Part III of frugal fantasy baseball 2015 goes over some underpriced OFs. I’ll still be using the Fantasy Pros average rankings, with Yahoo! and ESPN rankings given precedence over the others, but since most of drafts will be over by now I’ll only recommend guys that should be on the waivers, obviously depending on how competitive and deep the league is many of these recommendations will be owned already.
It’s the strongest and most diverse group of fantasy players in the game. If you need power, check the OF. If you need speed, check the OF. If you need a UTL player, check the OF…or 1B. You could draft 3 OFs with your first picks and no one would bat an eye, but do that with any other position and you might be crazy. It’s also one of the deepest positions and every year undrafted guys like Corey Dickerson and JD Martinez break out and finish among the top of their position. My goal here is to try and find some players that could break out, but more realistically I’ll help identify some underrated hitters.
#60 Adam Eaton (CF) – All this guy does is get on base and get injured. Last year the White Sox only had Jose Abreu hitting Eaton in, but now they have Melky Cabrera and replaced Adam Dunn with Adam LaRoche, so this improved line up should be able to drive him in a lot more. In 2012 Eaton stole 46 bases in the minors, and he displayed more power than his 1 HR he showed last year. He hit 7 HRs in the minors in 2012, 10 in 2011, and 3 HRs in the half season he had for the Diamondbacks in 2013. Basically I see Eaton as AJ Pollock, but in a better line up and going on average 12 OFs after him. If he stays healthy all year he’ll be a steal.
#63 Curtis Granderson (LF, CF, RF) – reunited with his old hitting coach Granderson could potentially hit 30 HRs again. I haven’t really seen anyone hyping Granderson up this year, probably because he’s a Met, he’s older, and he’s streaky. He’s detrimental to batting average, a little better in OBP leagues, but even then he cut his K rate down by 7% last year, making his K rate lower than those golden years on the Yankees. If we throw out the first month then he had a .244 batting average instead of a .227 one and if we throw out his other lowest month he’d have a .273 BA. Some months he’ll hit with the high upside of a #3 outfielder and some months, well, just bench him. Ride that hot streak, but I think he’ll improve on last year’s performance.
Old But Good
#62 Marlon Byrd (LF, RF) – He had a slash line of 71/25/85/3/.264/.312 on the Phillies last year and now he’s batting in a much better Reds line up. What’s not to like? He’s old, that’s about it.
#68 Tori Hunter (RF) – Another old and boring, but reliable player I like. The Twins have a good offense! I know he’s not the most exciting player, but he finished in the top 100 overall last year and the top 50 overall the year before, but people keep expecting him to break down so they don’t draft him. He has a great shot at getting in the top 100 again.
#71 Carlos Beltran (RF) – Somehow ARod is owned more than this guy… Arod hasn’t swung a bat at the major league level for over a year. Beltran is a switch hitter and as a lefty hit 12 HRs in 260 ABs last year. I’m not expecting a full year from him, but I’m sure Girardi will give him plenty of DH time and he’ll bat 3rd in the order most of the time he plays. Beltran isn’t done yet and for UTL players I’d rather have him than Arod by a mile.
#78 Shane Victorino (RF) – A crowded OF in Boston, but it looks like Flyin’ Hawaiian will be getting a shot at RF to start the season. A strong offense and projected to bat 6th in the order, he should be relatively productive while he’s healthy. It feels like every old player is shoved into RF…at least all the ones I recommended here.
Young But Not Forgotten
#65 Steven Souza (RF) – Will be the every day starting RF for the Rays and had video game numbers in the minor leagues. The Rays thought this guy could be just as good as Wil Myers, so I can see him performing well this year. He was the one that made that glorious catch to save Jordan Zimmermann’s no hitter, so that’s pretty cool too.
#72 Dalton Pompey (LF, CF) – He won the starting CF job and had 43 SBs across the minors last year and actually had a pretty solid OBP too (probably because of his ridiculously high BABIP) Did I mention that the Blue Jays line up is ridiculously strong? Because that’s another plus. I like the speed and the line up and he’s been given the opportunity, well worth the flyer.
#79 Juan Lagares – He’s batting lead off for the Mets and last year in 156 ABs he had 17 runs, 9 SBs, and a .276 average in lead off. If he continues to steal like that again, he’ll be a bargain.
