Dave Shovein examines and breaks down his mid-to-late round targets in fantasy drafts and looks around the league in Monday's Offseason Lowdown.
Get Your Guys: Mid-to-Late-Round Targets
Every year I preach to the masses to make sure to go and get your guys in every fantasy draft that you participate in. Don't be reined in by perceived “value” or by groupthink ADP that says a particular player “should be” going in a particular range in the draft. If you believe in a player and think that he will deliver a profit from a certain point in the draft, then go and get him. There's no worse feeling than missing out on your guys because you decided to wait a round too long – only to see them dominate on a competitor's team for the duration of the season.
I am supremely confident in my ability to assemble a competitive fantasy baseball roster. I trust my instincts on draft day and generally have a good feel for the market and where my targets should be going on draft day. I know, generally, how far I need to go up in the draft to get my biggest targets and I'm not afraid to go out on a limb to do so.
I'm also quite proud of my ability as a fantasy baseball analyst. Being able to parse data and trends to determine which particular players represent tremendous values at their current prices and then being able to relay that information to our loyal readers here in an easily digestible manner. In doing so though, there's always a bit of a catch-22. I want to be able to provide those reading this article with my entire playbook. I want to be able to identify my personal targets and players that I'm going to actively be looking to acquire on draft day. I want all of our readers to perform well in all of their fantasy baseball drafts and I hope that I'm able to provide at least a few nuggets of useful information to help them achieve that goal.
The dilemma is that this is all public information, and there's absolutely nothing to preclude those who will be drafting against me in my biggest leagues to read through the information that I've put out there and use it against me. I enter every fantasy baseball season with the goal of being the best – winning the premiere contest in the fantasy baseball industry, the NFBC Main Event. While I have had success in that format – and have four Main Event league titles on my resume – I have always fallen far short of the overall title. As a player, it would likely benefit me more to keep all of that information to myself – especially players that I will personally be targeting in that draft – as my direct competitors could easily find this information and if they're targeting any of the same players they could use that information against me.
I do take my role here incredibly seriously though and really want to give the best and most actionable advice to all fantasy managers as they prepare for their own drafts. To be honest, I struggled with what to write in this space this week and with what direction I should take this article. I truly believe though that the best information that I can give is to dive deeper into some of my personal targets and give the reasons that I'll be jumping them up draft boards as we get deeper into March. If that winds up coming back to bite me in the end, then so be it.
Javier Baez - SS - ADP 166
One player that I've been ahead of the market on since the very beginning of the draft season is Javier Baez. In my first draft of the year back in October, I waited and plucked Baez off the board at pick 99 – and he still represented a value on my board at that point. Suffice it to say, I was way higher on him than the market eventually bore out. Even though he has climbed a little in recent weeks, his ADP in NFBC Draft Champions drafts over the month of March is still pick-166 with a max of 133. If we look only at Online Championship drafts in the month of March (which is a 12-team format), Baez falls to pick-180 on average with a max of 145. Obviously, if I liked him and thought that he was a value at pick-99, I would be thrilled to land him at either of those max picks or later. Yes, he struggled in his first year with the Tigers, but he made some changes to his swing late in the season and finished the season quite strong – slashing .293/.322/.509 with six homers, 20 RBI and a stolen base in September. He should also benefit from the changes to the dimensions at Comerica Park as well as the new larger bases. Yes, he strikes out too much and has volatility in batting average, but if Baez produces another 30/15 season – which he has done twice already in his career, and as recently as 2021 – he's going to deliver ample profit from his current draft day cost.
Reid Detmers - SP - ADP 196
Detmers is being considered a popular sleeper pick by many heading into 2023 drafts and he has already seen his ADP start to climb. That trend is likely to continue as we get deeper into March. That 196 ADP is from Draft Champions drafts in the month of March while he's even higher at 187 in Online Championship drafts during that time. After making changes to his arsenal after a mid-season demotion in 2022, Detmers was a completely different pitcher over his final 13 starts in 2022 – posting a 3.04 ERA, 1.295 WHIP and a 78/25 K/BB ratio over 71 innings. That's the player that you should be expecting the 23-year-old southpaw to be in 2023, and that guy jumps out as an unbelievable value at his current cost. His max pick in Draft Champions leagues in March has been pick-166 overall and that's much closer to where you'll need to go to get him in the next couple of weeks.
