2024 Fantasy Baseball Late Round Targets: Batting Average

Boost your batting average by taking these guys late in your drafts.

Batting average may be the most important of the hitting categories to shore up early in your draft. Those early-round hitters with solid batting average floors and guaranteed starting roles give your fantasy squad an incredible boost, but it’s incredibly easy to fall behind if you aren’t paying attention in those early rounds.

There are plenty of elite hitting options that could bottom out your team’s batting average. If you wind up pairing together some combination of stars like Matt Olson, Francisco Lindor, Marcus Semien, Luis Robert Jr., Elly De La Cruz, or Pete Alonso, you’ll likely be fighting an uphill battle. Sure, those guys are solid building blocks in other categories, but even with median outcomes, they won’t be a boost in the batting average department.

If you do find yourself in a batting average hole, there are a handful of late-round options who can help dig you out. For this article’s purposes, I’ll be defining “late round” as players with an ADP of around 200 or later. Let’s jump in and see which late options could be the difference-maker you need to gain back some batting average standing points.


Wyatt LangfordTexas Rangers, OF

ADP: 160 NFBC/256 ESPN/227 Yahoo!/155 CBS


The more I dig into Langford, the more I’m interested in getting him on a handful of my fantasy squads this spring. The fourth overall pick in last June’s draft has risen through the minor league ranks remarkably quickly and has a legitimate chance to open the season as the Rangers’ starting DH despite not even spending an entire year in professional baseball.

Langford just recently earned the second spot on both Baseball Prospectus’ and FanGraphs’ top prospects lists. The 22-year-old slashed a combined .360/.480/.677 in short stints at Rookie, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A last year, and he may very well have the most complete hitter profile of any prospect right now.

I typically err on the side of caution when drafting prospects, but Chris Towers of CBS Sports just did a great analysis of recent high-ranked prospects’ fantasy performances, and the top ones pay off more often than not.

If Langford opens the season with the Rangers or gets an early season call-up, he has league-winning upside. He has the tools to be a five-category contributor if he hits the ground running.


Steven KwanCleveland Guardians, OF

ADP: 212 NFBC/84 ESPN/213 Yahoo!/189 CBS


Yes, you’re reading that ESPN ADP correctly. I triple-checked it and still can’t believe he’s going over 100 picks higher on ESPN than other fantasy platforms.

For those of you not drafting on ESPN, Kwan is one of the best late-round batting average options in the draft. In his two full seasons, he’s posted a .282 batting average and has played 147 or more games each year. He’ll be a boon to your runs and stolen base categories as well, but that boost comes with a profile that will take a toll on your home run and RBI marks.

If you’re nearing pick 200 and have a good amount of power options already locked into your lineup, Kwan is a great complement to your team. THE BAT projections tab Kwan to finish 2024 hitting .280 with five home runs, 75 runs, 56 RBI, and 17 stolen bases.


Jung Hoo LeeSan Francisco Giants, OF

ADP: 250 NFBC/158 ESPN/225 Yahoo!/276 CBS


Another batting average-first player, another higher-than-normal ADP on ESPN. It seems to be a theme here, and you’ll see that with a few other players on this list as well.

Lee never posted a batting average below .318 during his seven-year career in the KBO, and although the average will likely come down against MLB pitching, Lee should still be a huge boost to your squad. Four big projection systems – ATC, THE BAT, Steamer, and ZiPS – all see Lee with a batting average of at least .285.

Giants’ manager Bob Melvin said he expects Lee to be the team’s leadoff hitter against both right- and left-handed pitchers, so he’ll rack up a ton of plate appearances and should score plenty of runs. He’ll leave you wanting more in the other fantasy categories, but if batting average is a sore spot, he should wind up as one of the best options this late in drafts.


Lourdes Gurriel Jr.Arizona Diamondbacks, OF

ADP: 223 NFBC/187 ESPN/224 Yahoo!/246 CBS


Gurriel entered last year with a .285 batting average through 1,800+ plate appearances. He kept his batted ball distribution nearly identical to years past and raised both his barrel and hard-hit rates, so naturally his batting average fell to a career-worst .262 in his first year in Arizona. That is the exact opposite reaction you’d expect to see with Gurriel making louder contact.

Last year’s batting average struggles seem largely due to Gurriel’s career-worst .282 BABIP, a mark 45 points below his previous average. If you run back his 2023 batted-ball profile again, the odds are his batting average would rebound to previous levels, and that’s exactly what I expect to see in 2024.

Aside from batting average, Gurriel should be a solid RBI contributor too. He racked up 82 RBI hitting in the middle of the Diamondbacks’ lineup last year, and with the additions of Eugenio Suárez and Joc Pederson, the team’s overall offensive output should only increase.


Vaughn GrissomBoston Red Sox, 2B/SS

ADP: 233 NFBC/244 ESPN/212 Yahoo!/265 CBS


Grissom getting dealt out of Atlanta this winter landed him in a prime fantasy position as the everyday second baseman for the Red Sox.

