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Post-Hype Sleepers for Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Leagues: Hitters

Post-Hype Sleepers are players that have received high expectations in the past, and not quite lived up to them. Now, their value does not reflect the upside that the player possesses for fantasy baseball leagues.  The below five players fit that criterion. A few are players that are off to hot starts in 2020. Others are players that have all the tools and resources to one day return high-end numbers for your fantasy team. This article particularly focuses on players upside in dynasty leagues, so all involved are in their mid-twenties or younger.

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5 Post-Hype Sleepers for Dynasty Leagues

Dansby Swanson – SS – Atlanta Braves

Prior to 2020

Once upon a time Dansby Swanson was the former number one overall selection in the MLB Draft. He was a consensus top 10 overall prospect until he became a full-time player for the Braves in 2017. The noise surrounding Swanson coming into that season was loud. Unfortunately, he did not perform up to expectations. In 144 games played, Swanson only managed to hit for a .238 average with six home runs.

Following the disappointing season, there was hope that a full year in the majors, and then an entire off-season with the club would ignite a fire in Swanson’s game. On the contrary, Swanson once again disappointed, hitting a measly .238 with 14 home runs.  Those who backed Swanson quickly moved on from the hype. Most assumed Swanson was simply over-hyped, and he was bound to be a defense-first shortstop.

Then 2019 happened. All of a sudden, we saw the high-pedigree talent start to show. Prior to a heel injury that hindered his stats for 2019, Swanson had truly broken out, as evidenced by the below 162 game pace:

Dansby Swanson Pre-Injury Stats 2019

Coincidentally, Swanson was hitting the ball harder than he ever had in his career. Prior to 2019, Swanson had never had a hard-hit percentage above 35 percent according to baseball savant. He was all the way up to 41.6 percent in 2019. His barrel rate more than doubled, as his 10.1% barrel rate was six percent higher than his next closest season. Then the heel injury happened on July 23rd, and his batting average and batted ball data suffered, hindering his overall numbers for the year.

2020 & Future Outlook

Now healthy again in 2020, Swanson is showing that those who dubbed him as an elite prospect several years ago were not wrong. Nearly two weeks into the season, Swanson is scorching the ball. His 45.8% hard-hit rate and 16.7% barrel rate are borderline elite. He has nine runs scored, and 11 RBI, which ranks him in the top 10 in all of baseball. While 11 games is nothing to over analyze, combined with his healthy games from 2019, we could be witnessing a transformation that is here to stay. Still only 26 years old, Swanson looks destined to jump into the top 100 overall players for dynasty purposes.

J.P. Crawford – SS – Seattle Mariners

Prior to 2020

J.P. Crawford was never thought to be a potential dynasty asset for fantasy baseball purposes. Despite being a top five prospect on scouting services, he was rated as a glove-first shortstop. He had a low rating in terms of power, and a below-average hit tool. With those traits, he has been virtually a useless asset for fantasy purposes.

Crawford’s truncated hit rating had seemed to be accurate in his first three major league seasons. Prior to 2020, Crawford had poor totals across the board, particularly for a hitter with limited power.

JP Crawford 2017-2019

Those totals are very poor, particularly his strikeout-minus-walk rate. The only hope Crawford ever had at being an option in fantasy baseball was to shed his strikeout rate, put the ball in play, and use his speed to get on base.

In 2018, Crawford was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano (and a few other players). Once he was traded to Seattle, Crawford immediately started to trim his strikeout rate. He went from a 25 percent strikeout rate in Philadelphia, down to 21% strikeout in 2019. The on-field results did not change much, but at least he was putting the ball in play more. Now he just needed to start hitting the ball better when he did make contact. So far in 2020, that is exactly what is happening.

2020 & Future Outlook

Crawford has taken his strikeout-minus-walk rate to the next level through 11 games in 2020. He has walked more than he has struck out, and he is currently hitting .308. Even more impressive, he currently has a .438 on-base percentage, and he has worked himself into the lead off spot in Seattle. While this sample is too small to make any extreme assumptions, there is data that supports Crawford is turning a corner.

The aforementioned strikeout-minus-walk rate is the key driving force in Crawford having fantasy value. If he can continue to shed strikeouts and walk at a high rate, he will stick to the leadoff spot. His hard-contact is up nearly 10 percent from his career average, as he is currently hitting above league average. He has decreased his ground ball rate and increased his line drive rate as well. His 30.3% line drive rate is five percent higher than league average. More line drives typically lead to more hits. All in all, Crawford is hitting like a top of the order bat.

If Crawford can continue this pace, his future outlook for dynasty purposes receives a massive boost. The Mariners have one of the most exciting trios of hitting prospects in all of baseball that could potentially be hitting behind Crawford. That trio is Kyle Lewis, Jarred Kelenic, and Julio Rodriguez. With the potential of those three driving in the 25-year-old Crawford, he is well worth an investment in dynasty leagues.


