Shortstop Sleepers for the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Season
Next up in the positional sleepers and busts, we look at 2021 shortstop sleepers. To define shortstop sleepers, we’re looking at SS20 and beyond based on ADP.
fter looking at the shortstop ADP, it’s easy to find sleepers compared to busts at the position. At a glance, it’s a position that’s loaded up top but also includes quite a bit of depth. With this group of shortstop sleepers, most of them should provide double-digit home runs and stolen bases. However, as with many sleepers, there are no guarantees, but these players offer a great upside when compared to their ADP.
There’s somewhat of a theme with these 2021 shortstop sleepers. outside of Paul DeJong. they all offer double-digit home run and stolen base potential.
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2021 Shortstop Sleepers for Fantasy Baseball
Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Although Paul DeJong doesn’t seem like a sleeper, we want to mention him since he currently holds a 210.65 NFBC ADP as the 22nd shortstop. Since this position is relatively deep, it’s probably a fair ADP for DeJong. Most of the other players on this list provide double-digit home run and stolen base potential. However, with DeJong, he’ll give you a bit more pop than the other shortstops mentioned below.
With several of the Cardinals, I’m overlooking some of their struggles since they experienced an unusual 2020 season. Around the start of the 2020 season, about a quarter of the Cardinals roster tested positive for COVID-19. DeJong ended up as one of the Cardinals players that tested positive and missed time due to COVID-19. Similar to others, he struggled with the effects, and that likely impacted his performance.
In 174 plate appearances, Paul DeJong finished with three home runs, 17 runs, 25 RBI, and one steal with a .250 batting average. However, in 2019, DeJong reached career bests with 30 home runs, 97 runs, 78 RBI, nine steals, and 664 plate appearances. He projects to bat at the top of a Cardinals lineup that looks a bit top-heavy, meaning he should compile plate appearances and counting stats.
DeJong uses a pull heavy and flyball heavy approach with relatively mediocre hard-hit data. Although DeJong doesn’t light up his Statcast page, he ranked 80th in 2019 with a 92.9 mph average exit velocity on FB/LD tied with Nolan Arenado and Max Kepler. Target DeJong if you’re looking for 25-30 home run power with 160+ runs plus RBI with a .240-.250 batting average.
Andres Gimenez, 2B/3B/SS, Cleveland Indians
In a massive trade, the New York Mets traded away Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario, Isaiah Greene, and Josh Wolf to the Indians for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. After his first taste in the majors in 2020, Gimenez projects to bat leadoff in 2021. Although his current lineup context takes a step back when we compare the Mets lineup, he should receive everyday at-bats. This situation should help boost the potential for runs and counting stats since Gimenez typically hit at the bottom of the lineup with the Mets.
In 2020, Andres Gimenez finished with three home runs, 22 runs, 12 RBI, and eight stolen bases in 132 plate appearances. Gimenez slashed .263/.333/.398 with a 5.3% walk rate and a 21.2% strikeout rate.
As a prospect, he lacked power but typically provided stolen bases and a decent batting average. Throughout the minors, Gimenez never reached double-digit home runs with a high of nine in 2019. However, he notched 28 stolen bases twice in 2018 and 2019, but with a 71.8% and 63.6% success rate. Although it’s a small sample, his success on the base paths improved in 2020, where he stole eight out of nine bases. Hopefully, that continues into 2021.
Although Andres Gimenez doesn’t light up the Statcast hard-hit metrics, we’re not relying on him for power and home runs. Gimenez has a 190.54 NFBC ADP as the 20th shortstop and a 279.64 Fantrax ADP as the 26th shortstop. His NFBC ADP reflects the current draft market. Steamer projects Gimenez for 13 home runs, 61 runs, 60 RBI, and 23 stolen bases with a .266 batting average in 533 plate appearances. Overall it looks like a fair ADP based on his skills, projections, and team context. Expect the ADP to rise as the season moves on for Gimenez as one of the top 2021 shortstop sleepers.
