You should already know to target Jose Altuve. I think he returns first round value and I am all over the round’s worth of discount I’m getting in 2019. I just wanted to get that out there.
I’m not suggesting you skip over Altuve in favor of any of the following players. Don’t be crazy. But in case your draft doesn’t go as planned, consider some of these later options who can fill the void admirably.
NFBC ADP: 81.31
Jonathan Villar was a much better player following his trade to Baltimore. He outperformed his first half numbers just about everywhere, despite playing over 30 more games with the Brewers in 2018. He will get a ton of playing time with the Orioles, and remains one of the few options out there with legitimate 50-steal upside.
NFBC ADP: 123.75
His ADP is artificially deflated at the moment because of early drafts. However, people are still using this ADP as a crutch, assuming the field is doing the same. In the month of January, his ADP has skyrocketed to 76—almost three entire rounds—as he’s going at the beginning of Round 6 now. At Coors field, Murphy is one of the most probable players to bat .300 this coming season. Here is a complete list of players that batted .300 or better last season that are going behind Murphy in drafts: Scooter Gennett, Michael Brantley, Ben Zobrist, Jose Martinez, Joey Wendle, and Corey Dickerson. This entire lists lacks at least one of the following: track record, consistency, and assured playing time. Stolen bases get all the hype for being scarce and batting average does not. Steals might be more scarce but batting average is more top end loaded in the first three rounds. If Murphy plays 140+ games, there is still a lot of room to profit from this selection.
NFBC ADP: 127.13
Full disclosure: Matt didn’t have time to get his blurb in, but I know he likes Odor as some Javier Baez arbitrage...so I’m taking the liberty of telling you what I like about Odor. I dig that he is only 24 years old, which just seems nuts when you type it or say it out loud. A year ago the Fake Teams staff all cited Odor’s probable return to a favorable BABIP as a reason to buy-low. Odor rewarded our thoughts with a .305 BABIP and a palatable .253 batting average. With a full slate of games, he’s a threat to hit 25 homers and swipe double-digit bases. I don’t think he has the upside of Baez, but I think he’s a quality second base target in a heck of a hitting environment due to the heat out in Texas.
NFBC ADP: 132.85
Cano’s PED suspension last season has probably left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, which is good for those of us who want a chance to draft the 36-year-old second baseman. Right now he is being drafted as the 11th second baseman off the board. This should return a lot of value, as there were no signs of declining skill sets last season. In his short stint in the Majors in 2018, he was one of only 15 players to have at least 100 batted ball events and a hard contact rate above 50.0% (according to Statcast). He is still a high contact, low walk rate hitter who should thrive with his new team in New York.
NFBC ADP: 220.07
I listed Marte as my “sleeper” in this week’s State of the Position. I like that he is slated to bat atop the order in Arizona. I like that the Diamondbacks will need to “manufacture” some runs to compete, too. Marte’s healthy 9.3% walk rate and minuscule 13.6% strikeout rate should allow him to wreak some havoc on the basepaths. He is a sneaky source of speed, as last year’s 28.7 ft/sec sprint speed was on par with speed mavens like Christian Yelich and Ozzie Albies. He also had a robust .177 ISO last year, which was backed by some gains in hard contact and barrel percentage. He improved his chase rate to above-average and his 6.4% swinging strike rate was elite. The ONLY knock on him is his poor launch angle and corresponding hefty ground ball rate, which will probably be around 50% in 2019. But the leadoff spot, the speed, the hard contact, and the overall skills have me excited to lock Marte into as many rosters as possible in 2019. He’s got a bench bat price but starting-caliber skills.
Ian Kinsler, Padres (Mark Abell)
NFBC ADP: 368.20
After battling a few injuries last year, Kinsler is now in San Diego (who could be a sleeper team...for a fourth straight year). Kinsler is projected in the 300s, so for a very low pick you can have the potential that he reverts back to a 75+ run, 75+ RBI type of player with the potential for a .275+ average. He is a disciplined batter and that alone typically falls in his favor.
That was a heck of a list of targets, if I do say so myself. Remember, draft Jose Altuve. But if Heath is in your draft and you miss out, hopefully the above options can help to salvage your day!