Brendan Rodgers – 2B – Colorado Rockies

Prior to 2020

We have already heard all the comments surrounding Brendan Rodgers for years now. “He’s been a top prospect for 100 years”. “The Rockies just don’t play their prospects”. “He isn’t even the first Brendan Rodgers that comes up on google”. As tiresome as these comments are, they are all accurate. Don’t believe me? Brendan Rodgers was a top 10 prospect in 2015. Other players in that top 10 included Corey Seager, Lucas Giolito, Joey Gallo, and Yoan Moncada. All of those players have become household names.

While Rodgers is younger than those players (he will turn 24 soon), it does not change the fact that he has received a total of 81 plate appearances in the majors. Rodgers struggled in those plate appearances, only hitting .224, with zero home runs, zero stolen bases, and an ugly 33.3% strikeout rate. On June 24, his season ended, as he needed surgery to repair a torn right labrum.

That poor showing caused Rodgers prospect pedigree to take a plummet. He went from a consensus top 10 prospect, to now hovering in the thirties on most services. Is it possible that the unexpected shoulder surgery came because Rodgers was playing through an injury? It is a possibility. Prior to being called up, Rodgers was destroying Triple-A pitching. He had hit nine home runs, and scored 34 runs in only 37 games played. He pulled the ball at a 45.8% rate, which is relatively high. Once he got to the majors, he only pulled the ball 30.6% of the time in limited at bats. Either Rodgers was struggling picking up pitches, or something was off physically. My gut tells me it was the latter.

2020 & Future Outlook

Rodgers is healthy following his shoulder surgery, but so far in 2020, we have yet to see him up with the Rockies. It may not happen this year for Rodgers, as the Rockies have shown a commitment to veterans Matt Kemp and Chris Owings for this season. What’s new right? However, this could be the perfect recipe for dynasty owners to buy low.

Currently ranked as the 189th overall player in Eric Cross’s Dynasty Rankings, there are few players with the upside that Rodgers possesses in that range. Hitting in Colorado for the foreseeable future, Rodgers should give you a significant power and average advantage at second base on your dynasty rosters. He has legitimate .290-plus batting average, and 30-plus home run potential. Rodgers should be monitored carefully.


Ian Happ – OF – Chicago Cubs

Prior to 2020

A former 1st round pick out of the University of Cincinnati in 2015, Ian Happ was highly regarded as a can’t miss player with a great hit tool, and above-average power. Five years later, we have yet to see that hit tool from the Cubs centerfielder. In 326 career major league games, Happ has a .247 batting average, with a 32.3% strikeout rate. With those numbers, the Cubs have not received what they were looking for in their first-round investment, but out of such scenarios come many post-hype sleepers.

The ultimate issue with Happ has been in his swing and miss profile. Compared to league average, his swinging strike rate is high,  his contact rate is below average, and his strikeout rate is above average.

Happ Swing & Miss

For Happ to live up to the lofty expectation bestowed on him, he needs to swing at fewer pitches and hit more pitches in the zone. Well, guess what? That is exactly what is happening in 2020.

2020 & Future Outlook

Happ is off to a solid start through 11 games in 2020. He is currently hitting .281, with three home runs, and a stolen base. Most important, he is taking bad pitches, and making contact with strikes.

Happ Stats

If Happ can play near the level he has performed at in 2020, there could be huge upside. He will begin hitting towards the top of a stacked Chicago Cubs lineup. With solid speed, that could lead to more steals attempts. If it all clicks, we have a potential 30 home run and 10 steals player, who will score a lot of runs over the next half-decade. For a player ranked 260th in Eric Cross’s Dynasty Rankings, that is a significant bargain.

Scott Kingery – 3B/OF – Philadelphia Phillies

Prior to 2020

Scott Kingery was a favorite among many scouts coming up through the minor leagues, and for good reason. Drafted in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Kingery already possessed the speed to become a huge weapon at the top of lineups. He showed that speed off throughout his minor league career, having an unreal 81 stolen bases in 480 minor league games.

Kingery Minors Post-Hype Sleepers

Kingery did not show much power prior to 2017, but then he had a sudden power surge in the 2017 season. His 26 home runs in 132 games in the upper-minors was 20 more home runs than he had hit in any season prior.

Kingery Minors Post-Hype Sleepers

With all that said, Kingery has not hit for power in his first two seasons for the Phillies. Through 273 games played, Kingery has 27 home runs. Another negative, he has consistently been hitting towards the bottom of the order in Philadelphia. He has had a high strikeout rate, and a low walk rate. He never profiled as a high strikeout batter, but that is where we currently stand.  The good news, Kingery is stealing bases at a decent rate, swiping 25 bags in 32 attempts.

2020 & Future Outlook

Here is another guy that needs to figure out how to get on base more. If he does, hitting in front of J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper is more than ideal. Kingery and the Phillies have only played four games so it is impossible to see any sort of trend in such a small sample. Highlighting Kingery is more so reminding those out there what kind of upside the former top prospect has.

If Kingery can figure out how to cut his strikeout rate down to league average, he hits the ball hard enough to maintain a .270 batting average. He also hits the ball hard enough to one day reach 20 home runs. Add in at worst 20 stolen bases, and we have a true 20-20 perennial all-star. Kingery just turned 26, so there is plenty of time to figure it all out. If he does, there is top 50 overall upside.

If you’re buying into Justin’s post-hype sleepers then you’ll probably like his latest DFS Values.

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