Fantasy Baseball 2020: Breaking Down Luis Arraez, Top Infield SleepersMay 31, 2020
The Minnesota Twins had one of the most high-powered offenses in baseball in 2019.
Minnesota clubbed its way to an MLB-record 307 home runs en route to an American League Central division title, earning the nickname Bomba Squad in the process. Four Twins, including Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler, hit at least 30 homers, and every single starter outside of Byron Buxton (who played just 87 games) hit at least 20 bombs.
As if the lineup were not prolific enough, the Twins also signed veteran third baseman Josh Donaldson, who clubbed 37 homers as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2019.
Yet one of Minnesota's best hitters is more contact-oriented, and he is going late in fantasy drafts in part due to being overlooked with all the sluggers on his own roster.
Here is more on Twins utility man Luis Arraez, as well as a couple other infield sleepers fantasy owners should keep an eye on as they assemble draft boards.
Top Infield Sleepers
2B/3B/OF Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins
Arraez made his MLB debut in May. By July, he was a crucial member of Minnesota's lineup.
The Venezuela native slashed .334/.399/.439 across 326 at-bats and, perhaps more impressively, posted a 123 OPS+ for the year, no small feat for a contact hitter in a pitcher-friendly park such as Target Field.
While Minnesota's lineup was shut down during their ALDS sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, Arraez raked. The rookie had five hits in 11 at-bats, including four doubles. He also had these results after suffering a Grade 1 ankle sprain at the end of the regular season.
Despite so much success during his rookie season, Arraez is flying under the radar in fantasy drafts. He has an average draft position (ADP) of 248 placing him 30th among second baseman.
There are always reasons to be concerned about a sophomore slump. Arraez did not help matters by going 3-for-29 during spring training before it was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the 23-year-old already proved himself on the game's highest stage, and he can play multiple infield positions as well as in the outfield.
Arraez has the benefit of hitting behind potent sluggers, which means he should continue to see plenty of balls in the strike zone.
3B Josh Donaldson, Twins
Is it possible for someone as accomplished and highly regarded as Donaldson to be a sleeper? Absolutely.
The 2015 AL MVP has an ADP of 90 and ranks 15th in terms of drafting position among all third baseman. This might seem like a decent range for the 34-year-old were in not for the fact he is often being drafted behind the likes of Manny Machado and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Sure, Machado could gain confidence in his second season with the San Diego Padres, while Vladdy might start to live up to his promise with the Toronto Blue Jays. But they did not come close to Donaldson's level of productivity last year, and there is reason to believe Donaldson will be better in 2020.
Donaldson was rejuvenated during his time with the Atlanta Braves. Aside from the 37 homers, he also had 30 doubles and walked 100 times. Moreover, Donaldson posted his highest average exit velocity (92.9 mph) and barrel percentage (15.7) since the Statcast era began in 2015, per Baseball Savant.
He now finds himself hitting in the middle of a dangerous and deep Twins lineup. He should have ample protection, which should mean plenty of RBI opportunities.
It seems Donaldson's injuries over the course of his career have dulled his value. But as he showed in 2019, he is still one of the best hitters in baseball. His power and plate discipline make him an excellent value pick in fantasy—and certainly more valuable than 15th at the hot corner.
1B/DH Ji-Man Choi, Tampa Bay Rays
Choi made the most of his first full year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 29-year-old displayed good power, hitting 19 homers and 20 doubles while slugging .459 in under 500 plate appearances.
Fantasy owners might be scared off by the fact Choi is mostly a platoon guy. He had a pretty lackluster .629 OPS in just 81 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, and the fact that he might not see consistent at-bats like other first basemen could give some pause.
However, Choi has dropped impossibly far down draft boards. He had an ADP of 539 and ranked 62nd among first basemen. Some of the guys going ahead of Choi include New York Mets utility man Dominic Smith—who will struggle to get at-bats in a crowded Mets outfield—and Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.
Choi does not offer as much positional versatility as some players, but he is a much better hitter than his draft position suggests.
It would not be a surprise if Choi saw closer to 550 at-bats this year, which could easily mean 20-plus homers and a higher RBI total.
All stats obtained via Baseball Reference and all fantasy information via FantasyPros unless otherwise noted.