It’s not easy to draft a player who is old (at least relative to baseball ability), boring, and offers little true upside. Well, it’s easy, but it’s not fun. I can’t believe how often in a draft I veer off of my carefully-constructed, perfectly-ordered master list of players, skipping a solid but dull veteran to reach a few spots lower on my list for a youngster who may or may not end up with any fantasy value at all. I’ve already been guilty of this in 2020, and I need a little re-set for myself to remember how helpful a boring but probably steady player with a decent floor can be, especially in deeper leagues. Thus, a list of some players whom I can’t possibly call “targets,” but could actually pay off nicely down the road with solid-if-not-spectacular production come summertime. (All of the following players are on the ugly side of 30, and are being drafted outside the top 250, according to current NFBC ADP).
Mark Canha (age: 31. ADP: #265). Maybe I have a soft spot for Canha because last year he single-handedly helped my finish in the money in a league where I’d been buried in the middle of the pack with his incredibly solid second half. I don’t necessarily think he’s going to build on 2019 at this point, but I still think he’s being underdrafted as a ‘just in case he gets the playing time and does it again’ pick based on last year alone (.273 average with 26 homers in just 126 games).
Kevin Pillar. (age: 31. ADP: #326). I happily took Pillar towards the end of my first draft of the season back in November. I didn’t really care what team he ended up with at the value I felt I got him, but recent developments seem to have him trending upward given his landing spot in Boston. This may cause him to get drafted earlier, of course, but I’m guessing he’ll still be a worthwhile gamble wherever his price point ends up. If he even comes close to the 21 homers and 14 steals he had last year, I think he could be a true deep-league asset — since I’m assuming steals will be similarly valuable compared to last year, and I’m looking at players who could get into the teens in both HRs and SBs much more closely than ever before.
C.J. Cron (age: 30. ADP: #255). Boring? Check. Kind of makes you feel like you’re wasting a pick? Check. Horrible team in 2020? Check. Wait, why might you draft him again? Well, even without playing every day, he’s averaged 23 homers over the last two seasons, with a meh but not category-crushing .253 average each season. He got slowed down by a thumb injury last year, and if he’s fully healthy and gets regular playing time (as one would assume he will with the Tigers), the power numbers could look even better this year and he could provide a corner infielder profile similar to many being taken several rounds above him.
Freddy Galvis. (age: 30. ADP: #344). Okay, I’m certainly not telling you to base your next draft around Freddy Galvis, just pointing out that at this point in a deep-league draft you don’t have much to lose if you need a middle-infield fallback option (he qualifies at 2B and SS in most leagues). I’ve been avoiding him up until now even at this price point assuming that the Reds would be replacing him, and they still may… but until they do, I’ll at least have him on my radar if it looks like he’s going to be getting close to everyday at bats in that lineup, in that ballpark. Last year, he hit .260 in 147 games, with 23 (granted, perhaps juiced ball-aided) homers, plus he chipped in 4 steals, for what all that’s worth.
Corey Dickerson. (age: 30. ADP: #300). Dickerson is another guy I drafted back in the fall before he signed with a team. I think Miami is actually a solid landing spot for him, since the playing time should be there and since I think their lineup could be better than people expect, especially for fantasy purposes. He’s simply a good hitter when healthy (which admittedly he has not been most of the time), and as long as he’s playing he’ll be helping deep league teams. No, he won’t be racking up counting stats, but he won’t hurt you and could be a sneaky source of positive batting average (a category that in my opinion, is too often ignored in the fantasy world, or at least the part of the fantasy world that still uses it as a category).
Joey Votto. (age: 36. ADP: #267). If we’re going to talk about Votto this year, seems like this would be the post for it. I’m not sure his current ADP has much if any built-in value, but since I feel like this is the first year he’s really strictly a deeper league option, I suspect I’ll end up with him on at least one team. I’m not optimistic he’s going to bounce back in a meaningful way in terms of fantasy production as I feel he’s mostly just a victim of Father Time, but I’m not going to completely ignore him just yet either. We can’t totally forget that he was one of the best hitters in baseball not all that long ago, and we’ve already mentioned his hitter-friendly ballpark and potentially stacked lineup earlier in this post. And, while all common sense tells me to avoid February “best shape of his life” type notices, Votto did, after all, arrive to spring training comically early — according to reports, dude showed up on February 5th (!). If there’s any player who might be able to use hard work plus his top-notch brain to make his body perform better…
Kole Calhoun. (age: 32. ADP: #310). We’ll close this list with a player I just drafted as my 5th outfielder in a 15-team mixed league… and regretted at first, but then thought about it and decided that I actually liked the pick. I normally avoid horrible batting average guys at all costs, and Calhoun is definitely that; his 3-year average BA is .229. But even with the aforementioned juiced ball, 33 homers last year gets my attention given that Calhoun is now in a hitter friendly ballpark in Arizona, in a lineup that I’m starting to get pretty excited about for fantasy purposes.