On Thursday, December 12th, 2019, an event took place that even some of the most hardcore baseball fans don’t pay attention to, and for pretty good reason. The Rule 5 draft was started as a way for the MLB to attempt to give players buried in the minors, usually on strong teams or teams deep in their position, a chance to earn a role on another team. They attempt to accomplish this by allowing anyone not on a 40-man roster to be selected by another team, as long as they stay with that team in the Majors all year. This sounds great in theory, but when the 40-man rosters are all sorted out, that’s around 1,200 players that get protected, so it’s very rare that a gem slips through the cracks. For this reason, most teams will pass on their picks, and most of the ones that do get picked end up being returned to the team that they’re selected from. There are scattered success stories, with guys like Brad Keller, Odubel Herrera, Ryan Pressly, Marwin Gonzalez, and Mark Canha being some notable recent ones, as well as plenty of other intriguing names like Delino DeShields Jr., Hector Rondon, Josh Fields, etc., but for the most part there usually isn’t much to come out of the Rule 5 Draft. As a fantasy player you’re not worried about who’s going to get returned, you just want to know if there’s any fantasy value in the draft. Most of the guys taken are big arms with command issues, or bench players at best, but here are 3 names who could make an impact.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA–Breathe, Grey, breathe! I am wheezing thinking about going back in on Willie Calhoun as a sleeper. I am bent over a toilet coughing up chunks of past sleeper posts, swearing that I will never write another Willie Calhoun sleeper post, yet, yup, here we are. Ya know how when you fake throw a tennis ball to a dog, and the first five times they will still run out, but invariably by the sixth time, they’re like, “I’m not an idiot, you’ve dropped the tennis ball backwards instead of throwing it.” That’s what this Willie Calhoun sleeper post is. How many of you are still running out, panting, expecting the tennis ball? None? I don’t blame you. How’sever, here we are, panting, hundred yards out, looking for a tennis ball, hoping it was thrown this time. So, what can we expect from Willie Calhoun for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth travailing that well-worn landscape one more time. There’s sleepers for most of you that no one in your leagues will know about because their research entails them licking their Cheetos-orangey fingers and typing into Google “ 202o fantasy baseball projections” during their actual draft. For those leagues, J.D. Davis will be a sleeper. He prolly won’t be drafted until 250th overall or later. You’ll be able to get him for a good price. In deeper or more knowledge leagues, everyone’s going to know and want J.D. Davis. Doesn’t mean you won’t get him, but you’re gonna have to pay more. For unstints, everyone (at least I hope everyone) knew Pete Alonso going into my NL-Only Tout Wars draft last year and I still was able to get him for $10.  So, what can we expect from J.D. Davis for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Just over a year and 89 minor league games after he was drafted, Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Chicago Cubs, going 3/5 with 4 RBI in his debut, as the Cubs starting SS on September 7th. While the rest of his first month in the majors wasn’t quite as spectacular, Hoerner’s debut was a bit of a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Cubs. His .282/.305/.436 grades out as below average overall, but it displayed his plus hit tool, as well as surprising power. Hoerner has been somewhat of a hot commodity this offseason, so my goal here is to help you realistically guide your expectations for Nico Hoerner, both for 2020 and moving forward.

When Hoerner was drafted, he was seen as a safe, but unexciting pick, yet here he is getting people excited about his fantasy potential. Hoerner’s hit tool has always been his best tool, as he was a .300 hitter through both his last two years of college, and the two summers he spent in wood bat collegiate summer leagues. While he’s shown to be a competent fielder, and can run pretty well, Hoerner didn’t seem to have anything outside of his hit tool that could help him contribute in fantasy, yet here we are. Nico Hoerner’s AA stats seem pretty in line with how he fared in his major league debut. He walked a bit more, and didn’t show as much power, but the overall slash line was very similar.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Lucky I just bought hyphens in bulk from Costco. I’m gonna need them for this sleeper. Here goes, Ian Happ is a post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-POST-post-P-O-S-T-p-to-the-ost-postpostpostpost-post-hype sleeper! Ian Happ has burned you in the past. I get that. He’s burned me. Is he a whatcha-talkin-bout-Willis, you-can’t-be-serious, how-deep-is-this-league-where-he’s-even-drafted, you’ve-lost-your-mind, seriously-are-you-ill-in-the-head sleeper? Last year in a Manfred-sticking-Capri-Sun-straws-into-baseballs season, Happ played in 58 games and only hit 11 homers. Good news is he was out of single digits so I didn’t have to spell out his home run number. The bad news, Tommy La Stella out-homered him in three games. For calling Ian Happ a sleeper again, there’s a giant melon sitting on my lady-like shoulders and it’s unclear if there’s anything inside the cantaloupe. Oh, and he hit .264 with only two steals so there’s nothing coming from other categories. Only remarkable thing here is how bleh Happ was. I’m really selling this sleeper hard, huh? Worst sleeper in the history of sleepers. “Or,” Mr. Reversal Question pokes his head in, “…is it?!” So, what can we expect from Ian Happ for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Has anyone wondered before if Josh Rojas was simply the Latin Josh Reddick or is Josh Rojaspinga an entirely different player who hates that you confused him with Josh Rojas? These are the questions that keep me up at night. That and do pandas shorten their names to P&A’s in texts because they are