MLB: Fantasy Sleepers for 2017
It’s that time of year again MLB fans! With the next season quickly coming upon us, we must strap up and get ready for another year of fantasy baseball. Now, there are your obvious powerhouses – Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, etc. However, like always, 2017 will have some sleepers we all wish we saw coming.
I’ve only played fantasy baseball twice, so I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Both years I made it to the championship only to become the runner-up. While I did good both years, I obviously wasn’t the best – however I always prided myself for picking the best MLB sleepers. In 2013 I picked Hyun-Jin Ryu with the last overall pick. He ended up having a good season, not great, but definitely was the best last pick I could have made. While that may have been the pinnacle of my sleeper status, it was still a win to me and made me feel much more credible.
Now, this article will be presenting some of the best fantasy sleeper options available. I (unfortunately) will be sharing with you the guys you should have your eyes on when entering middle to late rounds. Hopefully I don’t play in any sort of league with any readers, because then well all of my sleepers won’t really be sleepers will they?
Now, don’t expect these guys to be the superstars of your teams and compete with the likes of Trout. However, these guys will serve as good utility players that will prove to be extremely beneficial considering the guys you were able to take before them. These guys will be consistent contributors to your road to fantasy glory, and you’ll be able to surround them with excellence. So, with all of that being said, let’s take a look at my fantasy sleepers for 2017.
2017 ESPN Fantasy Baseball Rank: Unranked
Trayce Thompson, who is the younger brother of sharpshooter Klay Thompson, was sent to the Dodgers in the three team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Thompson shined in his short time in Dodger blue in 2016, and coming off of long rest from injury Thompson may excel. With Thompson only being 25 he will certainly continue to progress towards his ceiling. Also, with the possibility of platooning in the cards you could play Thompson on the days that match-ups benefit him. Possibly being available until the very last rounds, Thompson will be a good pick to serve as a utility player for your team.
Thompson managed to slug 13 home runs and 32 runs batted in during eighty games played. Admittedly, his batting average was pretty low at .225, and he struck out at a considerable amount. Thompson struck out 66 times compared to his total of 53 hits. Sure, these numbers aren’t too appealing, but considering Thompson battled back pains the numbers are more understandable. In June and July when the injury persisted Thompson batted .207 and .143. Compare that to the .261 and .270 marks in the months of April and May and Thompson’s abilities are more clear.
It’s not necessarily going to be an all in with selecting Thompson either. Being your last pick, or even a signed free agent, will prove to be the best risk to reward. If you are uncertain on whether or not to get him, let the season play out for a week or two. The moment you see signs of a break out, pick up Thompson or else it may be too late.
2017 ESPN Fantasy Baseball Rank: 220
Instead of going in and selecting a dominant closer in the early to middle rounds, the best bet is to let the draft play out and select A.J. Ramos when you can. Ramos is ranked as the 220th best fantasy player for 2017 and the 23rd best closer. Having such a low ranking is genuinely surprising, and with a lot of people being unfamiliar with the Miami closer it may be easier to snag him up. If Ramos can repeat his stint from 2016, his fantasy owners will be laughing with joy.
Last season Ramos recorded 40 saves and only blew 3 attempts. His strike out rate was good at 10.27 per nine, accounting for the 31st best mark out of all closers. His walk rate was a little high, but being a closer you can walk one guy every three outings and still have a 3.00 BB/9. The selling point to me is his amazingly low home run rate. Ramos ranked third in HR/9 out of all closers in baseball. The two guys ahead of him will be guys drafted high – Jeurys Familia and Zach Britton. Ramos’ mark, 0.14, is a great sign as he will not allow the dreaded home run to your fantasy pitching line up.
While Ramos won’t put together the all-around numbers that Familia, Britton, or Kenley Jansen will, he will definitely be a viable alternative. Instead of blowing an early pick on a closer, you could afford to pick up another starter or impact bat. Then, later in the draft when the opportunity presents itself Ramos should be your guy. With numbers as good as that, and a ceiling that can be higher, waiting for Miami’s closer is a smart game-plan.
2017 ESPN Fantasy Baseball Rank: 239
Some people may not know the name Alex Reyes outside of St. Louis, myself being one of them up until a couple of weeks ago. Reyes, a 22-year-old pitcher with loads of potential, may make the leap to the starting rotation in 2017. As of now, Reyes is listed as the fifth pitcher in the Cardinals rotation for 2017. Before 2016 Reyes was listed as the tenth best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. In 2017 we will see some of this potential shine out, and will prove to be a quality fantasy pick up.
Reyes is ranked 239 in terms of ESPN’s pre-season ranks, and ranks 64th among pitchers. Reyes could be a guy who falls to as low as the twentieth round, and at that point any owner should take him. The youngster is an arm that could provide your third, or even your second best, in terms of output for the season. Being able to slot him into the fourth or even fifth spot in your rotation will be extremely beneficial. With such young age Reyes will only get better as the season goes on, and will be a great year-long gamble for fantasy owners.
Reyes had a small sample size in the big leagues last season, but that sample was more than plentiful. In 12 games pitched, Reyes logged 46 innings, 52 strike outs, and a 1.57 ERA. His high strike out rate followed with a low earned run average is nothing less than a promising sight for fantasy owners. Reyes will certainly creep towards ace status, and with 2017 being his last year before super-stardom you may want to get him while you can.
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