“Sleepers” in today’s fantasy baseball landscape is a buzzword. With considerable research possible at our fingertips, and so many people doing outstanding work in the fantasy baseball world, sleepers don’t remain “sleepers” for long. Two of the many fantasy darlings of this offseason are Javy Baez and Joc Pederson. Of these two I am only hot one of these guys, while much colder on the other.
Joc was a fantasy darling in the first half of his rookie season in 2015, recording 20 home runs en route to an All-Star appearance. Since then, the hype around Pederson has simmered down and for good reason, he posses a low batting average while only stealing 10 bases in 1099 career PA. While in his major league career compared to his minor league rate he stole at a rate of 32 per 550 PA. Joc has another weakness by being platooned due to inability to hit lefties, slashing a painful .125/.250/.219 in 2016. The flaws in Pederson’s game comes baked into his price, at pick 202.0 according to FantasyPros. Despite Pederson’s flaws in 2016, he put up a solid season. He maintained a slash of .246/25/68/64/6 (Avg/Hr/Rbi/R/SB) in just 476 at bats. This slash line last year left him as the 46th ranked outfielder in 2016, and with his current ADP he would need to just repeat his production in 2016 to meet his draft value. His ADP seems to be cheap for a year in which saw the 25-year-old improve in many statistical categories. He raised his ISO from his rookie year from .206 to .249, his wOBA from .335 to .360, his wRC+ from 116 to 129 when league average is 100, his SLG from .417 to .495. One of the most important statistical improvement is in his batting average, from .210 to .246. A .246 hitter on your team is much less of a black hole than a player hitting near the Mendoza line at .210. Heading into 2017, Pederson looks to continue his improvements as a hitter, and there have been rumors that Pederson may face more lefties as the Dodgers everyday center fielder, boosting his ability to pile up those important counting stats. Keep your eye out in the spring to where Pederson hits in the lineup as well because in 2016 he was hampered by the fact he only hit above the 6 hole for 70 total at bats. With his On-base ability, Joc can be among the candidates to be leading off for the Dodgers heading into 2017. All said and done, based on the cost of Pederson, I would consider buying him in as many leagues as you can.
In my last article, I posted about Kevin Kiermaier as one of my favorite sleepers who I am hot on. Now, we are taking a look at another one of MLB’s elite defensive talents in Javy Baez. Baez shined in the playoffs with his incredible tags and his go-ahead home run versus the Giants in the NLDS. The hype may have inflated Baez’s price heading into 2017 with his ADP according to NFBC at 118, with the earliest pick of 68 and latest pick at 162. The pick of 68 is a bit extreme and should be viewed as an outlier, but around the same time as Baez is being selected you can pick up other third basemen such as Maikel Franco (126), Justin Turner (128), and Jake Lamb (148). One of my favorite things about Baez is his positional flexibility, you can play him at 3B, SS, or 2B. He also has displayed power upside, hitting 14 home runs in 450 at-bats in 2016. From 2nd season to his 3rd season Baez showed some progress towards lowering his high K percentage, dropping it from 30% to 24%. Yet, when looking at his plate discipline you see that despite the K% dropping his O-Swing% actually became worse in 2017 increasing from 40.0% in 2015 to 42.5% in 2016. The 42.5% O-Swing percentage is 12.6% higher than league average. I can see his K rate issues cropping up again in heading into 2017. Another cause for concern is how deep the Cubs are. As many knows, Maddon loves to tinker with his starting lineup. While Baez should be playing second base 4 out of seven days a week, it won’t be implausible for Zobrist to get reps at second base. Especially, when Maddon wants to go with an outfield such as Schwarber, Heyward, Almora. Overall, I can see the allure of Baez. He has the ability to go 20/20 but the swing and miss ability and crowded roster make me hesitant to buy at his current price.