2024 Fantasy Baseball: Polarizing hitters that will make you think twice about playing checkers

By | March 9, 2024

Fantasy baseball is a game of opinions, and differing opinions. And with some specific players, the debates will be passionate and divisive.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

We’ll examine some of the more polarizing hitters today; We’ll meet the pitchers next week. There are no easy answers with this team, but the challenge is part of the fun. And hey, you can be wrong about sitting at the draft table and still have a profitable year.

You just have to be a little sharper than your opponents.

Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B, Yahoo ADP 34.2

If category juice is all you care about, jump to the 13 home runs and 35 steals that De La Cruz posted in just 98 games last year. Unfortunately, the pitchers seemed to catch up to Elly in the second half (.191/.272/.355), and he hit a paltry .184/.231/.263 against lefties. De La Cruz was buried in the lower third of the order for the last month of the year.

De La Cruz is far from a finished product: he turned 22 in January. And the thefts are not a fluke; he’s probably the fastest player in baseball, and he’s on a team that wants to run aggressively. But the Reds have a crowded infield, and they weren’t afraid to push De La Cruz to the bottom of the lineup when he lost his way late last year. There’s a non-zero chance that De La Cruz will need more minor league players at some point this year (note: he scored a third of the time last season), which is why I’ll never consider him at his current ADP consider bag. I get it, the top is beautiful. But I also need some depth with those early choices.

Adley Rutschman, C, Yahoo ADP 42.8

This is a commentary on the depth of the position, not the player being discussed. When I look at Rutschman, I see a future MVP – he’s probably the player Matt Wieters was touted to be. But the depth at the catcher position makes me hesitant to pay the freight on Rutschman’s current ticket, not when I can take someone like Willson Contreras over 120 picks later in an average Yahoo league.

Also consider that the new dimensions in Baltimore have turned Camden Yards into a pitcher’s park. Considering last year’s park factors, Oriole Park is down 5% and beating home runs by 9%.

Kyle Schwarber, OF, Yahoo ADP 66.1

The Industry drafters of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) did not reach a consensus on Schwarber. The lanky lefty was selected as high as 61st overall, and occasionally slipped outside the top 100. His ADP was stuck in the 83 range, which is almost two rounds ahead of his Yahoo ticket.

Schwarber was promoted last year as a southpaw who could take advantage of the anti-shifting rules, but that didn’t happen: his average fell below the Mendoza line. He also lost those surprising ten steals from the previous year. Even if Schwarber gets some luck (his expected batting average was .220 last year, after all), he’ll be a big drain in that column. He’s also unlikely to steal anything from you.

I’m not saying you can not draft Schwarber, but don’t do that at the current Yahoo ADP – and if you land Schwarber, you can’t draft another batting average drain with a similar profile.

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Yahoo ADP 55.4

Here’s another player who split the rooms in TGFBI, with a max slot of 36th overall and a max drop of 70th overall. I was able to get Bellinger closer to his sticker price, which put him in 51st place.

Re-signing Bellinger with the Cubs is the key to the puzzle; he doesn’t have to move to a new city and deal with the stress of moving. It’s common for high-priced free agents to initially cave when pressed to justify a big deal in a new city; Noted industry teammates Glen Colton and Rick Wolf have been beating that drum for years. We saw this kind of slump plague Trea Turner in early 2023, and it hindered Marcus Semien the year before.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Sara Sanchez recently posted an interesting dive into Bellinger’s comeback year, a peak defined by a lower strikeout rate, but also a curious dip in some hard-hit numbers. The statistics show that Bellinger adjusted his approach when he fell behind in the counting; when two hits were scored, Bellinger shifted the power to the side and concentrated on putting the ball in play. It’s an old-school approach that may look strange in today’s hacking world when you connect, but it makes me feel like most of Bellinger’s wins in 2023 are repeatable.

Mike Trout, OF, Yahoo ADP 49.7

Here’s another case where TGFBI’s (ADP: 62) market behavior differs from Yahoo trends, and I think it’s wise to pay attention to this gap.

Trout has become an injury-prone player in the second half of his career (needs at least one IL trip baked into his projection), he’s no longer interested in stealing bases, and his batting average can’t climb above .300 are projected. longer. And the surrounding hitters in Anaheim are downright depressing; the three batters surrounding Trout in the current batting order all have ADPs outside the top 500.

We need to separate name-brand value from the undeniable decline phase of a superstar; While player growth is not always linear, player decline almost always is. Let’s not pay too much for a player who is clearly on the down escalator.

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