The dominos of baseball free agency have not yet begun to fall. A few small pieces are attempting to bring down the larger ones, but the momentum has not been there yet. We’ve seen Clayton Kershaw stay home in Los Angeles, Carlos Rodon leaving Chicago for San Francisco and then Joe Kelly going to the White Sox. We have some big names on the docket in terms of the shortstop position in Carlos Correa and Trevor Story still looking for new homes. Their landing spots could change things in this article but we’ll progress as they haven’t signed just yet.
Just as he has done in years past, Nate will bring his favorite sleepers per position of the upcoming fantasy baseball season. For each position he will offer three sleepers, with outfielders, starting and relief pitchers seeing five suggestions. He’ll take into consideration both points and category leagues in his suggestions.
We’re continuing our trot around the bases in this fantasy baseball sleeper series with a stop at shortstop. Of the four positions we’ve touched on now with this edition of the series, shortstop is the third of such positions that should be waited on in drafts. You of course have your big dogs like Fernando Tatis Jr and Trae Turner, but overall, the position is deep and allows for some gems to be scooped up later in drafts. Shortstop is much like second base, where waiting on the position can prove beneficial with focusing on other positions early on.
Gleyber Torres (New York Yankees)
Position Rank: 21st
2021 Stats: .259 BA, 459 AB, 50 R, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 14 SB & .697 OPS
Gleyber Torres started his career with the Yankees and the MLB as hot as possible. In just his second season he hit for 38 home runs and 90 RBIs. He hit 24 home runs his rookie season as well. Torres really struggled during the Covid shortened season and never fully recovered the following year. However, he is adapting. He’s gone from a power hitting middle infielder to a guy who stole 14 stolen bases last season, eight more than any other season. Torres still has some power in that bat. It seems investable that the Yankees bring in one of the big names at shortstop, having Torres play second base every day. With a set position and hitting behind the “heart” of the lineup in New York, I believe Torres to have a bounce back type of season.
Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants)
Position Rank: 24th
2021 Stats: .298 BA, 483 AB, 79 R, 24 HR, 90 RBI, 11 SB & .895 OPS
Brandon Crawford had a career year in year 11 of his career last season. He was a big part of the re-spark of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants still have a competitive roster and are making moves such as signing Rodon. He’ll continue to hit early in the Giants’ lineup, behind fellow Giants’ veteran Brandon Belt. I don’t expect Crawford to have a repeat of what he did last season, but I still think he has a good season. This all can be had in the 17th round of 12 man leagues.
Oneil Cruz (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Position Rank: 27th
2021 Stats: .333 BA, 8 AB, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB & 1.000 OPS
Oneil Cruz is a rookie this season and has some of the highest upside of nearly anyone. He’s a 6-foot-7 shortstop. Unheard of. But his combination of size, power and speed too is unheard of. Cruz is a 60-grade runner and a 80-grade raw power hitter. He hit 19 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last year and stole 17 bases as well. He does have a high strikeout rate but has already shown improvement by lowering that number. On a very young and unproven Pirates’ team, he should get the chances and opportunities he needs to develop without fear of losing his place in the lineup. He’s worth the risk in the 21st round of 12 man leagues.