As we get closer to the start of the season and drafts are picking up, everyone keeps hunting for the bargains at the end of the draft. Power is more scarce than it used to be, so if you can find 20 home runs during the endgame, you’re doing pretty well. But what about late-round players who have an outside chance at 30 homers? I’m not claiming the following guys will certainly reach that mark, but given their likely draft value, they could produce a nice profit. Their ADP is in parentheses.
Pedro Alvarez (304)
The Risk: It goes without saying that he can’t field well, and he doesn’t hit for average. He doesn’t hit against lefties, though at least he’d come out on the higher AB side of a platoon. A GB% spike in 2015 dampens his power potential a bit if it continues.
The Reward: He’s can be exclusively a DH, so Baltimore doesn’t have to worry about his offense and pull him early from games. Camden Yards is a lefty’s dream for hitting homers. In 2015 he did okay against LHP in terms of BA, though it was a tiny sample size of 62 AB.
The Verdict: If you’re lacking power by round 20, he’s worth a flier. I’d have a short hook for him, but no one has ever questioned his power output. Even at last year’s metrics, if he nets a bit more playing time, he easily reaches 30 HR.
Mikie Mahtook (495)
The Risk: He doesn’t have any plate patience, and his contact rate is bordering the scary zone. He doesn’t have much of an MLB track record yet. The Rays outfield is crowded, so full playing time isn’t likely.
The Reward: He displayed great power in his cup of coffee. He can sustain a high FB% and HR/FB%. He hits the ball hard, and his speed will help him at least get on base if he doesn’t hit it over the fence.
The Verdict: I think in the long-term, Mahtook will put up a 30 HR season. For 2016, however, the playing time issue makes him too risky to draft unless you’re in an AL only league. That said, put him on your watch list and monitor the playing time in Tampa.
Luis Valbuena (342)
The Risk: He never gets full playing time, with a career high of 478 AB. It’s always hard to assume a career high HR/FB can carry over to the next season. Like many players, he struggles against same-handed pitchers, so platoon is always a possibility. A low BABIP deflates his chances of hitting for average, which could also affect his playing time.
The Reward: He suffered from a very low BABIP in the first half, but he turned it around in the second half. He improved his hard hit rate in the second half. He maintains a decent enough FB% to set a good floor for HR, even if his high HR/FB can’t repeat.
The Verdict: With Lowrie gone, Valbuena should get the chance to be the starter at third base, so he’s worth picking up. The Astros aren’t as bad as they used to be, and he may continue to be eligible at multiple positions. If he can avoid falling flat against lefties, and if he can net 500 AB, then there’s a good chance he sets a new career best in homers.
Mitch Moreland (233)
The Risk: He has never reached 500 AB, primarily due to health. He has a higher GB% than I like for power hitters. He has a higher ADP than anyone else in my article, so he’s a bit less of a bargain.
The Reward: He does have the power potential, with 2013 and 2015 showing strong a HR/FB%. He has a hard hit rate above average despite the GB%. Napoli (as a righty platoon partner) is gone, and his backup at first (Ike Davis) is also a lefty, so he’ll get his chance to play.
The Verdict: I really like Moreland for 2016. Yes, the health risk is evident, but 30 home runs is within reach as early as this year. He makes a solid CI options.
Justin Smoak (507)
The Risk: He isn’t likely to net full playing time unless someone gets hurt. He’s a failed prospect, so there’s some stigma to his value. His FB% is on a three-year decline. He doesn’t hit for average, though he shouldn’t get any worse in BA.
The Reward: He has legit power, with a high HR/FB that he sustained all season. An unlucky BABIP in the second half may have hurt his chances a bit, but it could easily rebound in 2016. He’s the only lefty option at 1B for Toronto.
The Verdict: I would like to make sure he’ll get at least a platoon role before I invest, but there’s a chance he’s finally figured it out. With Encarnacion and Bautista already in the lineup bashing homers, there’s a chance Smoak could add another 30 HR bat if he has a hot start and earns the starting gig.
Colby Rasmus (307)
The Risk: A horrible contact rate kills his BA and hurts his chances. Career low in hard hit rate in 2015. He should be a starter, but he may not reach 500+ AB. The Astros won’t tolerate a completely empty power bat (see Chris Carter’s non-tender).
The Reward: He has three straight years of HR/FB in the 17-19% range. He hits plenty of fly balls to keep his chances for home runs high. A good walk rate boosts his value in OBP leagues and helps keep him in the lineup. Has avoided bad platoon splits in two of the last three seasons.
The Verdict: I like his chances in 2016. The Astros are playing to win, and Rasmus is a veteran who was signed to a one-year deal, so my bet is he’ll play. His first 500 AB season could easily net him 30 HR.
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