Mauricio Dubon, 2B/SS/OF, San Francisco Giants
Here we have another shortstop with positional flexibility in Mauricio Dubon of the Giants. He’s currently projected to bat 9th for the Giants, which isn’t that exciting. However, Dubon potentially provides double-digit home runs and steals with a healthy .260-.270 batting average. In 2020, Dubon finished with four home runs, 21 runs, 19 RBI, and two steals with a .274 batting average.
He hits a ton of line drives with a 26.2% line drive rate in 2020, almost identical to his 26.7% line drive rate in 2019. Dubon lowered his O-Swing% in 2020 from 46.2% in 2019 to 36.5% in 2020. Even though he lowered his chase rate, it’s still above the league average of 30.6%. Dubon typically uses an aggressive approach where he records high swing rates in and out of the zone while also ranking slightly above the league average in terms of contact rates.
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) September 24, 2020
Mauricio Dubon isn’t known for his power and high home run potential, so it’s unsurprising to see blue and below-average hard-hit metrics on his Statcast page. He improved in several areas in 2020, and hopefully, he continues to progress in his third year in the majors.
Over the past two seasons, Dubon totaled eight home runs, 33 runs, 28 RBI, and five steals with a .274 batting average in 288 plate appearances. Steamer projects Dubon for 13 home runs, 55 runs, 56 RBI, and ten steals with a .266 batting average in 504 plate appearances. Since December 17th, Dubon has a 277.98 NFBC ADP as the 26th shortstop and a 333.43 Fantrax ADP as the 30th shortstop. Keep an eye on Dubon as one of the 2021 shortstop sleepers if you’re looking for a decent batting average, double-digit home run, and double-digit steals.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B/SS, Texas Rangers
We have a bit of a trend here with these 2021 shortstop sleepers, some speed, and a decent batting average with double-digit home run power in some cases. Hey, what do you know, also some positional flexibility with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who currently holds a 293.93 NFBC ADP as the 27th shortstop.
In the first half of 2020 until the end of August, Kiner-Falefa typically batted in the bottom half of the lineup. Then, in September, he hit in the top third of the Rangers lineup and projects to bat in the two-hole. Unlike Dubon and some other shortstop sleepers that we’ll mention later, Kiner-Falefa should receive a high amount of plate appearances. However, given the Rangers lineup, it’s hard to imagine a whole ton of production.
— Justin Groc (@jgroc) September 21, 2020
In 2020 Kiner-Falefa hit three home runs, scored 28 runs, totaled 10 RBIs, and swiped eight bases with a .280 batting average. We already noticed the discrepancy in runs and RBI since he batted in the top third of the Rangers lineup.
Kiner-Falefa doesn’t light up his Statcast page, but he makes a ton of contact with a career 84.8% Contact%, 93.6% Z-Contact%, and 70.4% O-Contact%. He hardly whiffs and strikes out, evidenced by his career 6.5% swinging-strike rate and a 16.9% strikeout rate.
Steamer projects Kiner-Falefa to accumulate 577 plate appearances with eight home runs, 59 runs, 54 RBI, and 14 steals with a .258 batting average. Although he may not provide similar home run numbers as Andres Gimenez or Mauricio Dubon, Kiner-Falefa should finish closely in runs and RBI.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Seattle Mariners
As one of the sneakier 2021 shortstop sleepers, J.P. Crawford served as the Mariners leadoff hitter in 48 out of 53 games in 2020. We know the story with Crawford, who, at one point, was heralded as one of the top prospects a handful of years ago. In his second season with the Mariners in 2020, Crawford totaled two home runs, 33 runs, 24 RBI, and six steals. He slashed .255/.336/.338. Although he holds a career 11.1% walk rate, it doesn’t quite show up with his career .325 OBP. In the minors, Crawford displayed high walk rates with a high OBP. That said, we could see that play out soon.
