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Players to Target for AVG/OBP (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

Players to Target for AVG/OBP (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

Do not forget about batting average (or on-base percentage) in your fantasy baseball drafts. That seems obvious and easy enough, but it bears repeating. The offensive ratios are just not as enticing to chase as upside in homers and/or steals. In a categories-based format, however, all the stats count the same.

The following five players, which can be found at various points of drafts based upon current ADP, have proven plenty capable of solidifying the AVG and OBP columns for fantasy managers in recent years. There is little reason to believe that they cannot do it again in 2022.

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Freddie Freeman (1B – FA): ADP 19

Freeman may be currently homeless in the actual baseball world, but he almost certainly will not be by the end of round two in fantasy drafts. The longtime Atlanta first baseman and 2020 N.L. MVP is one of the most consistent performers at the plate that the game has to offer.

Freeman has hit .300 or better in five of the last six seasons and finished at .295 in the other (2019). Over that span, the five-time All-Star has utilized his all-fields approach, keen eye, and line-drive swing to post an overall .305 average and .399 OBP. Finishing at .300 last year was especially impressive, as he uncharacteristically struggled to even hit his weight during the season’s first two months. From June 10 on it was a different story, as Freeman hammered his way to a .342/.418/.542 slash line across 440 plate appearances.

Ketel Marte (2B/CF – ARI): ADP 78

Health issues limited Marte to only 90 games in 2021. When he was in the lineup for the otherwise hapless Diamondbacks, the versatile switch-hitter was regularly getting it done with the bat, as evidenced by a .318 AVG and .377 OBP. Those strong numbers are standard fare going back to the beginning of the 2019 season. Marte’s strikeout rate did rise a bit last year, but so did his hard contact and ability to go the other way. He did not require much protection to perform well in 2021, so do not let that be too much of a concern in 2022.

Anthony Rendon (3B – LAA): ADP 107

Rendon is a prime bounce-back candidate. He is also the biggest question mark of the group here. Before batting a meager .240 over 58 games during an injury-plagued 2021, the two-time Silver Slugger had posted a .307 AVG and .399 OBP in more than 2,000 plate appearances from 2017-2020. In those four years, Rendon hit better than .300 three times and surpassed a .400 OBP three times as well.

A hip issue that led to surgery is believed to be the culprit behind much of Rendon’s weak output last season, but that is expected to be behind him by the start of spring training. The injured hip definitely played a role in the sudden dip in his overall power profile. Given his track record as well as station among lineup mates such as Mike Trout (CF – LAA) and Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH – LAA), Rendon is a potentially great value.

Yuli Gurriel (1B – HOU): ADP 197

Even following a batting title, Gurriel barely resides inside the top-200 overall in the early going. The now 37-year-old had a big breakout in 2019 then became a major letdown for investors during the pandemic-shortened 2020. The 30-homer power did not come back in 2021, but the batting average (.319) and on-base percentage (.383) did, in career-best fashion. Now through five full MLB seasons, Gurriel has hit at least .291 in four of them. He is in a nice draft spot and even better lineup position in the middle of a deep Astros offense.

Michael Brantley (OF – HOU): ADP 217

Another piece of that deep Astros offense, Brantley is simply a professional hitter. He’s little more than a single and double machine these days, but that is certainly effective for keeping AVG and OBP up in fantasy leagues. The veteran outfielder has hit .299, .309, .311, .300, and .311 respectively over the last five seasons in what has been a remarkably consistent run since turning 30 years of age. Brantley should continue to get on base at a high clip from the top-third of the Astros batting order, so he could provide additional value in runs.

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