Ahead of the 2020 season, we have a LOT to like about the corner infield positions. Maybe you weren’t able to snag the likes of Cody Bellinger or Nolan Arenado and you became discouraged. So you went on with your fantasy baseball draft letting these positions remain empty and now suddenly, it’s the middle of your draft and you need some guys to fill these spots. Luckily for you, I’ll give you some sleepers to consider in both spots! Let’s dive into it!
C.J. Cron, Detroit Tigers
In what was likely a financial move, the Twins decided to non-tender Cron despite him slashing .253/.311/.469 with 25 home runs and 78 RBI through 125 games last season. Despite hitting well, Cron has struggled to land a starting role with a team, as this will be his fourth team since 2014. Now with the Tigers, it looks as if Cron will get that starting role as he sits atop their depth chart.
Projected to hit cleanup, the Tigers certainly aren’t the most appealing team to do so but it’s a nice little bump from primarily hitting fifth last season. He’s become more disciplined at the plate and while he doesn’t take a ton of walks, his strikeout rate dropped from 26% in 2018 to 21.4% in 2019. While JaCoby Jones is far from a leadoff hitter, having Niko Goodrum and Miguel Cabrera batting in front of Cron should bring a healthy amount of RBI opportunities, making the powerful Cron a worthy late-round target to consider. Both players posted an OBP of at least .315 over the past two seasons while Cabrera continues to be the superior option of the two in the category. Don’t let his second-half slide sway you, as Cron was clearly bothered by his lingering thumb issue.
Renato Nunez, Baltimore Orioles
Everyone wants to forget about the Orioles 2019 season and who can blame them? The team didn’t have much celebrating to do after posting a 54-108 record, good for dead last in the American League East. One of the bright spots, if you can try to remember, was Nunez. He’s boasted some major power during his tenure in the minors but limited opportunities in the majors didn’t allow him to showcase that. Well, that all changed in 2019 when he played 151 games slashing .244/.311/.460 with 31 home runs and 90 RBI. That type of power was shown in the Athletics minor league system at almost every level and it finally happened at the major league level as well.
While you’re getting some immense power numbers with Nunez, you’re also punting in different areas. His wOBA (weighted on-base average; considered the “catch-all” stat for offense) sat at just .323. In terms of league average, .320 is the benchmark for wOBA. Justin Smoak, Jose Osuna, Michael Chavis all landed in the same realm for wOBA to give you an idea. His K% has and will likely continue to be high, landing at 24%. If you can sacrifice other categories, Nunez is a great power option that you can nab late. The Orioles lineup, like the Tigers, is from great but the power is what you’re getting in this scenario.
Jose Martinez, Tampa Bay Rays
Martinez is hoping a fresh start will kick his career back into gear. Despite slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI the year prior, Martinez took on more of a reserve role with the Cardinals last season. He had only 373 plate appearances after getting 590 in 2018. Martinez, as you’d expect, struggled, to the tune of .269/.340/.410 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. With all this in mind, you couldn’t be buying Martinez at a lower value than in 2020.
Martinez has proven that when give the chance, he can hit for a high average, get on base and hit for power. The Rays potentially got a steal here and he should easily outperform his ADP if given the chance. In 2018, Martinez posted a .356 wOBA while with a 40.5% hard contact rate. He also should gain multiple position eligibility if he doesn’t already, as he should be used at first and the outfield. He’s projected to hit sixth to start the season but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move up in the lineup if he’s able to produce while playing consistently. For someone that many will write off after last season, Martinez is someone to strongly consider.
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals
Edman sounds as if he won’t have a solidified position as 2020 begins but we’re ok with that. Taking on a “super-utility” role should mean plenty of at-bats for his second year in the majors. The majority of his games came at third base, so that should be where you can draft him, for now. Through 92 games, Edman slashing .304/.350/.500 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI and 15 steals. Edman hasn’t been a big power guy in his short time through the minors but his ability to get on base and swipe a bag has followed him in his journey to the big club. In 2018, Edman swiped 30 bags through 126 games between Double-A and Triple-A. Playing a full season, Edman could easily have 20+ steals, which is essentially unheard of at the third base position. Jose Ramirez lead the league with 24 last season. In second? Edman.
It’s hard to predict where Edman will hit in the order, as he bounced around frequently in 2019. He had an at-bat in every batting position the exception of the cleanup spot. His most frequent spots, ranked in order, were first, second, seven and ninth. Nonetheless, you’re getting some rare speed at a position that has almost none, coupled with some good OBP and wOBA numbers, as he ended 2019 with .350 and .357 in those categories.
Brian Anderson, Mimai Marlins
I have a few articles on sleeper picks for this season and I’m not ashamed to have multiple Marlins’ players included in those. Anderson is an interesting pick simply because of his power and suddenly, a solid surrounding cast around him. The Marlins made some surprising moves this offseason that included the addition of Corey Dickerson and Jonathan Villar. It will help fill a power void the Marlins struggled with last season, ending the 2019 season last in home runs. Anderson certainly did his part in that department last season, belting 20 of those while slashing .261/.342/.468 and 66 RBI.
The additions to the Marlins lineup should only help Anderson, who realistically had zero protection in the lineup last season. Even in that scenario, Anderson still posted some respectable numbers. Projected to bat in front of Dickerson in the three spot, Anderson could be primed to exceed his 20 home runs, giving him some excellent value at his current ADP. He also should see some multi-position eligibility with both third base and the outfield.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
I’ll keep this short and sweet as you’re drafting Seager for one reason and one reason only. Power. Since 2012 when Seager became a full time player, he’s hit at least 20 home runs every year, topping out at 30 in 2016. Even for a power guy, his strikeout remain low, posting a 19.4 K% last season. He’s not a great source for other categories but you’re getting someone you can safely pencil in for 20+ home runs. Who knows, with the way the Mariners are operating, he could even land on a contender during the season, putting him in an even better position to flex at the plate. If you’re desperate for power late, Seager is your guy.