2023 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Frank Stampfl’s Sleepers 1.0 include value targets like Taylor Ward, more

As emphasized in Breakouts 1.0, the difference between sleeping and breaking is subjective. It can mean different things to different people. There is no correct answer. For me, fantasy sleepers are mostly underrated players. Those are good bets to beat their average position in the draft, but perhaps the sleepers don’t have as many advantages as the breakouts. The truth is that you should be recruiting a bunch of sleeper and breakout candidates in the middle and late rounds of the draft.

Another thing I’ve noticed in recent years is how edgy the fantasy baseball industry has become. For the most part, anyone who does the research will be able to identify these players. As a result, there is hardly such a thing as a true sleeper. However, let’s assume that you are not doing your own research, but simply come here for a list of names to compile. This is completely normal! We do research so you don’t have to.

Like breakouts, sleepers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be found at various points in your draft and have many different traits. As a result, I tried to group the names below in the most appropriate way that I saw fit.

Before I get to my favorite sleepers, I want Miguel Vargas, Will Myers and Jesse Winker to like them this season as well. Scott White beat me to these names if you want to read about them. Here.


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Taylor Ward

LAA • RF • #3

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It seems like a long time ago, but Taylor Ward was one of the best hitters in baseball to start the 2022 season. By May 20, he was hitting .370/.481/.713 with nine home runs and a tasteless 17 percent barrel rate. Why is the date of May 20 so significant? This is the day he crashed into the outfield wall during a catch, which caused a bite in the neck and shoulders. He missed several games before being put on the injured list in June with a hamstring injury. These two injuries effectively derailed Ward’s season.

  • Through May 20, .370/.481/.713, nine home runs, BB rate 18%, K rate 20%, barrel rate 17%.
  • May 21 – Aug 31 – .219/.293/.336, eight home runs, BB rate 9%, K rate 24%, barrel rate 9.4%

Of course, Ward was always going to regress after his tumultuous start. You may be thinking that the injuries are an excuse and that he’s just out of his mind. The fact is that he finished very hot. In Ward’s last 31 games, he was back on track hitting .345/.397/.575 with six home runs and 13.7% of the barrel. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Given what we saw occasionally last season and a strong minor league record, I think Ward is capable of hitting .270+ with 25-30 home runs and great stats in an improved Angels roster.

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Rowdy Tellez

MIL • 1B • #11

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Rowdy Tellez just finished a year of his career, albeit marred by a terrible .219 batting average. What we liked was the incredible power. Tellez was one of 10 hitters to hit 35 or more home runs last season. So Tellez fans, I have good news for you. We should expect the wagering average to recover with the guard switching restrictions introduced this coming season. According to the post below, Tellez lost 15 hits on full shifts last season. If you give him those 15 hits, he will end up with a .248 average.

Ironically, according to Statcast, Tellez’s expected batting average was .252. The math seems to add up. Tellez is unique in that he always interacted a lot with the clumsy guy. He finally hit more flyballs last season, posting a career-high flyball rate of 45.5% and a career-high throwing angle of 15.3. His 12.9% barrel rate ranks fourth among qualified first basemen in 2022. He will lose some playing time with his left hand, but I expect 30+ more home runs and an improved average this season.

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John Gray

TEX • SP • #22

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I’ve always been interested in John Gray’s skill set and that’s not going to change now. On the surface, Gray was fine in his first season with the Rangers, posting a 3.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 127.1 innings. The base numbers paint an even better picture. He posted a career-high 34.8% chase speed, while his 11.6% swing speed and 96 mph fastball average were his best since 2019. His average fastball has actually jumped 1.1 miles per hour since 2021.

Gray is basically a two-pitch pitcher, but his fastball has brought better results now that he’s not from Colorado and his slider is elite. Last season, he threw the slider 36% of the time, posting a .163 vs. batting average and a 20.6% hit rate. It’s purely anecdotal, but I also love it when another ace joins the pitching team. Gray is not Jacob de Thunder, but they both use their fastball and slider quite often. I think Gray could learn a thing or two from the best pitcher of this generation. Usually Gray is good for at least one IL stay per season, but when he’s on the mound he can offer a top 40 starting pitcher.


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