Fantasy Sleepers: SSSporting News — (Jacob Janower)
It seems as if every year, more and more young shortstops have burst on to the scene, making the once black hole of a fantasy baseball position into one that's littered with talent. With plenty of shortstops possessing significant power and speed, the position has become one of the biggest priorities on draft day. Even outside of the top guys in the rankings, several undervalued SS sleepers can be useful additions in the mid-to-late rounds.
Identifying those guys is based largely on how your team is being constructed. Often, many are looking for a versatile shortstop who offers a little bit of a power and a little of speed, which is what we focus on with most of our picks. However, if you've loaded up on speedsters early, then perhaps you need more of a power hitter, which you can also find on this list.
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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Shortstop
Eligibility based on Yahoo's default settings
Jose Peraza, Reds. He slipped under the radar, but Peraza broke out in a big way last season. He hit .288, stole 23 bases and struck out at a rate of just 11 percent, the third-lowest mark among qualified shortstops. Peraza was also in the top 10 among shortstops in doubles (31) and slugging percentage (.416). Peraza isn't one of the first names that often comes to mind when thinking of high-quality shortstops, but his ability to contribute in just about every pertinent offensive category as shown last season makes him hard to pass up. He might not match his HR total of 14 from last year, but at 24 and playing in an ultra-friendly hitters park, there's still upside here.
Orlando Arcia, Brewers. Yes, Arcia was downright awful in 2018, but the 24-year-old shortstop has already shown us his potential with a 15/14 season in '17. He's a major bounce-back candidate in Milwaukee's loaded lineup, and even though shortstop isn't exactly a weak position, getting 20/20 upside from a young player at a dirt-cheap price is never a prohibitive risk. -- Matt Lutovsky
Jorge Polanco, Twins. The biggest thing going in Polanco's favor is that he won't have to sit out 80 games like he did in 2018 due to a PED violation. Because of the suspension, his '18 was mostly incomplete, although he did hit .288. For a better outlook of what Polanco can contribute, it's worth referencing his '17 numbers, when he played in 133 games, hit 13 HRs and stole 13 bases as a 23 year old. It's certainly possible those stats were PED-inflated, but the Twins felt good enough about Polanco to give him a five-year, $25.75 million deal this offseason. The power-speed combo alone is worth taking a chance on, and with the added experience, a 15-20 home run and stolen base season seem like a reasonable benchmark.
Dansby Swanson, Braves. Swanson has yet to matriculate into the player he was thought to be when he was drafted No. 1 overall. If he had already lived up to that potential, he probably wouldn't be appearing on our sleeprs list. That doesn't mean Swanson is worth disregarding, however. He is the Braves starting shortstop and more than doubled his home run and stolen base total from 2017 to '18. We have seen top prospects not live up to the hype immendiately but eventually do so, and Swanson could follow the same path. The already solid numbers make him less risky than other undervalued shorstops, and the added untapped potential opens the door for a sweet payoff.
Willy Adames, Rays. Adames, who posted a .278/.348/.406 line with 10 HRs and six SBs in 85 major league games last year, is one of many sleeper candidates on the Rays. The 23-year-old righty reportedly worked on developing power this offseason, and given his age, it's possible he approaches 20 HRs with some steals and a solid average. - Matt Lutovsky
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Blue Jays. The power numbers may not match up to Trevor Story or Manny Machado, but Gurriel Jr. is a cheap power source at shortstop who could be a commodity in the later rounds. The 25-year-old righty doesn't have a ton of value outside of his power, but after hitting 11 HRs in 65 games and playing both 2B and SS, it's clear he's someone to stash on your bench, at the very least.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres. Tatis will likely start the season in the minors, but the 20-year-old top prospect figures to be up at some point. Once he is, he'll likely show the form that has seen bash 38 HRs the past two seasons in the minors. Petco Park isn't exactly hitter friendly, but the young Tatis can mash. It doesn't hurt that he can also swipe bases (48 since the start of 2017). - Matt Lutovsky
Daniel Robertson, Rays. Robertson has always been considered a high-caliber prospect, all the way back since his time in the A's system. Drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he finally began putting it together last year, and his impressive campaign only hindered by a sprained thumb in August that should be healed by now. Robertson played four different positions, hit nine home runs and posted a .797 OPS in '18. He'll be overlooked because he's playing in Tampa Bay and playing time could be an issue early in the year, but this is a legitimate young talent who can fill several premium positions on your roster if he starts getting regular at-bats. He's also eligible at 3B and SS. -- Dan Bernstein
Other SS sleepers eligible at other positions: Jurickson Profar, A's (1B, 2B, 3B), Garrett Hampson, Rockies (2B), Niko Goodrum, Tigers (1B, 2B, 3B, OF)