Last week’s article began the two-part Guide to the Outfield by looking at some ADP Comparisons for Outfielders in the Early-to-Mid rounds. To follow-up that piece, I’ve decided to focus this article exclusively on players/outfielders being drafted outside of the top 200 Picks on FantasyPros.
Once again, this list is NOT to be taken as a rankings list. Those have been written the previous 4-5 weeks and can be found by clicking on the hyperlink attached to my name at the top of the article. This list is focused on being a Guide for drafts, and a research resource that seeks to find applicable draft day situations. Think of it more as an FAQ than a 123. And as such, the organization of players that follows is not necessarily indicative of round-to-round value, but rather how well they fit into categories of need.
Guide to the Outfield Part Two: Late Round & Deep Leagues
The Curiously Under-drafted
Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics & Austin Meadows, Tampa Bay Rays
There are two players going later than pick-200 (FantasyPros) that baffle me, and those two players are Ramon Laureano and Austin Meadows. Now to be clear, you can find a player “underdrafted,” but not be surprised by where he is being drafted. Let’s take Domingo Santana, someone I’ll talk about a bit later, as an example. I like Santana. He might be a top-200 player to me, and that’s not just the Grand Salami talking. But Domingo Santana’s ADP makes complete sense based on the expectations and disastrous performance that made up his 2018 Season. In Ramon Laureano and Austin Meadows we have two young players, two talented players, and two players with ample opportunity. Does this guarantee them success at the MLB level. Of course not. But how many surefire guarantees with upside do you find after Pick 150?
Ramon Laureano has some Swing-and-Miss in his game. Okay that’s a slight undersell– he has quite a bit. But he also has a good eye (9+% BB%), solid power, and ample speed. Is it possible that he strikes out a bit too much for the MLB level and doesn’t return value if you reach for him? Sure. But he also might manage to just hit enough to get to .250-.260 and manage 40-50 HRs+SBs. And it is that latter fact that makes him a clear and obvious pick after the 125-150 pick range, if not before in more shallow leagues. Just not as your OF2 or even 3 in most league contexts.
Austin Meadows doesn’t quite have the power or speed individually that makes a prospect explode up rankings lists, but he does do both. 17 HRs and 17 SBs or something akin to that might not skyrocket your team to the top of leader boards, but it is a very valuable fantasy line. Is he the safest pick? Not necessarily. But at one point he was a hot-shot prospect with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the avenue to playing time seems obvious. Even if I just considered these two players to be “upside plays,” I would still see them with their current roles as being very underdrafted.
I would expect them to be reached for in numerous leagues depending on the context of your owners. If your league as a high number of guys who reach for youth and you want to lock up Meadows and/or Laureano, I would suggest doing so a bit earlier than any ADP data would suggest.
Addressing 5×5 Category Needs
The objective of the following few sections is to look at basic categories that you may be chasing late in a draft because you feel like you are light in one category or another. Again, keep in mind as this list is strictly 200+ on Overall Fantasypros ADP that these are exclusively “fill-out the roster” types in many league settings.
These aren’t players who earn their value in any one category in particular, but even late in draft represent an opportunity to get a solid, universal contributor in a 5×5 or similar league context.
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
Mullins has been a relatively trendy deep league sleeper, but his ADP suggests that he is still widely available as an OF4/5 or in other variations of deep leagues. I’m not completely sold on his hit tool as of yet, and I’m not sure what the Batting Average or R+RBI production will be at the end of the day. But he has enough power to knock the ball over the fence, and gets to play in a great park (Camden Yards) as well. And he has enough speed to steal a good number of bases. The Orioles’ roster construction seems to suggest that similarly to the Royals, one of the main goals on offense will be creating chaos on the basepaths. Mullins is more of a middling BA, 15/15 type, but 20/20 is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. His role+opportunity seem to suggest that, even as nothing more than a flier, Mullins is a decent flier late in drafts.
Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
He hasn’t quite developed yet the way his prospect profile indicated he might a few years ago. But he is still relatively young and has a number of interesting tools that could equate to fairly serious upside. And while the developmental process has been slow, and nothing about his advanced/peripheral metrics to me scream “Breakout,” he also lacks significant flaw to me. To put another way, he isn’t being consistently exposed in a way that worries me necessarily for the long term. So while I don’t expect the process to be rapid, and while I don’t know what the ultimate upside is, I see Margot as a player who is still on a subtle incline towards being a solid, consistent, everyday CF at the MLB level. As of now he’s a decent OF5 who could potentially chip in everywhere in an improved San Diego Padres line-up.
