In a shortened season, the St. Louis Cardinals have players who have the potential to be sleepers in fantasy baseball. Who fits that bill best?
Fantasy baseball is going to be weirder this year than it has been since it became a popular thing to do. There are going to be chances to capitalize on a shortened season with players who get hot and stay hot.
On the St. Louis Cardinals, there are plenty of streaky players that could carry a fantasy baseball team, especially if all that you need is 60 games.
Most fantasy players have already drafted their teams, but that doesn’t mean that these players shouldn’t be targets for trades. Sometimes one player can be the difference between losing and winning.
Tyler O’Neill has been the subject of contempt from fans based solely on who he was traded for. Back in 2017, when the Cardinals traded Marco Gonzales for O’Neill, both looked like MLB contributors. Now three years later, Gonzales has become a fixture in the Mariners’ rotation while O’Neill has looked more like a fourth outfielder.
Why is he so intriguing to me? He hasn’t gotten consistent playing time, and when he has, he’s produced.
July of 2019 was the only time in O’Neill’s career where he was given the chance to start daily. This was the month where Marcell Ozuna was out due to a broken finger. In 23 games, O’Neill batted .301/.341/.482 with an above-average .181 ISO.
The only other month where O’Neill had more than 15 starts was April, when he had a similar stat line with a .303 average and a .455 slugging percentage.
When he plays, he hits. Playing just two games a month as he did in May, June, and August doesn’t let him keep any rhythm at the plate.
It’s not out of the question that O’Neill could start 42 of the 60 games, and if he does, he could catch fire and be a huge asset for fantasy.
Matt Carpenter has fallen out of the sweet spot of the fanbase after two years of inconsistent performance. In 2019, his overall body of work of a 95 wRC+ is well below where he’s been the rest of his career, and that output after the inconsistent 2018 that he had, fan confidence has wavered.
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Carpenter can carry the offense when he’s hot though. In the 80-game stretch between June 1 and August 31, Carpenter had an OPS of 1.078, getting on base at a .414 clip. His .362 ISO led to 28 homers in that stretch and he was basically the entire offense for the team during that time.
That was about two years ago at this point, but we know what Carpenter can do. He’s not being graded out very well nationally right now, and you should take advantage. In the past, Carpenter has worn himself down mentally and physically trying to be his best on offense and in the field. Because of the DH in 2020, Carpenter will be utilized there likely more often than not. When you consider that all he’ll have to worry about is hitting, that jumps his potential up a bit in my eyes.
Carpenter could definitely surprise some people in 2020.
Daniel Ponce de Leon
If there is one word to describe Daniel Ponce de Leon, it would be underrated. Since his debut in 2018, Ponce has been sent up and down too many times. When he is in the big leagues, his role changes so often that it’s hard for him to keep his rhythm. By his standard stats, Ponce has been solid.
His 3.31 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 9.1 K/9 in his 81.2 innings tells a good start to the story, but the sore spot comes when you look at his walks. A 4.3 BB/9 is not going to work at the major league level. However, his peripherals are fantastic.
With fewer than 100 career innings and just 48.2 in 2019 (which these numbers are based off), it’s a small sample size, but it is all we have to judge him on. All of his expected values suggest that he was better than advertised last season.
Looking forward to 2020, Ponce is going to be a huge part of the team’s plans. With starters beginning the year going shorter starts, the bullpen/piggybackers are going to be incredibly important.
Unlike years past, Ponce should have plenty of innings to pitch this year and after he spent time at Driveline this winter, he should get even better. Ponce is a great guy to snag and store in your bullpen.
There are more players that could be sneaky grabs for the fantasy baseball season, but these are three of my favorites.