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Welcome back to Hitter Profiles for the 2024 fantasy baseball season. This week we head over to the AL West. This division contains the former World Series champions as well as a team that can’t even find a home for the next three years. With three teams finishing with a game of each other in 2023, there will be plenty of excitement coming into 2024. We have young first round stars with Julio Rodriguez and Kyle Tucker who are MVP candidates with Shohei switching leagues. On the flip side, there are some big risks that could sink your fantasy team if you do not wisely invest.  With only one week remaining in our division breakdowns before the rankings work for our top 100 hitters get underway, let’s walk through the boom and bust candidates in the AL West!

Important Notes: All views focus on 5×5 rotisserie formats with NFBC ADP and Yahoo position eligibility.

Boom

Josh Jung – Rangers (ADP 107)

Jung has everything we want in a hitter, a great scouting pedigree, top tier power metrics, and a respectable plate approach.  Bolster that profile with great defense, he is planted at the hot corner for Texas, one of the strongest lineups in the majors.  Jung is coming into what should be his strongest years as a maturing hitter already sitting in the top quarter of the league with exit velocity, hard hit, and barrel rates.   He is in line for some regression with a .340 BABiP, but that should be offset by growth in what will be his third year in the league.  A season with 30 HR, 100 runs knocked in and a .260 average is a very realistic outcome.  He can be had as the 12th third basemen off the board but there is a strong argument he should be considered 3 to 4 spots higher.

Mike Trout – Angels (ADP 64)

Absolutely, investing in Mike Trout, even in the 6th round, is a steal given his extraordinary talent. Despite recent injury setbacks, Trout remains one of the greatest baseball players of all time and has the potential to deliver an impressive stat line akin to 40 homers, 100 RBIs, and a .280 average when healthy. His advanced metrics, check his savant page, and quality of contact indicate that he’s still performing at an elite level. Comparing him to outfielders like Jazz Chisholm or Cody Bellinger in the same draft range, Trout’s proven consistency when in the lineup and ceiling make him the clear choice. With his current draft position, this is the first time we have ever been able to consider Trout a bargain as the market seems to be over-correcting for a generational talent.

Mitch Garver – Mariners (ADP 178)

Mitch Garver certainly presents an intriguing value proposition as the 16th catcher off the draft boards. His demonstrated power potential, ability to hit for a decent average, and strong plate discipline make him an appealing option, especially considering his expected playing time as the Mariners’ designated hitter. Despite injury concerns, Garver has shown flashes of brilliance, such as his impressive stretch of 33 games last season where he displayed his elite hitting potential with 12 homers and a 199 wRC+. His high barrel rate and plate patience further highlight his upside. Plus, with a catchy nickname like “Garv Sauce,” he adds some fun team name potential for fantasy managers. Considering his potential for production relative to his draft position, Garver is a bargain worth targeting in the later rounds of drafts.

Bust

Esteury Ruiz – Athletics (ADP 119)

Ruiz has a truly one-dimensional skill set and is a clear sell due to the potential drawbacks he brings to a fantasy team. While his game-changing speed is appealing, his subpar performance in all other rotisserie categories, similar to Joey Gallo’s issues with power, can significantly hamper a team’s performance more than he appears to help. Additionally, with speed being more readily available in other areas of the draft, investing in Ruiz as a high-end third outfielder makes less sense than ever before. It’s better to let someone else take the risk unless your team composition leans towards power hitters in the early rounds. It is always wise to avoid the pitfalls of relying on a single player who lacks diversity in his profile.

Jose Altuve – Astros (ADP 39)

While Jose Altuve’s recent performance has been impressive driving a nice contract extension this offseason, a closer look at his underlying stats reveals some concerns. Despite his impressive homer and steal numbers, there’s a notable gap between his expected and actual performance, particularly in slugging percentage and batting average.  Of qualified hitters nobody had a larger gap in expected average (xBA .245) and only two hitters had a larger gap in slugging.  Additionally, his declining hard-hit rate, along with an elevated BABIP, suggest that he may have been somewhat fortunate in his outcomes last season. With that said, investing in Altuve as the 4th second baseman off the board in the top 40 picks comes with risks that outweigh the rewards. Managers should weigh these considerations carefully before making their selections because disappointment is in the horizon.

Wyatt Langford – Rangers (ADP 155)

I know, this is fantasy baseball blasphemy!  But there should be concerns about Wyatt Langford’s draft value, especially considering his limited experience in the minor leagues. While there’s excitement around his potential, there are clear risks associated with investing in a player with such a small sample size. Let’s just recall a player like Jarred Kelenic that came with just as much hype and potential and is still haunting owners today. Additionally, the crowded outfield situation in Texas could lead to Langford receiving more seasoning in the minors rather than immediate playing time at the major league level.  We should not expect Texas to put Langford in the DH role as he needs to be playing every day in the field. While he possesses significant upside with a potential 20/20 profile, there’s also a considerable amount of risk involved. Drafting Langford as a mid-tier third outfielder, especially within the top 100 picks, might not be the wisest move until Langford’s situation becomes clearer.

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Harley Earl
Harley Earl
1 month ago

Nice piece J-Brew.

Wanted to add that I dumped Ruiz in a dynasty league last July for the exact reasons you state here. I loved Ruiz’s steals but he was such a drain on every other category (we have 7 hitting categories). He added nothing to our six other categories. It was a tough decision but in the end proved to be the right one.

It is sound advice you give. Well done sir.