Leonys Martin, Cleveland Indians
I’ve seen Martin peak his head out in a few sleepers lists this year, but for the most part it seems that there is virtually no interest for Martin. That honestly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not in the Meadows/Laureano class of “this guy should clearly be getting a ton of respect,” but at the same time, those two players are going just after pick 200 on Fantasypros, whereas Leonys is ranked as a virtual afterthought in any league. Injuries have plagued Martin before, and he is getting older, but even last year in a little over half a season he had 11 HRs and 7 SBs. Progressive Field is a solid ballpark, and more importantly the Indians line-up around Martin is pretty solid. Sure it is a bit top heavy, and maybe less so until Lindor returns, but it is a good enough line-up that I could see Martin putting up a good combo of R+RBIs to go with a solid BA, alongside 15-20 HRs and SBs.
***DEEP/ONLY LEAGUES*** Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
Again, I’m going to stress this quite a bit: DEEP digging here. Father-time has wrecked through Gordon’s career the previous few seasons, but in 2018 Alex Gordon was quietly a very productive player. He started stealing bases again and managed a dozen, and in combination with his 13 HRs made him a pretty reasonable OF5 in 2018. While no one is very interested in Alex Gordon, very few would debate his capacity to hit 13-15 HRs and a .240-.250 BA if healthy. That line just isn’t that interesting, at least without stolen bases. But if he does manage those dozen steals again, he will be at the least viable in an AL-Only capacity. And while the SBs may be hard to project for an aging player, this team with Hamilton and Mondesi is built on the principle of running rampant. It’ll be interesting to see if Gordon can post a double+double (HRs+SBs) again.
Not necessarily HR hitters, but for teams lacking the potential for those core HR and R/RBI influenced statistics.
Domingo Santana, Seattle Mariners
Had a hard time classifying Domingo Santana. He really could fit in any of the categories I’ve created so far, including the “no-idea why he’s going this low” category. On a personal note, Santana was probably one of my three worst calls of the 2018 Season. Despite the introduction of Cain and Yelich, I stuck to my early Santana evaluation and what I perceived were his skills and ignored PT concerns. Whoops. But maintaining a “glass-half-full” attitude on the brink of catastrophe, the good news is that now I get to invest in a set of skills that I’ve been fond of for a number of years, an do it around the 200-250 pick range (or maybe higher, darn that Grand Slam.) Santana has quite a bit of swing-and-miss in his game, but his batted ball profile that he has displayed in his career has been truly elite. He doesn’t pop-up, hits a lot of linedrives, and spreads the ball to all fields. While he hasn’t hit for incredible BAs, I find his high BABIPs to be largely repeatable. Safeco is probably a worse park for his power projection, but he still has a good bit of it, and will be likely in a power/RBI slot in the line-up. One of my concerns with buying back in fully with Santana, in 5×5, is I’m not entirely sure where the SB number lies. But here’s something I can’t say about many players: Domingo Santana now has as many steals in 2019 as he had in 2018. Hopefully his price doesn’t change too much following one good, two game series in Japan, as that could affect the value a good deal.
Hunter Renfroe & Franmil Reyes, San Diego Padres
This is the second time this year I’m lumping the pair of these SD outfielders together for a blurb. I feel that both have legitimate 30+ HR upside and subsequent RBI abilities, but I can’t necessarily be confident that either one of them gets enough playing time to get there. My belief currently is that, at 27 Years Old and potentially at a pivotal point of his career, Renfroe will get the first true shot at Full Playing Time. And ADP would seem to agree as he is barely-if-even eligible for this list (his FantasyPros ADP has tinkered around 199-201). I’ve developed into a bit of a fan of Renfroe. Yes he has had a bit of a rough go of it at times, and his plate discipline can be very poor, but I think he has enough bat talent to succeed at this level to put it quite simply. I think he’s the type of hitter who takes a bit of time to figure out what pitches are doing to him to beat him so easily, and I think he started to get there last year (.248 / .302 / .504). That line, especially the OBP, may not be ideal. But the .500 SLG will carry a corner OF glove and make him a valuable real life and fantasy player with Playing Time.
All those positives about Renfroe stated, I actually think Reyes might be the one with the most intriguing long term value. Similar power but a seemingly better approach. Has earned high praises throughout the system, and is only 23 Years Old. In a dynasty league, I clearly want Reyes. And if I have some guarantee about playing time, I’m pretty intrigued by Reyes. Right now I don’t see the clear avenue for playing time, so I’m taking him as an intriguing flier but probably not as a top 5 Outfielder on my team. All that said, he does offer one potential fix for a power-hungry team with some real upside.
