Power is what drives the average fantasy offense. Not only are homers directly counted in most formats, but every bomb comes with a run scored and at least one RBI as well. One-dimensional power guys actually have three dimensions in a standard 5x5 format. If you can handle the batting average risk, they make for a solid investment.
Two sluggers who fit that description perfectly are profiled below. Carlos Santana slugged 34 dingers en route to a World Series appearance last year. Khris Davis hit the quietest 42 big flies in the history of baseball, likely due to playing in Oakland's relative obscurity.
Will these sluggers continue to mash for fantasy owners in 2017?
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
The Fantasy Jury is Out
Carlos Santana (1B, CLE) ADP: 117.7
Santana added a .259/.366/.498 line to his 34 bombs in 2016, making him a solid fantasy contributor. The power production was a significant boost from his 2015 total of 19, but his increased FB% (37.1 percent to 41.2 percent last year) and HR/FB improvement (11.9 percent to 16.9 percent) support the more recent number. The wise move is probably to project last year's FB% and his career HR/FB of 14.2 percent, leading to HR production in the upper-20s.
The projection for Santana's batting average is not as rosy. He pulls everything on the ground (70.8 percent Pull% on ground balls last year) and runs like the catcher he used to be, making last year's .206 ground ball BABIP look fortuitous compared to his .189 career mark. Last season's .258 overall BABIP was also boosted by some fly ball fortune (.148 vs. career .128), which seems especially unlikely considering that more of his well hit flies left the ballpark as well.
This does not mean that everything about Santana's batting average is doom and gloom. While Santana has proven himself to be a below average LD% guy (18.4 percent career LD%), last year's 16 percent figure still looks ripe for regression. The few liners he hit also underperformed relative to their career averages (.645 vs. .698 career). Furthermore, his Vottoesque mastery of the strike zone produced a K% exactly equal to his BB% at 14.4 percent. Santana is unlikely to help your batting average, but he shouldn't drag it down either. Of course, if your format uses OBP instead of average, Santana's value skyrockets.
The most interesting thing about Santana is that Cleveland's acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion may give him OF reps at some point this year. Outfielders are far more scarce than most fantasy owners believe, so qualifying there would be a huge boon to Santana's fantasy value. He also figures to face a steady stream of weak pitching, as the AL Central is pretty bad if you never need to play Cleveland. Overall, he seems worthy of a selection outside the top-100 to me.
Khris Davis (OF, OAK) ADP: 86.7
No one really cared about Davis's .247/.307/.524 line when they had 42 bombs to stare at, but it becomes more concerning if the power falls off. Davis offers a strong FB% (40.2 percent), but his absurd power is mostly the result of a 26.6 percent HR/FB. Statcast loves him, as his 65 "barrelled" hits were fourth in the league last year. Still, I'm not sure it is safe to project a HR/FB that high for anyone.
He also makes it more challenging on himself by refusing to pull the ball. Just 15.2 percent of his fly balls were pulled last year, forcing him to hit his homers to center and the opposite field. Obviously this approach worked fine for him last season, but I have to believe that even the slightest hiccup in his swing could make it unsustainable.
Davis's batting average also seems hopeless. His 27.2 K% was very high, while his 16.6 percent SwStr% does not suggest better numbers are on the horizon. He's also slow as molasses, dooming him to a BABIP on ground balls closer to last year's .226 mark than the roughly .250 rate enjoyed by the rest of the league. His 17 percent LD% last season was essentially right on his career 17.2 percent career rate, so there is little reason to adjust it upward either. Finally, his home park is notorious for suppressing BABIP. Last year's .247 might be a peak, not a valley, in his career average.
Statcast loves Davis's power, but his approach is not ideal for power hitting. He is allergic to line drives, cannot beat out grounders for hits, and strikes out in nearly a third of his PAs. Add in a punchless lineup in a bad offensive park, and there is no way I'm taking this guy at his current price point.