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Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Willy Adames, Pete Alonso, Manny Machado, Kyle Schwarber

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Willy Adames, Pete Alonso, Manny Machado, Kyle Schwarber

Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is a commonly used metric among the fantasy baseball community as an indicator of how lucky a player was over a period of time. The league average BABIP tends to be between .280 and .300. That said, it can be influenced by several factors, such as a player’s speed, hard-hit percentage and line-drive percentage. Because of this, comparing a player’s career BABIP to their BABIP over a shorter period is an apt comparison.

Unlucky Hitters: Draft or Fade?

Willy Adames (SS – MIL)

As an owner of plenty of Willy Adames shares in 2023, I feel your pain. Adames’ .217 batting average, 24 home runs and 80 RBIs was decent but certainly didn’t live up to his preseason hype. He most likely didn’t recoup the price tag you paid for him last season. That said, there are reasons for optimism going into this season after a poor showing in 2023.

Some may remember that Adames was struck by a foul ball early last season, which may have caused him to never really get back into the swing of things. His .259 BABIP was also well below his career norm of .310 as well. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a fully healthy Adames get back to hitting .240-.250 with 25-30 home runs. Adames is also in a contract year, so he has plenty of incentive to get back on track this season. He’s one of the few guys I’m more than happy to take a shot on later in drafts.

Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)

I’m a big Pete Alonso fan heading into the season. Alonso’s home run total has climbed every season over the past three years and he is heading into the last year of his contract. Some may look at Alonso’s .217 batting average last year and scoff, but there is reason to believe it can creep back up toward his .251 career average.

His .205 BABIP in 2023 was well below his .259 career BABIP and his approach didn’t change much at all. Although his strikeout rate ticked up a bit, his walk rate did as well. His barrel rate also increased by a few percentage points last year. I’m banking on Alonso going on to hit between .240-.250 and hitting 40-50 home runs in 2024.

Manny Machado (3B, DH – SD)

Manny Machado has been known for his consistency. In 2023, despite his batting average falling to .258, he was still remarkably consistent in other areas. He still hit 30 home runs, had 90 RBIs and scored 75 runs. This might not have lived up to his early-round price tag but Machado has established himself a solid floor heading into his age-29 season.

As expected of an All-Star in his prime, Machado continued to make subtle adjustments to his approach but his overall plan has stayed the same. He walked slightly less last season but also struck out a little less. Machado’s swinging strike rate remained above 11% for the second year in a row — chalk that up to him trying to be too aggressive and compensate for an otherwise underwhelming performance from the Padres lineup last year. His .268 BABIP in 2023 should run closer to his .298 career average in 2024.

Kyle Schwarber (OF, DH – PHI)

Kyle Schwarber is someone I can never get behind drafting because of how boom or bust he is. Indeed, he’s one of the few players that offers one true attribute: Power. In 2023, Schwarber eclipsed the 45-home run mark for the second season in a row, which led to 104 RBIs and 108 runs scored. Not too bad.

Where Schwarber lacks, however, is in his batting average. He hit a mere .197 in 2023 and has a career .227 average. Although a .209 BABIP weighed on his average, his .258 career BABIP suggests he has limited batting average upside. It wouldn’t be surprising if Schwarber got the average back above .200 again. Just be aware that Schwarber is prone to prolonged slumps and tends to make up for those slumps over short periods.

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