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Sleeper is one of those nebulous fantasy baseball terms, so you’ll have to give us wiggle room as we whisper that word here. Below, the Yahoo fantasy crew offers five 2018 infield options (catcher included) who could be nifty values. Maybe they’re sleepers to you, or value players, or buying opportunities; attach whatever frame you like. As you’re getting ready for the fresh season, these inexpensive options are worth a second look.
• Second Base: Ozzie Albies didn’t arrive in the big leagues homering every other game, like so many of last year’s call-ups. For that reason, you might have overlooked him. But the kid slashed a respectable .286/.354/.456 over 244 plate appearances with six homers, five triples and eight steals in nine attempts. Albies has hit .304/.365/.424 throughout his minor league career, despite being consistently young for his level; he just turned 21 in January. He’s also swiped 88 bags over the past three seasons, so his speed is well-established. Albies figures to hit in the top third of Atlanta’s lineup this season, just ahead of Freddie Freeman, which gives him a shot at 85-90 runs. We’re looking at a two or three-category fantasy asset who won’t be a liability in any stat, and he’s available in the late rounds of most mixers. — Andy Behrens
• Shortstop: Orlando Arcia’s glove was always ahead of his bat, so it was no surprise he got off to a slow start at the plate last season, but the shortstop hit .295/.345/.446 with 11 homers and 10 steals over his final 285 at bats. He’s just 23 years old, and while it will be tough to move up too high in the order given the team’s new additions, the Brewers should score plenty of runs in 2018. Miller Park is one of the most favorable venues for hitters (only Coors and Chase Field have increased run scoring more in the NL over the past three seasons), and Arcia should approach 20/20 as soon as this year, yet he’s oddly being overlooked at draft tables. — Dalton Del Don
• First Base: Greg Bird strikes out a lot and has been injury prone, but he hit nine homers over just 87 at bats after finally returning to full strength at the end of last season, revealing big power upside. He also walks, and most importantly, Yankee Stadium has increased HR for LHB by 42 percent over the last three years, which is the most in MLB by a significant margin. Bird is entering his prime and is currently slated to hit cleanup, breaking up righties Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez in a lineup that’s a major threat to score the most runs in baseball, so it’s a little curious his ADP is outside 150. He’s someone to target at that price. — Del Don
• Utility: Eduardo Nunez is probably just renting second base in Boston; when Dustin Pedroia is ready to return, it’s his gig. But Pedroia (knee) could easily miss a month or more before his activation, and the versatile Nunez has several potential paths to a full-time position — that’s why you see four positional tags (2B, 3B, SS, OF) on his Yahoo profile. The Red Sox lineup should be a fun hang in 2018 — J.D. Martinez lifts the tide — and in spots like this, I like to bet on what I know to be true in the present, not overly speculate on the future. Play for Today. Nunez is coming off a nifty .313/.341/.460 season with 12 homers and 24 steals, he’s in a loaded lineup, and he starts to begin the year. He’s a likely steal at Yahoo ADP 174.7. — Scott Pianowski
• Catcher: You need an elephant’s memory to recall Chris Iannetta’s prospect days — he showed up on the scouting clipboards back in 2007. He had some good-not-elite years with the Rockies, then bounced around to a few other clubs. Catcher is a position where offense tends to mature late; the defensive demands of the position often take precedence. Iannetta might be headed into his age-35 season, but he’s going off a career best .511 slugging percentage, not to mention 17 homers in 89 games. The Rockies are paying him ostensibly for his defensive value, but thin air is thin air. A Coors Field regular with an ADP around 230? Sign me up. — Pianowski