Joey Meneses - 1B/OF - ADP 219
I've always been a sucker for career minor leaguers that explode onto the scene after finally getting their first real opportunity, and Meneses is no exception. What makes the 30-year-old slugger different than many that have come before him though is the sheer legitimacy of his numbers. The Statcast numbers look good, the strikeout rate is minimal for a power-hitting corner infielder, the barrel rate is near 10% and his breakout looks to be a simple extension of his minor league numbers. The only area that screams regression would be in the HR/FB rate, though his actual home run output could still improve if he simply hits a few more balls in the air. I'm a believer in Meneses and am targeting him as my corner infielder in every league. I'm fine anywhere at or around pick 200 – and could go higher if I feel the need to acquire him. Of course, after he clubbed a pair of home runs against the United States in the World Baseball Classic on Sunday night, his price may finally start to rise.
Esteury Ruiz - OF - ADP 236
This one is a bit tricker. I absolutely love Ruiz as a player and think that he could be perhaps the biggest impact player drafted outside the top-75 picks overall. He has the potential to steal 80+ bases as long as he hits enough to remain in the lineup full-time – and could do so with double-digit home runs as well. He's the clearest bet of any player being drafted outside the top-75 to finish as a legitimate first-round performer this year. The problem with drafting him is two-fold though. One, to utilize a player with this skill set properly, you would have to plan on acquiring him and not overdraft stolen bases early in the draft. Secondly, there's always a team (or many teams) that have missed on stolen bases early in the draft and are willing to push Ruiz up several rounds in an attempt to make up that deficit. Rather than the average pick here, I'm looking at the max pick – which in the month of March in Draft Champions drafts has been pick 197. Depending on my team construction and need for speed, there are plenty of scenarios in which I'd be willing to go well beyond that price to get him.
Austin Meadows - OF - ADP 267
This is another one that I've been beating the drum on since the start of the draft season. Heading into the 2020 season, Meadows was a top-60 pick on average in the NFBC Main Event. We can all agree that his first season with the Tigers was a disaster. He battled injuries, illnesses and his own anxiety issues and it was a completely lost season for him. But let's not just assume that he's completely done for now – at the ripe old age of 27. He's a few years removed from a season in which he slashed .291/.364/.558 with 33 homers, 89 RBI and 12 stolen bases, so we've seen what the upside can be. He's going to play every day in the heart of the Tigers lineup and even a 20/10 season with solid counting stats would wind up providing profit at this cost.
Elvis Andrus - SS - ADP 292
If you would have told me prior to the 2022 season that Elvis Andrus would have a career resurgence and once again become a viable mixed league fantasy contributor, I would have called you crazy. If you would have told me that I would be actively targeting him in drafts the following year, I would have tried to get you committed. Here we are though. Andrus was absurdly good during his time with the White Sox in 2022 – hitting .271 with nine homers, 28 RBI and 11 stolen bases in just 43 games. He's locked in as their everyday second baseman heading into 2023 – and will soon carry two positions of eligibility because of it – and will return to the hitter-friendly confines of Guaranteed Rate Field. Is he going to extrapolate that ridiculous pace over a full season? Absolutely not. Can he hit 10 homers, swipe 20 bases and provide decent enough counting stats to be a rock-solid middle infield option at this stage of the draft? Absolutely.
Michael Massey - 2B - ADP 367
One problem that I'm already finding is that there are too many late-round middle infielders that I love, I may not be able to get all of them. For the price though, Massey might be my favorite one of the bunch. The 24-year-old is taking over as the Royals' starting second baseman heading into 2023 after hitting .243 with four homers, 17 RBI and three stolen bases in 52 games to end the 2022 campaign. He's not a Statcast darling by any means – as his exit velocity and sprint speed were slightly below average last season. What he is, is simply a baseball player. He had 16 homers and 13 steals over 87 games in the minors prior to his call-up in 2022 and I fully believe that over the course of a big league season he can be a 15/15 type of guy with a plus batting average. That has plenty of value at this cost.
