True story:  I looked at my fantasy baseball sleepers from last year and decided since I wrote a Ryan Yarbrough sleeper last year, I wouldn’t write one this year, and instead focused on Chris Bassitt, who I wrote as a ‘guy to target’ but necessarily a full sleeper post. Coming off such a weird year, it’s honestly difficult to have my opinions on starters change that dramatically. I’m trying not to cover ground I covered as recently as last year (which might explain my Nathan Eovaldi sleeper), because I was covering that ground as recently as last July/August. Ryan Yarbrough is still 100% a guy I like, and I have no idea why he’s ranked so low in ADP. He doesn’t have huge strikeouts, but he doesn’t walk anyone, and is good for a mid-3 ERA, which is nothing to sneeze at unless you’re allergic to quality starters. See that, I was able to give you a quick Ryan Yarbrough sleeper inside my Chris Bassitt sleeper. Also, one more thing that needs to mentioned prior to talking about Chris Bassitt and after this awkward intro to this sentence, I’m taking 20-30 innings off all my starter projections this year. I don’t know how to handle guys only throwing 40-60 IP other than just dock them all. It’s worth keeping that in mind when drafting starters this year, and looking at projections. It means there’s gonna be a lot of sixth, seventh and maybe even eighth starters on teams getting upwards to 50 IP, because someone is going to need to replace the missing innings. Without reading anything about docking starters this year, it seems to me people are already doing this. Using Gerrit Cole as an example, he usually is projected for 220+ innings, and this year I see him being projected for ~200 IP. My guess is maybe one starter gets 200 IP this year. You’re gonna read something similar from me in my starter rankings, so quickly forget what you just read so it seems new in a few weeks. By the way, my 2021 fantasy baseball rankings start on Monday. All of them are already available on our Patreon. So, what can we expect from Chris Bassitt and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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*smiles through gritted teeth* Hi. *people turn around heading for the exit* Wait! Before you leave, just let me show you some Nathan Eovaldi stats from last year! *people stream out of the post, one guy throws a tomato at my head* Okay, I’m sorry! Geez, you people make like you’re the only ones who have been screwed by Nathan Eovaldi in the past. I have too. Multiple times! Hmm, what am I doing here? Nathan Eovaldi? Have I lost my mind? Don’t answer me; the “Nathan Eovaldi, 2021 Sleeper” title answers that. So, last year Eovaldi had a 9.7 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 3.32 xFIP, 3.45 SIERA, 7.43 K/BB, which was 7th best in the majors, and a 3.72 ERA with a .336 BABIP, so a tad unlucky. Can you imagine what his numbers look like if his 98-MPH smoke show had any life? Noted Red Sox enthusiast, Podcaster Ralph says it’s all about his fastball release point. It’s easy to pick up, making it more of a contact pitch. I consulted PR because he’s had the most eyes on Eovaldi, and I wanted to make sure his sexy eh-eff peripherals weren’t sending me astray like a Pall Mall. Wait, that’s ashtray. Any hoo! You get the point, release and otherwise. I look at pitchers mostly by hiding their names, then I remove the blinders and see the starter’s name, whose numbers are exciting me, and I saw Nathan Eovaldi and nearly clawed my eyes out of my skull, while screaming, “You don’t deserve to see!” So, what can we expect from Nathan Eovaldi for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Nathan Eovaldi sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Nathan Eovaldi sleeper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I nearly didn’t write this sleeper. It’s not that I don’t believe in John Means, but I’ve built a brand for over a decade that is “Guy who doesn’t draft Orioles starters.” Branding isn’t cheap, companies spend in the millions to get their name out there, and since I’m a million short of a million, all I had was my reluctance to touch an Orioles’ starter. Like Boog Powell at a buffet of rice cakes, it wasn’t that difficult to abstain. Not to be confused with Boog Powell at a BBQ buffet, which produces ab stains to his shirt. There were moments when Chris Tillman upped the level of difficulty to stay away from Orioles starters, but like Danny Cabrera things could never get that wild for me. Dan Duquette builds only winners, and Buck Showalter leads those winners to the brink of excellence like no other, but I just couldn’t! I even waited until Dylan Bundy was on a new team before fully embracing him. The branding was kept by any means necessary, until Means became necessary, as