy owners can be fickle beasts, and they give up on players very quickly. Smart Fantasy owners take advantage of this and the rewards can be huge.

Need proof? You need look no further back than 2017 for a few perfect examples. Byron Buxton was as hyped as just about any prospect in recent memory, yet the first 500 at-bats of his career were abysmal. Something clicked last July though, and Buxton hit .300 over the second half of the season and is currently the 17th ranked outfielder in FantasyPros Consensus Fantasy Baseball Rankings.

Even last year’s big story, Aaron Judge, is a bit of a post-hype sleeper. His abysmal .179 average with a 30.7% strikeout rate made him an afterthought in 2017 drafts. To say that’s changed would be a bit of an understatement.

Luis Severino is a perfect example on the pitching side. After an impressive debut in 2015, Severino fell apart and posted a 5.83 ERA in 2016. He was a late-round flier at best in last year’s drafts. Severino finished 2017 as the fourth-ranked pitcher according FanGraphs WAR.

9 Post-Hype Sleepers for 2018

Here are 9 names to keep in mind as you prepare for your upcoming drafts. Some of these players will continue to disappoint. They wouldn’t be considered sleepers if they were sure things. Each player comes with their own unique concerns, but they also offer a chance for profit that is hard to beat, with almost no investment required.

Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Snell epitomizes the frustration of young pitchers. He’s got obvious talent and shows flashes of dominance, but walks always get in the way. I’m a stats stringer for MLB.com in Tampa Bay. Watching Snell is maddening. He constantly goes up 0-and-2 on hitters and then nibbles around into full counts where he either loses the batter or gets knocked around. Some pitchers can’t throw strikes. Snell gives you the feeling he doesn’t want to.

So why the optimism? Our own Michael Florio stole a bit of my Blake Snell thunder in this piece. My basic take is that Snell finally stopped overthinking and just let his best stuff speak for itself. Over the second half he pitched to a 3.49 ERA, with a 1.13 WHIP and bumped his strikeout rate up to 8.61. He could easily slide right back, but with the upside of a No. 2 Fantasy starter, and the cost of a 20th round pick, the chance for profit is huge. For

Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Taillon is somewhat the inverse of Snell. He was dominant early in the season then it was discovered in May that he had testicular cancer. Taillon came back in just six weeks, but never seemed to get in a groove. July and August were especially unkind as he posted ERAs of 7.36 and 6.60. He righted the ship over his last few starts and looked like the young stud pitcher we expected. While his bout with cancer likely affect him in some ways, Taillon’s peripherals differed very little from first half to second half. A .375 BABIP Against was more of the culprit. Taillon lacks the strikeout pitch to be a No. 1 Fantasy starter, but I’m confident he will be a positive contributor in 2018.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Chicago White Sox

I’m a bit conflicted on including Giolito on this list. I figured his success late last season would have the hype train back on the tracks, but he’s the 88th pitcher off the board in early NFBC drafts. Savvy drafters probably noted his 6.75 K/9, 189 BABIP against, and 4.94 FIP. These numbers are indeed cause for concern, but Giolito has opportunity, and he has pedigree. The ceiling isn’t as high as we once thought it was, but I’m willing to throw a late round dart in the hopes that he can follow the Dylan Bundy path and become a workman-like No 5 Fantasy starter.

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Yes, I sometimes like to slam my fingers in a door for fun. At least that’s what it’s felt like over the last few years trying buy into Glasnow. I’m not going to share his MLB numbers with you. There could be children reading. Here’s the thing though. Tyler Glasnow is still dominating Triple-A. His stuff hasn’t changed. In fact he added a mile per hour onto his fastball last season. It’s all related to his ability to throw strikes. At some point Glasnow is going to get on a roll at the major league level. When that happens he’s got the upside to be a No. 2 Fantasy starter. The good news is there’s no risk because he takes nothing more than a reserve round pick in a typical 12-team league.

Greg Bird, 1B, New York Yankees

Between Glasnow and Bird, you’re probably beginning to think I like the punishment. The thing is I’ve never stopped believing in Bird. Even with all the injury woes, he’s shown great power, with 20 HRs in 304 Major League at-bats. His .190 average last year was mostly the result of trying to play through foot issues. In 87 second half at-bats, Bird knocked eight homers, with 25 RBIs and a .253 average. Plug that into your extrapolation chamber.

