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We are gathered here today to discuss everyone’s favorite fantasy buzzword, the “sleepers”. Not only that, but we’re tabbing these guys as deeper sleepers with a focus on the second base position.

The keystone position is an exciting one these days, and while many folks are scurrying to score Ian Happ, Jonathan Villar or Ian Kinsler late, we're here to discuss some folks beyond the top 225 picks per NFBC ADP data for drafts completed between 3/1/18 and 3/14/18. With the draft season approaching its crescendo, it's time to make sure you have some later targets at the ready.

Be sure to also check out our famous Draft Value and Sleepers List, and download the free app for iPhone and Android. Without further ado, we dive in...

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Deeper Sleepers at Second Base

Jason Kipnis (CLE, 2B)

I want to believe that if you're a smart lil' RotoBaller then you were on the 2018 Kipnis train before Spring Training started, but just in case you either don't know or are not giving his potential enough respect, we are going to have a chat about him here. Kipnis is currently the 24th 2B-eligible bat in that two-week ADP window, behind part-timer Austin Barnes and the unproven/one-asset-only Jose Peraza.

We can't chalk everything up to injury, but most of Kip's 2017 campaign was dinged by the injury bug to the tune of a .232/.291/.414 slash line across 373 PAs. A strained rotator cuff in Spring Training didn't even allow him to get off on the right foot, and just as he was shaking off the rust heading into June, he had to miss a month with a hamstring injury. He would be lifted from his fourth game back with hamstring tightness, so I feel safe in saying last year was a lost one. Kipnis had totaled at least 550 plate appearances in his previous five seasons, with four of the five exceeding 640 PAs. I know health can go quickly, but I'm not worried here.

Just the other day we outlined how a pull-heavy, fly-ball approach benefits hitters in Cleveland when looking at Yonder Alonso--Kipnis is no exception. No one will confuse him for a slugging first baseman, but his pull and fly-ball rates average around 40 percent each in his past two seasons. Right now, Roster Resource projects Kip to be Cleveland's regular two-hole hitter, right between Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. You know, two guys who are top-25 picks. Even if we ding his stolen-base outlook given age and last year's injuries (I'm not assuming that), then a 90-25-75-12-.275 line is perfectly attainable with say, 600 PAs.

And yeah, then there's the whole "he's 14-for-31 with six homers and a 1.598 OPS in Spring Training as of this writing" thing. He's still going way too late. He was ranked 62nd in 2016 in Yahoo's standard 5x5 rankings and I can definitely see a return to the top 100 here.

Cesar Hernandez (PHI, 2B)

Everyone is (rightfully) buzzing about hot prospect Scott Kingery, but no one is talking about the guy who is making Philadelphia try out Kingery in the outfield to boost his versatility. Hernandez has hit exactly .294 alongside a 10.6 percent walk rate in each of his last two seasons, resulting in OBPs of .371 and .373, respectively. He's stolen at least 15 bags in each of his last three campaigns and managed to score 85 runs (and even hit nine dingers) in just 128 games last season.

He'll now be hitting leadoff with a much-improved lineup behind him and could very well post a 110-10-50-15-.300 season for you. And just in case you have this image of him as some mid-range player who has been around for a while and could be declining: he's only 27 years old. Out of all qualified second basemen, Hernandez's 22.6 percent line-drive rate ranked sixth while his 52.8 percent ground-ball rate was the third-highest.

In other words, he doesn't try to be something he isn't and just puts the bat on the ball (with good results). While he isn't Dee Gordon with the wheels, he isn't a total dud in the power department either. He should return great value at this spot.

 

Other Later-Round Second Basemen I Like

Jed Lowrie (OAK, 2B)

As prospectors everywhere wait on a spot to open up for Franklin Barreto, or until he gets comfortable enough in the outfield to warrant playing time there, Oakland's keystone position is manned by none other than Mr. Lowrie. Remember how Hernandez's line-drive rate was sixth? Well, Lowrie's 27.1 percent LD rate was second-best, trailing only Daniel Murphy. While his .277 average wasn't a career-high mark (that would be .290 in 2013, his only other completely-healthy season), his .448 slugging percentage and .808 OPS are career-high rates (when exceeding 200 PAs in a year). You're gambling on health, but no one comes free of fleas at this tier. Besides, he's still healthier than...

Devon Travis (TOR, 2B)

Travis hasn't topped 450 PAs in any of his three big-league seasons, with last year's 197 PAs being particularly disappointing. We all know about his potential if he could just stay on the field, and we've all probably been burned by stashing him on our DL only to never get a chance to play him. This ADP drop is likely 90 percent due to his durability, but now drafters are also staring down an ugly .259 batting average compared to 2016's .300 mark.

His BABIP, which sat at .347 in '15 and .358 in '16, sunk to .299 despite an electric 26.2 percent line-drive rate that came with a three-percentage-point rise in hard-hit rate and a five-percentage-point drop in chase rate. With an xBABIP of .332 for '17, I wouldn't worry about the average. Toronto won't run him out there every day with guys like Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte ready to spell him, but those in deeper daily formats could take advantage of his talents when on the field.

 

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