Shortstop week is coming to a close, regrettably. But that means we’ll be tackling the behemoth known as the outfield beginning tomorrow (Tuesday). All those different player profiles...you can really can go many different ways with the construction of your fantasy baseball outfield.
Anyway, what follows are our dart throws at shortstop. Your definition of sleeper may not match ours, which is fine. But this is what came out from each one of the guys. Be sure to argue, agree, or offer your own sleeper in the comments!
Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates (Andrés Chávez)
NFBC ADP: 211.20
Draft rank: 25th
No prospect has the physical tools and gifts Oneil Cruz has. Can he put it all together? I’m betting he can, and will be one of the most fascinating rookies in 2022. He is a 60-grade runner and has 80-grade raw power, all while being listed at 6’7’’ and 210 pounds. Last year, he hit 17 homers and stole 19 bases in limited action between Double-A and Triple-A, and showcased excellent exit velocities in his short stint in the majors. Steamer has him projected to hit .281/.335/.498 with 21 homers and a 122 wRC+, and I’m all-in too.
Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (Garrett Atkins)
NFBC ADP: 220.50
Draft rank: 26th
Among qualified shortstops, Crawford finished 2021 with the fourth-best wOBA of .377 and third-best SLG of .522. Those numbers are comparable to Corey Seager and Xander Bogaerts, among others. We know he’s going to get everyday playing time and the Giants’ lineup always seems to overachieve. He’s a safe, high-floor option being undervalued at his current ADP. I’ll be having many shares in 2022.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers (Mark Abell)
NFBC ADP: 248.10
Draft rank: 28th
It’s looking as of now like he’s not on the depth chart in a starting position. That said he’s basically the backup SS, 3B, LF, CF, 1B, 2B, C, Pitcher and coach. His expected stats last season were higher than all of his actual stats. He spent much of last season improving his patience at the plate, improving his sweet spot%, his exit velocity, and his hard hit rate. This is the year Gavin Lux takes a big step forward.
Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks (Heath Capps)
NFBC ADP: 251.20
Draft rank: 29th
Rojas is 2B/SS/OF eligible, which is a thing of beauty in the fake game—especially your draft and hold formats where bat depth is key. He’s also slated to bat leadoff for the Diamondbacks, so I’m uncertain as to why his ADP is so depressed compared to similar guys at shortstop with moderate power, speed, and multiple eligibility. Rojas is a career .247 hitter over 683 career at-bats, but his 2020 was unlucky (.234 BABIP) while last season’s .264 BA was buoyed by a .345 BABIP. Where’s the truth? Maybe somewhere around .245 or .250, actually. But the double-digit walk rates and being above average in Whiff%, chase rate, and sprint speed mean he’s an adequate option atop that batting order. He also played five different positions for Arizona last year. When you’ve got that versatility and an ability to get on base, you’ve got a recipe for a “sleeper” when one of the better assets being offered is speed.
J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners (Skyler Carlin)
NFBC ADP: 344.77
Draft rank: 36th
I get it. From the outside looking in, J.P. Crawford isn’t an overly exciting player to pick in fantasy baseball. Crawford has yet to hit double-digit homers in his first five years in the majors and he hasn’t achieved 10+ steals in any of those seasons either. However, after having most of his at-bats come from the leadoff spot for the Seattle Mariners last season, Crawford is expected to lead off again in 2022. There is value in getting someone that is going to get a ton of plate appearances, and Steamer projects Crawford to record 664 PAs. Also, there’s reason for optimism when it comes to Crawford’s bat, as he produced a career-best 110.5 max EV while finishing in the 74th percentile in max EV in 2021. He’s also in the 61st percentile in sprint speed, so there’s room for improvement in the steals department. Considering that Crawford holds an NFBC ADP past 340, I’ll be comfortable taking him with the hopes he can put up solid numbers for a second consecutive year with the Mariners.