Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: 3BSporting News — (Matt Lutovsky)
Third base might be the most loaded position in all of fantasy baseball in 2019, which makes it hard to find many legitimate sleepers. Many of the undervalued/breakout candidates are eligible at other positions, so it seems likely fantasy owners will be drafting them to play at those spots. Still, when you look at the 3B rankings on your cheat sheet, there are undoubtedly a few guys you're overlooking whose ADPs could easily be outproduced by their production.
Last year saw several breakouts at 3B, including studs becoming superstars (Joe Ramirez, Alex Bregman, Javier Baez), a prospect shining bright (Miguel Andujar), and an out-of-nowhere emergence that few could have predicted (Max Muncy). We normally try to focus on the middle category, as the former type of player doesn't really qualify as a "sleeper" and the latter is almost impossible to predict.
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Bounce-backs are another form of "sleeper", and while last year didn't see a ton of those, this year offers a lot of options. Kris Bryant, Wil Myers, Josh Donaldson, Justin Turner, and Miguel Sano, among others, will all be looking to turn things around after injury-plagued and/or generally disappointing 2018's. All have the talent to finish as a top-eight 3Bs and, with the possible exception of Bryant, will likely be undervalued on draft day.
2019 Fantasy Baseball 3B Sleepers
Eligibility based on Yahoo's default settings
Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks. Like the players mentioned above, Lamb is another proven, veteran 3B looking to bounce back after a forgettable 2018. The 28-year-old lefty was limited to 56 games because of a shoulder injury, but he had surgery last August and will be ready for this season. Because Lamb comes with the most risk of the veteran bounce-back candidates, he also carries the most reward. He was remarkably consistent in '16 and '17, positing almost identical lines that averaged out to .248, 29.5 HRs, 85 Rs, 98 RBIs, and six SBs. Now slotted to play first base, Lamb should have less strain on his body and more energy to take advantage of Arizona's hitter-friendly park. If his shoulder holds up, he will produce.
Nick Senzel, Reds. Senzel is a man without a position this spring, but the talented 23-year-old outfielder (and former 3B) could easily force himself into the lineup. A career .314/.390/.513 hitter in the minors, Senzel has flashed solid power-speed ability and great contact skills. The Reds have a crowded outfield with Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig joining Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker, but once Senzel starts getting playing time, he'll have fantasy value. Note: Senzel is only eligible at 3B to start the season, but it won't be long before he has OF eligibility.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays. If anything, Vlad Jr. is going to get overdrafted in most leagues, so perhaps "sleeper" isn't the best category to put him in. Still, as with any player that is yet to make his major league debut, some fantasy owners are undoubtedly taking a cautious approach. Here's what we know: The soon-to-be 20-year-old slugger tore up ever level of the minors last year, ultimately finishing with a .381/.437/.636 line. He likely won't open the season with the Jays, but he'll be up in short order, likely before April is through. Once he's in Toronto, he doesn't figure to go back down. It's always tough to forecast rookies, especially ones who are teenagers at the time of this writing, but after seeing Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto have little trouble making waste of major league pitching last year, Vlad Jr. doesn't figure to bust out in 2019. It's worth noting he doesn't run much (just three SBs last year), but if the rest of the numbers are as good as expected, it won't matter.
Rafael Devers, Red Sox. With so many breakouts at 3B last year and exciting newcomers like Guerrero on the come up, it can be easy to forget that Devers hit 21 HRs during his age-21 season. Ultimately, it was a disappointing year for the former top prospect, but given his age and talent level, he could put it all together and break out anytime. A career .297/.354/.484 hitter in the minors, Devers should bring his average and OBP way up this year, which would make him currently undervalued by those who already consider him "boring".
Renato Nunez, Orioles. Nunez is almost 25, so he's not exactly a young prospect, but he showed prodigious power as he rose up the minor league ranks. clubbing 32 HRs in 126 games at Triple-A in 2017. His 73-game stint in the majors last year yielded a .mediocre 258/.322/.419 line with eight HRs, but he saved his best for last, hitting .313/.341/.550 over the final month of the season. With the O's in full rebuilding mode, chances are guys like Nunez and OF Cedric Mullins II will get every chance to swing away, and given the hitters paradise that is Camden Yards, that could yield some cheap power stats.
Ian Happ, Cubs. Happ is more of a draft-and-stash sleeper than a guy who will produce out of the gates. Playing time is an issue for the 24-year-old switch-hitter, especially with the Cubs moving him from second base. Still, he's one injury (or slump) away at several positions from everyday at-bats, and if that happens, he's already shown us what he can do. He hit 24 homers and stole eight bases in 115 games in 2017 as a rookie, and last year he hit 15 homers and stole eight bases as a platoon player. His sky-high K-rate (36.1 last year) is certainly a worry, but his sky-high BB-rate (15.2) still gives him plenty of upside, especially in OBP leagues.
MORE 3B-eligible sleepers who are eligible at other positions: Jurickson Profar, A's (1B, 2B, SS), Ryan McMahon, Rockies (1B, 2B), Wilmer Flores, Diamondbacks (1B, 2B), Yoan Moncada, White Sox (2B), Niko Goodrum, Tigers (1B, 2B, SS, OF), Daniel Robertson, Rays (2B, SS)