In this series, I have previously uncovered potential undervalued speedsters, power bats, batting average and RBI hitters. To round out the standard fantasy offensive categories, let’s tackle the sluggers who are due to wear out the third base line, en route to crossing the plate this season. Let’s look at some potential high runs scored batters going for a discount at the draft table this year.
In 2018, there were 43 players with least 85 Runs. There were 22 players above the 95 mark, and 9 with 105 runs scored. World Series champion Mookie Betts, and Francisco Lindor led all of baseball with 129 R. Finishing in 3rd in the runs department with 119 was Colorado outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
Steamer projects that the top runs scored accumulator will once again be Mookie Betts with 113 R. Only 4 players are projected to score 100 or more runs. For today’s analysis, I will focus on all players with a Steamer projection of 80 Runs or more. This should give us a group of players who can greatly help your team’s Run totals for the upcoming fantasy season.
As always, for these draft value comparisons, I look at:
- The player ranks as computed by the FanGraphs Auction Calculator with Steamer projections (standard NFBC 15 team roto league settings).
- The current NFBC ADP (of Draft Championship leagues from February 7 to present).
Below are the players selected within the top 30 ADP, who also have a Steamer projection of at least 80 Runs scored:
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||580||28||94||81||24||0.279||6|
These 22 players are projected to provide an excellent run scoring base for your draft. There are no other hitters in the top 30 ADP who are not on this list. All hitters in the top 30 ADP are projected for at least 80 runs scored, and 20 of the 22 are projected for at least 85 runs. This signals to us that it is imperative to start your draft compiling lots of runs. If you miss out on a big bat in the first two rounds, you may quickly fall behind in this category.
Below are all of the remaining players in the draft pool with a Steamer projection of at least 80 Runs:
The players above are once again ordered by their difference in Steamer Hitter Rank versus ADP Hitter Rank. Differences highlighted in GREEN are the players who are going later than their Steamer values indicate that they should; differences in RED show the overvalued players.
In the rightmost column, we can see that there are a number of excellent bargains. In fact, the entire bargain distribution is skewed towards the GREEN. The RED figures aren’t especially pronounced. Other than Carpenter, Profar and Suarez – no player on our Runs listing is going more than just a baker’s dozen worth of hitters ahead of schedule.
In general – runs need to either be acquired up top in the first few rounds, or pretty close to the spots which the players should be valued. You will notice that there are only 8 players with an ADP of over 100, and only 3 with an ADP of over 130. Essentially, you need to stock up your runs scored before the 10th round of drafts this year.
Yes, Nelson Cruz shows up once again. For those at home counting – that’s 4 of 5 undervalued offensive player lists for him. We have seen Jose Abreu and Joey Gallo pop up as well on more than one listing.
Let’s take a look at a few additional players not yet covered in this series:
Jorge Polanco (Steamer Hitter Rank: 64, ADP Hitter Rank: 118, Overall ADP: 192)
Jorge Polanco sits atop as the most undervalued player on the high runs scored list. Not only is Jorge poised to score a lot of runs (according to Steamer), but he is a potential 15/15 (HR/SB) candidate. Because Polanco is a power/speed blend threat with a decent .272 batting average, and because he is going late in the 13th round of drafts – Polanco is a very attractive fantasy target.
A big question in terms of his fantasy value is his lineup position. Where will he hit in 2019?
|Batting Slot||Games||% of Games|
According to baseball-reference.com, in 2018 Polanco batted in the top third of the order 71% of the time, in the middle third 25% of the time, and the rest in the back third. Roster resource currently projects him to bat in the leadoff spot, which would afford him more plate appearances and a larger volume of counting stats. Keep an eye on where Polanco is batting this spring for any indications of where he could be slotted.
Andrew McCutchen (Steamer Hitter Rank: 46, ADP Hitter Rank: 89, Overall ADP: 140)
Andrew McCutchen. Gets. On. Base.
Other than a .336 OBP posted in 2016, McCutchen has never posted an on-base percentage under .364 in his career. Andrew walked 95 times in 682 plate appearances this past season.
Getting on base is the key to scoring runs. Other than McCutchen’s rookie season where he only played 108 games, he has never dipped below 81 runs scored in a single season. McCutchen now moves to a hitter’s park with a well-paid outfielder who rhymes with “Zarper” in his lineup. Injury aside, Cutch is a lock to continue scoring 80+ runs.
McCutchen increased his Hard-Hit Ball % from 35% in 2017 to 43% last year. That’s a very nice jump. He has also been increasing his BB rate from 10% in 2016 to 11% in 2017 to a 14% clip in 2018. He’s now hitting the ball harder and being more patient at the plate. McCutchen could see a nice bounce in his batting average from last season.
He also only had 20 homers in 2018, a number that he could push to 25, and very possibly approach 30 dingers in 2019. There is still gas left in Andrew’s tank – and the new friendly ballpark and lineup could assist.
McCutchen is Steamer’s 46th best hitter, yet he is being selected as the 89th best in this year’s drafts. He is going in the 10th round of drafts, and he should exceed that value. I nabbed him in Tout Wars Draft and Hold this season, and you should consider doing so too.
Carlos Santana (Steamer Hitter Rank: 83, ADP Hitter Rank: 121, Overall ADP: 198)
Carlos Santana is back in familiar Cleveland, the team for which he played most of his career. Santana has been a rock in the starting lineup for the longest time. In the past 5 seasons, he has had at least 660 plate appearances. Other than a fluke injury, I expect that to continue. Santana should bat in the heart of the Indians lineup in 2019, occupying the designated hitter spot. He is primed to once again produce tons of runs.
You can see that Santana has been exceptionally consistent and productive for the past few seasons.
The best part about Carlos Santana, and why I like his chances of getting to the 80+ runs mark once again, is his plate patience. Last season, he had a walk rate of 16%. In 2018, Carlos only had an on-base percentage of .352. However, that came with a .229 batting average fueled by a very low .231 BABIP. His average and OBP should rebound to .360 and beyond.
Santana’s sheer volume of plate appearances, coupled with fantastic plate patience, and married with a prime batting order slot – should set him up to be a runs scored bargain in 2019. Do not discount the 33-year old veteran. Keep him in mind if you need a boost in your run totals.
Nick Castellanos (Steamer Hitter Rank: 44, ADP Hitter Rank: 65, Overall ADP: 103)
That’s a pretty telling trend above … and in the right direction!
Here are some other plate patience and batted ball metrics over the past two seasons:
Castellanos’s walk rate is up, his line drive rate is up, and his ground ball rate is down. Nick is once again setting the roots for a high batting average. His .298 BA last season may be a tad ambitions, but a .275+ threshold should be achievable.
His HR/FB% has been stable over the past three seasons, so if he has any uptick in his flyball rate, he could approach 25-30 HRs.
In terms of run support, he should get to the 80/80 R/RBI threshold again on his current team, and if he gets traded to a contender (there has been some chatter about that possibility), he would be poised to boost those values even further.
Castellanos is an excellent source of run production stats heading into 2019. Don’t let him slip through the cracks in your drafts. Nab him for his projected stats, with hopes for some upside as well.
Ariel is the 2019 FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year. He is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel was ranked by FantasyPros as the #1 fantasy baseball expert in 2019. His ATC Projections were ranked as the #1 most accurate projection system in 2019. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports, SportsLine, RotoBaller, and is the host of the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational - Beat the Shift Podcast (@TGFBI). Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, a member of the inaugural Mixed LABR Auction league and plays high stakes contests in the NFBC. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.