With the winter meetings wrapped up and the focus shifting to the coming year now seems like the perfect time to take a break and look ahead to what to expect in fantasy baseball leagues next season. Home run power can play a big role in fantasy baseball league success, especially since it impacts runs, RBI and slug percentage. Every year there are at least a handful of sleeper picks that emerge as quality home run producers and this year should be no different with a strong crop of underrated talent to choose from. Here is a look at the top sleeper picks for home runs in MLB fantasy leagues.
C: Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies
Murphy’s playing time was limited in 2016 but he could be in line for a major increase in terms of games played and with that he could realize his power potential in Colorado. The Rockies’ catching situation remains fluid but Murphy has the potential to be a breakout star in 2017 if he can seize the starting job. Murphy already has eight home runs in just 79 major league at-bats and the high elevation in Colorado will only help his home run potential for the Rockies with more exposure this coming season.
1B: Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Belt was a regular in most fantasy basketball leagues last season but he could far exceed his average draft position this year based on his potential for a very productive 2017 season. Belt has hit at least 17 home runs in three of the last four seasons and while his potential has seemed capped by the fact that he plays half of his games at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park the reality is that his metrics show plenty of promise from a power standpoint. That includes a 46-percent flyball rate that ranked ninth in all of baseball and the lowest groundball-to-flyball rate in the entire major leagues. Belt will probably improve his home run total from the 17 he hit a year ago while becoming that much more dangerous of an all-around fantasy weapon this coming season.
OF: Scott Schebler, Cincinnati Reds
Schebler quietly gained at-bats after being traded to Cincinnati from Los Angeles as part of the three-team Todd Frazier deal last season and he could be primed for a breakout year if he gains more at-bats. After hitting only 13 home runs in 121 games in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2015, Schebler hit 13 home runs in just 75 games at Triple-A Louisville last season. Factor in that he has hit more than 20 home runs in three of his last four seasons as a professional and it’s easy to understand why scouts are high on his overall power potential. Schebler will be an underrated outfield option heading in to 2017 but he might be worth taking a chance on if he can become a regular for the Reds.
1B: Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners
Vogelbach was shipped to the Seattle Mariners in July after spending several years as a top prospect in the Chicago Cubs system and he is projected to challenge for the starting job as a first basemen this season. Vogelbach hit a career-high 23 home runs in 563 plate appearances at Triple-A last season he owns a career .391 OBP in the minors as one of the more patient hitters to rise through the Cubs system over the years. The Mariners are thrilled about Vogelbach’s potential heading in to 2017 and he could emerge as an underrate source of power with 15-20 home runs this upcoming season.
OF: Dylan Cozens, Philadelphia Phillies
If you’re looking for a deep sleeper (in the prospects category), take a look at Dylan Cozens of the Philadelphia Phillies. This is a team that’s clearly in rebuilding mode, so there will be ample playing time for youngsters to come up and get an opportunity. Cozens was stellar last season in the minors, crushing 40 home runs in a breakout season. He slugged .591. Keep in mind that he was playing in a particularly hitter-friendly park last season but given that the Phillies have plenty of opportunity, he could be a decent option in MLB fantasy for NL-only leagues.
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