As baseball is finally getting underway, so is your fantasy baseball preparation. Spreadsheets, player profiles and mock drafts is what makes March great for us baseball fanatics. Many hours go into preparing for the big day: draft day. Seemingly every year, some players slide under the radar. I have comprised a list of six players that I have found that are extremely under valued going into 2016 drafts.
I use ESPN for fantasy baseball, as I feel their writers and their website in general, does the best job. That’s not to say the other sites do a bad job. This is just personal preference of mine. I took a look at their consensus top 300 rankings and came up with my list of six players ranked outside of their top 100 that I’m specifically targeting. I’d be willing to draft all of these a guys a round or two earlier than where they’re projected to be drafted.
Now, I realize four of the six players have one thing in common: injuries. While constructing rankings like this, you do have to factor injuries into the equation. However, when players are affected this much in the rankings, their upside significantly outweighs their cost, and that’s the name of the game when drafting. Here’s the list in order of their ranking:
Anthony Rendon, Washington Nations, 2B/3B (ranked 142) – This is the ranking that blows my mind the most. This time last year, Rendon was a top 20 player coming off a season where he finished 5th in the National League MVP voting. Now, because he had an injury riddled season, he ranks outside of the top 10 in both of the 2B and 3B rankings? Rendon, still only 25, is hitting atop one of the better lineups in baseball, in my opinion. He has Bryce Harper hitting behind him. He hits for power, average and will likely steal double digit bases. He’s a superstar and will be on all my teams this upcoming season.
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, 2B (203) – This isn’t the same MVP caliber player we saw a few years ago. While injuries limited Pedroia to just 93 games, he still hit 12 home runs and hit .291 in that span. That’s three more dingers than he hit in 160 games in 2013. So to think his skills are declining is just flat out incorrect. He doesn’t offer the stolen base potential like he used to, but to think the career .299 hitter is the 20th best 2B option is just ridiculous. Pedrioa offers fantastic value when you’re in rounds 19-20.
Michael Conforto, New York Mets, OF (254) – Probably my favorite sleeper pick coming into this upcoming season is Conforto. I have no statistical evidence to back up my gut feeling, but just watching Conforto hit in the short time he was in the majors last season, I can just tell he’s going to be a good, if not great, hitter. He should quickly move up in the lineup and I can absolutely see him hitting 20+ home runs and driving in 80+ RBI. All that without killing you in batting average. And he’s ranked outside of the top 250 overall? Sign me up.
Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals, OF (266) – I can see this as being the one player on this list that people are not on board with. Holliday, now 36, is coming off a career low 4 home run season. While I believe his decline was injury related, some may argue it’s his age. There’s no telling who’s right or who’s wrong at this point in time. Holliday is essentially going undrafted based on his ranking. He’s been as consistent as consistent can get over his career. Like Conforto, if you can get at least 20/80 in the last few rounds of your draft, it’s hard to beat the value.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins, OF (273) – The once top prospect maybe the most forgotten man of them all. Buxton, who was also riddled with injuries, did not leave a good first impression while getting his first real playing time in the majors last season. My response, an obvious one, is that even the great Mike Trout struggled in his first stint in the majors. Now, I’m not saying Buxton is going to produce like Trout. It just shows you that all great players aren’t necessarily great right away. Buxton has all five tools. He may not reach his full potential this season, but, 10 home runs and 30 steals is not out of the question. He may have the most upside for his cost of any play in baseball, and because of that, I’m fully on board.
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies, SS (567) – OK, so this might be cheating a tad. The Story ranking is based upon the uncertainty of the potential suspension of Jose Reyes. After seeing the suspension given to Aroldis Chapman, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Reyes gets some type of a suspension. If, or when, that happens, Story gets a huge boost in value. The youngster combined for 20 homers and 22 steals in both AA and AAA last season. Any player that has 20/20 potential immediately has value. Add the fact that he plays short stop and gets half his games at Coors, you’re getting an absolute steal here. If your draft occurs before Reyes’ suspension is announced, keep Story in mind.