In 2014, teams that drafted Anthony Rendon towards the end of their drafts set themselves on the fast track to the playoffs. Every year we fantasy baseballers do a ton of research leading up to draft season in which we try to identify ‘sleepers’ like Anthony Rendon. But I hate the term sleepers. A more clickbaity site might even call this a sleeper article. But what we’re endeavoring to do today is look for the players most undervalued by your site’s default rankings. Though we’d like to believe we’re all above the influence of our respective host site’s default rankings, it’s really the only idea of ‘market price’ we have on draft day, and therefore typically ends up being pretty close to where players are actually drafted! I usually don’t recommend ‘targeting’ specific players coming into the draft, but when it comes to guys as undervalued as these, it can be worth trying to nab them a round or two before their ADP. So follow along with your own Big Boards at home, and mark these guys on your watch list, and you’ll be winning your draft in no time.
General guidelines before we start – I’ll try to avoid current injury guys, who might be undervalued due to difference in opinion on playing time, reduced 2014 performances, etc. Players in the first couple rounds don’t qualify, as a difference of a few ranks can be large in terms of dollars. Some of these players are so loved by the projections that ESPN/CBS/Yahoo are wrong across the board on them, but if specific sites are too low, their ADP will be bolded.
ALSO, a general note on CBS. Their rankings are terrible, and so sometimes their ADPs are bad. Pedroia (CBS 119th, BB 51st) is maybe the most undervalued compared to the other sites, and on the flipside, Kemp (CBS 35th, BB 97th), Wieters (CBS 143rd, BB 304th), and Cueto (CBS 26th, BB 62nd) are all overvalued. I might just toss CBS ADPs out the window on draft day and go with the Big Board.
ADP: ESPN – 218 Yahoo – 223 CBS – 197 Big Board’s 65th best player, $15 5x5z
2014 Stats: 383 PA, 21 HR, 51 R, 49 RBI, 5 SB, .293 AVG Projection: 500 PA, 20 HR, 65 R, 64 RBI, 5 SB, .271 AVG
Pearce sandwiched two hot streaks around a slump last year, but the resulting line was pretty, and after the O’s made relatively few offseason moves it seems he’ll have a solid role heading into 2015. Steamer’s regression still puts him at giving positive value in batting average, while also kicking in above average power and non-zero speed. I have to assume the major sites are regressing him more heavily AND giving him less than 500 PA, but I think even a slightly platooned Pearce will find his way to 450 PA and around 20 HR. He’s always been a lefty-masher, so there is a risk that he ends up in a strict shortside platoon, but the upside and low cost tell me it’s worth the risk.
ADP: ESPN – 143 Yahoo – 167 CBS – 167 Big Board’s 67th best player, $14 5x5z2014
Stats: 580 PA, 25 HR, 70 R, 81 RBI, .234 AVG [Injured] Projection: 489 PA, 26 HR, 63 R, 72 RBI, .248 AVG
Okay, breaking the injury rule a little here. Old man Moss broke his old man hip last year, and had a terrible 2nd half because of it. But he’s gotten healthy since then and left the power-sapping confines of O.Co, two things that have his arrow solidly pointing up. He’s always been a righty masher and even rode some BABIP luck to a decent 1st half against lefties last season. A healthy Moss could easily beat 25 HR, maybe approaching 30, and at worst he’ll be in a predictable platoon situation (at best, he could play every day).
ADP: ESPN – 202 Yahoo – 245 CBS – 222 Big Board’s 78th best player, $13 5x5z
2014 Stats: 410 PA, 20 HR, 46 R, 57 RBI, .231 AVG Projection: 506 PA, 23 HR, 61 R, 70 RBI, .258 AVG
Weird. Normally when a 23 year old hits 20 HR in just 2/3 of a season, people take notice. Arcia is flying under the radar right now as a very viable platoon power OF, and while his team will probably have a ‘meh’-worthy offense, cheap power in the late rounds is a great thing to grab. Even if you don’t believe in the .258 AVG steamer is giving him based on an improved strikeout rate and BABIP, he’ll be more than worth the draft day price. The platoon risk looms, as he put up a 62 wRC+ vs. LHP last season, and could become more strictly platooned if that continues. Even if he doesn’t, you’ll want to bench him against LH starters anyway.