I told my marketing execs, who are interns from SUNY Albany. That’s the same school Steve Guttenberg went to! So, what can we expect from John Means for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the John Means sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the John Means sleeper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Can put this Tony Gonsolin sleeper in the same bucket as my Rowdy Tellez sleeper. The numbers were just too good to not write it. Tony Gonsolin also has the feel to me like a “smart” person’s sleeper, which means he’s not a sleeper if you’re in a league with a “smart” person. Those quotes are short for “people who think they’re smart and drive the price of a guy up to the point where they are no longer sleepers or at all reasonably priced.” You can see why I shortened it with quotes. There’s no explanation for why I spelled it out anyway. In some friendly, office leagues, where Karen pops are head in and is like, “Hey, what are you guys doing? A fantasy sports draft? Fun!” then she goes directly to HR to get you all busted — Don’t draft on company time; Karens says. But in those leagues, no one’s drafting Tony Gonsolin, so he will be a sleeper in those leagues. Also, he feels like the kind of guy that ESPN barely ranks, then next year they talk about how great he is, approximately 18 months after us. I can understand the trepidation with drafting Gonsolin. Is he in the rotation? I don’t know. That’s a bit of a bummer and why he might be slightly overrated in “smart” leagues and not talked about at all at ESPN. They (ESPN) are not not talking about him because they’re smart enough to know Gonsolin won’t get the innings. No, they’re not not talking about him because they think their audience won’t know him, and they’re 100% geared towards telling people what they know already. Quadruple negative equals a positive there. Again, the numbers were too good; Gonsolin needed a sleeper post for those of you in not “smart” leagues, which are the real smart leagues. This is not a confusing post at all! So, what can we expect from Tony Gonsolin for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Tony Gonsolin sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Tony Gonsolin sleeper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

This sleeper post feels like it’s been three years in the making. I first started getting the vapors for Zach Eflin coming off his 2018 season, when he had 8.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 in 128 IP. What always kept me recommending Zach Eflin, while not going full-throated with a sleeper post on a giant megaphone like The Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart, was his strikeouts seemed maxed out at 8.5 vs. having real promise for more. The command was never an issue, as far as I was concerned. He had 1.5 BB/9 in Triple-A in 2016, and rarely scrapped above a 3 BB/9 at any stop in pro ball, usually hovering around 2.5. To make a 2.5 BB/9 work, you only need about 8.5 on Ks, but that’s a number four/five fantasy starter range, and that borders on yawnstipating. Not much excitement for sleepers, or nada mucho enthusiasmo en dormirs, for my Spanish-language readers. Hey, I’m worldly, deal with it. So, what’s changed from a guy giving me the snooze button to a full-on sleeper? Last year his K/9 and BB/9 were 10.7 and 2.3. Hello, beautiful, I’m glad you could join us. Allow me to shower you in spa accouterments that I’ve seen on TV shows. Perhaps a rub of the shoulders? Maybe some thinly-sliced cucumbers for your eyes? A hot towelette? I’m showing my love for you, Zach Eflin, don’t push me away! So, what can we expect from Zach Eflin for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Zach Eflin sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Zach Eflin sleeper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I was between writing a sleeper post for Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers. Not Lance McCullers Jr., he’s a bum. Kidding. At a certain age though, drop the Jr., junior. It’s like being a thirty-year-old Bobby. Put on your big boy pants, Bobby, and call yourself Robert! I’d even accept Rob. No freakin’ Robbie! Any hoo! I didn’t love everything I saw on Lance McCullers’s peripherals. Enough to like him at his current ADP? I think so, but it might be a game-time decision when I’m doing my rankings. Framber Valdez, how’sever, a chef’s kiss echoing through the caverns of your mind, which sounds like a Yacht Rock song, making it even more special. Special like the guy who opens the door at thirty seconds into this video. Yes, I could’ve just embedded right to that part, but you really need the lead-up to brace yourself for the door-opener. Oh my God, that guy is Jose Alvarado, i.e., The Opener.

