8 Must-Have Players in the Later Rounds (Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 6, 2018

Christian Yelich’s offseason move to the Brewers is being undervalued

Everybody wants Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, and Trea Turner on their team. When it comes to the early part of a draft, those are the easy decisions. The harder part comes later on when you’re trying to figure out who the supporting cast will be that gets you to the top of the mountain.

With so many players to choose from, we reached out to our featured experts below to see who is on their must-have draft list. They’ve given us their picks at the hitter and pitcher positions. Find out why they expect the players below to perform above their price tag.

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Q1. Who is the one hitter outside the top 30 in hitter ADP you are targeting as a must-have on all your teams?

Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
Hitter ADP: #35 | Overall ADP: #51
“Yelich should not be going outside the top 30 hitters after his trade to Milwaukee, and I’m targeting him in every possible league. Marlins Park always had a drastic negative effect on Yelich’s power (18 career home runs at home, 41 on the road), and he now moves from one of the worst home run parks for lefties to one of the best in Miller Park. The Brewers have attempted the most stolen bases in the majors since Craig Counsell took over as manager, and the Milwaukee lineup is solid all the way through. A .300-100-25-100-25 season is well within the realm of possible outcomes for Yelich, and there is almost no downside.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“Milwaukee was extremely busy this offseason, not holding back before adding to an already-crowded outfield. The one they most recently added, however, is arguably the most impactful from a fantasy perspective. Christian Yelich is likely going to lead-off in a solid lineup and a hitter’s ballpark. The potential for 20-20 is there, and it might be closer to his basement than ceiling.”
– Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Tommy Pham (OF – STL)
Hitter ADP: #39 | Overall ADP: #57
“Getting Cardinals’ outfielder, Tommy Pham on my teams is a must this season. Right now, he is going 57th overall despite being a top 20 fantasy player last season. When Scott White of CBS Sports drafted him to start the 4th round of our TGFBI draft, the experts all slobbered over the pick and here’s why: 23 HR, 25 SB, .306 BA, 95 R in just 444 at-bats to go with gaudy batted ball stats that show his bat is no fluke. If Pham can stay healthy for a full season of plate appearances, he could go 30/30 with a near .300 batting average and 110+ runs.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Travis Shaw (3B – MIL)
Hitter ADP: #60 | Overall ADP: #89
“Shaw broke out of his platoon hitter reputation in 2017. Proving the ability to hit left-handed pitchers over the course of an entire season moved Shaw from a fringe-fantasy player to a universally-drafted player. He will be batting cleanup in a hitter’s park for a team that just added two major on-base threats (Cain and Yelich) to an already formidable lineup. There are better 3rd basemen on the board, but Shaw makes a stellar UTIL option.”
– Tim Young (Brewer Rat)

Nelson Cruz (RF/DH – SEA)
Hitter ADP: #37 | Overall ADP: #53
“I’ll love the start of any draft where I can get Nelson Cruz in the fifth round. Apparently, nobody learned their lesson with David Ortiz, because Seattle’s veteran designated hitter remains under-drafted despite hitting .287 with an MLB-leading 166 home runs over the last four seasons. Who cares if he doesn’t have a position? I’ll gladly lock a high average and 40 long balls into my utility slot.”
– Andrew Gould (Bleacher Report)

Q2. Who is the one starting pitcher outside the top 30 in pitcher ADP you are targeting as a must-have on all your teams?

Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #36 | Overall ADP: #136
“I will have eleventy-billion shares of Trevor Bauer this year. Bauer not only leaned more heavily on his slider in the second half last season which led directly to positive results, but he worked on it in the offseason to improve it. He’s one of the smartest pitchers in the game and has a fantastic arsenal, that he now appears to know how to deploy effectively. There’s still risk, of course, but he has at least 176 innings pitched in each of the last three years, is trending upward, and offers perhaps more upside than any other pitcher going in his range. He’s the type of guy who can be a league-winner if everything breaks right.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“The word is out on Trevor Bauer, so I’m going to have to pay up to buy some shares this spring. He found another level after last year’s All-Star break, posting a 3.01 ERA and 3.68 FIP with a 19.2 K-BB percentage. He upped his curveball usage to a career-high 29.8 percent in 2017, and the pitch induced a .558 OPS. This should finally be the year the 27-year-old realizes his potential with a sub-4.00 ERA while chasing 200 strikeouts.”
– Andrew Gould (Bleacher Report)

Mike Clevinger (SP/RP – CLE)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #59 | Overall ADP: #214
“As I write this, Mike Clevinger is being drafted outside the top 200. I’d be willing to bet you won’t be able to grab him outside the top 150 within a week since Terry Francona just announced he would be in the rotation to begin the season. Inning for inning, Clevinger was every bit as good as top 12 pitcher, Carlos Carrasco last season. Yes, he comes with a little risk, but he’s also got 3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 200 K, 15 win type upside and if you can get that in the 12th round, let alone 18th round, you’ve got to pull the trigger.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Marcus Stroman (SP – TOR)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #35 | Overall ADP: #122
“It may feel like Marcus Stroman has been around for half a decade, but because of his injury, he’s still relatively inexperienced. And at 26 years old, he’s still improving. The Blue Jays likely won’t challenge the Yankees for the division, but they should still be able to put up enough runs to give Stroman a respectable win total. He won’t give you the K numbers that the Scherzer’s and Kershaw’s will, but as a #3 or #4 pitcher, he should hold down your ERA as well as anyone.”
– Tim Young (Brewer Rat)

Michael Kopech (SP – CWS)
Starting Pitcher ADP: #81 | Overall ADP: #312
“I’m all for taking an aggressive approach in drafts, and grabbing the player other owners covet is a nice way to drive up an already inflated price. Michael Kopech may not be starting for the White Sox anytime in the near future, but his blazing fastball keeps making headlines. The hype will continue to build and, if you aren’t one for patience, draft him late and flip him for an immediate need. Otherwise, sit-and-hold. He will be worth owning shortly.”
– Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Thank you to the experts for naming their must-have players. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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