HomeSportsFantasy Baseball: Post-hype sleepers offer potential value this draft season

Fantasy Baseball: Post-hype sleepers offer potential value this draft season

Fantasy baseball managers are a fickle bunch. We want our prospects promoted early and we expect them to have immediate success when they arrive. Those who fail to meet expectations are cast aside before they have a chance to recalibrate and show their true talent. In reality, the evolution of a successful professional is rarely linear. Most young players suffer one or two setbacks before achieving lasting success, which means managers who give post-hype sleepers a second or third chance could be finding a diamond in the rough. Here are a few names that shouldn’t be fired yet.

This one is too easy. Once one of the most touted players in baseball, Kelenic was terrible in 2021-22 before coming out last season (1.003 OPS in April). Unfortunately, he quickly crashed back to Earth, recording a .670 OPS after May 1. The outfielder got new life in the offseason when he was traded to an Atlanta team that led the Majors in runs scored last season and is giving up all the runs. their key players. This feels like the 24-year-old’s make-or-break season.

Jiménez did well in his first two seasons and seemed on his way to stardom. But injuries mounted over the next three campaigns, and he enters his sixth season with just one 20-home run or 70-RBI campaign on his resume. The 27-year-old would do well to lower his groundball rate, but even without making that change, he still has 30 home run potential for the cost of a late-round pick.

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A notable prospect when he debuted in 2019, Lux collected just 18 home runs and 14 steals in 273 games over the next four seasons before missing all of last year due to a torn ACL. The 26-year-old is back to full health and will be the starting shortstop for the Dodgers team with a stacked lineup. Lux needs to take a step forward with his power skills, but he can already hit .280 with plenty of R+RBI.

It’s hard to believe that García is only 23 years old. After all, he is entering his fifth Major League season. Besides playing a lot of games at a young age, García hasn’t done anything to catch the attention of fantasy managers, but he has solid contact skills and could reach the 15 plateau in both home runs and steals this year. I wouldn’t draft García in a 12-team league, but he’s someone to keep an eye on in April.

Is it too early to call Baty a post-hype sleeper? Possibly. But there was a lot of buzz about the youngster last season and this year he can be acquired for the price of a last-round selection. Baty fell flat on his face in his first big league tryout, hitting .212 with a .598 OPS. And he didn’t make any progress when he got another chance later, as he posted a .514 OPS after September 1. But out of the spotlight, Baty posted a 1.013 OPS in 26 Triple-A games and showed improved power in going 10 deep. The Mets are building toward 2025 and Baty is an important part of that plan.

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Gore was once discussed as baseball’s top pitching prospect, making his career particularly disappointing with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. Add to that the fact that he’s pitching for a club under construction, and the once coveted southpaw is now a complete afterthought in shallow leagues. But on the plus side, Gore has already shown the ability to sniff out scents (10.0 K/9 rate in 2023), and he could follow a similar path to former Nats prospect Lucas Giolito, who had disappointing early results had to endure before finding his footing and enjoying a few excellent seasons.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Canning may have reached a tipping point in the second half of 2023. Although hampered by a .346 BABIP, the right-hander registered respectable ratios (3.91 ERA, 1.28 WHIP), along with an excellent 11.6 K/9 rate and a 2.4 BB/9 rate. Canning could finally break out in his age-27 season by repeating his stretch-run skills over 30 starts. But managers will be wise to temper their expectations for wins, as the Angels appear to be one of the weakest teams in baseball.

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Stephenson, expected to be a quality starter when he entered the Majors in 2016, became a full-time reliever in 2019 and posted mediocre ratios (4.48 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) in 174 appearances over the next four seasons. His struggles with the Pirates continued early in ’23 before he finally figured it out as a member of the Rays during the final four months of the campaign (3.10 ERA, 0.88 WHIP). Now joining the Angels after signing a lucrative three-year contract, Stephenson could recover from a current bout of shoulder soreness and quickly replace Carlos Estevez for the closer’s role.

Managers must return to the old belief that Leclerc does not have the control skills to be a successful reliever. The right-hander will never be someone with a low walk rate, but he can succeed with numbers similar to the 10.6% and 12.0% he has posted over the past two seasons. LeClerc only saved four games last season and won’t be coveted in the drafts, but could become a 30-save closer by holding off veteran David Robertson.

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