Jace Peterson - 3B - ADP 488
Without looking, I'd venture a guess that Peterson is one of the players that I've already drafted the most this season. The reason for that, is that I can't fathom how he doesn't return a profit at this cost. The 32-year-old utilityman should get all of the work that he can handle for the Athletics and with his combination of power and speed he should be able to compile plenty of mixed league value when he's out there. Over the past two seasons with the Brewers, Peterson hit .241 with 80 runs scored, 14 homers, 65 RBI and 22 stolen bases over 630 plate appearances. He can be had right now with your 30th round pick at the end of a 15-team draft. He's also likely to add additional positions of eligibility throughout the season.
MLB Quick Hits: The Diamondbacks and budding superstar Corbin Carroll agreed to an eight-year, $111 million contract extension… The Nationals signed catcher Keibert Ruiz to an eight-year, $50 million contract extension… Fernando Tatis Jr. was scratched from the Padres starting lineup on Sunday due to a left knee contusion. He's considered day-to-day and tentatively expected to return to Cactus League action on Monday… Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (knee) ran the bases without issue on Sunday and will do so again on Monday before potentially being cleared to return to Grapefruit League action… Ronald Guzmán was pulled from Sunday's game due to a forearm injury and will undergo additional testing on Monday… The Mets placed Rule 5 pick Zach Greene on outright waivers… The Athletics released infielder Ernie Clement… Graham Ashcraft was pulled from Sunday's Cactus League start due to a cramp in his left calf. He's considered day-to-day… Bryce Montes de Oca was pulled from his Grapefruit League outing on Sunday with a forearm injury. He'll undergo an MRI on Monday… Starling Marte was pulled from Sunday's game after getting hit in the head by a 93 mph fastball. He passed his concussion tests, but he'll be re-evaluated on Monday to be on the safe side… David Peterson (foot) threw a successful bullpen session on Saturday and is expected to return to Grapefruit League action on Tuesday… Justin Turner had the stitches removed from his face on Sunday… Craig Stammen was diagnosed with a torn capsule in his right shoulder and told reporters on Sunday that he's unlikely to ever pitch again… Anthony Rizzo was scratched from Sunday's Grapefruit League contest due to back issues… Jordan Walker (shoulder) told reporters on Sunday that he's feeling fine and that the team is simply being cautious… Taylor Walls (oblique) is hoping to return to game action on Thursday… Nathan Eovaldi (side) will start in a Triple-A game on Monday… Jacob deGrom (side) will make his first start of the spring in a Double-A game on Monday… Joey Votto (shoulder) made his Cactus League debut on Sunday… Brandon Nimmo made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday… Yordan Alvarez (hand) hit soft toss in the batting cage on Sunday and told reporters afterwards that he felt good… Lance McCullers Jr. (elbow) threw a successful 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday… Matt Vierling (knee) hit in the batting cage and took fly balls on Sunday… Tyler Glasnow (oblique) continues to undergo treatment and has yet to resume throwing… Taylor Trammell (hand) is still three weeks away from starting to swing a bat… Mets' manager Buck Showalter told reporters on Saturday that he's confident both Kodai Senga (finger) and Brooks Raley (hamstring) will be ready for Opening Day… Nestor Cortes (hamstring) is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday against the Orioles… Harrison Bader (oblique) is expected to miss around six weeks due to his left oblique strain… David Villar was scratched from Saturday's Cactus League lineup due to left hip tightness… Joe Musgrove (toe) progressed to throwing off a mound on Saturday… Felix Bautista (knee, shoulder) is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday…Garrett Mitchell (hamstring) resumed hitting on Saturday… Nick Gordon (ankle) has resumed baseball activities… Mitch Haniger was diagnosed with a Grade 1 oblique strain and his availability for Opening Day is in jeopardy.