Fantasy Baseball: Late Round Value Hitters
Joe Gallina breaks down some under-the-radar players who have the opportunity to out produce their current ADP.
With the wealth of information available to the increasingly sophisticated modern day fantasy baseball player, trying to find the “sleeper” that no one in your league is familiar with has become nearly impossible.
Today’s fantasy baseball player has a good grasp on the player pool, but evaluation of talent and fantasy production projection still has an element of subjectivity to it. Perhaps we fantasy baseball players can separate ourselves from our league mates by using our superior talent assessment skills.
To that point, we’ve identified some under-the-radar players who have the opportunity to out produce their current ADP, and could be had in the later rounds of your draft. For the purpose of this article the Average Draft Position (ADP) quoted will be those calculated based on the data from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) leagues as of February 21th, 2020.
Michael Conforto OF, Mets, ADP 115.77
Conforto set career highs in home runs (33), RBI (92), runs scored (90), and SB (7) last season, and continued to improve his game by lowering his strikeout rate and maintaining his above average walk rate. He significantly raised his launch angle from 11.9 in 2018 to 15.7 last season, which in turn helped raise his fly ball rate. If we combine Conforto’s improved launch angle and fly ball rate with his power bat, all of a sudden he can be producing another 30 plus home run season in 2020. Conforto is entering the prime of his career and a 40 home run, 100 RBI season seems likely in his future.
Amed Rosario , SS, Mets, ADP 134.96
Rosario is quietly climbing up the ranks among fantasy baseball’s top shortstops. He enjoyed his best season yet in 2019, batting .287 with 15 home runs and 19 stolen bases. His batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS have all steadily increased in each of his first three seasons. His overall hit tool continues to evolve. He added 40 points to his 2018 BAA breaking balls last season. He may never hit 30 home runs, but with his exit velocity and hard hit rate having increased each and every season, 20 homers may be on the horizon. If the Mets move him up in the lineup, and if Rosario improves his stolen base efficiency, he might be in line for a full blown breakout season in 2020.
Corey Seager , SS, Dodgers, 151.61 ADP
Tommy John and hip surgery caused Seager to miss most of the 2018 season. He got off to a slow start last year, and by May 12th his batting average had dipped to .227. However, from that point forward he batted .290 with 16 home runs and 70 RBI in 93 games. He finished the season with 19 home runs and 87 RBI. Seager had a particularly good September in which he hit seven home runs and drove in 26 runs in 23 games. He also tied for the National League lead in doubles with 44, which is encouraging. If a bunch of those doubles find their way out of the park in 2020, Seager could be providing his fantasy owners with mid to upper 20 home run production.
Khris Davis , UTIL, A’s, ADP 178.95
Davis is somewhat of a forgotten man in fantasy baseball circles these days. Last year at this time we fantasy baseball players were convinced that in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes, and Khris Davis hitting 40 plus home runs and batting .247. Unfortunately, the 2019 season was not kind to Davis. He suffered a left hip contusion on May 4th and from that day forward, he was never the same. Prior to the injury, Davis hit 10 home runs and a posted a .231/.306/.485 triple slash in 34 games. In his next 99 games, he hit just 13 more home runs and posted a .217/.288/.350 triple slash. While we haven’t seen any recent proclamations from Davis stating that he’s in the “best shape of his life”, he did recently tell the San Francisco Chronicle that his swing feels “fantastic”. Some expect that his production may regress a bit following his injury, but even if we see a 20% drop in home runs from his previous three season average, Davis would still treat his fantasy owners to a 35 home run season.
Luke Voit , Yankees, ADP 194.52
An abdominal strain and a sports hernia injury caused Voit to miss significant time last season, but he still slugged 21 home runs and drove in 62 runs. He underwent abdominal surgery after the 2019 season, and in some respects going under the knife might end up being a blessing in disguise. The intense rehab regimen he followed since having the procedure has helped Voit join the vast number of players who’ve reported to spring training in the “best shape of their lives”. Voit’s power is undeniable, and if given 500 plus ABs, he has the ability to slug upwards of 30 home runs. He’s also had great success against the Yankees’ AL East opponents, batting .323 and belting 17 home runs in 76 games against Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays for his career. Per his NFBC ADP he’s the 18th fantasy first baseman coming off the board. While he’s more likely to be considered a corner infield option in fantasy, if he’s healthy and gets regular at-bats, Voit could potentially provide top ten first base production.
Brandon Lowe , 2B Rays, 197.18
Lowe has a nice blend of power and speed and he got off to a great start last season, hitting 16 home runs, driving in 49 runs while stealing five bases in his first 76 games. Unfortunately, a shin injury forced him to miss almost the entire second half of the season. His .242 batting average and 53% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching last season is concerning. However, he had a .286 lifetime minor league batting average against south paws, and given the opportunity to grow as a hitter, he’s likely to have better success against left-handed pitching in the near future.
Miguel Andújar , UTIL, Yankees, ADP 258.13
Andujar is coming off of a lost 2019 season which saw him undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He’s often been referred to as an all bat, no glove kind of fantasy player in the past, and in his only full season in the big leagues he batted .297 with 27 home runs and 47 doubles. Watch his progress this spring. The Yankees are looking for a way to get his bat in the lineup on a regular basis. He’s expected to get some reps in the outfield and at first base. With his above average hit tool and eventual potential multi-position eligibility, he should potentially out-perform his current ADP.
Starlin Castro , 2B/3B, Nationals, ADP 273.50
With 22 home runs and 86 RBI, Castro had a surprisingly productive fantasy season for the Marlins in 2019. The Nationals are expected to give Castro the opportunity to win the second base job, and when given enough playing time, Castro has provided solid MI type fantasy production throughout his career. He’s no superstar, but he is multi-position eligible and he can hit. He’s raised his hard hit rate from 29.2 in 2017 to 41.9 last season. If he comes to the plate 500-plus times, he can potentially hit upwards of 20 home runs, and provide your fantasy team with a batting average in the .270 to .280 range. He also loves hitting in Nationals Park. In 152 career at-bats in the Nationals’ home park, Castro has posted a .336/.358/.513 triple slash. Who knows, maybe Castro could be the Nationals’ 2020 version of Howie Kendrick .