Damn it, that will never get old. I want to read a 15,000 word essay about Jose Alvarado from the Benny Mardones video. “Skim read,” not read read, but still. So, what can we expect from Framber Valdez for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Framber Valdez sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Framber Valdez sleeper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Ya know when people really love the starters I love? About a year after I love them. I’m happy for Kenta Maeda, Max Fried, Yu Darvish, Brandon Woodruff, Zac Gallen, Dinelson Lamet, Zach Plesac and Sonny Gray. Really, I am. And I might own some of them this year. Happy to pay the price. Know when I told you to draft them when their price was still dirt cheap? Last year around this time. I drafted Yu Darvish, Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, Woodruff and Lamet on a bunch of teams last year for half of their price or less, and, when I did, people were like, “Wow, you have a handsome face, but obviously you’re dumb as balls.” Who’s having the last laugh now? Me, a soft chuckle that builds into a loud, wildly obnoxious cackle. I don’t just happen to state my bona fides in this post for s’s and g’s. I think I need to lay out my case for why I’m not crazy to want to draft Tyler Mahle. Prior to this year, T. Mahle was best known for “Tuesday’s special that give you indigestion.” So, what can we expect from Tyler Mahle for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Tyler Mahle sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Tyler Mahle sleeper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Without copping to being a rocket surgeon or just someone with an abnormally-sized brain, Kevin Gausman jumped off the page to me as the very first pitching sleeper, and a guy I want in every league. Always a good sign is me seeing someone’s stats, and scratching my head why they’re not being drafted higher. There’s not one thing I can find for Kevin Gausman that makes him less than an ideal sleeper. The only thing I can think of that is scaring people off, and this feels like a stretch, but maybe his 5.72 ERA from 2019. I don’t know, I’m merely guessing. People are smarter than that, though. I mean, not all people, obviously, but if you’re playing fantasy baseball, you know better than to look at ERA from a guy who bounced between the ‘pen and rotation eighteen months ago, right? I mean, I mean, I MEAN! We’re not talking about the general public here. The people who care are guys and five girls who are such fans of baseball they’re playing fantasy baseball so they most know better, right? No? Okay. Last year, Kevin Gausman’s surface area numbers are gorgeous, and make me engorged. 11.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 3.06 xFIP in 59 2/3 IP. You can put those numbers next to any pitcher in the game and you’d be hard-pressed to figure out which one is Kevin Gausman and which one is, say, Gerrit Cole. Yes, I said Gerrit Cole. Allow me to explain with Cole’s numbers:  11.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 3.38 xFIP. Such a new schooler that you spell it nu skool? Gausman had a 3.24 SIERA and Cole’s was 3.21. Trying to figure out why Gerrit Cole is being drafted in the top 5 overall in some leagues and Gausman’s going around 160? Effin’ A, me too. So, what can we expect from Kevin Gausman for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I sorted Steamer projections by home runs, and did one of those skimming jobs I’m famous for. You didn’t know I was a famous skimmer? Oh, yeah, worked as a pool boy for five summers in my youth without the use of a net. I once skimmed the 729-tome A People’s History of the United States, and fifteen minutes later, came away with a working knowledge that Taft was fat. Splendid, very astute skimmer, I am. Skimming the Steamer projections, notably by home runs, led me to find a few gems for sleeper posts, but I thought you’d throw tomatoes at me if I wrote one on Pete Alonso, and I didn’t want to write one on Yordan Alvarez, because I think he’s accurately priced considering injury. Which brings us to Franmil Reyes, and the first time (at least that I can remember) that I’ve written a sleeper post for a utility-only hitter. As mentioned last week in my position eligibility for 2021 fantasy baseball, not a ton (palindrome!) of guys have multi-position eligibility this year. So, natch — snatch? — there’s a lot of guys with Utility-only eligibility. Speaking of snatches, maybe Franmil gets time in the outfield this year to make some, and get that eligibility. Where did you think I was going with ‘speaking of snatches?’ Oh. I see. I say he could see time in the outfield, because Cleveland currently has zero outfielders that have done anything of note, and they’re supposedly sellers. Unless Google was right when I looked up UTIL., and found a Urinary-Tract-Infection-Lingering, and I need to rethink everything. So, what can we expect from Franmil Reyes for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Sleepers don’t have to mean they put you to sleep, but in this case…Well…I mean…Yawns…Looks both ways at a red light, briefly dozes off…What were we talking about? Jorge Polanco! Right! Pure excitement! Exclamation mark after exclamation mark! Jorge Polanco came with large question marks prior to last year (in my mind, at least). Here’s what I said about him going into last year, “I know by heart most of the main stats from the main guys within a couple homers and ten to fifteen runs or RBIs. If you asked me Polanco’s home run total prior to writing this blurb, I would’ve started at 10 and went up by one until the audience at The Price is Right would’ve stood up, booing, and left the theater. Then, finally, when I found out he hit 22 homers, I would’ve looked up his stats at three different sites, not believing it. Then, finally, I would’ve said his HR/FB% must’ve been at least 25%, only to find out I was, like a good linens sale, roughly 15% off. Wow, Polanco hits lots of fly balls. I had no idea. That doesn’t bode well for his .295 average. I don’t know how to figure this out, but I bet his season last year was in the top 5% of the statistical anomalous, and I don’t even know what ‘statistical anomalous’ means. I just made it up. I guess what I’m saying if you had a guy who hit 44.4% fly balls and finished in the bottom 5% of exit velocity, it’s statistically impossible for him to have a .295 average. Though, that brings another point up, Polanco makes a good case against Statcast’s “line drives,” which are different than Baseball Info Solutions (which are used by Fangraphs), because Polanco had the 6th most “line drives” from BIS, but finished hideously for exit velocity, according to StatCast. If you hit .295, you have to think BIS’s ‘line drives” are more accurate. Okay, could someone text me their coordinates, because I just went down a massive rabbit hole and got lost.” And that’s me quoting me! What I feared would happen last preseason happened. His 2020 numbers were .258/.304/.354 and he hit four homers and stole four bags. So, why have high hopes for him this year? Or rather…So, what can we expect from Jorge Polanco for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?