ADP: ESPN – 227 Yahoo – N/A CBS – 196 Big Board’s 87th best player, $13 5x5z
2014 AAA Stats: 407 PA, 18 HR, 62 R, 75 RBI, 26 SB, .350 AVG Projection: 500 PA, 18 HR, 57 R, 60 RBI, 19 SB, .246 AVG
Poor Steven Souza. Everyone wants stupid sexy Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant, and is just leaving Souza to rot in the later rounds, maybe even on the waiver wire. Sure, he was old for his level last year, but he absolutely mashed at AAA and put up that power-speed combo we always look for in fantasy. Even with a conservative projection for his AVG, the Rays traded for this guy for a reason and he will get solid playing time this year (I’ve got him down for a conservative 500 PA just in case).
ADP: ESPN – 212 Yahoo – 230 CBS – 192 Big Board’s 166th best player, $8 5x5z
2014 Stats: 445 PA, 18 HR, 46 R, 56 RBI, .231 AVG Projection: 530 PA, 24 HR, 60 R, 70 RBI, 5 SB, .241 AVG
What an ugly season last year. Following a similar trajectory to Santana’s 3B-to-1B transition, Alvarez will be the near-everyday 1B for the Pirates (sorry, Corey Hart, I just don’t believe in you anymore). Real power and ugly batting average are near certainties, but Alvarez also had a great season plate discipline-wise, improving both his K% and BB% significantly. Platoon risk exists here too, but I think an early season surge could force him into the lineup more often than not.
ADP: ESPN – 224 Yahoo – 194 CBS – 197 Big Board’s 169th best player, $8 5x5z
2014 Stats: 136 IP, 16 W, 124 K, 24 BB, 3.04 ERA, 1.07 WHIP Projection: 179 IP, 11 W, 148 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Any time a guy puts up an 18 K-BB% over significant sample size in the majors, you’ve got to take notice. By that metric, Shoemaker was a top-25 starter last season. Shoemaker rode his splitter to a dominant run in the majors and I’m more than willing to buy in to a line closer to the ZiPS projection than Steamer. He’ll be pitching for a great team, has a for-sure rotation spot, and should put up great rate stats despite a low-ish K%.
ADP:ESPN – 84 Yahoo – 76 CBS – 87 Big Board’s 53rd best player as C, $16 5x5z (124th best player as 3B)
2014 Stats: 660 PA, 27 HR, 68 R, 85 RBI, 5 SB, .231 AVG Projection: 650 PA, 23 HR, 80 R, 80 RBI, 4 SB, .245 AVG
Amazing fact #1: Carlos Santana is still C-eligible in Yahoo. Amazing fact #2: He’s only ranked about 10 spots higher there. Someone at Yahoo is asleep at the keyboard, and you’d better pounce on Santana before they wake up. He mashes taters, he draws walks, and he’s a terrible catcher/third baseman. But that last thing isn’t a problem anymore, as he’ll be the everyday 1B/DH for the Indians in 2015. No more worrying about concussions! No more worrying about subpar 3B fielding somehow affecting him at the plate. Buy, buy, buy.
Big Board’s 161st best player, $8 5x5z
2014 Stats: 424 PA, 15 HR, 67 R, 43 RBI, 20 SB, .289 AVG Projection: 453 PA, 13 HR, 55 R, 49 RBI, 18 SB, .261 AVG
I love Colorado platoon guys in leagues with daily lineup changes. Stubbs may not be a guy you draft, but he should be one of the first names you pull up on the wire when Harper crashes head first into a brick wall in April. He hit .356 with a .999 OPS at home last year. He hit .452 with a 1.282 OPS at home vs. lefties. Yeah, I think Coors agrees with him. He won’t win you your league single-handedly but as a fill in for injuries or other platooners on your team, it doesn’t get much better than Stubbs.
Big Board’s 202nd best player, $6 5x5z
2014 Stats: 365 PA, 11 HR, 41 R, 38 RBI, 5 SB, .262 AVG Projection: 542 PA, 18 HR, 62 R, 66 RBI, 5 SB, .253 AVG
I have a hard time squinting at LoMo and seeing a player I would want, but he does just enough in each category to be useful/not harmful. He doesn’t strikeout a lot (16 K% last year) and has also suffered from some BABIP woes in past seasons, so I’m willing to believe there is even some upside here as he enters his age 27 season with the Mariners.