Fantasy Baseball Picks 2019: Sleepers to Target Deep in Your Draft

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 27, 2019

FORT MYERS, FL- MARCH 11: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins on March 11, 2019 at the Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

Paging all procrastinators: The 2019 fantasy baseball season is almost upon us.

In fact, if you roster any Oakland A's or Seattle Mariners, it's already here. While those two clubs officially opened the 2019 campaign last week in Japan, the other 28 teams get rolling on Thursday's Opening Day.

This probably isn't news to you. What it should be, though, is a reminder—or, if you need something more direct, an alarm—that draft preparation time is running perilously thin.

We won't waste any more of it, then, so let's dive into the sleepers—those with an average draft position (ADP) outside the top 150 on FantasyPros—you need to target late in your drafts.


Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 153.6)

While it's true the MVP version of Cabrera is likely buried in the history books, the 35-year-old still has the hit tools and opportunity to easily outperform his draft cost.

Some owners will be scared off by his age and the fact he had all but 38 games of the 2018 season wiped out by a torn biceps tendon.

Don't be one of those owners. The guy can still rake, making him an asset in batting average and a contributor to the homers and runs categories.

On Sunday, Cabrera launched his fifth home run of spring training. It was his third in four days.

"He's hit a couple of home runs to right-center field, that's his natural power," Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters. "And he's pulled a couple a long way, too. Not too long ago, people were saying, 'What happened to his power?' Well, you saw it. He still has it."


Yoan Moncada, 2B, Chicago White Sox (ADP: 164.8)

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 25: Yoan Moncada #10 of the Chicago White Sox singles during the spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on February 25, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Image
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

It wasn't that long ago when fantasy experts were fawning over Moncada the way they are over Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez now. Even if Moncada's hype train has slowed considerably since, think of that as your way of getting a rare discount on a 23-year-old source of both power and speed.

His 2018 effort did little to quiet concerns about strikeouts, as he was punched out an MLB-worst 217 times. Still, he supplied 17 homers, 12 stolen bases and 134 combined runs and RBI. You'd be hard-pressed to replicate that combination this late in the draft.

While it's tough to tell how much stock should be placed in spring-training statistics, Moncada's hint at a potential breakout. Through 20 games, he posted a robust .358/.469/.642 slash line with eight extra-base hits (including three homers) and a stolen base on his only attempt.

"He's hungrier this spring training. He's playing with more of an edge," White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu said through a translator. "He's sticking to his routine. He's more focused. He's more aware of the things he needs to do to perform."

The biggest thing is obvious—cut down on the Ks. So far, so good on that front. Per a Saturday update from RotoWire, Moncada's strikeout rate was only 25 percent, a sharp decline from last season's 33.4 percent.


Tyler Skaggs, SP, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 225.4)

Injuries have rarely been kind to Skaggs, whose 125.1 innings pitched last season were his most in five years. In other words, there's some risk built into this recommendation.

That said, the risk is more than baked into his current cost, which feels as if owners have completely forgotten just how dominant he was before the injury bug disrupted his 2018 campaign. Over his first 19 starts, he posted a minuscule 2.62 ERA while recording 115 strikeouts against only 31 walks in 110.0 innings.

Skaggs then suffered a groin injury during a workout and tried to pitch through it. The results were disastrous. In back-to-back outings, he allowed a combined 17 earned runs in only 6.2 innings pitched. He made just four starts after July, allowing those two blowups to irreparably harm his 2018 line: 8-10 record with a 4.02 ERA.

"Honestly, the last month-and-a-half of the season left such a bad taste in my mouth from everything," Skaggs said. "The way people viewed me. I don't want to talk much about last year, but it left a salty taste in my mouth, and I'm out to show everybody that's not who I am. I'm excited to regain what I captured the first half of last season and maintain that."

Forearm fatigue cost Skaggs some time in the spring, so again, maybe medical issues will always hinder his impact. But we've seen what a healthy version looks like before, and it's not someone who has any business lasting 200-plus picks into a draft.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.