Steve Pearce, Boston Red Sox
I’ve never disliked Mitch Moreland. He’s a fine player and a fine platoon mate. I’m really interested on what Steve Pearce could be if Moreland got shunned a bit more. Yes, he’s more of a platoon player and kills lefties, but this past year he had some splits that were a fair bit more even. His Hard Contact%’s were really solid and I think there’s pretty legitimate potential here for a late round 1B or 1B/OF type who could hit for power at a decent BA with counting stats influenced by the quality lineup of the Boston Red Sox. This is a deep suggestion similar to Gordon, in that it is a pretty deep dive, but it very different from Gordon in that I really WANT to have Pearce on a few teams this year. He’s a low, almost minimal investment and all I have to do is watch the Boston Red Sox and see if there’s any signs of an imminent change (like a full-time role). If there is, he’ll be a must-add in all formats to me.
Greg Allen, Cleveland Indians
Mentioned in last week’s article, I’m a pretty decent sized fan of Greg Allen. I think the upside as a real-life ball player is a bit marginal, but I see a player who offensively could be pretty similar to Mallex Smith and even have a bit better OBP. Allen had a 24+% LD% and 36+ Hard% according to Fangraphs, used all fields, and had a manageable pop-up rate. For a hitter with good speed, I could see this translating to a strong BABIP. And while he hasn’t done it at the major league level, he has flashed a talent for taking walks in the minors. A good BA player with a strong BB% and good speed is not out of the realm of possibility here. He’s one of my favorite fliers if I’m speed hungry and all of my preferred / safe speed options have been taken.
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
Alongside Domingo Santana, Kiermaier is up there as another one of my worst calls in 2018. In Kiermaier’s defense (so-to-speak), his problems are not tied to his abilities as a baseball player, but rather his durability. Kiermaier might not have the best BA, but with an outstanding glove, he’s shown the ability to get hits, take walks, and get on base at a decent clip. On top of that, he’s had some decent power strokes throughout his career, even if he’s never gotten one to carry through a season of game play. But what makes Kiermaier interesting to me and why I’ve always been a fan of his in 5×5 is that I see some pretty legitimate stolen base upside. It is hard to know how much he plays, and it is hard to know with his career of injuries how much he runs if healthy. But in the same manner as Domingo Santana, this is a set of skills that I like a great deal that can be had today at a fraction of the cost I would have been tempted to pay last year.
Delino Deshields Jr., Texas Rangers
While I’ve never been a huge fan of Deshields Jr. personally, he has decent OBP skills and enough speed to be fantasy viable in a 5×5 game. I’m still a bit wary of his hit tool, and I do believe that a season long .200-ish BA is in the realm of possibility for Deshields. But late in drafts Stolen Bases can be hard to come by, and if you’re trying to make up ground in the category Deshields is a reasonable risk to take.
A Few 6×6-Types
Christin Stewart, Detroit Tigers
I think Stewart is a decent flier with limited upside in 5×5 formats. In 6×6, Stewart really has a chance to shine. His lack of speed will be less of an issue, and while he may not have “light-tower power,” with any luck his .296 AAA ISO will translate into some pretty solid SLG%’s. He walked at a very strong 12.8% Rate in AAA, and managed an even higher 13.9% rate albeit on a very small sample last year. Stewart has true potential as an OBP/SLG league darling, even if he doesn’t have nearly as much value even by my own calculations in 5×5 formats.
Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins
I want to like Anderson, especially in 5×5. I want to be able to rank him highly and buy into one of the only decent, young-ish hitters on the Miami Marlins. But there’s not a whole lot of power, and there’s not a whole lot of Speed. However, in a 6×6 league I can get more on board with drafting Miami’s Brian Anderson. He walks at a good clip (over 9% last year) and while his ISO was nothing too special last year either, I see him having more upside as a Doubles / SLG% hitter than I do as a strict HR-Hitter, especially in Marlins Park.
Final ADP Thought
Especially those in shallow leagues, make sure to not forget young, overlooked players even if they are directly blocked by their own teams. I’m talking about exceptionally talented players like Alex Verdugo and Kyle Tucker. Most draft picks need to be relied on, but more-or-less every drafter has a few picks he takes no matter where they are that are players they do not have to rely on in any way. Verdugo and Tucker are two players in shallower leagues who obviously cannot be relied on right now, but their avenue to universal intrigue is as short as one injury or transaction. I’ll reach for either or both in Shallow Leagues with Deep benches and hope that at some point I get the potential for a five category player without having to invest too much.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 17th, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #145 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic this week is Bullpens and Catchers.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 24th, 2019 from 7:30-9:45pm EST for episode #146 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This will be our first LIVE Major League Fantasy Baseball draft show. The boys will be doing a play by play while Kevin Bzdek is drafting in MLFB1. We will be taking live calls from the league owners as well.
Our guest this week is Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer, editor, league mate with majorleaguefantasysports.com, and will be the live drafter.