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Five National League Outfield Sleepers for 2019

Sleepers, draft values, ADP bargains...whatever you want to call them, every fantasy owner is looking for them at this time of year. Identifying and acquiring players whose production will outstrip the investment required to land their services is the crux of the game. It's often what separates the winners and losers, and it's arguably the most enjoyable aspect of our beloved fake baseball.

The challenge is that in the last several years, there's been an explosion of data paralleling that of what's happened in the actual game. It's not an easy as it used to be to hoard knowledge, to simply outwork or out-hustle your rivals. We carry supercomputers around in our pockets, and there's more content, analysis, and advice available than ever before.

All that established, you should definitely listen to me and not those other guys. Here are five National League outfielders who have a great shot at turning a profit in 2019 on the senior circuit.

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Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals (206 ADP)

There's no mystery as to fantasy owners' trepidation toward investing in Eaton this year. In his first two seasons with the Nationals, Eaton has suited up for a mere 118 games thanks to a torn ACL in 2017 and last year's ankle issues.

There isn't really any compelling reason to consider him more injury prone than any other player, though, given the nature of those injuries. The 30-year-old didn't look any worse for wear in his 95 games last season, during which he hit .301/.394/.411 with five home runs, nine stolen bases, and 88 R+BI.

Eaton will lead off a Washington lineup that still appears fearsome despite the loss of Bryce Harper, which makes 90+ runs a realistic full-season output. Paired with the high average and 25 HR+SB, that's terrific value after pick 200.


Franmil Reyes, San Diego Padres (223 ADP)

It's a miscarriage of justice that Reyes and Hunter Renfroe may have to split time instead of each getting everyday at-bats. The universe may (and likely will) intervene in the form of the usual Wil Myers injury. Reyes struggled early as a rookie, but after a brief demotion, he hit .318/.385/.548 with 10 homers in his final 49 games.

All the indicators were there - high hard-hit and HR/FB rates, along with significantly fewer whiffs. In fact, no hitter improved his K-BB% after August 1 as much as Reyes did. If the latter doesn't carry over, he could be a batting average liability, but there's legitimate 30-homer power in his bat.


Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves (327 ADP)

Let's say you view Eaton as a significant injury risk, and Reyes as too vulnerable to playing time concerns. Markakis is the antithesis of both. He's averaged 670 plate appearances per season in his 13-year career and hasn't logged fewer than that since 2012.

There's not much pop to be found with Markakis, who hasn't eclipsed 15 homers in the past decade, but he's a career .288 hitter with a walk rate near 10 percent. That on-base and contact ability, paired with his durability, always results in respectable run production.

You've heard the aphorism, "Boring vets win fantasy leagues." They don't get much more boring than Markakis, who is expected to hit cleanup for the Braves again.


Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins (453 ADP)

There's no way around it - Brinson was an abject disaster in his rookie year. Only Chris Davis, who had possibly the worst season ever by an MLB regular, posted a worse wRC+ than Brinson's 56. He struck out 120 times and drew just 17 walks in 406 plate appearances, hitting just .199 with a .578 OPS.

Consider that Zack GreinkeZack Greinke, the 35-year-old pitcher - hit .234 and had a .566 OPS. Brinson managed to swat 11 home runs but didn't translate his impressive foot speed into results on the base paths as he stole only two bases in three attempts.

The good news is that the Marlins are awful and have no reason not to give their former top prospect plenty of leash. The 24-year-old's minor league track record suggests a much better sense of the zone, and all caveats about the enterprise aside, he's had an excellent spring. At their current prices, I'd much rather gamble on Brinson than Byron Buxton.


Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals (580 ADP)

Fowler's 2018 was almost as much of a dumpster fire as Brinson's, which came as a shock given his prior body of work. The veteran was coming off two consecutive 120 wRC+ seasons, during which he averaged a .270 AVG, 15 HR, 10 SB, and 76 runs scored despite missing significant chunks of time in both years.

As terrible as his results were last season, his peripherals don't suggest that he's finished as an MLB player; in fact, his batted-ball profile remained relatively static. Instead, a .210 BABIP, 120 points below his career mark, doomed him.

Fowler will have to battle for playing time in a crowded Cardinals outfield, but his contract (three years, $50 million remaining) and the warts on his competition (Tyler O'Neill's contact issues, Jose Martinez's defense) should give him a puncher's chance.

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