Potential Lineup Gems – National League

Last Friday, we looked at some AL lineup gems – guys who are slated to bat in the top four of their order while going at pick 200 or later in NFBC Drafts. Sometimes just batting high in the order regularly can spike a guy’s value and spur a breakout. When Charlie Blackmon was having his insane April back in 2014, one of the main reasons anybody took a shot on him was the fact that he was batting atop the Colorado lineup. Even if he couldn’t maintain that pace (he couldn’t), he would at least be collecting plenty of PAs atop a stellar lineup in the game’s most hitter-friendly environment.

Here are 15 National Leaguers projected by Roster Resource to bat in the top four of their team’s lineup, available at pick 200 or later:

LEADOFF

Scooter Gennett [MIL, 454th pick overall] – Gennett got off to a brutal start last year and then a hand injury cost him two weeks in late-April. He wasn’t much better upon return and then got sent down for about a month. He was kinda left for dead at that point and so I don’t think many realized he returned and looked like the guy we’d seen in 2013-14. He hit .287 with 5 HR in 322 PA the rest of the way. The 26-year old got a late start to his Cactus League campaign, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

John Jaso [PIT, 533rd] – Unfortunately Jaso is DH-only in most leagues with just 8 games in the outfield last year, but the dude can flat out hit when healthy. Of course, health has eluded him as much as defensive skill, so he’s yet to log 110 games in a season. He’s best deployed in leagues with daily lineups so you can slot him against righties-only. He has a career .797 OPS against them in 1631 PA and has batted under .272 just once. He will add 1B eligibility pretty early into 2016, though he doesn’t really have the power to carry that position, so he’s more of a CI/UT option.

Peter Bourjos [PHI, 550th] – I used to be all about Bourjos! I fell hard for that 12 HR/22 SB season back in 2011 (552 PA) and he has just 14 HR and 23 SB in 910 PA since then. Now 29, it’s hard to see a major breakout coming, but the Aaron Altherr injury certainly clears a path for playing time which should yield some cheap speed. I’d much rather gamble on the other two Phillies who will come up later in this list.

SECOND

David Wright [NYM, 241st] – Feels crazy to have him on a list like this given the name, but he’s going to play 130 games at most so it’s easy to understand why he’s going so late relative to his previous heights. Given the uncertainty of the health which will limit his workload, he’s probably just best used as a DFS play, especially against lefties (career 1.005 OPS in 1710 PA v. southpaws).

Eugenio Suarez [CIN, 274th] – The trade of Todd Frazier opened a spot for Suarez, who otherwise would’ve been blocked by the returning Zack Cozart. He needed fewer than 100 games to club 13 HR and swipe four bases last year. Of course, he went 4 HR/3 SB in 85 games the year before with the Tigers so just extrapolating his 2015 numbers is wishful thinking. The projections are all pretty much in line and should serve as your guide on Suarez: mid-to-upper teens homers with 7-8 SBs. The dual eligibility at SS/3B will be useful, too.

Jayson Werth [WAS, 306th] – Trying to pin down what an oft-injured 37-year old will do is really difficult, but last year was his first subpar season since 2005 and he still clubbed 12 HR. He’s worth a bench spot just to see if he’s healthy right out of the gate.

Cesar Hernandez [PHI, 328th] – Hernandez is the rare speed-only guy with a strong walk rate. He was up at 9% last year after a 7% in his first 256 major league PA and an 8% mark in 2673 minor league PA. That helps him sustain a useful OBP to keep the stolen bases coming. I’m more skeptical of someone like Ketel Marte who had a 10% last year in the majors, but just a 6% in the minors. A full season of play could yield 30 SBs for the 26-year old Hernandez.

THIRD

Marcell Ozuna [MIA, 218th] – He won’t always go outside the top 200, but that’s where his ADP is right now so he makes the list. But even as a pick in the 150s/160s, I still really like him. Eno and I discussed him on Monday’s pod and we both feel he can at least get back to his 2014 level, if not more. There is still 30-HR potential in this bat. He’s a Statcast darling, we’ve seen the power before, and he’s just 25. Invest!

Odubel Herrera [PHI, 247th] – I gushed over Herrera a little while ago. I love how cheap he is and the fact that he’s in the middle of the lineup (even if it’s not a good one) makes him one of my favorite later round outfielders. Not only was he just 2 HR shy of a double-double, but he also hit .297. Frankly, I’m surprised he isn’t getting more buzz.

Matt Holliday [STL, 248th] – It doesn’t seem the market believes the power is coming back or else he’d be going much higher than this. He’s still very useful in OBP leagues (hasn’t been lower than .370 since 2005), but the SLG has dropped each of the last five seasons, bottoming out at just .410 last year. The projections all think he will at least get back into the teens as long as he has 500+ PA and I tend to agree. I just can’t imagine he’s a single-digit home run hitter, which is what he would’ve paced to even in a full season last year (4 in 73 games).

David Freese [PIT, 499th] – OK, this one obviously won’t last all season as he’s just a fill-in for Jung-ho Kang, but there could be some NL-only goodness batting between Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte if the Pirates do in fact set it up like that. Freese has actually never had a subpar season by wRC+ if you can believe that.

FOURTH

Brandon Phillips [CIN, 219th] – The fantasy market isn’t really buying Phillips’ 2015 and that’s understandable. His 23 SBs came after he swiped just 22 in the three previous years combined (1788 PA). If we could feel at all confident that the 35-year old would keep running, then his ADP would jump by 50 spots. I’d plan for 10-12 SBs and go from there. Second base is pretty deep so if you just wait and wait, Phillips isn’t a bad late option.

Ryan Zimmerman [WAS, 235th] – He only played 95 games last year so I understand if you kind of ignored his season as a whole, but the bottom line (.773 OPS) doesn’t tell the whole story. He had a .611 OPS through his first 56 games and then missed just over a month with injury. Upon returning, he was vintage Zimm: .311/.372/.652 with 11 HR and 39 RBIs in 156 PA. Can he put a season of vintage Zimm? Probably not, but I wouldn’t rule out a 2013 copy (.275 AVG, 26 HR, 79 RBIs) if he can stay upright.

Chris Carter [MIL, 311th] – We all know the story here. He’s cheap because his batting average is a nightmare. He’s going from one hitter’s park to another, but into a much worse lineup than the one he left in Houston. I think we’ve seen the best of Carter (37 HR in 2014), but another 20-something bombs seems like a lock. Can he stay above the Mendoza Line, though?

Adonis Garcia [ATL, 445th] – Garcia came out of nowhere as a 30-year old rookie to pop 10 homers in just 198 PA, but I’m not sure it’s a harbinger for a big 2016 breakout. He hit just 15 HR in 934 PA at Triple-A prior to reaching the majors. He also had a .293 OBP with the Braves. There’s some NL-only intrigue as a 3B/OF eligible bat in the middle of a lineup, but I don’t see much more than 12-15 HR in a full season of work.





Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Any thoughts on Cory Spangenberg? He should be near the top of the SD lineup this season and looks like a decent late-round SB, R, and AVG option.