lazy? Imagine my head is a spaghetti squash that’s totally baked and now you’re scraping out faux noodles that are curly-Q’s and the Q’s stand for questions. Last year, Josh Rojas just exceeded his rookie eligibility, gathering 17/2/16/.217/4 in 138 ABs, which is about six weeks of juiced ball as The Ghost of Abner Doubleday once called it, and that’s about a quarter of the season, so Rojas is an 8-homer, 16-steal guy? Oh, Mr. Prorater is ashen with embarrassment. Please say there’s more. Of course there’s more! It’s why I’ve trekked you up the side of Sleeper Mountain with nothing but a can of beans and one undersized sleeping bag! So, what can we expect from Josh Rojas for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s some legit pitfalls to avoid this year. Maybe it’s like that every year, but this year feels more so than other years. With the juiced ball, how do judge people’s power? As I’ve said before, there’s one angle here where we just don’t worry about it, because if the ball is not juiced in 2020, it will not be juiced for everyone, so the very high plateau for power will just readjust for everyone. The one issue with that is the guys who we’re targeting who might’ve only looked good last year because of the juiced ball. For unstints, if Marcell Ozuna hit 29 homers last year, and, guess what, he did, he could hit 29 homers again in 2020 with a dry ball because the supposed ten feet extra on fly balls provided by juice is irrelevant for Ozuna. So, when you look at Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and his 20 homers in only 84 games, and start commiserating with Mr. Prorater about how Lourdes Gurriel Jr. could now hit 40 homers, you have to wonder if Gurriel only hit 20 homers because of a juiced ball and is really a 20-homer hitter across 162 games, as well. So, what can we expect from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Jon Berti isn’t young. He will be 30 years old in January. So, the first thing I did for my Jon Berti sleeper was look up how many guys stole 25 or more bases at the age of 29 or older last year. Four players. That’s out of a total of 11. Yes, MLB turned the players with 25 or more steals to 11. Those four were Tommy Pham, Starling Marte, Jarrod Dyson and Elvis Andrus. What do these players make you think? Okay, I mean, I love ya, but let’s be real, this is just a way for me to get out what I think. These four players are speed-forward players. At 30 years of age, Lorenzo Cain, Marte and Dee Gordon stole thirty bags in 2018. The year before there was another four players at 30 years of age. 31-year-olds get a little less frequent, but there’s guys there in the last few years too. Players who primarily steal bases still steal (almost stutterer!) in their early 30s. Without a ton of evidence (because I’m too lazy to figure it out), the players who stop stealing at the ages of 29-31 are the ones who are not speed-forward players. Think of Paul Goldschmidt’s 15-20 steal years vs. Rajai Davis’s. Think of Ryan Braun’s 20+ steal years vs. Jarrod Dyson’s. Players who are not speedsters can scrap and eek out 15+ steals until the age of 29. Players who are fast don’t stop being fast until around the age of 32. Therefore, ergo, vis-a-vie, Jon Berti isn’t young, but it doesn’t matter for 2020. So, what can we expect from Jon Berti for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Despite being a 26th round draft pick in 2013, Mauricio Dubon has been a fairly big prospect name since about 2015, where he was commonly ranked about top 15 in the Red Sox system. Dubon was traded to the Brewers along with Travis Shaw in 2016 for Tyler Thornburg, and has been a top prospect in that system since. A career .300 hitter in the minors, Dubon caught people’s eyes with his abilities as a pure hitter, and has consistently been given an above average grade on his hit tool as a prospect. He got off to a great start in 2018, slashing .343/.348/.574 through 27 games, but unfortunately had his season cut short due to injuries. Dubon returned in a big way in 2019, demonstrating power that he had never shown before en route to hitting 24 HR on the season (20 in AAA and 4 in the Majors). Despite this breakout, the Brewers felt comfortable enough with their infield depth (ironic given the fact that they just traded for Luis Urias who I’m not a fan of), and they traded him to the Giants for Drew Pomeranz. Come September, Dubon found himself getting regular playing time at both 2B and SS, and looks primed to be the Giants starting 2B going into the 2020 season, so this begs the question: what is his fantasy value? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here’s a great thing about fantasy baseball, maybe any fantasy sport, I don’t know. Guys that come up with great expectations, who fizzle out at first, don’t just disappear and stop having potential, but other guys come along, steal the spotlight and overshadow those first guys who had great potential. This induces a buying opportunity. Now that I think about it, it’s not just fantasy baseball or sports. Same could be said for anything or anyone. Think of a cousin who seemed destined for great things, but then was sidetracked by drugs or a fantasy sports problem. If one day he gets cleaned up, he’s got that potential again. Dot dot dot. Unless you’re thinking about him harnessing his potential for selling drugs or winning fantasy sports leagues, because if he gets cleaned of those problems, then he’s not going to have that potential again. Reminds me of the early 2000s when I focused in on buying Apple stock at $12 a share and I was like, “That company was once great and can be great again, so I should buy this stock.” Of course, I didn’t or I wouldn’t be here telling you this. Instead, I bought Boston Market stock shares and they soon went bankrupt and I’m an idiot. By the way, I’m here to tell you never buy stocks on an empty stomach. Either way, I had the idea to buy Apple and that’s all that matters! Any hoo! Dansby Swanson is Apple stock in 2004. He was once great, and can be great again. So, what can we expect from Dansby Swanson for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Please, blog, may I have some more?