The positional sleeper articles continue and I am coming your way with 10 shortstop sleepers for 2020 fantasy baseball leagues. Shortstop is arguably the deepest position this season. The position is deep and littered with talent all throughout but there are still sleepers to target.
A sleeper can be and is often defined differently depending on who you ask. So what is defined as a sleeper? Well, I define a sleeper as a player going outside a range of ADP that I expect to exceed expectations and provide solid return on your investment.
I have had issues with the ADP cut off being at 150. I feel that can still be a bit shallow, but the idea is to cater to as many different formats and league sizes as possible so I decided to stick with the 150 ADP cutoff for my shortstop sleepers in order to do so.
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10 Shortstop Sleepers for 2020 Fantasy Baseball
1. Scott Kingery, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
Fantrax ADP: 188.13
NFBC DC ADP: 161.36
Scott Kingery is getting another chance to prove he’s the guy they thought he could be. The Phillies are not signing anyone to play third base and he will get the first crack at the position. He has shortstop eligibility in fantasy leagues and that is all that matters for us. Well, at least in Fantrax and Yahoo I noticed, not in NFBC oddly enough so keep that in mind.
Anyway, the real appeal is that there is a power and speed combination here. Unfortunately, the plate discipline has been an issue.
Coming off a year with a 29.4% K-rate, there is concern there. The odd thing is that he actually improved the chase rate a pretty good amount. It improved over 5% and yet his SwStr% still increased. This suggests he just missed more pitches he did swing at. It is still encouraging to see him swing far less at pitches outside the zone and provides some reason for optimism that he can continue to grow as a hitter entering his third season.
His power metrics don’t suggest he should hit for a ton of power, but he has shown double-digit power in the past and his pull heavy approach can make up for some of the shortcomings in the metrics.
He actually increased his pull rate 8.3% from 2018 to 2019. Along with pulling the ball more, he also added a little more loft to his swing by raising his launch angle to 17.5 degrees and all of this helped him produce an improved barrel rate in 2019 as well. The power is just a bonus because you really are drafting him for his speed.
Kingery has a sprint speed in the 93rd percentile. He stole 15 bases in 2019 and has stolen upwards of 30 in the minors. The success rate on the steal attempts has always been good as well. That is the type of stolen base upside your want to target if you missed on speed earlier in your drafts.
At the end of the day, the Phillies are trying to contend and Alex Bohm is biding his time in the minors and will likely get the shot if he struggles. This will keep the leash short on Kingery but ultimately, the starting spot is his to lose.
2. Kevin Newman, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Fantrax ADP: 212.92
NFBC DC ADP: 192.96
Kevin Newman is a great fallback option as your starting shortstop entering the 2020 season or a very good middle infield option. He is not much for power but the hit tool and speed are legit. I do think Newman even getting double-digit home runs may be a stretch.
In 2019, Newman had an average exit velocity, barrel rate, hard hit rate, and xSLG rates all below league average and most in the bottom 5% of the league. Yikes! Sure, it could improve slightly, but it is not his game. His game is hitting for good batting average and utilizing the speed to his advantage.
In 2019 he hit over .308 with an xBA of .291. That was top 7% in the league. He also stole 16 bases and had a sprint speed in the 85th percentile. He hit for said batting average with a realistic and very sustainable .333 BABIP.
The plate discipline is also very encouraging. Newman only struck out 11.7% of the time. That was top 3% in the league. He did so while walking only 5.3% of the time. This suggests he made a lot of contact and when you dive into the plate discipline numbers a bit more, you see just that.
The zone contact rate was 92.7% and the outside zone contact rate was 74.1%. These were way above league average and a testament to his batting eye.
What all this basically tells me is there is a boring, solid floor here for batting average and speed that can help stabilize any roster.
3. Didi Gregorius, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
Fantrax ADP: 201.75
NFBC DC ADP: 201.30
Now a year removed from the injury, I anticipate Didi Gregorius getting back to his ways and show us he isn’t done being a solid fantasy producer. I believe the reason he is falling in drafts is simply due to how deep the shortstop position is, paired with his skill set. He does not bring steals to the table and with no stat really standing out, he lacks that “wow” factor and is overlooked.
Gregorius should slot somewhere in the 5 or 6 slot I assume at the very least. This puts him behind the likes of Harper and Hoskins. That alone should allow an opportunity for 100 RBI. He is also on a one year “prove it” deal and that has been said to motivate players in the past.
Lastly, although this is not Yankee Stadium, Citizen Bank Park plays favorably to left-handed hitters. According to Fantasy Pros park factors data, Citizen Bank Park has been better for home runs for left-handed hitters than Yankee stadium. Both are top-6 but Citizen Bank Park edges out Yankees Stadium by two spots on the list. His pull hitting tendencies will play very well in Philly. I really am looking forward to a healthy Didi this year.
4. Dansby Swanson, SS Atlanta Braves
Fantrax ADP: 244.73
NFBC DC ADP: 231.60
Dansby Swanson gets no love and I cannot understand why. Maybe people are sick of waiting for it all to come together. Well, he was on his way to that long-awaited breakout prior to the injury last season. In 2019, Swanson was in the 65th percentile or greater in exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, xBA, and hard hit %. Not to mention 88th percentile in sprint speed as well.