The 23-year-old has only had a small taste of MLB action, but he’s looked like he can hold his own against the world’s best pitching. He slashed .287/.339/.407 through 236 plate appearances split between 2022 and 2023, and his bat-to-ball skills look legit. His career 20.8% strikeout rate is a couple of points below the league-average mark. Playing his home games in Boston will be a big boost too, with Fenway Park having the third-best park factors for right-handed hitters.

The largest sample size at one level we’ve seen from Grissom was his time with Triple-A Gwinnett last year. He showed off in an extended stay there, slashing .330/.419/.501 with 8 home runs, 74 runs, 61 RBI, and 13 steals in 468 plate appearances.


Jeff McNeilNew York Mets, 2B/OF

ADP: 290 NFBC/160 ESPN/249 Yahoo!/254 CBS


McNeil’s career has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. In four of his six seasons, he’s sported a wRC+ above 130, but in the other two years, his wRC+ has been 100 or lower. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground for the Mets’ second baseman.

Since McNeil is coming off one of his down seasons, his ADP has fallen quite a bit from where it was this time last year. His ADP in February 2023 NFBC drafts was 174, over 100 slots higher than his current 290 going rate.

With that in mind, I really like taking McNeil in this range. Most of his indicator stats don’t show much of a regression from his fantastic 2022 season to last year’s dismal output. The notable change was McNeil putting the ball in the air more often.

Pulling the ball in the air more often is almost always a positive result for batters, but not necessarily for McNeil. Because he’s never been an elite exit velocity player, it seems like those balls in the air just lead to more easy outs. McNeil seems much better served to focus on lower launch angles and line drives. If he gets his batted ball profile back to 2022 levels, he should be a fantastic value late in drafts.


Brendan DonovanSt. Louis Cardinals, 2B/OF

ADP: 282 NFBC/259 ESPN/241 Yahoo!/258 CBS


In his first two seasons, Donovan’s put up a combined .283/.381/.398 batting line. Over that stretch, his 0.76 walk-to-strikeout ratio is the 11th-best in baseball among players with at least 800 plate appearances.

Donovan’s great on-base ability should cement him atop the lineup against right-handed pitchers, but he’ll either take a seat or get moved down the order against lefties. His multi-position eligibility is a nice boost to his fantasy profile, and there’s a good chance he’ll add both corner infield spots to his profile as the season goes on.

With a super-utility role, Donovan likely won’t get a full allotment of playing time making him a better option in leagues with daily lineup moves or NL-only formats.


Alex VerdugoNew York Yankees, OF

ADP: 303 NFBC/253 ESPN/242 Yahoo!/251 CBS


Last year was the first full season of Verdugo’s career where he posted a batting average below .280. His average slipped to .264 as his BABIP fell to .293 – 19 points below his career norm. There wasn’t any dip in batted-ball ball quality to explain the BABIP drop. In fact, his profile stayed remarkably consistent from 2022, and his .278 xBA was identical in both seasons.

For the first time in his career, Verdugo will carry some playing time risk entering 2024. The outfield in the Bronx is overcrowded. Aaron Judge and Juan Soto will start every day, leaving just one spot for Verdugo and Trent Grisham, and that’s assuming Giancarlo Stanton is the primary DH and not manning the other slot on the outfield grass.


Tim Anderson — Free Agent, SS

ADP: 429 NFBC/260 ESPN/260 Yahoo!/257 CBS


After posting batting averages above .300 for four straight seasons, Anderson had the worst possible season in 2023. He injured his knee in early April, missed nearly a month, and finished the season with a .245/.286/.296 batting line. His 60 wRC+ was the worst of any qualified hitter in the big leagues.

Anderson’s contact quality has severely dropped off in recent years – each of his barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and flyball exit velocity have tumbled in consecutive seasons. Don’t expect Anderson to get back to his 15-20 homer power level, but a bounceback in batting average is reasonable. If you believe in that even a little bit, Anderson could be a great batting average help this late in drafts.


Charlie BlackmonColorado Rockies, OF

ADP: 575 NFBC/258 ESPN/225 Yahoo!/607 CBS


No one can escape the aging curve, and we’ve seen it take its toll on Blackmon over the last few years. The once early-round pick is now going incredibly late in drafts if he’s even being selected at all.

Blackmon no longer offers much of anything in the counting stats department – he finished last season with eight home runs, 57 runs, 40 RBI, and four stolen bases – but there aren’t many other hitters going this late that can help your team’s batting average. He’s hit .270 since 2021, over 20 points better than the league average.

Despite his diminished skills, Blackmon will be the 3rd-highest paid Rockie this year, and I fully expect the team to give him all the playing time he can handle at 37 years old.

Photo courtesy of Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from every fantasy league format you can imagine to the unending greatness of Mike Trout. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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