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Fantasy Baseball Second-Year Player Draft Primer: Hitters (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Second-Year Player Draft Primer: Hitters (2024)

Young players are all the rage. We are coming off of one of the best seasons in recent memory for rookie players to emerge and play a big part in the fantasy landscape. A year later we need to take a look at the crop of last year’s rookie to see who may have a sophomore slump and who may take another step forward.

Fantasy Baseball Second-Year Player Primer: Hitters (2024)

Corbin Carroll (OF – ARI): NFBC ADP 4.82

Carroll is coming off of a massive rookie campaign where he hit .285/.362/.506 with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases in 645 plate appearances. Carroll was the top prospect in baseball before his call-up and did not disappoint. He made fantastic contact in the zone and showed amazing speed in the field and on the basepaths. He is an elite option and has a great argument to go in the top three of fantasy drafts.

Elly De La Cruz (SS/3B – CIN): NFBC ADP 21.08

Cruz burst onto the scene in June hitting .325/.363/.524 with four home runs and 16 stolen bases in his first 135 plate appearances. However, he then struggled, hitting .191/.271/.355 with nine home runs and 19 stolen bases in the second half. The tools are flashy. De La Cruz has a ton of speed and plenty of power, but he strikes out at an enormous rate which makes him a risky bet to produce even a league-average batting average. There is a ton of upside in the profile, but the floor is very low especially on a stacked offense like the Reds that could afford to send De La Cruz to the minors if he struggles.

Gunnar Henderson (SS/3B – BAL): NFBC ADP 29.58

Henderson is coming off of a great season in which he hit .255/.325/.489 with 28 home runs and 10 stolen bases. He struggled out the gate hitting .201/.332/.370 with five home runs and two stolen bases, but was great after that hitting .276/.332/.534 with 23 home runs and eight stolen bases. However, not everything under the hood was not perfect. Henderson struggled versus lefties hitting .209 against them during the season. While it seems unlikely that the AL Rookie of the Year would lose playing time, he needs to improve against southpaws in order to take his game to the next level and this is a steep price to pay for a guy that hurts you against left handed pitching.

Nolan Jones (OF/1B – COL): NFBC ADP 57.83

Jones hit .297/.389/.542 this past season with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 424 plate appearances. Power has never been in question for the former prospect, but he showed some surprising speed on the base paths. It is hard to believe that he will steal that many bases again, but he definitely could push 10-15 stolen bases in 2024. The big question is the batting average. He was very lucky on balls in play, running a .401 BABIP which is well above the league BABIP of .297 and above the Rockies team BABIP (which typically runs high because of the thin air and larger outfield in Colorado) of .315. Some normalization of Jones’ BABIP should cause his average to drop a fair amount. He is being drafted off of the breakout, but I think there is some bust factor at play here for him.

Matt McLain (SS/2B – CIN): NFBC ADP 61.42

McLain is coming off of a nice season in which he hit .290/.357/.507 with 16 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 403 plate appearances. McLain had his season cut short by injury, but when he was on the field, he was a fantastic five category performer. He was a bit lucky with the BABIP at .385 so I would expect some regression, but he hit second or third in every single game he played and should continue to do so on one of the best young teams in baseball.

Josh Jung (3B – TEX): NFBC ADP 100.02

Jung had a very underrated season in which he hit .266/.315/.467 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI. Jung has pretty much no speed, but in spite of missing time with an injury, he showed a good amount of power and decent contact skills. I think there is a future 30/100 season at some point for Jung though he needs to show a little better health to get there after two seasons in a row that he struggled with injuries.

Spencer Steer (1B/2B/3B/OF – CIN): NFBC ADP 104.45

Steer is coming off of a great rookie season in which he hit .271/.356/.464 with 23 home runs and stole 15 bases in 665 plate appearances. Steer showed really nice plate skills in the process, striking out at a 21% rate and walking 10% of the time. The only issue for Steer is the playing time. While you would expect that he should play every day, the Reds were already loaded before signing Jeimer Candelario. The signing of Candelario pushes Steer to the outfield where the Reds aren’t as stacked, but still have TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Jake Fraley. I think he still has a full time role, but if there are struggles, he could lose time.

Triston Casas (1B – BOS): NFBC ADP 110.18

Casas is coming off a season in which he hit 24 home runs and 65 RBIs with a .263/.367/.490 triple slash. He had a truly weird season as Casas struggled in the first half, hitting .225/.330/.398 with nine home runs, but the skills were actually really good with a good chase rate, decent contact skill and a ton of power in the bat. He was a clear buy low at that point. So when he broke out in the second half and hit .317/.417/.617 with 15 home runs it wasn’t very shocking. However, the skills under the hood completely fell apart. His zone contact dropped to an atrocious 78% and the exit velocities dropped in spite of the power spike. He was lucky with the BABIP with a .365 and the HR/FB at 26.8%. The problem is I don’t know who the real Casas is. I tend to believe that he is a mixture of the halves. When the story doesn’t make sense like this it often means that the profile is too risky to bet on.

Yainer Diaz (1B/C/DH – HOU): NFBC ADP 115.80

Diaz is coming off of a brilliant rookie campaign where he hit .282/.308/.538 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI in just 377 plate appearances. Diaz was the second catcher last year, but benefited from getting DH and 1B at bats especially when Yordan Alvarez was injured. This year Diaz is the the No. 1 catcher and will still have chances to pick up extra plate appearances when Alvarez is hurt or needs days off. He has the opportunity to be a 30 homer catcher which is hard to find especially when he also can hit for average at the same time.

Anthony Volpe (SS – NYY): NFBC ADP 131.98

Volpe is coming off of a really interesting rookie season in which he hit for power with 21 home runs and stole 24 bases. However, at the same time he hit .209/.283/.383 in 601 plate appearances which really hurt his value. Volpe has a better hit tool than he showed and he did get unlucky on balls in play, but he also struck out too much. I think Volpe is a really nice gamble at his price, but he is a gamble because of the average downside.

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