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Nobody likes having their heart broken, especially if money is involved.

So when a player we reach for in our drafts doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s not always easy to trust him again in the future. You may not have been burned by the specific players we’re going to cover today, but if you were, keep an open mind.

These four 2017 outfield busts are primed to bounce back and earn fantasy baseball owners a tidy profit in 2018. When you get to the middle and later rounds of your drafts, and you see these names available, try not to think about how they performed last year and look at their potential draft profit instead.

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Second Chances in 2018

Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

Chicks may dig the long ball, but fantasy owners aren’t as impressed by power as they once were – particularly if it comes attached to a batting average anchor like Schwarber’s .211 last year. But those 30 home runs came in under 500 plate appearances, and the attendant 30 percent strikeout rate was always the cost of doing business with Schwarber. Just humor me here with a table wherein we prorate his 2017 line to a full season:

Player HR R RBI AVG BB% K% BABIP 2018 ADP
Kyle Schwarber 40 90 79 .211 12.1 30.9 .244 173
Khris Davis 43 91 110 .247 11.2 29.9 .290 68

And that’s in a disastrous season! Schwarber’s never going to run a high BABIP, but there’s no reason to think .244 is his baseline. And, oh hey, check out the second half line (.309 BABIP): .253/.335/.559, 17 HR, 64 R+RBI In 61 games.

Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

Herrera caught some helium last year after posting a solid four-category season in 2016 (.286 AVG, 87 R, 15 HR, 25 SB) but an early-season slump led many owners to cut bait. Those who weathered the storm were rewarded with a .318/.361/.526 line from June 3 to season’s end. Herrera catching fire at the plate didn’t lead to eye-popping run production, and he basically quit stealing bases (just 8-for-13 a year after going 25-for-32), which makes the post-200 ADP easy enough to understand. But he’s penciled in between Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins in what could be a pretty good Phillies lineup, he’s not far removed from 15/25, and he’s a career .288 hitter in an low-average environment. That’s a worthwhile bet as such a modest price.

Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates

Simply put, Polanco was never healthy in 2017. He hurt his shoulder in spring training, and during the season battled groin, ankle, and hamstring problems. We can’t just overlook the injury risk, but at least it’s priced in this spring (153 ADP). Polanco has proven he can put up 20 homers and 20 steals, and he’s still just 26 years old. While he’s never hit for average, he’s also never dipped below .250, and even during last year’s injury-riddled campaign he managed to chop his strikeout rate to below 15 percent.

Stephen Piscotty, Oakland Athletics

It’s impossible for any of us to know how much of Piscotty’s 2017 performance might have been affected by the circumstances of his personal life, but it’s not hard to imagine how they might have played a role. Everything went sideways on the field, with dramatic declines in production from his 2016 breakout occurring across the board. It’s just that a lot of the things you look for, and tend to find, in a lousy season for a hitter aren’t really there with Piscotty. He didn’t struggle to make contact or lose control of his approach; he actually improved in those areas, particularly the latter. The Cardinals did a kindness in trading him to Oakland to be closer to his ailing mother, and they also kept him an everyday player after it looked like the Marcell Ozuna deal would cast doubt on his playing time. Now, he’s got left field to himself in an A’s lineup that’s better than you might think.

 

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