Batter Hodgepodge: Undervalued, Hurt, Sharing Time

I’ve been prepping for two AL-only leagues, so the today’s thoughts only involve mainly AL hitters but can be extended to either league. While working on my evaluations here are some observations.

Create a plan for the injured X-factors

The two hitters who could carry a fantasy team, if healthy, are Michael Brantley and Miguel Cabrera. If (BIG IF) they get a full season of healthy plate appearances, I’d not be surprised if they were top-20 hitters. Owners aren’t showing a ton of faith since Cabrera’s ADP is at 95 and Brantley’s at 245.

No one knows for sure how they’ll perform so owners need to know before the draft where they feel they can gamble on rostering them. Owners need to make this decision ahead of time, not on the fly in a draft or auction. Come up with a plan you can live with and stick to it. Their evaluations can be adjusted as detailed reports become available from spring training on their health.

For Cabrera, I’m going to move him down ~30 picks from his ADP. Some of the players going later I’d prefer more are Kyle Seager and Rougned Odor.

With Brantley, I’m going to take a chance on him at this price. Everyone at this point in the draft is a health and/or talent risk. While dealing with sore ankles, he was on pace for a ~.300 AVG with 14 HR and 18 SB. Not great but pretty good for a near last round pick in a 12-team league. It’s especially hard to find a hitter with a projected .300 AVG and any other skills at this point.

Looking at some of the other players coming off the board, I may target Brantly around pick 210.

Low ADP, low projected playing time

When creating my draft rankings, I always included plate appearances. I’d not be surprised if the top fantasy teams led the league in plate appearances creating more chances to generate counting stats. Early this offseason, I found players projected for a low number of PA are the most likely to breakout. Now, be careful with these players. If two players are battling for playing time, roster the more talented one while keeping his defense in mind.

In deeper leagues where these guys are in play, they may be a better option as they have more playing time upside. Two players I have valued right next to each other in one auction are Rougned Odor and Eduardo Nunez. Odor is projected for 630 PA and Nunez is at 420. Odor has only the chance of jumping 70 or so plate appearances while Nunez’s total could jump 180 and still be below Odor projected total.

The balanced outfield accumulators

While going through the rankings several more similar profiles popped out late as being decent values. They all seemed to have some overall fantasy talent but no single standout trait. Such names were Kevin Pillar (328 ADP), Josh Reddick (273), Jackie Bradley Jr. (284) and Mikie Mahtook (335). Each one is projected for around 15 to 20 home runs, eight to 15 steals, and a decent batting average.

These guys aren’t winning teams their leagues but they provide a nice semi-safe cushion of stats for little to no costs. Also, they make great options for owner dealing with an injured player or waiting for a prospect to get his major league call.

I believe these balanced outfielders are going later than their value indicates because owners are using the late round outfielders to balance their production. Outfield is the one position that has both speed-only or power-only options available late. I try to always have a couple outfield spots open late for this roster balancing chance.

Now, if an owner can create a nice balance before these later rounds, these outfielders can come at a nice discount.

Bonus rant: I try to stay away from one trick players as much as possible like Billy Hamilton. A team full of these balancing act players has problems replacing one if they go down. How does an owner replace Hamilton’s steals or Khris Davis’s home runs? It’s easier to find a 15 HR/10 SB waiver-wire replacement for a 30 HR/15 SB hitter than a hitter projected for more than 30 HR or 30 SB. They’re already all owned.

Batting average and power accumulators

These hitters really do nothing special but get a ton of plate appearances with above average batting average and some power. That’s it. Two hitters who stood out from this group were Avisail Garcia and Yulieski Gurriel. Here are their 2018 projections:

Steamer Projections
Gurriel: 62/17/70/3/.294
Garcia: 65/19/72/5/283

They are both going around pick 200 in NFBC drafts and provide a nice base to power and batting average later in drafts.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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I disagree with your side rant on the SB side, if only because I never feel like I can really rely on the projected “20/20” guys to steal that many. I target the Hamilton/Gordon types because there’s not much variance with them, while guys commonly pegged for 15-25 love to randomly stop running, or they just fall off a cliff. Manny Machado stole 20 bases one year out of nowhere, was suddenly projected like a 15+ base threat the next year and then proceeded to steal 0. HR seem to be much more reliable across the board.


Ditto. I had Hamilton last year and loved it; I didn’t waste a single minute trolling the waiver wire for steals for the first time in forever and it was glorious