Obviously Bird has to stay on the field, but Bird has the power to push Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in a crazy Yankee home run chase. Bird isn’t much of a secret in the industry drafts I’ve participated in so far, but in many leagues he’s going to last well into the double-digit rounds. Grab him in round 13 and enjoy the 30-plus homers. Thank me later.

Tim Anderson, SS Chicago White Sox

Anderson might not fit the Post-Hype sleeper mold perfectly since he never really fell flat, but his name rarely pops up in Fantasy circles. People seem to view him as a shortstop you settle for. Was I the only one who looked back at his 2017 stats and was surprised by the 17 homers? That came along with 15 steals, which could easily double in 2018. Anderson stole 49 bases as recently as 2015 in Double-A. He has his warts. He struck out in 26.7% of his at-bats, and his .276 OBP is a huge red flag. With that said, I’ll take a 15-homer, 25-steal shortstop at his current NFBC ADP of 197. Is it a guarantee that Elvis Andrus does much better?

Kyle Schwarber, OF, Chicago Cubs

You want hype? I present to you Kyle Schwarber. The guy was catcher-eligible and hit 16 bombs in his first 232 MLB at-bats. A home run he hit in the playoffs still sits atop the Wrigley Field video board. He missed basically all of the 2016 regular season, and then jumped off the training table to help lead the Cubs to their first championship in 108 years. The due was solid gold…

Then 2017 happened. He hit .178 in the first half and earned a trip back to the minors to find himself. With this much hype you knew the backlash would be just as big, and it has. He’s become a frequent Fantasy whipping boy. That’s ok with me, because I know that he hit .253 with 17 home runs in the second half. Would you take a .250 hitter with a real chance to hit 35-to-40 bombs? You bet your bippy. You’ll have to deal with a few slumps, and his defense will cost him at-bats, but he’s going to sink like a stone in many drafts. Take the shot of power and fill your other categories elsewhere.

Randall Grichuk, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Did we just expect too much? Are better days ahead? I do not have the answers you seek. What I do know is that Grichuk averages 30 HRs per 600 at-bats, plays solid defense, and has absolutely no competition for the right field job in Toronto.

While it’s not exactly scientific, I’m also a fan of the “change of scene” effect when I’m throwing my late round darts. And let’s be clear, that’s exactly what we’re doing here. There’s no guarantee on any of these players. They’ve failed for a reason. Despite their failures, they also offer maybe the best opportunity of any player type for a huge profit.

Grichuk’s upside is limited, but the power is real. What’s that you say? There’s plenty of power in baseball these days? Sure, but you know what there’s not plenty of? Speed. Players like Grichuk allow you to focus a little more on speed earlier in the draft and still maintain the power you need to compete.

David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies

I saved my favorite post-hype sleeper for last. I believe Dahl has a chance to provide the most net value of any hitter in baseball this year. It’s just a matter of how long it takes him to show the Rockies he’s back to where he was a few years ago.

Basically the Rockies have three positions; first base, left field, and right field. They have five quality players vying for those spots; Dahl, Gerardo Parra, Ian Desmond, Raimel Tapia, and Ryan McMahon. If healthy, I believe Dahl is the best overall hitter of the group. I like Parra, but are the Rockies going to let him stand in the way of a younger, better player? Desmond’s contract probably means he is virtually guaranteed a job at first or in left. So it comes down to the three young players in Dahl, Tapia, and McMahon.

Honestly, I like all three if they garner full-time at-bats. Colorado does nice things for even mediocre hitters, which means the winner in this sweepstakes will reward many a Fantasy player. It’s going to take a strong spring, but if Dahl proves he’s healthy, I see Desmond heading back to first base, with Tapia in left and Dahl in right. McMahon heads back to the minors, and Parra fills in all through the outfield.

Notice I haven’t even mentioned Dahl’s offensive tools? Just check out his first 222 MLB at-bats. We’re looking at a player who can easily hit .310-plus, with 25-HR power. There’s talk he could hit lead-off, which will lead to a ton of runs scored in that park. Obviously this is a situation we have to monitor, but talent wins out. Even if Dahl starts the season in the minors, I’m holding onto him. At some point this season I’m confident he will inject a nice shot of offense into some lucky Fantasy owner’s lineup.

 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

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