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Hitters Under $10: Salary Cap League Draft Targets for Fantasy Baseball - Yoan Moncada, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Belt, and more

It's a cliché to say that those managers who finally dip their toe into salary cap leagues never go back to snake drafts. Snake drafts have their own charm. There is simply more going on, and thus, more fun to have when participating in a salary cap draft. There become no bounds on how one wants to build their roster.

Snake drafts require managers to keep their eye on specific targets to fill out their roster. In salary cap leagues, however, a manager can build their entire roster around multiple stars and then continually fill in with late-round values. The cheaper players are key; finding those that elevate and extend a roster.

For this exercise, we're targeting hitters under $10. That rules out roughly the top-150 players in drafts. From this vantage point, some managers may look for high-risk, high-reward plays to strike big with a small investment. There are plenty of safer guys to acquire as well, to balance out a stars-and-scrubs draft approach.

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Yoan Moncada, 3B, CWS - $9

The Chicago White Sox have it all on paper: multiple aces in their starting rotation, an elite bullpen headlined by multiple closer-caliber arms, and a lineup filled with premier hitters. After a breakout in 2019, Moncada was supposed to be one of those premier hitters in 2020, and it just didn't happen. However, last year was a positive rebound in some respects and could hint at Moncada being a reliable bat after all.

In '19, he set career-highs in all the major statistical categories: runs, home runs, RBIs, batting average, and slugging percentage. He also dropped his K-rate below 32 percent for the first time, all the way to 27.5 percent. A shortened '20 saw a return to his bad habits, making it seem like '19 was the outlier. But last season, Moncada was even better in certain key categories. His K-rate dropped again, to a career-best 25.5 percent. His walk rate was also career-best at 13.6 percent. The power and speed numbers weren't there to showcase a desirable fantasy line, but that may have just been some bad luck. Moncada still posted an average exit velocity over 90 mph and a 40.5 percent hard-hit rate. A much-improved batting eye, combined with quality contact, will lead to more power numbers this season.

As for the steals, they probably aren't coming back. He still posts well-above-average sprint speed, though the figure has been dropping for years. He just rarely attempts to run, to begin with. It may have a lot to do with the lineup around him. Chicago as a whole was 25th in the league in attempted steals last season after ranking 24th the season prior. The last time Moncada ran even a little bit, that '19 season, the White Sox ranked 19th. It has never been a priority, and you can understand. With all the bats in the lineup, they don't want to give away outs. Moncada should bat in the middle of the Sox order and produce in four categories.

 

Robbie Grossman, OF, DET - $8

Last year, Grossman surprised everybody by posting his first 20-20 season in the big leagues. He finished the campaign with 23 home runs and exactly 20 steals. Based on his current pricing, few think he will repeat such feats in 2022. However, he doesn't have to be an effective and valuable fantasy piece. His strengths should remain even if the power disappears a bit.

Grossman has always been a good runner, never ranking lower than the 65th percentile in sprint speed. The problem was, before last year and the shortened '20 season, he never played every day and never got the chance to run all that much. With Detroit, he gets both. He should slot near the top of the lineup every day for the Tigers and have a greenish light to run. With that will come two-category production. Grossman's real key, though, is his walk rate. He is being massively undervalued in OBP leagues because of that .240 batting average. But thanks to a walk rate in the 97th percentile, Grossman did not falter in getting on base. It was the third time in his career ranking in the top five percent of the sport.

 

Josh Donaldson, 3B, NYY - $8

We know the deal with Donaldson. He is a great bat who will hit in the middle of a great lineup anytime he is penciled into the lineup card. It is just a matter of how often he will be able to suit up. I mean, what is not to like about the hitting profile?

In his final year as a Twin, Donaldson played in 135 games and saw 543 plate appearances. I'm sure the New York Yankees would sign up for those tallies right now. Few people remember, but he also had a full season under his belt in '19 as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Though he has missed a lot of time in his career, the time off seems to bunch together. That's not to say he can't have another bunch of DNPs in '22. The Yankees certainly don't supply their own positive injury luck. But for less than the price of a cheese pizza and a large soda at Panucci's, Donaldson is worth the gamble for that per-game production.

 

Avisail Garcia, OF, MIA - $7

Garcia has already been in the big leagues for 10 seasons and will be playing with his fifth franchise, yet it feels like he is just recently getting his chance. Mini Miggy never panned out until years after leaving Detroit. He is now an everyday player and legitimate power threat who should bat in the middle of the Miami order.

It has been at least seven straight years Garcia ranked in the 93rd percentile or better in max exit velocity, with Baseball Savant data going back to 2015. Combined with a 46.4 percent hard-hit rate a season ago, it was no wonder he set a career-high in home runs. The quality of contact paired with high-end power was not an aberration though. The main thing that changed for him was a massive increase in the fly-ball rate. To put it bluntly, Garcia used to have a two-step process: hit ball, hit ball hard. That has expanded to three steps: hit ball, hit ball hard, hit ball high.

 

Brandon Belt, 1B, SF - $4

The Giants have such a deep roster and new-age manager that half their lineup could be in a platoon. One place that is not expected is first base. Belt was such a force at the plate last season, the only thing that held him back was his own availability. Similar to Donaldson, when Belt is in the lineup, he should be started in fantasy. How often he can play is to be determined.

Last year, injuries limited him to just 95 games. Even still, he blew away his career-best mark with 29 home runs and a .323 isolated power. Even reasonable health could see him surpass the 30-home run mark and be a true four-category contributor, all for four bucks on draft day.



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