Analysis

Fantasy Baseball: 4 Under-the-Radar Draft Candidates

With the baseball season quickly approaching, that means fantasy baseball is coming soon as well. Which players should you keep an eye out for?

Any casual fantasy baseball player knows that there are many strategies to go about winning a league. Fantasy baseball experts, however, have come to the conclusion that there is truly one way for you to consistently succeed in any given league.

You must have depth, which means you must target sleepers. So in this article, let’s take a look at four under-the-radar players that will make your fantasy team more versatile and flat-out better. 

Fantasy Baseball Tyler Glasnow
Apr 5, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Player 1: Tyler Glasnow (TBR) 

There is no doubt that Tyler Glasnow of the Tampa Bay Rays is the most slept on pitcher heading into the 2020 season. Coming off his breakout year, where he posted an amazing 1.78 ERA in 60.2 innings. Glasnow also had a WHIP of 0.89 and a 30.1% strikeout rate, making him a very valuable piece on any fantasy roster. Unfortunately, the Rays young stud had a brutal forearm strain that cost him almost four months, negating the chance for a more robust fantasy season. 

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However, as savvy fantasy owners in 2020 we should be happy as Glasnow, according to ESPN’s MLB Top 300, is slated 83rd, which is shocking low for a player with so much potential. With an ADP (Average draft position) of 86th, Glasnow has slipped through the cracks of many fantasy analysts due to the uncertainty of his health. According to Jonathan Dyer of USA Today, “Glasnow [in his first start of Spring Training] showed flashes of the pitcher he was before the injury — consistently registering in the upper 90s on the Charlotte Sports Park radar gun and tossing a scoreless inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.” 

The point is, Glasnow has too much potential not to be drafted in the early rounds, so if he is free to be picked any time after that, you should definitely draft him.

Fantasy Baseball Keston Hiura
Source: Getty Images

Player 2: Keston Hiura (MIL) 

If you had the chance to watch the Brewers’ Keston Hiura last season, you likely realized that he is an offensive phenom. The 23-year-old second baseman worked his way into the majors towards the middle of the season and quietly put up monster numbers. He slashed .303/.368/.570/.938 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIsin only 314 at-bats. 

Unfortunately for Hiura, he did not get the recognition he deserved due to Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis, both of which had better rookie seasons than the Brewers’ stud. Luckily, his fantasy value is through the roof and many people still do not understand the season-changing potential that Keston Hiura carries. He was a key part of the Brewers’ push to the playoffs and will probably continue to be in 2020. His ADP (71) ranks above stars like Nicholas Castellanos, Tommy Pham, and Vlad Guerrero Jr., meaning that many expert analysts believe that he will have a successful 2020 campaign. 

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The only issue offensively is Hiura’s high-tendency to strike out (30.7% strikeout rate was 18th worst in history among rookies with at least 348 PA) but that should not be an issue, as he has worked on his swing during the offseason and should be a strong piece on any roster and potentially a top-five fantasy second baseman in 2020. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees reacts at second base after his fourth inning double against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on June 20, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Player 3: Giancarlo Stanton (NYY) 

Ok, take a deep breath. There is a lot to factor in when considering Giancarlo Stanton in fantasy this year. Is he healthy? Is he going to play like his past self? Is he worth a 6th round pick? Well, first let’s start by addressing Stanton’s health. His infamous injury history is mesmerizing, as it includes hamstring issues, an aching shoulder, a biceps tear, and most recently a grade one calf strain. 

Fortunately for the Yankees, COVID-19 pushed back Opening Day from March 26, meaning that Stanton likely would have begun the season on the IL. He has now had time to rest and will be on the roster if there is a season. So, in simpler terms yes, Stanton is healthy, however, his 78 ADP reflects a moderate-to-bad projection for Stanton this season. In 2018, Stanton played 158 games and slashed .266/.342/.509/.852 with 38 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 102 runs.

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Stanton’s raw power and plate discipline combine to make a strong case that he could be a top-25 talent in any fantasy format if healthy. Stanton has very high potential and if available in the middle rounds, you should consider taking him only if you believe he will be healthy enough to play 130+ games. 

Minnesota Twins’ Jorge Polanco rounds third base on a two-run home run off Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg during the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Player 4: Jorge Polanco (MIN) 

In my opinion, Jorge Polanco is the most underrated player on this list. He is coming off a very successful 2019 campaign where he solidified himself as a key contributor to the Twins powerhouse lineup. Polanco is poised for another monster fantasy season. Last year, Polanco slashed .295/.356/.485/.841 with 22 home runs, 79 RBIs, and 107 runs.

What makes Polanco such a fantasy threat is his value to ADP / Roster Percentage ratio. ESPN projects that Polanco will regress next year, but still put up a very respectable 380 fantasy baseball points. His high ADP of 133 and 2019 Roster Percentage of 92.4% are the two blatant reasons as to why Polanco is so under-valued in fantasy. Let’s compare Polanco’s projections to a player near his ADP: Oscar Mercado. Mercado, a young OF on the Cleveland Indians with an ADP of 132, had 277 fantasy points in 2019 and is projected to score 277 points in 2020. Mercado is clearly of much less value than Polanco, depicting just one of the many instances in which Polanco is severely underrated. 

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If you take anything from this article, take note of Jorge Polanco’s fantasy baseball superstar potential going into 2020, as he truly has the power to change your roster for the better and make your team a true contender.

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