#83 Dexter Fowler (CF) – He’s batting leadoff for a better Cubs team and always demonstrated elite OBP. I think this move helps Rizzo too and I expect Fowler to get a bunch of runs with double digit HRs and SBs.
#90 Michael Saunders (CF, RF) – His draft stock plummeted when news came out he’d be injured until the All Star break, but know the Jays are saying they expect him back by mid April! The Blue Jays even cut Dayan Viciedo from the team, their panic signing when Saunders got injured, so they’re obviously hopeful about his return and production. Blue Jay fans may have started panicking when Stroman and Saunders were both injured back to back in spring training, but maybe, MAYBE, it’s not the end of the world…yet. I think Saunders can see a hugh uptick in his stats moving out of Safeco.
#96 Norichika Aoki – I don’t think he’ll hit less HRs than Ben Revere again, and he somehow got less steals on the Royals than the Brewers… last year Aoki didn’t make any sense to me, but I can easily see him earning the lead off spot over Angel Pagan and I know the Giant offense isn’t the best, but batting leadoff for any team is usually a pretty good thing. 8 HRs and 20 SBs with good average and decent runs isn’t too far of a stretch considering he did that in 2013.
# 97 Alejandro De Aza (LF, CF) – If any team can revive a hitter’s power stroke it’s the Orioles. That’s why I also like #102 Travis Snider (LF, RF) , who has the pedigree and played pretty well for the Pirates last year. Snider hit 13 HRs in 322 ABs and now he’s hitting in Camden where lefties hit the 3rd most HRs, keep in mind Nelson Cruz is a righty, so his 40 HRs aren’t even skewing the data. De Aza is also a lefty and one year removed from 17 HRs and 20 SBs season. One of these guys is breaking out, especially if Delmon Young doesn’t eat too much into their playing time.
#99 Domonic Brown (LF) – I mean obviously 2013 was a fluke and he’s probably starting the year on the DL with an ankle injury, but he was left for dead before the injury. Brown and Jason Heyward both hit 27 HRs in the past, but people are a million times higher on Heyward. Brown only turns 28 this year, it’s only an ankle injury, and he always had pretty solid numbers in the minors. He could provide some actual value this year, but he’s more of a watch list guy with him going on the DL. Odubel Herrera (2B, SS, CF) becomes interesting, he’s having a good spring training and earned the CF starting spot. He could become even more interesting depending on how high the Phillies bat him. He’s a rule 5 pick from the Rangers with some pretty unique eligibility and besides having an interesting first name I’m not sure what to expect from this guy.
#101 Eric Young Jr. has the CF job locked down with “Melvin” Upton injured, I’d bet anything he’s the hot add in the first week of the season because he’ll steal like 5 bases. I’m still kind of upset the Mets didn’t keep him.
#115 Matt Joyce (LF, RF) doesn’t have a guaranteed spot everyday for the Angels, but it feels like he always starts the year hot and he’s projected to bat clean up for the Angels against right handed hitters. Batting behind Mike Trout, yes please. He’s more valuable in daily leagues, but I can understand the disinterest because he’s a platoon player.
#139 Chris Young (LF, CF, RF) hit pretty well for the Yankees last year. In his short 71 ABs he had a .282/.354/.521 slashline. He’s the first back up incase any OFs get injured…and there will be injuries.
The Gregory Polanco Dilemma
It’s pretty surprising how little hype there is surrounding this guy. I really like Jorge Soler (RF) this year, but Polanco (RF) has more experience in the majors, is in a better line up, and is much faster than him, but Polanco is going on average 13 OFs after Soler because of a perceived HR difference. I think if Polanco doesn’t finish in the top 100 overall it’ll be a disappointment and it’s easy for me to see him doing better than that. He’s projected to bat 2nd in the order and I think we’ll see him attempt more steals, he had 40 steals in 2012, 38 in 2013, and 30 last year between minors and majors. So 30 SBs should be pretty easy for him. He had a higher slugging percentage than McCutchen in the minors and he nearly had a 10% BB rate in a “disappointing” rookie campaign. His BABIP was pretty low for a guy with his speed and I fully expect him to outperform his paltry .235 BA. A full season of ABs could easily produce a 15 HRs and 30 SBs season from him and he has all the talent in the world to make that happen. This is the last year you’ll ever be able to own Polanco this cheap, don’t screw it up.