When looking for breakout hitters, outfield is usually a great place to start. Volume alone gives it an edge over the other positions, but there’s also the fact that a lot of the best athletes play out there and can offer a dynamic set of fantasy numbers. Sleepers don’t exist as they used to anymore, we all know that. Before the internet age, you could legitimately know of some players that the rest of your leaguemates were oblivious to and scoop them up late. Nowadays, no player is truly hidden – or asleep, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get bargains in the draft.
Let’s not get hung up on the term “sleeper” and instead focus on mining some surplus value in the draft. I look at them on levels: mid-rounder, late-rounder, and flyer. I loosely use the following guidelines for them.
Mid-rounder: picks in the 7th-12th rounds
Late-rounder: picks in the 13th-18th rounds
Flyer: picks from the 19th round on, including reserves
To qualify as a sleeper, I generally see that player as someone who will deliver value about four or more rounds higher than his draft slot. Again, these are loose guidelines, but they give me a general framework for identifying my potential plus value picks. I’ve got an outfielder for all three categories today.
Mid-rounder: Marcell Ozuna | Marlins
Ozuna returned to his 2014 level after a rough 2015 that included a demotion, but that’s not quite as impressive when you consider the surge in offense across the league. In fact, his .773 OPS was a point higher than ’14, but his wRC+ was 11 points lower at 105. Credit him for rebounding from ’15, but there’s a level of disappointment to Ozuna’s season because it looked like he was going to breakthrough and have that big season some have seen coming for him (including yours truly).