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5 Deep Fantasy Baseball Sleepers Going Into 2018 Drafts

Kike Hernandez proved to be very valuable for the Dodgers last season, but could he prove to even be more valuable to your fantasy team in 2018.

MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

In this post I will try to find players who could breakout just like Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham did last season. These are not players who I would suggest targeting in 2018 drafts, but it is more of a post to try to help you find which players may be having real breakout seasons. If these guys are able to start the season off strong and are getting regular playing time, then you should not be opposed to picking these players up off the waiver wire.

Enrique Hernandez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Hernandez played a big role for the Dodgers in 2017, as he put together a three home run game in the playoffs. He will only be eligible at outfield to start the season, but expect him to add more positions to his resume as the season progresses. One of the major things blocking Hernandez from getting regular playing time, is the star studded cast around him. With that being said his versatility will make it easy for Dave Roberts to fit him in the lineup when players need days off.

Hernandez compiled 342 plate appearances last season, and although he had a tremendous walk rate of 12.0% his batting average was at a measly .215. This is in large part to do with his 18.7% line drive rate and 23.4% strikeout rate, but there is one stat that sticks out when looking at his 2017 numbers. That stat would be his 39.4% hard contact rate, which ranked 34th among batters with at least 300 plate appearances. This high hard contact rate will most likely not stay the same in 2018, but it isn’t to far fetch to project a hard contact rate above 35%.

Now just one promising statistic is not evidence of a breakout season but two promising statistics are. His 12% walk rate was well above the average 8.5% last season. He only chased 27% of balls outside the strike zone last year, which is good but is also foreshadowing that his high walk rate may regress a little in 2018.

The one thing that may worry people about Hernandez are the .215 and .190 batting averages he has posted the past two years, and although those are worrisome we must look at the underlying numbers behind them. His 11.4% swinging strike rate and 75.6% contact rate where below the major league average. If he is able to hit more line drives in 2018 however, then we could see that batting average rise immensely. Now although fantasy owners will most likely not see Hernandez hit for the .307 batting average he hit in 2015, a batting average around the .255-.270 range may not be to crazy to project in 2018.

Colin Moran, 3B, Houston Astros

After watching Moran slash .308/.373/.543 at AAA last season, I would love to see what he could do at the major league level. The one problem is that he is currently being blocked by a guy named Alex Bregman, who shows no signs of slowing down offensively or defensively. This would mean that Moran will most likely see another year down in the minors. Well that is as long as no one gets hurt or he doesn’t get traded, which as many fantasy owners know are two outcomes that are likely to occur.

Moran was regarded as a highly sought after prospect after being selected with the 6th overall pick back in 2013. After hitting .259/.329/.368 at AAA in 2016, he fell off of many people’s radars. His low batting average had to do with the 24.3% strikeout rate he owned, but he turned that all around in 2017. After striking out at a tremendous rate in 2016, he cut that number down to 16.3%. This is what ultimately helped him hit for a .308 average last season, but that is not the only promising addition to Moran’s game.

Moran also added a good amount of power in 2017. Seen mostly as a contact hitter, he had never hit over 10 home runs in a season until 2017. Last season he averaged a home run every 18.8 plate appearances and owned an ISO of .235, which were both career bests. This was due to him putting the ball in the air more often than the seasons prior. His 40.2% fly ball rate is the highest he has ever posted, and his low strikeout numbers and 26.0% line drive rate would also suggest that he could own a batting average above the .270 mark at the major league level. I do worry about his plate discipline a little bit, but with his skill set he could be a top fantasy option if given the chance.

Jurickson Profar, OF, Texas Rangers

Remember when this guy was suppose to be the future of baseball, well that obviously hasn’t quite worked out. Although he may never reach the superstar status many projected for him back in 2013, he could still turn into a solid everyday player. Over his 718 career major league plate appearances, his raw statistics are quite underwhelming. A lifetime .229/.309/.329 hitter it seems like he may have reached bust status, but his underlying numbers tell a different story.

His career 26.7% O-Swing% shows a good amount of plate discipline which is very promising, especially in someone who is entering their age 25 season. That’s right Profar is only going to be 25 years old to the start of the 2018 season! Not only does he have a disciplined approach at the plate, but he also has made contact 84.7% and has an impressive lifetime swinging strike rate of 6.4%. All this could help lead to a high batting average and on-base percentage, but there is one major question concerning Profar’s game.

Profar’s power game may never come to fruition as he owns an unimpressive career 26.5% hard contact rate and 32.2% fly ball rate. There is one promising thing coming from his batted ball statistics, and that would be his line drive rate. Over his career he owns a 21.2% line drive percentage which should only help his high batting average.

Tony Wolters, C, Colorado Rockies

Wolters was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Rockies back in 2016, and it looks like it could finally pay off in 2018. At the moment Wolters looks like he will be the starting catcher for the Rockies with Tom Murphy backing him up. With the two Indians’ catchers struggling last season, if Francisco Mejia doesn’t produce at the level they want him to in 2018 then the Indians may regret letting Wolters go to the Rockies.

With a 8.1% swinging strike rate, 80.8% contact rate, 21.5% line drive rate and the Coors Field effect, Wolters could provide a solid boost for your team’s batting average next season. His power numbers are not as impressive as he has only made hard contact 21.0% of the time, and only hit fly balls 23.8% of the time, Playing in a position as shallow as catcher however, he could still prove to be a valuable asset if his batting average and on-base percentage are well above average in 2018.

Andrew Triggs, SP, Oakland Athletics

Triggs is one of the most interesting players going into 2018. Before reaching the major leagues, he had only started one of his 168 career minor leagues games. Since reaching the major leagues he has started half of the games he has pitched in. There are some questions concerning Triggs status in the rotation. It is still unknown if the he will start the season in the bullpen or rotation, but he could prove to be a valuable asset either way. I say that because with the declining number of innings starting pitchers are throwing, middle relievers could prove to actually be quite valuable in 2018.

The reason I like Triggs so much is mostly due to his ability to produce ground balls and reduce hard contact. His lifetime 50.3% ground ball rate and 26.8% hard contact rate are very impressive, especially from someone who seems to not get much love at all.

I know some people may see that 6.89 K/9 from last season and get scared off, but don’t let that frighten you too much as he has shown signs of improvement. His 10.4% swinging strike rate and 75.7% contact rate would suggest that his K/9 will most likely be around eight in 2018. Not only can Triggs accumulate a decent amount of strikeouts, but he doesn’t walk many batters either. He owns a career 2.37 BB/9, which is quite impressive. If you combine that with a 8 K/9 and a good amount of ground balls, he could prove to be one of the most overlooked players entering 2018 drafts.

Poll

Who do you think is most likely to have a breakout season in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Enrique Hernandez
    (39 votes)
  • 14%
    Colin Moran
    (24 votes)
  • 26%
    Jurickson Profar
    (44 votes)
  • 8%
    Tony Wolters
    (14 votes)
  • 27%
    Andrew Triggs
    (45 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now