Fantasy Baseball 2019: Sleeper Hitters and Pitchers for MLB Week 16

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 17, 2019

Oakland Athletics' Ramon Laureano c connects for a home run off Chicago White Sox's Ivan Nova in the second inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

With the All-Star break behind us, it's bunker-down time for fantasy owners as they prepare for the stretch run.

Strong spots and weaknesses should be as clear as ever, which should make it easy to identify which areas need upgrading. Depending on the activity level of your league, though, the waiver wire could be picked clean at this point of the season.

Still, there should be value to extract if you know where to look, as the following players lead the list of Week 16 sleepers.

               

Ramon Laureano, OF, Oakland A's

At some point, the fantasy community at large will wake up to the fact that Laureano is having a monster season.

For whatever reason, that hasn't happened yet. He's somehow available in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues and 60 percent of ESPN leagues, which is absurd given what he's doing with his bat and his legs.

Entering Tuesday, he's one of only five players with at least 18 homers and 11 stolen bases. The other four are Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna Jr., Trevor Story and Yasiel Puig. All of those players are owned in 90-plus percent of leagues on both sites.

The word will get out on Laureano, probably sooner rather than later. Over his past 26 games, he's hitting .290 with 10 homers, five steals, 28 RBI and 19 runs. Grab him while you still can.

                  

Sonny Gray, SP, Cincinnati Reds

It's possible, or maybe even probable, that Gray began the year well off your fantasy radar. After a mostly disastrous 2018 season with the New York Yankees, his outlook was grim, especially after moving to the launching pad that is Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.

But Gray is 18 starts into his Reds career, and he looks like he's righted the ship.

He replaced Max Scherzer on the All-Star roster after pitching to a 3.59 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 90.1 innings before the break. Gray has made one start on this side of the break at the always daunting Coors Field. But there, he mostly muted the Rockies, holding them to five hits and one earned run while punching out nine across seven innings.

At this point, length might be the only concern with Gray, especially if you're in a quality starts league. Just seven of his starts have gone the requisite six-plus innings. That said, each of his last three starts have gone past the threshold, and he owns a minuscule 1.27 ERA with 27 punch-outs in 21.2 innings over this stretch.

      

Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Detroit Tigers

It's never particularly comfortable recommending anyone from the Tigers lineup, and Candelario is no exception. He didn't hit much in the first half and spent multiple stints in Triple-A.

But his bat started coming alive before the break, and it has enough pop to demand notice.

It looks like he figured something out during his most recent stretch in the minors. Entering Tuesday, he owned a .321/.387/.661 slash line with five home runs and 12 RBI over 15 games since rejoining the big-league bunch.

While he's more of a deep-league target—he's only owned in three percent of Yahoo leagues and five percent of ESPN leagues—even shallow-league owners could consider juicing the orange with whatever's left of his hot streak.  

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