You smell that? No, this is the rare occasion where it is not “what The Rock is cooking.” I’m talking about the smell of fantasy baseball in the air. Mock drafts, tiered rankings, real drafts, sleepers, busts, you name it. With just a few weeks left until Opening Day, this is grind time for fantasy baseball owners. We have Spring Training games to overreact to, and small samples to over analyze. Players values are moving up and down, starting to settle into where they will be going in upcoming drafts.
One of the most important things in fantasy baseball is finding value where others in your league do not. Being able to consistently draft guys that will outperform their draft day value is a crucial ability that can drastically improve your chances of winning the championship. Whether is is getting a guy on a bounce back year, a youngster that will rise to the occasion, or a guy whose consistently gets overlooked, there are many ways you can take advantage of those who draft too heavily based on ADP. Using Fantasy Pros composite rankings, here are some guys I believe will out perform their ADP and can be obtained at a solid draft day discount.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (ADP: 50)
Due to a small step back in 2017 (10 HR, .273 average), owners were able to get Xander at a discount last year. Those who did were pleased, as his .288/.360/.522 slash line along with 23 HR and 103 RBI helped him significantly outperform his price. Fully over his wrist injury from the year prior, his ISO jumped from .130 to .234 and his wOBA increased from .321 to .373. Since 2015, he has slashed .295/.354/.446 to go along with a .344 wOBA and 113 wRC+. An ADP of 50 seems a little low for him, and he again seems primed to outperform where he is going in drafts. He represents and incredibly safe floor, and could continue to elevate his game. Consistency is essential in H2H, and the fact that he hits in the heart of one of baseball’s best offenses should ensure he produces across the board all year long.
Steamer Projections: .286/.355/.465 with 82 R, 19 HR, 83 RBI, and 9 SB in 614 PA
It feels incredibly weird seeing Votto going this late in fantasy baseball drafts. I’d be lying if I said his drop in power wasn’t concerning (12 HR, .135 ISO), but I’m not completely sold on the decline of the Vottoman Empire just yet. The 35 year old also seems confident that the dip in power was due to mechanics, and not father time catching up to him. He was still able to do Votto-like things last year, as his usually high 17.3% walk rate propelled him to a .417 OBP. His hard hit rate of 41% was actually the highest mark of his career, and he was still able to put up a wRC+ of 131. Cincinnati has a very underrated offense, and I believe his supporting cast will help aid him in his bounce back campaign. Votto is notoriously a 2nd half stud, which helps H2H owners finish the season strong. Votto could be one of the biggest steals in drafts this season.
Steamer: .278/.409/.464 with 90 R, 22 HR, 79 RBI, and 3 SB in 645 PA
Before a disappointing 2018 campaign, Abreu had hit at least .290 with 25 HR and 100 RBI in each of his first four MLB seasons. At 32 years old it seems as though his struggles can be attributed to an injuries and a bit of bad luck, not a sharp decline in skills. His .294 BABIP was significantly lower than his .329 career mark. Abreu’s .208 ISO was not far off his career .221 figure, and his average exit velocity of 91.3 MPH was good for 30th best in the bigs last year. The White Sox have some great young players on the come up surrounding Abreu that should help him return to form. There are no glaring signs pointing to Abreu’s decline, so I believe he sees significant improvement from last season and represents great value in drafts this year.
Steamer: .280/.339/.495 with 80 R, 28 HR, 92 RBI, and 2 SB in 624 PA
Daniel Murphy and Coors Field is a match made in heaven. His .326 batting average and 40% fly ball rate over the past 3 seasons will love the Coors effect and he should benefit greatly. Murphy is one of the game’s best contact hitters, and settling into the 2-hole between Blackmon and Arenado should mean plenty of opportunities to produce runs all year long. In a season shortened by surgery he was able to slash .299/.336/.454 and add 12 HR in just 91 games. Playing half his games at Coors should allow a .300 season with 20+ homers and healthy counting stats. Though he will be playing 1st base this season, he will still be eligible at 2nd. Given how shallow that position is, I am eying to plug Murphy in there in a lot of my leagues especially at his ~7th round asking price.
Steamer: .307/.360/.506 with 84 R, 22 HR, 83 RBI, and 3 SB in 601 PA
A defensive wizard, Chapman showed last year that his bat deserves some respect too. He slashed .278/.356/.508 in 145 games last year, while cutting his strikeout rate by 4.5% from the season prior. Chapman added 24 home runs, to go along with an impressive .230 ISO and 137 wRC+. He was also able to score 100 runs while driving in 68, and his defense will ensure he sees every day at bats and potent counting stats. There has been some concern over his offseason shoulder surgery, but I think it helps suppress his draft value a ton and he looks ready to go. His average exit velocity of 93.1 MPH was 7th highest among MLB players last season and should be high up on that list once again. There is a very good chance that Chapman finishes the season as a top-10 3B, but is not being drafted like one.
Steamer: .249/.326/.470 with 84 R, 28 HR, 86 RBI, and 4 SB in 632 PA
Some may find it hard to trust a 36 year old coming off arthroscopic knee surgery that plays for the Mets. Though the hesitations are valid, I believe Cano has at least another solid season or two left in him. After all, he did produce in his limited action last season, slashing .303/.374/.471 to go with 10 HR and 50 RBI in just 80 games. Keep in mind his missed action was due to a suspension and not injury, and he has proven to be extremely durable and consistent throughout his career. He has a career .362 wOBA and 127 wRC+ and figures to create a bunch of runs hitting in the heart of the lineup for the Mets. Second base only has a few guys you can confidently count on to produce this season, and Cano still has the skills to finish in the top 10. He represents excellent value in drafts this year and should heavily outperform his ADP.
Steamer: .278/.339/.457 with 74 R, 22 HR, 79 RBI and 1 SB in 613 PA
Last year should have been the year Robles made big splash, but an injury kept him out the majority of the season. With Bryce Harper officially out of the outfield equation in D.C, Robles should see every day at bats and will capitalize on them. Coveted for his glove, his offensive game will prove to be a valuable asset for fantasy owners. In extremely limited action last year for the Nats, he was able to add 3 home runs and stolen bases each in just 66 plate appearances. In a full season, I expect him to provide double digit homers to go along with roughly 25 stolen bases on a ~.280 average. Stolen bases are not all that abundant across the league, so H2H owners will definitely enjoy them. He figures to start the season hitting in the bottom 3rd of the lineup, but an injury to Adam Eaton (very possible) could thrust him to the top and even further his value.
Steamer: .274/.335/.417 with 66 R, 12 HR, 59 RBI, and 26 SB in 562 PA
Thanks to a fan favorite known as service time manipulation, Eloy will not be starting the year on the big league roster. It’s tough drafting someone you know may not get called up within the first month, but his talent makes the risk one worth taking. Besides, countless owners are jumping on the chance to draft someone in a similar position (Vlad Guerrero Jr.) at pick 47 on average. I agree Vlady Jr. is the more desirable of the two, but Eloy is going about 9 rounds later and has an similarly impressive pedigree. Eloy slashed .337/.384/.577 across AA and AAA in 2018, swatting 22 homers in 108 games. The youth movement is coming into fruition in Chicago, and Eloy will prove to be a high impact player when his inevitable promotion comes.
Steamer: .293/.341/.502 with 69 R, 24 HR, 81 RBI, and 2 SB in 545 PA
Later-round options to consider: