Don’t sleep on this trio

‘Tis The Season” for sleeper picks, and I have three of mine to share with the fantasy baseball world now that we’re assured there will be a 2020 season. Each of these players has an ADP greater than 200. Today, I’m going to focus on some position players.

ALEX VERDUGO

The Dodgers made no secret about their reluctance to part with Verdugo, and it’s  understandable. The high-contact, low-strikeout outfielder has a clear path to starting every day for the Red Sox – if he stays healthy. And the shorter season works in his favor.

Verdugo was due for a stint on the IL last spring, but the shutdown gave him more than three months to heal from his back injury. He resumed hitting at the beginning of May, and he has a legitimate chance to hit over .300 and perhaps even content for a BA title.

Verdugo, who batted .294 last year, had 12 home runs in only 377 PA. It’s not a stretch for me to imagine him hitting that many again in 60 games. After all, he will be playing half of his games in Fenway Park, and he should be hitting in the middle of the lineup.

Verdugo’s ADP is currently 213, which is lower than a dozen players who aren’t guaranteed as much playing time.  The discount is a result of his injury, but he’s had a lot of time to heal and is only 23. Take this sleeper late in the draft and reap the rewards.

KOLTON WONG

If you’re looking for a player who has flashed both speed and power throughout his career, take a look at the Cardinals second baseman. Wong hit .285 last year, with 24 steals and 11 home runs. And his Gold Glove is guaranteed to keep him on the field.

As you surely must know, steals are an important statistic in fantasy baseball, and they are harder to come by than ever. In a 5X5 league, steals represent 10% of scoring categories. In points leagues, they have an equivalent value to singles, runs and RBI.

Wong was tied for 12th in thievery last year. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt knows he will need to manufacture runs in 2020, and stealing bases has been a proven strategy to do just that. Expect Wong to run a lot. He was successful 24 time in 28 attempts in 2019.

It’s an interesting exercise to compare Wong’s statistics to Starling Marte. Marte had just one more steal than Wong in 2019. While his batting average was 10 points higher, his OBP was 19 points lower. Keep in mind Marte’s ADP is currently 28, and Wong’s is 214.

AUSTIN RILEY

I mentioned Riley yesterday as one of the National League players positively impacted by the universal DH. Riley left a bad taste in a lot of mouths last year. After hitting nine home runs in his first 18 games, he seemed to strike out every time he came to the plate.

Considering the way he finished the 2019, Riley was considered a long shot to win the third base job in a battle with Johan Camargo this spring. But the 23-year-old hadn’t got the memo and hit .357, with a 1.080 OPS in 32 at bats. Suffice it to say, the kid impressed.

No one doubts Riley’s power. He can be one of the top home run hitters on the Braves – or even the league – if he has a chance to play. My guess is that Riley would have been the starting third baseman without the DH. Now, he’ll have more chances to strut his stuff.

Riley’s current ADP is 326, which means that he’s not being drafted in a lot of leagues. What this means to you is that your focus can be on getting all of the pitching that you want in the middle rounds and then taking Riley late in the draft at a bargain rate.

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