This led to a 17-home-run and 10-steal output with a triple slash of .251/.325/.422. According to some of those metrics, Swanson under-produced. His expected batting average was 20 points higher than his actual batting average and the expected slugging percentage was a whopping 58 points higher than his actual slugging percentage.
This suggests he could’ve or even should’ve put up better numbers on the power side of things. This was all accompanied by a launch angle change and a career-best barrel rate. It was better than the previous two seasons combined!
Right now where he is going in drafts is a real steal. The batting average can be an issue but if you buy into the growth and the fact he is entering his prime then there is a lot of potential to be had here. At his price, it really is little risk for the potential for a double-digit steal and power source.
5. Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Fantrax ADP: 293.63
NFBC DC ADP: 278.87
I cannot believe I am recommending ANY Rays player, but here I am. Willy Adames may be one of only a few players on the team with “safe” playing time.
He is not a thumper by any means, but we did see an increase of 5.9 percentage points in hard hit rate last year and it was at 35.5%. That is likely due to a barrel rate improvement. There was also a change in launch angle. He is another player who increased their launch angle and with it, these changes are noted. The ground ball rate also decreased as a result but was still higher than you would like to have seen at 47.4%
He managed to put up 20 home runs but only 4 steals. The lack of steals is a bit of a surprise due to the 81st percentile sprint speed and he had stolen 9 or more bags every season from 2015 to 2018. If the playing time continues to be a non-issue I think we can get a solid, all-around producer in Adames this year.
6. Carter Kieboom, SS, Washington Nationals
Fantrax ADP: 296.16
NFBC DC ADP: 303.34
Carter Kieboom was initially thought to be blocked entering the season but then word got out that he will be given the opportunity to take the starting third base job from the start.
Although we saw him struggle a bit in his short MLB stint last season, this is a player who has flashed great plate discipline all through minors. As recent as 2019, he had a walk rate of 13.8% and a K rate of just 20.2%.
Not to mention Kieboom has hit .296 or better at three separate stops in the minors including .303 just last season in triple A. He appears to have good plate discipline and comes with some power upside and a handful of steals. At this draft price I love taking a shot and speculating on him. Kieboom maybe has the highest ceiling of any of the shortstop sleepers on this list. The reward outweighs the risk for me.
7. Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Fantrax ADP: 321.37
NFBC DC ADP: 339.94
Nick Ahmed just received a contract extension for the Diamondbacks. This should help solidify his position as the starting shortstop on the team. At least for now. Ahmed is not the most exciting name among my shortstop sleepers, but at his draft-day price there is value to be had.
Something to watch is Josh Rojas getting some run at shortstop early in Spring Training as well so the leash may not be long. You may notice a theme here. I say this because here is another guy who just offers a little bit of power and speed.
Ahmed gave us 19 home runs last season and 8 steals. Players who offer any form of power and speed combination tend to get a boost and yet Ahmed is basically free in drafts. He is going outside the top 300 in ADP. With a sprint speed in the 88th percentile, the steals can easily reach double digits. He is not much for batting average so you would have to build for absorbing what can be a middling one.
Deep League Dart Throws
Here is where I start highlighting shortstop sleepers going outside the top 400 in ADP. They will likely only be deep league relevant.
8. J.P. Crawford, SS, Seattle Mariners
Fantrax ADP: 455.63
NFBC DC ADP: 455.88
Crawford is known for his glove but he should be given every day playing time or close to it over in Seattle. The potential is limited but if you’re taking a player this deep, that is likely true for all my shortstop sleepers. I think we can see 10 home runs and 10 steals from Crawford this year. Unfortunately, that will likely be accompanied by a bad batting average. I know that isn’t flashy but steals are steals……. right?
9. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals
Fantrax ADP: 508.38
NFBC DC ADP: 463.36
Speaking of steals, that is likely the only reason to take a chance on Nicky Lopez. He has sprint speed in the 84th percentile and makes a lot of contact. He stole 10 bases total when you combine all stops last season. Prior to last year he always had at least 15 steals or more as well. He also has hit for a good average at just about every stop as well. If you are looking for very late batting average and some speed, Lopez can help you out. Beware, there is absolutely no power to be had here.
10. Johan Camargo, SS, Atlanta Braves
Fantrax ADP: 567.83
NFBC DC ADP: 531.60
There has been news of Comargo getting the starting third base job in Atlanta to at least start the year. I want any part of the Braves lineup I can get, especially in formats deep enough where rostering Johan Camargo is a consideration. I mean, we are just two years removed from him hitting .273 with 19 home runs. If he is truly given everyday playing time while Riley gets going in the minors, then there is a non-zero chance at him being in part who he showed to be in 2018.
That is going to wrap up the shortstop sleepers! I hope you enjoyed the info presented and furthermore I hope it’ll assist you come draft day. Stick around for more as we ramp things up entering the heart of draft season.
Who are your favorite shortstop sleepers for 2020? Let us know in the comments below. We promise to keep it a secret!
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