What the baseball are these players doing ranked so low? Below is a list of players who are ranked relatively low, according to Fantasy Pros’ consensus fantasy baseball rankings (Yahoo eligibility), that could end up being absolute studs. These are the guys you can find in the bargain bin that have absolute star potential.
Without further ado, here are your bargain bin studs.
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy
Remember this guy? Lucroy was almost unanimously considered as the second or third best catcher option behind only Buster Posey and, in some instances, Gary Sanchez going into the 2017 season. What a difference one season makes.
Look, Lucroy has some risk, there is no question about that as even Coors Field couldn’t help him in 2017. But he is currently ranked 13th at catcher and has proven he has the ability to be a top 3 performer. He racked up 24 home runs, 81 RBI while batting .292 back in 2016, quite the performance for a catcher. He has shown the ability to hit for decent power, strikes out at an extremely low rate, has batted .280 or better in four different seasons, and has played over 140 games in three of the past five seasons. The biggest concern I see for a 31 year old catcher who has played in a lot of games is his significant decrease in hard hit rate, dropping from 35.4% in 2016 to 22.3% in 2017. I should add that most of the decrease came at a medium rate, his soft hit rate actually decreased slightly.
He has some risk, but if you want the high upside player who could be a bargain bin stud, Jonathan Lucroy is your man.
First Base: Chris Davis
At first base you need power! Guess who has the second most home runs from 2012-2017? I probably should have asked that question before posting his name above… but yes, Chris Davis. Davis is currently ranked 22 at 1B according to Fantasy Pros, and has averaged 37 home runs per season over that span, twice eclipsing the 45 mark. This also includes two season in which he played in less than 130 games. The dude can knock the ball out of the yard as good as anyone, and you can get him for almost nothing.
There is risk here for sure. His 37% strikeout rate in 2017 is alarming and he has always been a streaky hitter. But if he can avoid a long DL stint and drop his strikeout rate back down to the 31% range, he could easily jump back into the top 1B tier. Even in a down year he managed a hard hit rate of 41.5%, 10th best in the league.
Second Base: Yoan Moncada
The top prospect in 2017, Yoan Moncada flashed his massive potential at various times over his 54 game stint last season. He also showed us glimpses of his downside, striking out a whopping 32% of the time.
The risk with Moncada is real, but so is the upside. If you are looking for a home run late in drafts at second base, Moncada is the way to go. His tools are legit, and he could easily produce a 20+HR/ 20+ SB season with a strong walk rate and decent batting average. He has stolen 40+ bases twice in the minors and has shown 25-30 home run power over a full season. He was able to keep his strikeout rate down to 27.5% in September and October to end the season, if he can maintain this rate for a full season there is reason to be excited. Moncada truly has top 5 upside this year at second base and is currently ranked way down at number 17.
Third Base: Rafael Devers
Third base was a little more challenging to identify a true bargain bin stud you could find late in drafts, but I believe Rafeal Devers is the guy. He came up for a 58 game stint last season and made a big splash with 10 home runs, a .284 AVG, and .819 OPS. Devers, like Moncada, was a highly ranked prospect who has shown big power potential to go along with a high batting average. Unlike Moncada, Devers struck out at only 17% or less for most of his minor league career.
Devers has the makings of a true star, but with much less risk of putting up a stinker. Currently ranked 15th at third base, he will come at a bargain price that could pay hug dividends. If you miss out on the big names don’t be afraid to pass up the middle picks and grab Devers later.
Short Stop: Javier Baez
This free swinging short stop has been able to keep his strikeout down below 30% for two straight seasons, a big accomplishment after his 2014 debut. Like everyone on this list, he comes with some risk, but as the 14th ranked short stop I believe it’s pretty minimal.
His primary risk is really just playing time. With Addison Russell, Ian Happ, and Ben Zobrist all still on the roster finding at bats could be a challenge at times. Of the four infield options, Baez has actually been the best option and should see the most playing time, allowing him to exceed 600 plate appearances for the first time in his career.
Baez possesses huge power for a short stop and should be able to swipe 20 bags. He’s held a nice .273 batting average over the past two seasons and should see even more playing time in 2018. Grabbing a 30 HR/ 20 SB stud as the 14th short stop off the board is a no-brainer.
Outfield: Adam Eaton
Most people would probably go with Ronald Acuna here as he seems to be the most obvious late round pick with top tier upside. I will go a different route and present to you the guy who was the lead-off hitter for one of the most potent offenses and was on a ridiculous 160+ scored runs pace in 23 games. Yes, 160! Adam Eaton has been a solid, safe fantasy option for a few years almost assuring you around 15 home runs, 15 steals, .285 batting average, and around 35-40 extra base hits through doubles and triples. Certainly not a stud, but still solid.
Take that same player and toss him into a much better lineup and you have a clear path to a top tier outfielder. Eaton is currently ranked as the 46th outfielder and he could easily post a similar line to the 19th ranked outfielder, Christian Yelich.
Outfield: Michael Brantley
Remember way back in 2014 when Michael Brantley had a 20 HR/ 20 SB season, with a .327 batting average and 45 doubles? Yea, it seems like a long time ago, but Brantley was an elite top 5 outfielder derailed only by various injuries. He has struggled to stay on the field, and, while it’s hard to be confident 2018 will be any different, that’s also why you can find him way down in the bargain bin as the number 88 ranked outfielder.
If he can stay on the field he has true star potential. If you take his 2017 season where he played 90 games and project that to 156 games (same total be played in 2014), the numbers aren’t to far off. Here is a comparison of his 2014 season and 156 game pace for 2017.
Surprising to most, Brantley actually had a solid year while he was on the field. Beyond the standard stats above, he still maintained an elite strikeout rate, nice walk rate, and had an almost identical hard hit rate as compared to 2014. This dude still has true 20/20 potential with a high average and limited strikeouts. Still not sold? Well, take a look at what the #14 (Andrew Benintendi) and #18 (Christian Yelich) ranked outfielders did in 2017.
I don’t know about you, but those numbers look well within reach for Michael Brantley. If you want to snag an outfielder with elite upside late, Brantley is your man.
Starting Pitcher: Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon is probably the riskiest option on this list. He missed a lot of time last year and is almost guaranteed to miss the start of the 2018 season. Exactly how much time he will miss remains to be seen, but the risk is definitely baked into his ranking, which is currently 67 for starting pitchers.
This is a low price to pay for one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league who should be able to pitch enough innings even with the injury. The potential here is elite, top tier talent and he has shown he can do it in the bigs before. Beyond the injury risk, he does walk way to many batters and has to improve his control.
There are not many pitchers ranked this low who have top tier talent. If you miss out on elite pitching, be sure to take a flier on Rodon in hopes that he has a big breakout.