Crawford rocks a healthy 22.2% career line drive rate, which we love, and makes a ton of contact yet doesn’t chase pitches outside of the zone. It’s no surprise given the surface numbers, but his plate discipline metrics back it up with an 83% Contact%, 89.1% Z-Contact%, and 24.6% O-Swing%.
Similar to these other shortstop sleepers, Crawford doesn’t wow us with the hard-hit numbers. However, he’ll receive full-time plate appearances in the Mariners leadoff role even if it’s not a high-end offense.
Steamer projects J.P. Crawford for 14 home runs, 79 runs, 59 RBI, and 12 steals with a .239 batting average in 671 plate appearances. Although the home run numbers seem high, the projections assume he will compile tons of plate appearances and counting stats. He’s currently going past pick 400 with a 418.96 NFBC ADP as the 37th shortstop. Crawford’s a deep sleeper that’s worth a spot as a bench bat or best-ball formats.
Honorable Mention 2021 Shortstop Sleepers
Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
As a somewhat boring veteran, Nick Ahmed continues to compile plate appearances and counting stats over the past three seasons. In 2018 and 2019, amongst shortstops, Ahmed ranked 14th with 35 home runs, 16th with 140 runs, 9th with 152 runs, 18th with 13 steals, and 22nd with a .244 batting average. Granted that his health and compiling of stats come into play, but it’s still worth noting how underrated Ahmed has performed.
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) August 16, 2020
In 2020, Nick Ahmed totaled five home runs, 29 runs, 29 RBI, and four steals with a .266 batting average. His .324 BABIP finished significantly higher than 2018 and 2019, so it’s likely to regress over a full season. Ahmed projects to bat 7th and won’t crack the top half of the lineup. Regardless, his Steamer projections have him ending up with 17 home runs, 63 runs, 66 RBI, and seven steals with a .243 batting average. With a 377.61 NFBC ADP, Ahmed looks like a lesser version of Paul DeJong with fewer home runs, runs, and RBI.
Niko Goodrum, 2B/SS, Detroit Tigers
After receiving some hype heading into 2020, Niko Goodrum suffered an oblique strain and missed time. The switch-hitting shortstop struggled quite a bit with a .184 batting average in 179 plate appearances with five home runs, 15 runs, 20 RBI, and seven steals. Although the counting stats, particularly the home runs and steals, fall in line with his previous seasons, Goodrum raised red flags. His 2020 batting average looked gross, and his 38.5% strikeout rate exploded compared to his career 30.1% strikeout rate. Even his career-best 10.1% walk rate didn’t help boost his OBP in the small sample.
Niko Goodrum’s one of the 2021 shortstop sleepers where I’m discounting his 2020 season. He currently holds a 397.57 NFBC ADP and a deep league bench bat to target. Goodrum projects for 17 home runs, 69 runs, 63 RBI, and 14 steals with a .228 batting average. Although the batting average looks worrisome, Goodrum should compile plate appearances with double-digit home runs and stolen bases.
Willi Castro, 3B/SS, Detroit Tigers
Niko Goodrum’s teammate Willi Castro filled in and played shortstop while Goodrum missed time. Castro finished with six home runs, 21 runs, 24 RBI, and zero steals with a slash line of .349/.381/.550. The .448 BABIP immediately stands out and screams regression, but Castro boasted a relatively high BABIP in minor leagues in 2018 and 2019. Castro rocks a healthy 26.9% line drive rate and solid expected stats to support the short season mini breakout. He had a .299 xBA (93rd percentile), .498 xSLG (82nd percentile), and .343 xwOBA (74th percentile).
Although Willi Castro stole zero bases through 250 plate appearances in 2019 and 2020, he reached 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts in Triple-A in 2019. He currently holds a 230.20 NFBC ADP as the 25th shortstop. Like these other 2021 shortstop sleepers mentioned, Castro should provide a decent batting average, double-digit home runs, and double-digit steal potential. Steamer projects Castro to compile 120 runs plus RBI with almost full-time plate appearances.
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