2019 MLB Draft Guide: Overlooked Category Contributors
Jon Impemba takes a look at some of the MLB role players who can help you in specific fantasy baseball categories during the 2019 MLB season.
We all go into our fantasy drafts with the goal of finding players who can contribute across the board. The idea of building a well-balanced team to help you climb the ranks of your roto, points or head-to-head fantasy leagues. As we get deeper in the drafts however there are fewer and fewer players who contribute across the board but that does not mean all is lost. There are plenty of players who can offer above average to even top end production in singular categories. Identifying these players will help you round out your roster and add some insurance if you find you are lacking in a category as the draft goes on.
Kyle Schwarber , OF CHC - At this point I think we know what we are getting when it comes to drafting Schwarber and that is home run upside. In the two full seasons we have seen him play he has totaled 56 home runs. Last year he added a very solid OBP so those in OBP leagues may want to take a shot that he repeats. His inability to hit southpaws will likely keep him from ever playing much more than 145 games but at an ADP of 195 which puts him around a 16th round pick in 12-team standard leagues I don’t hate the upside.
Franmil Reyes , OF SD – He is likely on many sleeper lists this year and his teammate Hunter Renfroe could just as easily make this list but I am rolling with Reyes here. In his rookie season Reyes hit 16 home runs in 87 games. The man is a giant, standing 6-foot-5 while weighing 275lbs. He is built for a football field but instead is playing baseball. If he can stick in the lineup, I am thinking 25-30 home runs should be a lock and this is a player with an average ADP of 256 placing him around the 21st round of 12-team standard leagues.
Joc Pederson , OF LAD - Joc Jams followed up a disappointing 2017 season by hitting 25 home runs in 2018. We have now seen four full seasons from Pederson and his home run totals go 26, 25, 11, 25. We spot the outlier and I don’t think it reoccurs. The Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig this offseason to help unclog the jam they had in the outfield. Pederson still won’t play against southpaws but we know the power upside is legit and this is a player who has an average ADP of 335 which like sees him going undrafted in most standard league formats.
Byron Buxton , OF MIN – Let’s talk redemption story, shall we? Buxton was a MAJOR bust in 2018 as he played just 28 games. Injuries and just overall struggles at the major league level have prevented Buxton from ever hitting the ceiling many put on him when he was tabbed the No.1 overall prospect. That being said, we know his speed is real. He is currently healthy and he added muscle this offseason in an effort to help durability. The Twins want him to be great and they should give him the opportunity to prove himself. If he can stay in the lineup this season, he has the stolen base ability to lead the league in my opinion.
Billy Hamilton , OF KC - So maybe Hamilton doesn’t exactly go overlooked when it comes to the stolen base category but he has an average ADP of 175 which makes him a 14th/15th round pick in 12-team standard leagues. Hamilton is an elite stolen base player but he goes overlooked in drafts because that is all he gives you. The batting average stinks and he will give you no other counting stats. I am intrigued by his move to the AL however as he will no longer have to deal with the pitcher hitting around him.
Adam Eaton , OF WAS- If Eaton stays healthy we are looking at a player who can hit near .300. Health, of course, is the issue here as Eaton has totaled just 118 games over the last two seasons. He is healthy and expected to start at a corner outfield spot while hitting towards the top of the Nationals lineup which could very well lead to him being one of the best values of the entire draft with the double-digit upside of home runs and stolen bases. He is being taken around the 16th round of 12-team standard leagues and I think he is a risk worth taking.
Andrelton Simmons , SS LAA - Is he a sexy name? No, not really, but over the last three seasons he has hit .281, .278 and 292 while also providing double-digit stolen bases in all three seasons and double-digit home runs in each of the last two. Simmons is about as solid as solid can be and he is currently going around the 16th round of 12-team standard leagues.
Nick Pivetta , SP PHI - I have written about Pivetta a few times this offseason so maybe I am drinking my own cool aid but the man has posted K/9’s of 9.47 and 10.32 in his two MLB seasons. Last season he struck out 188 over 164 innings. He improved upon his numbers last year and his peripheral stats suggest that another step forward could come again this year. If he takes that step forward, we could be looking at 200+ strikeout upside here from a pitcher that is going around the 15th round in 12-team standard leagues
Joey Lucchesi , SP SD - Another popular sleeper this season is the Padres big southpaw. In 26 starts as a rookie last season we saw Lucchesi post a 10.04 K/9, finishing with 145 strikeouts over 130 innings. His 4.08 ERA was met by a 3.45 xFIP and 3.64 SIERA which indicates he was pitching better than his ERA would indicate. If we get a full season worth of starts out of Lucchesi and his K/9 holds true then we could again be looking at 180+ strikeouts from a pitcher going around the 19th round of 12-team standard leagues.