8 Power Hitters to Target Late in Fantasy Baseball Drafts
With great power comes great responsibility. More importantly, with great power comes great fantasy baseball results.
Way to bury the lede, Uncle Ben.
We generally associate these displays of great power with guys going near the top of the draft. You've got Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Davis, and countless others all flying off the board within the first few rounds, leading to a perception that you can't find power late.
That's partially true, but that doesn't mean there aren't big boppers available.
These are usually guys who are going to be flawed -- for one reason or another -- pushing them down the draft board and outside of the same realm as those other long-ball aficionados. Whether it be concerns about playing time, health, age, lineup, or whatever else, these guys find themselves at a spot where you can inherit their inefficiencies without suffering heavy opportunity cost.
If you don't focus on power early, that could leave you handcuffed in your Roto draft. These are some guys who could help you out and pick up the slack in the dinger department.
Below are eight players who are all outside of the top 150 in ESPN's average draft positions (ADP). Alongside their listed ADP will be the number of home runs they are projected to hit this year, based on numberFire's season-long projections, which you can sort by projected home runs during your drafts if you're scrounging for some pop late.
The first five players will be guys who our projections love who will go in the middle rounds. The bottom three are all outside of the top 200, and they may not even be drafted in all leagues. They all have low floors, but their upside is dizzying.
The list is going to be tailored more towards those of you who don't intend on punting batting average. I tried to select guys who can at least be passable in those arenas while still providing some power. However, if you're punting average, Chris Carter, Colby Rasmus, and Luis Valbuena could be some fun additions. Let's take a look at the others.
Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
Projected Home Runs: 24 | ADP: 155.1
It's hard to blame people for being low on Granderson, considering he just turned 35 and plays in one of the worst parks in the bigs. Citi Field is still conducive to homers, though, and Granderson's batted-ball profile is one that can exploit that.
Granderson posted the best hard-hit rate of his entire career in 2015 at 37.0%, coupling it with a 42.1% fly-ball rate. Given his age, those numbers will likely go down this year. With Granderson going so late, though, and adding help via runs scored at the top of the lineup, that regression has already been baked into his ADP, and he's more than worth the price of his current draft slot.
Lucas Duda, New York Mets
Projected Home Runs: 28 | ADP: 157.7
Like I said, people hate the Mets this year. Lucas Duda is another guy who can thrive despite Citi Field's nastiness.
There aren't many players who have hit 57 home runs in the past two years who are available this late in a re-draft league, but Duda fits the bill. His hard-hit rate was above 38.0% for the fourth consecutive season, and he upped his fly-ball rate to a career-high 50.6%. He just turned 30, so his decline may not start quite yet, and he fits the mold of a legit power hitter.
Based on the ADP tiering at first base, if I don't land a first baseman in the first three rounds, I'm likely waiting until Duda's range. There are seven first basemen in the top 30, and then there are only five more scattered between there and 140. I wouldn't fret, though, as Duda is more than competent and can fill any void you have in the event you don't land a stud.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Projected Home Runs: 29 | ADP: 162.7
Mark Teixeira was scorching the Earth last year until a broken leg cut things short. He'll be in his age-36 season, but if he's healthy, Teixeira can still slug.
Any guy who can post a 35.3% hard-hit rate and 42.3% fly-ball rate in a homer-friendly park like Yankee Stadium is going to do well. Adding in Teixeira's 18.4% strikeout rate only makes him more intriguing.
There are two fairly significant concerns here. First, that "if healthy" caveat is one big motha-lovin' "if." Teixeira hasn't had more than 524 plate appearances in a season since 2011, so you'll need backup options. Second, he has been brutal this spring, going 4-for-27 with just one extra-base hit, three walks, and five strikeouts. Those concerns make Duda more appealing, but if Teixeira drops, he can still help the squad.
Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
Projected Home Runs: 21 | ADP: 176.9
This might be the first year I've ever had season-long shares of Mark Trumbo. That's what happens when you move to a park as juicy as Camden Yards.
Trumbo was able to hit 22 bombs last year over 545 plate appearances, and his two home parks ranked 14th and 17th in three-year average home-run park factor. In Baltimore, he'll slide all the way up to sixth, which should help amplify his 33.2% hard-hit rate and 40.3% fly-ball rate. The guys batting in front of him should also allow him to rack up plenty of runs batted in.
Trumbo will never be perfect with his 24.2% strikeout rate, but he should be a usable asset this season. His projection is for 21 home runs over 544 plate appearances, which I would likely view as his floor in the new park. For the price, Trumbo is a mighty intriguing selection.
Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
Projected Home Runs: 27 | ADP: 207.5
Once he got shipped out of the hitter-friendly Miller Park, I swore off Khristopher Davis in re-draft leagues for 2016. It just didn't make sense to target a power-hitter who was seeing such a dramatic drop in home-run park factor. The public has adjusted enough, though, to put Davis back in play.
Davis finished last year with a 34.4% hard-hit rate and 40.3% fly-ball rate, lending legitimacy to his 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances. There's no way that he'll keep that rate up in Oakland, but he's also not going to dissolve completely, either.
Davis is right about where he should be with his ADP. His 27.7% strikeout rate sinks his batting average and gives him a low floor, and the park in which he plays restricts his upside. That said, he's still a guy who can fill that power void on your roster if you're searching late.
Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles
Projected Home Runs: 19 | ADP: 212.9
Now we start to dive a bit deeper, but we're still looking for many of the same things. In Jonathan Schoop, we find a great park factor, hard-hit rate, and fly-ball rate. What's not to love?
As you could have guessed based on his ADP, there's plenty not to love. Schoop walked in only 2.8% of his plate appearances last year, meaning he'll likely never find himself hitting too high in an order. He had the seventh-highest swing rate of all players with at least 300 plate appearances last year and just a 71.5% contact rate. That's the bad. But the good mentioned above also applies, making Schoop a high-upside pick at little cost for this year.
Domingo Santana, Milwaukee Brewers
Projected Home Runs: 17 | ADP: 221.3
Remember that checklist of concerns of Schoop? Most apply to Domingo Santana, too. He just happens to be in an even better park with more power and a higher walk rate. I'm in love.
Between Triple-A for both the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros last year, Santana compiled a .333/.426/.573 slash with 18 home runs in 411 plate appearances. He also struck out 26.3% of the time, but you can accept that if he posts numbers anywhere close to those.
With Davis now in Oakland, Santana's path to playing time is much clearer. Before sustaining a neck injury earlier this spring, he had been hitting near the top of the order, and he's likely to hit at least in the top five. Even with the concerns, this is my favorite sleeper on the board for this year by a pretty healthy margin.
Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
Projected Home Runs: 13 | ADP: 224.6
We've been down this road before. Marcell Ozuna torpedoed many a roster last year, yet here we are. Let's try it one last time.
It's hard to give up on a guy who hit 23 dingers two years ago in his age-23 season. Last year was brutal with his extended demotion to Triple-A, but after Ozuna returned, he showed that the potential he had in 2014 still exists.
Over those 172 plate appearances from his return to the end of the season, Ozuna cut his strikeout rate to 20.9% while recording a 36.5% hard-hit rate and 36.5% fly-ball rate. If he had posted those numbers over the entire season, he'd likely be a top-100 pick. Instead, he's only owned in 21.1% of ESPN leagues. I know we've been burned before, but the signs are there that this could be a major bounce-back for a former budding superstar.