The AL East is loaded with studs and rising stars throughout the division. Here is a look at the top sleepers for the upcoming fantasy season. These picks are based on the players’ ability to outperform their current average draft position (ADP).
There’s not much talent from a rebuilding Baltimore Orioles team that will likely compete for the worst record again in 2020. However, there is vast opportunity for playing time on this team for young players. One of the top value picks for the Orioles is outfielder Austin Hays. At the young age of 24, Hays has yet to play a full season in the majors due to injuries. He will likely be the main lead-off hitter for Baltimore, maximizing his plate appearances.
ESPN has him projected to contribute 75 Runs, 24 homers, and 74 RBI before the season was suspended. While that alone is good value for a late round flier, expect him to outperform those paces in these categories this season.
Additionally, he provides the ability for double digit steals and will having plenty of opportunities leading off. In standard 10-12 team leagues he is being drafted in the last few rounds with an ESPN ADP of 253. Getting an everyday player at the top of the order at the end of your draft can be a season changer. Basically, he is a low-cost-high-upside selection.
Another good value is Renato Núñez, who will likely bat cleanup in Baltimore. He is expected to be the team’s RBI leader and has plenty of power, but is a .230-.240 hitter. Currently, his ESPN ADP is 251. Like Hays, it does not take much of a risk to acquire him late in the draft.
Boston Red Sox
With the Boston Red Sox look no further than Andrew Benintendi. Fans were disappointed last year expecting a breakout season from the now 25-year-old. He will cut down this season on his 22.8% strikeout rate making him a more consistent fantasy play in 2020. His ADP has dropped to 103 on ESPN. He is a young All-Star caliber player in the middle of a talented Red Sox lineup that will produce plenty of runs. Benintendi is a player that produces in all five batting categories, offering power and speed. He is getting drafted as a low-end second to high-end third outfielder and can easily develop to an All-Star.
In addition to Benintendi, Michael Chavis also has good value. Chavis is under the radar in the Boston lineup. Having just completed his rookie campaign, he is another young player on the rise for this team. However, he has to work on seeing pitches better as he finished 2019 with 127 K’s in 347 AB’s. He offers some position flexibility as he is listed at 1B/2B. With an ADP of 251, Chavis’s power and position availability is worth a late round flier.
New York Yankees
It is hard to find under the radar talent on a popular team like the New York Yankees. There is only one player that is an evident steal in 2020 for the Yankees, but he could be the top sleeper of the division. Missing almost all of 2019, many have forgotten Miguel Andújar amidst all the rising stars filling in for injuries. Don’t forget Andújar’s 2018 breakout season where he was just shy of batting .300 while having a 83 R/27 HR/92 RBI line. He is slated to get time in several positions including 3B and OF. That being said, it is possible that he spends most of his time for New York as the DH where he can solely focus on his offense.
In ESPN leagues he has an incredibly low ADP of 221. At this point in the draft it is worth taking a player like Andújar, who can return to star player form for a price of a borderline starter. The mid-to-late round price due to injury history is too hard to pass up on a young talent like him.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are great for finding good pitching values. Normally this author wouldn’t focus so much on relief pitchers, but Nick Anderson’s value is too hard to pass up. Ranked at RP10 on ESPN, Anderson has an ADP of 126. Recently, Anderson has risen to the closing role in Tampa as an anchor to one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. He is positioned for a ton of save opportunities due to his team’s strength.
In addition to saves, Anderson has a premier strikeout capability boasting 110 K’s in 65 IP. His 15.36 K/9 rate was third best in 2019 behind Edwin Diaz and Josh Hader. He will be competing for the most saves in the league and strikeouts by a closer. He is going around 60 spots later than other top closers like Kirby Yates and Aroldis Chapman who’s values are similar to Anderson’s.
A deeper value pick that could pay off is Brendan McKay. McKay has little pitching experience in MLB and may not start the season in the rotation. However, at some point this season he will get his opportunity to show off why he is one of the top-pitching prospects in baseball. He is a worthy last round stash as he is going borderline undrafted. As a bonus, he is also a dual player with hitting experience if he is ever given a chance to hit in the big leagues.
Toronto Blue Jays
The most exciting team in this division in this division is the Toronto Blue Jays full of their talented prospects. Their highest ranked fantasy batter is Bo Bichette, and he is ranked too low. If it wasn’t for how incredibly low Andújar is ranked, Bichette would be this authors top fantasy sleeper in the AL East.
ESPN’s ADP on Bichette is 94. Bichette became an instant success after making his debut late in the season last year. In his limited time, he hit .311 with 11 home runs in 196 appearances. Bichette showcased his balance of power, average, and speed at shortstop, a position of fantasy scarcity in the past.
Although it was a small sample, Bichette has the ability to increase his skills in all fantasy categories. He could be a top-five shortstop this year and is a 20-20 candidate combining his speed and power. He is likely leading off, maximizing his plate appearances. Ranked as SS14, taking the chance around pick 94 to take a player that could easily be top-50 this fantasy season.
A final value pick is catcher Danny Jansen. Jansen is ranked as C19 with an ADP of 258. Being one of the last catchers drafted, his current value is serving as a backup catcher for fantasy owners. He had a rather disappointing 2019 season as a sub .200 hitter. However, it was just his first full major league season. He has the ability to hit 20 homers which is more rare at his position. The cost of a last round pick on a catcher who can offer some power can be a great value.
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