It happens every year. Players get hyped up, identified as sleepers and breakouts, pushed up in ADP, then flop on our fantasy teams. Well, fantasy baseball can be a fickle game. As fantasy owners, we’re easy to disregard players that have let us down before. However, its also been proven time and again that buying players when their values dip can pay off big time. We call these guys post-hype sleepers, and I’ve got some for you to keep in mind come draft day.
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Post-Hype Sleepers for 2020
Corey Seager – SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantrax ADP: 150.31
The former NL Rookie of the Year was all the hype in Los Angeles after starting his career with two All-Star appearances. Corey Seager was a lock for a near .300 batting average, mid-20’s home runs, and solid counting stats in the heart of a potent Dodger lineup. That was until an elbow injury in April of 2018 led to Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the season. He later had hip surgery as well before making it back in time for the start of 2019.
That’s a lot to undergo for a young player. Understandably, he wasn’t the same hitter right away. The following chart displays his average exit velocity and xwOBA on line-drives and fly-balls throughout his career.
Coming back from his injury in 2019, it clearly took him a while to get back into the swing of things. By September, those numbers were looking awfully similar to pre-injury Seager. And you know what, he hit seven home runs that month. We haven’t gotten to see Seager take full advantage of the juiced ball. Those seven home runs he hit in September might have just been a preview of what’s to come. Buy this post-hype sleeper with ease at his price.
Luke Voit – 1B, New York Yankees
Fantrax ADP: 209.58
One of my favorite post-hype sleepers this season is Luke Voit. He’s very much similar to Corey Seager in that they were mashing the ball, got hurt, then they couldn’t mash as well. Voit had flashed his awesome power in his time with the Cardinals and Yankees in 2018, with 15 home runs in 161 plate appearances.
He was doing a damn good job of continuing his baseball mashing ways with 17 home runs and a .280 average in the first half of 2019. A core muscle injury landed him on the injured list on June 30. After that, he couldn’t quite get back to the same hitter he had been. Voit had an average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls of 96.3mph in 2018, 95.5mph in the first half of 2019, and 93.4mph post-injury.
Now, he’s reportedly healthy and ready to claim the first-base job for himself in one of the best lineups, in one of the best parks, and frankly, one of the best divisions to hit in. He’s one of the few post-hype sleepers with the power to win leagues.
Nomar Mazara – OF, Chicago White Sox
Fantrax ADP: 241.25
Sometimes we all need that change of scenery to give us a kick in the ass. Mazara is getting that with his move to the White Sox. At 24 years old, is it really fair to say that Mazara is who he is? This is something we tend to do. Just because we’ve had exposure to someone doesn’t mean they won’t make adjustments or grow as a player.
Last season, Mazara might have achieved his first season of over 20 home runs had he played a full year. Nineteen home runs in 469 plate appearances put him at a 24 home run pace over 600 plate appearances. And, that’s with an injured thumb. A thumb that, according to Mazara, had been bothering him since the 2018 season. Despite this, he actually hit the ball better than he ever has with a career-best .272 xBA, 10.7% barrel rate, and .414 xwOBAcon (xwoba on contact). At his current ADP, this post-hype sleeper is worth taking a chance on in a new and improved White Sox lineup.
Austin Hays – OF, Baltimore Orioles
Fantrax ADP: 285.96
The Austin Hays hype goes all the way back to 2017 when he slashed .329/.365/.593 with 32 home runs across Single-A and Double-A. He got a cup of coffee in the major leagues to end the season but only hit .217 with one home run in 63 plate appearances. The following season was full of injury and disappointment. Hays admittedly made the mistake of bulking up too much and suffered through shoulder and ankle injuries.
In 2019, he looked to get back to his previous form. And it paid off. Hays progressed through four minor league levels, stopping at Triple-A, where he hit 10 home runs. He finished the season with the Orioles and hit .309 with four home runs and two steals in 75 plate appearances. Much better than his previous taste of the majors.
That batting average was supported by a .303 xBA and a sprint speed in the 85th percentile. Not to mention a 41.8% hard-hit rate and 56.1% combined line drive and fly-ball rate. Oh, and striking out only 17.3% of the time helps too. When you make contact and put the ball in the air in Camden Yards, good things are likely to happen. Its the kind of park that’ll help you outperform your xSLG and xwOBA, as Hays did. I can see a 25-30 home run, 10 steal season from this sleeper.
Willy Adames – SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Fantrax ADP: 291.85
Shortstop is a super deep position, we all know that. How deep? Well, check out our staff rankings. But that’s not going to stop me from profiting off of the value Willy Adames is going to be. Adames had a lot of hype as a highly touted prospect for the Rays. He came up in 2018 and hit .278 with 10 home runs and six steals in 323 plate appearances. A disappointing 2019 followed with a .254 average and 20 home runs. That’s nothing special. The thing is, Adames actually got better in a lot of ways.
Adames decreased his strikeout rate by 3.2% from 29.4% to 26.2%. This was supported by an improvement in his bat to ball skills. In particular, his zone contact rate increased from 81.7% to 84.5%. Not only is that more contact, but that’s more contact where it should be, in the strike zone. I went into the importance of this in my Plate Discipline Trends article.
It was improvements across the board that has me psyched for Adames this season. He decreased his ground ball rate from 52% to 47.4%, raising his launch angle and exit velocity with it. While his .320 BABIP might not seem like bad luck, he ran BABIPs between the .340’s to .370’s throughout his minor league career. And his 93.1mph average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls was an improvement over the 91.9mph he displayed in 2018. This former top prospect is the perfect kind of post-hype sleeper you can’t forget about.
More Post-Hype Sleepers to Consider
Nick Senzel – OF, Cincinnati Reds
Fantrax ADP: 177.01
15/15 threat in one of the most improved lineups in baseball. The home park doesn’t hurt either. Can he stay healthy though?
Yandy Diaz – 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Fantrax ADP: 242.52
Fourteen home runs in only 347 plate appearances despite a 51.2% ground ball rate. The ground ball rate is creeping down ever so slowly but Diaz can hit the ball harder than most. His xBA of .284 suggests he’s better than a .267 hitter. Come on Yandy, just lift the ball!
Ian Happ – OF, Chicago Cubs
Fantrax ADP: 353.67
Ian Happ continues to be an interesting power/speed combo player. He cut the strikeout rate and increased his contact rate significantly last season in a small sample. Keep an eye on him in spring training. He’s going late enough that he’s worth the gamble. Happ could be a 30/10 bat if he earns the playing time.
Miguel Andujar – UT, New York Yankees
Fantrax ADP: 225.03
Coming back from shoulder surgery. Michael Conforto and Corey Seager are two recent examples of players that need a bit of time to get back into form coming off major surgery. Andujar will learn some first base and outfield in hopes of earning playing time early on.
Who are your favorite post-hype sleepers for the coming season? Drop a few names in the comments below. We promise to keep them a secret.
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