Safe Veteran Players to Target (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
You’re lying comfortably in your bed, about to enter your third sleep cycle, enjoying the dream you are having about Spring Training starting up. Your team is about to deploy their new up-and-comers that are leaving you optimistic for the future of the organization. All of a sudden, your alarm clock blares and you smash the snooze button. That compares to everyone’s thoughts about the veteran staples that have held down the fort for so long. It’s time to wake up and realize that these players are, indeed, still valuable for your fantasy rosters!
In this article, I am going to highlight one veteran player at each position that you should consider drafting in your league. Each one holds significant value that can be the reason why you are hoisting up your league’s championship trophy at the end of the season.
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Omar Narvaez (C – MIL): FantasyPros ADP – 300.6
2021 Stats: 445 PAs, .266/.342/.402, 11 HR, 54 R, 49 RBI
Narvaez was a late-round darling entering the shortened 2020 season but disappointed a lot of fantasy managers after only posting a 59 wRC+ and striking out over 30% of the time. Since then, he has been overlooked and avoided.
However, he was able to turn it around in 2021 by cutting the strikeout rate almost in half and sporting a .266 average in a good Brewers lineup. Narvaez is not going to produce insane exit velocities, but he will continue to put the ball in play consistently. That is supported by his career BABIP of over .300.
He is a consistent catcher that will provide your lineup with a solid average and enough power to man the starting catcher position in fantasy for this upcoming season.
Yuli Gurriel (1B – HOU): FantasyPros ADP – 209.4
2021 Stats: 605 PAs, .319/.383/.462, 15 HR, 83 R, 81 RBI
At 37 years old, Yuli Gurriel just won the American League batting title. If that does not scream “safe” at this point in your drafts, I do not know what to say.
Hitting in one of the stronger lineups in baseball, Yuli is a strong source of batting average as well as a decent source of power, runs, and RBIs. A true four-category contributor that can be impactful for fantasy rosters in any format.
If you decide to skip over the upper-tier options at this position, Gurriel is a safe fall-back option to man first base in 2022.
Jonathan Schoop (1B,2B – DET): FantasyPros ADP – 243.2
2021 Stats: 674 PAs, .278/.320/.435, 22 HR, 85 R, 84 RBI
For years, Schoop has been one of the more consistent options at the position in terms of providing you with a little thump. In addition to this, he gives you a little extra help by coming with eligibility at first base as well.
Coming off another solid year for the Tigers, many will point to his career-low slugging percentage of .435, and the lowest ISO of his career since 2014 at .157, as signs to avoid him entering his age-30 season. I am not one of those people.
With the improvements to the Tigers lineup heading into 2022, I see Schoop as another reliable option for counting stats at a position that does not have many providers. He has been consistent throughout his Major League career, and it is hard to imagine him not continuing to produce going forward.
Eduardo Escobar (1B,2B,3B – NYM): FantasyPros ADP – 201.6
2021 Stats: 599 PAs, .253/.314/.472, 28 HR, 77 R, 90 RBI
Entering the first season of his freshly signed 2YR/$20M contract with the New York Mets, Eduardo Escobar finds himself in a prime spot to continue to be a reliable option for fantasy managers in 2022.
He is now going to be hitting in the heart of, what should be, one of the better lineups in baseball. Escobar should continue to provide his new ball club with solid counting stats and look to build off the 2021 season that saw him post a career-high 34% HardHit%.
At near pick 200, Escobar’s multi-position eligibility makes him a safe fall-back option for you at the position.
Brandon Crawford (SS – SF): FantasyPros ADP – 212.0
2021 Stats: 549PAs, .298/.373/.522, 24 HR, 79 R, 90 RBI
2021 was a career resurgence for Crawford, so much so that it netted him a contract extension with the Giants after it looked like they were ready to move on from him in free agency.
It is tough to imagine Crawford reproducing the numbers that led him to receive the new contract, but knowing how well the Giants have been able to turn around players near the end of their careers, we shouldn’t count him out entirely.
He is sure to be penciled into the lineup nearly every day, as there is no real threat behind him to take away the playing time. His career .299 BABIP, paired with him improving on his ISO two years in a row, should net you plenty of stability at the position.
Charlie Blackmon (RF – COL): FantasyPros ADP – 212.6
2021 Stats: 582PAs, .270/.351/.411, 13 HR, 76 R, 78 RBI
Entering his age-36 season, it is no secret that Blackmon is toward the tail-end of what has been a solid career for the Rockies OF.
2021 was the first season of his career that he posted an OPS+ below league average, which has led to the lowered projections for the 2022 season. However, we now have the universal DH.
Blackmon seems to be the ultimate benefactor in this lineup with his age and the emergence of Connor Joe (1B,LF – COL) at the end of last season. This allows for him to focus more on hitting, which will set him up as a steady source of average at this point in the draft. He also still plays half of his games in Coors Field, and that is, in itself, a huge advantage.
Charlie Morton (SP – ATL): FantasyPros ADP – 91.6
2021 Stats: 185.2 IP, 3.34 ERA/3.18 FIP/1.04 WHIP, 216 K, 58 BB
No matter how consistent he is, Charlie Morton continues to be a great value in all drafts, even if he is going above pick 100.
His production over the past seasons should have him, ideally, going almost 30 picks higher. Yet here he is providing you with ace numbers, while you take him as your SP2, sometimes SP3, in your draft.
Morton has a strong track record and solid underlying numbers to support all of the production he has had as he enters his age-38 season. Many might worry about the injury he sustained to his arm late in the World Series, but he should be ready to go once Spring Training starts in 2022.
With the amount of risk associated with taking some of the other pitchers in this range of the draft, there is no safer option than Morton, and I find myself taking him anywhere I can.
While everyone might be looking for the next young phenom to try and make an impact for them in fantasy, you cannot overlook all of these safe options that have continued to provide great value over the past couple of seasons.
Stop hitting that snooze button. Wake up and realize that sometimes the “boring” player just might prevail.
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Cristian Crespo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Cristian, check out his archive and follow him @CCres_26.