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Late-Round Outfielders - Fantasy Baseball Draft Values and Targets

Riley Greene - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB News

Welcome officially to the 2023 fantasy baseball season! Late-round picks in fantasy baseball can often be the difference between a mediocre team and a championship contender. While it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of selecting big-name players early in the draft, finding those hidden gems in the later rounds is equally essential. As a fantasy manager, it's crucial to do your due diligence and research these overlooked players' statistics, injury history, and current team situation. While taking a chance on a player based on a hunch or a cool name may seem appealing, making informed decisions that increase your chances of success is the wiser strategy. With careful consideration and some luck, these late-round picks could be the key to unlocking your team's full potential.

Today, we're looking at some late-round outfielders for you to consider drafting in your season-long leagues this season. Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and become a priority late-round draft target? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Usually only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2023 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today to start reading all of our in-depth 2023 player outlooks and many other premium articles and tools including Team Sync, the Live Draft Sync assistant, Custom Rankings Service, and so much more – available exclusively in our 2023 Draft Kit.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs

Cody Bellinger slashed just .210/.265/.389 with 19 HRs and 14 SB over 550 PAs last year. His .255 BABIP seems extremely low at first glance, but the combination of very high FB% (47.2 last season) and IFFB% (14.1) numbers makes it difficult to expect much more. Still, Bellinger was shifted in all but 10 opportunities last season and managed a 6.3 Oppo% on grounders, so the reduction in overshifts might add a few points to his average.

Similarly, Bellinger shaved more than two ticks from his SwStr% last year (14.2% to 12%) but didn't see any corresponding decrease in strikeouts (26.9% to 27.3%), providing more BA upside. Favorable LD% regression (17.2% vs. 20.8% career) could also help.

Bellinger's power wasn't great either with a 92.3 mph average airborne exit velocity and 8.3% rate of Brls/BBE, but the sheer number of flies he hits should keep his HR totals respectable. Throw in about 15 steals and a better spot in the Cubs lineup than he had with the Dodgers, and you're looking at a nice upside play at his current ADP of 187.64

-- Rick Lucks - RotoBaller

 

Lars Nootbaar, St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar ended up with a so-so performance in 2022, finishing with a .228/.340/.448 slash line to go along with 14 homers, 40 RBI, 53 runs, and four steals in 347 PA. That being said, he was either blazing hot or ice cold at various points in the season.

His OPS went from .591 in June, to 1.030 in July, to .979 in August, and to .693 in September/October. This, along with his lack of major league experience, makes it tough to pinpoint the true value he brings. His low ADP of 195.6 doesn't seem to factor in the potential upside with Nootbaar. He appears poised to be the Cardinals' everyday right fielder and should play the majority of the team's games.

He also brings very solid advanced metrics to the table, notably a .346 xwOBA, 91.7 mph average exit velocity, and 12.1% barrel rate. Given this, expect his batting average to creep up closer to the league average and his counting stats to see a solid uptick with increased plate appearances. He showed tremendous upside last year, and that makes him well worth a late-round pick.

-- Matt Garon - RotoBaller

 

Mitch Haniger, San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants outfielder Mitch Haniger's 2022 season was shortened by an ankle sprain, but when he was on the field, he produced. He hit .246 with 31 runs and 34 RBI while homering 11 times across 57 games. Haniger has always shown immense power with a career 10.3% barrel rate while posting an 11.8% rate in 2022 without hitting the ball on the ground much (37.3% ground ball rate).

However, a strikeout rate that has sat at 25.8% over the past three seasons has limited the 32-year-old's batting average, and many balls in the air (career 27.2% and 7.6% fly ball and pop-up rate, respectively) means we could see his .293 BABIP from '22 regress.

Haniger will almost be a non-factor in stolen bases, as he's provided just 18 over his 564 career games, so fantasy managers need him to supply about 30 HRs with more than 70 runs and RBI. However, moving from T-Mobile Park to Oracle Park will likely deflate his long balls, and the lineup in San Francisco might not be strong enough around him.

It's also hard to be confident that Haniger will stay healthy next year, as he's played more than 96 games just twice from 2016-2022. He's capable of performing well enough to justify his 173 ADP. However, chances are he won't live up to it.

-- Spencer Seguin - RotoBaller

 

Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene was a top prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2022 season. He began the year at Triple-A but was called up on June 18 and hit .253 with five home runs, 46 runs, 42 RBI, and one stolen base across 93 games. He'll improve as a hitter in 2023, with his debut season behind him and a few more things going his way.

However, Greene has some weaknesses to work on before he can truly break out. He struck out 28.7% of the time last season and owned a 26% mark during his minor league career. High strikeout rates moving forward will affect Greene's batting average, and his .354 BABIP means he was lucky to even hit above .250. The 22-year-old's power was underrated, as his 9.1 xHR and 60th percentile barrel rate show.

Although Comerica Park's dimensions will be more hitter-friendly in 2023, it should still grade out as a pitcher's park. If Greene can't figure out how to hit the ball in the air after posting a 56.8% ground ball rate, he'll find it challenging to display his true power. It might seem like the youngster would be a decent baserunner based on his athleticism, but his 59th-percentile sprint speed doesn't stand out much, and he's projected for just seven stolen bases next year.

He still has loads of potential and will likely be a four-category contributor once he matures, but he still has some things to work on to reach his ceiling. Fantasy managers have better options going later in the draft with a safer floor than Greene (197 ADP), like Ramon Laureano (219 ADP) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (224 ADP).

-- Spencer Seguin - RotoBaller

 

Michael Conforto, San Francisco Giants

Between 2017-2019, outfielder Michael Conforto posted an OPS+ of 131, along with 88 home runs, 242 RBI, and 225 walks with the New York Mets. He was named to his first All-Star Game in 2017 and looked to be a staple in the Mets' outfield for years to come.

That all changed after 2020, though. The Seattle native's power nearly disappeared, managing just 23 long balls between 2020-21, and he struck out 161 times. Conforto missed the entirety of the 2022 season due to an injury in his right shoulder that required surgery.

While there was speculation that the 29-year-old could return for the postseason— and was even offered a two-year, $30 million contract by the eventual World Champion Houston Astros– he did not sign before the August 31 deadline.

Despite not logging an at-bat in 2022, Conforto's agent Scott Boras was able to ink a two-year deal worth $36 million for his client with the San Francisco Giants. Given that Oracle Park is one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the MLB, it could be just what Conforto needs to awaken his power again, one that found him in the 80th percentile in Max Exit Velocity in 2021.

ATC projects the former New York Met to slash .248/.343/.412 with 16 home runs, 59 RBI, 61 runs, and a .333 WOBA across 120 games in 2023. Conforto has an ADP of 225 in NFBC leagues and should pop 15-20 homers with his new team if he can stay healthy, making him a solid value at his current ADP.

-- Lauren Amour - RotoBaller



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