Late Round Offensive Gems for Fantasy Baseball
Have you ever been on the clock in the middle to late rounds of an intense Fantasy Baseball draft and despite all your preparation, you have no idea who to choose? You’ve diligently filled your queue, but one by one your “sleepers” get picked off. Finally, there’s one player left in your queue…and…he gets taken by the guy or gal drafting just ahead of you.
Now it’s your turn, but you draw a blank. Your heart is pounding and beads of sweat dot your forehead. You have thirty seconds before you’re subjected to the dreaded auto-pick. No! Now you’ve got 20 seconds…oh no, there’s that loud beeping noise counting down every precious second! PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP!!!
You reluctantly make your pick, but you’re not happy with it. Then, the next guy or gal in your draft chooses a player whose name sends tingles up and down your spine. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR GUY, but it’s too late.
To help you deal with this potentially ugly situation, I’ve singled out a few players that should be on your radar for these situations. Some have been forgotten due to prolonged injuries. Others have yet to reach their full potential. The recommendations in this article are based on a typical 12-team roto-style snake draft league.
Odubel Herrera, OF, Philadelphia Phillies, NFBC ADP 122
In a Fantasy Baseball era in which speed is hard to find, Herrera is a young Fantasy Baseball player whose numbers are trending upward. Playing his home games in Citizens Bank Park, the seventh-friendliest venue for home run hitters, Herrera has the potential to develop into a 20 HR, 20 stolen base commodity. Last season, Herrera posted career highs in OBP (.361), slugging percentage (.420) and OPS (.781) He also significantly raised his walk rate (5.2 to 9.6) and lowered his strikeout rate (24 to 20.4) over the past year. The Phillies showed their belief in Herrera’s future by signing him to a five-year contract extension. As their projected number three hitter in an improving lineup, he should be able to help your Fantasy team in the often forgotten runs category (he scored 87 in 2016). Herrera has a 122 ADP in NFBC drafts, and I was able to select him in the 12th round of a recent 12-team expert mock draft.
Jay Bruce, OF, New York Mets, NFBC ADP 173
Just 11 outfielders hit 30 or more home runs during the 2016 season. If your league requires you to start five outfielders, that makes someone like Bruce, who has averaged 31 home runs and 94 RBIs across his nine-year career, pretty darn valuable. It feels like Bruce has been around forever but at 29 years old, he’s still in his prime and still hitting the ball as hard as ever. His BABIP took a nose dive during the 2014 season and it brought his batting average crashing down along with it. Bruce batted a combined .221 for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and he may never bat much higher than .250 again. However, as a potential fifth outfielder that can probably be scooped up between the 15th and 18th rounds of a typical 12-team draft, as long as he keeps hitting 30 home runs and driving in 90 runs, you can live with the lower batting average.
Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants, NFBC ADP 199
Up until he was bitten by the injury bug beginning in 2015, Pence had been one of Fantasy Baseball’s most consistent outfielders. You knew that as long as he played in at least 150 ball games, he was going to deliver 20 to 25 home runs, steal 10 to 20 stolen bases and provide you with a batting average in the upper .280 to lower .300 range. His stolen base totals might regress a bit but based on his abbreviated 2016 season stats, Pence still has the potential to produce like a fourth or fifth Fantasy outfielder. He only had 395 at bats last season, but he was on track to hit 20 home runs, and his wOBA (.349) and OPS (.808) both remained above average. Although the NFBC’s 199 ADP has him going much later, Pence was selected in the 11th round of the industry mock draft that I previously referenced.
Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays, NFBC ADP 208
Travis has been a bit injury prone throughout his minor and big league career, however, when he is in the lineup he can flat out hit. In two abbreviated Major League seasons he has put up a .301/.342/.469 triple slash line. Those numbers are no fluke as his similarly potent 317/.381/.474 minor league slash line suggests. Travis has demonstrated the potential to develop into a hitter who could eventually slug 15 to 20 home runs and steal upwards of 10 bases per season. He has maintained an above average contact rate over his first two Major League seasons, but as the Blue Jays’ projected leadoff hitter, Travis’ overall numbers would further benefit from an increase in his walk rate. He has already posted excellent on base rates in the past, but if Travis could learn to walk more, he could potentially score 80 to 90 runs per season.
Logan Forsythe, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers, NFBC ADP 244
As a right-handed hitting middle infielder who hit 20 home runs while playing in a ballpark that’s tough on right-handed batters, Forsythe represents true value. It’s taken a while, but Forsythe is starting to demonstrate the kind of power he displayed during parts of his minor league career. He’s maintained a .444 slugging percentage over the past two seasons, and his line drive rate, HR/FB rate, and hard hit rate have all increased between 2015 and 2016. Forsythe posted a below average OBP of .303 during his first four big league seasons, but since then, an increased walk rate has helped him increase his OBP to .347. He has flashed some speed throughout his career, and if his on base stats continue trending upwards, he could potentially reward you with stolen base numbers in the lower double-digit range. Forsythe was taken in the 16th round of the 12-team mock draft referenced earlier in this article.
Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians, NFBC ADP 201
If Brantley can finally put his health issues behind him, he could be a steal in the later rounds of a typical 12-team draft. When healthy, he has shown five tool potential.
Eric Thames, 1B, OF, Milwaukee Brewers, NFBC ADP 218
Thames compiled a .720 slugging percentage over the past three years while playing in the Korean Baseball Organization. Miller Park is very favorable to left-handed power hitters.