With the MLB season right around the corner, we are in high-season for fantasy baseball drafts. Before you enter your draft room this year, it would behoove you to check out our ADP analysis pieces here at RotoBaller.
We will ensure you have a good working knowledge of how players are being viewed, when to grab your targeted guys, and when to let your league mates jump on a guy going too early. In the end, you will look like a genius.
Today we take a look at two American League outfielders that are going far too early in drafts, and then flip the script and analyze four potential studs that will warrant a reach on draft day.
Editor's Note: Last chance to join the Monthly Challenge on Fantrax. Free to join, league winners get a full season of Premium access for all sports ($99 value).
Overvalued American League Outfielders
Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
2017 ADP: 126, OF36
First of all, power-only hitters are so 2015. Especially ones that strikeout in OVER A THIRD of their at bats. The day dreams about what Sano could blossom into are slowly fading for me, as he continues to prove he can't hit offspeed pitches. He's like the big guy from Trouble with the Curve. The Twins should've gone with the peanut boy. So far this spring, in 35 AB, Sano has two walks and 16 strikeouts.
Sano is currently being drafted on average ahead of speedsters like Jose Peraza and Odubel Herrera, which I find much more valuable in today's fantasy landscape. But even if you were in need of power at this point, I would much rather take a slugger with a higher floor like Adam Duvall who is going 23 picks later. Unless it's Chris Davis, who provides almost a guarantee of 40 HR, I am not about tanking on BA for cheap power until the end of my draft.
Carlos Beltran, Houston Astros
2017 ADP: 186, OF51
This one's easy for me. The future Hall of Famer turned back the clock in 2016, hitting 29 HR (his most since 2012) with an impressive .295 BA. His first 99 games were in a Yankees uniform, in which he hit 22 bombs with a .304 BA. 14 of those HR came at home, in 2016's number one HR park at Yankee Stadium. He was then traded to the Rangers for his final 52 games. He proceeded to hit just seven HR with a .280 BA. For what it's worth, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington still ranked in the top half of HR. In the offseason he was acquired by the Houston Astros. He will turn 40 at the end of April, and will be playing at Minute Maid Park, which ranked 23rd in HR.
As you see, I believe the 2012 power resurgence was more of a mirage created by that short RF in Yankee Stadium, which is where the majority of Beltran's HR landed in 2016. I don't think we see anywhere near 30 long balls this year, as he crests 40 years and moves to a much less power-friendly home. There is also the issue of PA, considering the number of solid bats fighting for playing time in Houston that could easily slide into the DH slot to give the old man some rest. It's just absurd that Beltran is being picked on average ahead of some massive upside guys. Here are the next 10 outfielders in the ADP going after him: Hunter Pence, Carlos Gomez, Keon Broxton, Randal Grichuk, Ender Inciarte, Yasiel Puig, Eric Thames, Nomar Mazara, Kevin Kiermaier, and Jarrod Dyson. Give me any of those 10 over Beltran, whether it is for the youth, the speed, or the upside.
Undervalued American League Outfielders
Carlos Gomez, Texas Rangers
2017 ADP: 193, OF53
Since leaving Milwaukee in 2015, things have looked pretty dreary for Carlos Gomez, up until last September. For his last 25 games in 2016, Gomez hit .319/.404/.582 with six HR and four SB. He looked healthy. He looked rejuvenated. It was only a month, but it was certainly enough to spark fantasy owners' interests and cause Jeff Bannister to consider hitting Gomez at the top of the Rangers lineup in 2017. Usually I wouldn't care about batting statistics in September, but Gomez obviously has a legit track record and has carried the momentum over into spring training, hitting .344 with three HR through only 32 AB. He may feel like a huge risk, but I feel confident enough in his skillset to select him over the likes of Carlos Beltran, Jay Bruce, and Marcell Ozuna, who are all being drafted before him. In Yahoo! leagues, Gomez is absurdly going almost 150 picks after Ozuna despite possessing the same power, more speed, and a better lineup position. Take the chance.
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
2017 ADP: 216, OF60
Here we have another projected leadoff hitter with 15/20 potential. He probably wouldn't be undervalued in drafts this offseason had he not missed time last year after suffering two fractures in his hand. He's the best defensive player in baseball (which won't help your fantasy team, but will keep him in the lineup everyday), and stole 21 bases in just 417 PA last year. What's not to like? A legitimate breakout candidate in 2017, Kiermaier falls into the same territory as Carlos Gomez and both should be viewed as easy top 50 outfielders with top 40 potential.
Jarrod Dyson, Seattle Mariners
2017 ADP: 218, OF61
If you don't notice the trend here so far, I am trying to tell you to grab speed when you can. Dyson is a perfect candidate to help you in the SB category after stealing at least 26 bases for five straight seasons, despite never reaching 350 PA in Kansas City. Now in Seattle with a legitimate shot at leading off, Dyson looks like a lock to get over 400 PA for the first time in his career. Not only does that scream 40+ SB, but the run scoring potential with Jean Segura, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager hitting behind him could turn the part time pinch runner into a legitimate fantasy outfielder. The RBI and BA won't help your roster, and the HR are non-existent, but an outfielder that can potentially help you secure a top spot in R and SB should be drafted in the top 200. Take a look at the bold prediction made by my colleague Harris Yudin regarding Dyson.
Melky Cabrera, Chicago White Sox
2017 ADP: 227, OF63
How many seasons of solid fantasy production do we need to see from Melky before we start treating him like a top 50 OF on draft day? For the past three seasons, he has averaged 14 HR, 74 R, 79 RBI, four SB, with a .290 BA. In 2015, he finished the year as the 134th ranked fantasy player. Last season, he moved on up to number 118. Yet we continually let the man slide out of the top 200 in our drafts because of the lack of flair. The White Sox offense will surely be at the bottom of the league in 2017, but Melky is surrounded by enough fantasy studs in the lineup to produce yet another solid all-around fantasy output.