ADP Draft Values: Yahoo

There are many great values to be had in Yahoo drafts this season.

Yahoo is a popular site for more casual players looking for 10-team and 12-team leagues. I still enjoy playing a couple of Yahoo leagues in addition to some National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) leagues because my introduction to fantasy baseball came in the form of daily moves leagues, a common format on Yahoo. Those who play fantasy hoping to take home some cash winnings may also like Yahoo, as they typically only charge a 2% management fee to join their prize leagues.

While Yahoo is a good place to play, its in-house rankings and average draft position (ADP) data often diverge noticeably from what you may see on NFBC or what projection systems might recommend. Sharp drafters can exploit this to build strong teams that give them the best chance at taking home the gold. Below are seven players who are great values in Yahoo drafts for standard 10- or 12-team leagues (R, HR, RBI, AVG, SB, K, W, SV, ERA, WHIP) regardless of whether the league is a head-to-head or rotisserie format. I compare Yahoo’s rankings and ADP data to NFBC ADP data from 32 RotoWire Online Championship (12-team) leagues (OCs) drafted from March 1 to March 10. All cited stats are from 2023 unless otherwise noted.

1. Spencer Strider (SP, ATL, rank 10, Yahoo ADP 10.2, NFBC ADP 6.4)

While a 4-pick discrepancy may seem insignificant, it is not in the first round. Strider is the consensus SP1 this year for fantasy, largely because he pitches for an excellent team (20 wins in ’23) and is guaranteed to stockpile Ks whenever he is on the mound (281, 44 more than any other pitcher). Last season, Strider dominated hitters with an overpowering fastball (58.9% usage, 5.51 PLV, 15.6% SwStr%). But, his slider (5.04 PLV) was used primarily as a chase pitch (35.2% Zone%, 22nd percentile) and didn’t do well when batters put it in play (43.9% ICR, 19th percentile). This has him searching for a third meaningful offering, as the change-up has failed to emerge as one. It could be the curveball that he has been tinkering with this spring.

Whether the curveball ends up being just a differently-shaped slider or a distinct offering, managers can expect at worst a repeat of Strider’s 2023 campaign (3.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 20 W, 281 K) barring injury. Strider is better positioned than any other SP to be an elite contributor in three categories. If his ERA this season aligns more with his estimators (3.12 PLA, 2.92 xFIP, 2.85 SIERA), either due to better luck or the addition of another pitch, he could easily return a top-5 ERA. This would make him the top SP by a wide margin and return huge value for managers.


2. George Kirby (SP, SEA, 43, 49.3, 37.5)


Those who miss out or pass on Strider in round one in favor of stocking up on hitters would do well to draft Kirby in the late 30s or early 40s to be their ace. As a control artist (2.5% BB%, leading all qualified pitchers) with a deep arsenal (4 pitches with at least 10% usage), Kirby gets it done much differently than Strider. His consistent ability to pound the zone and get outs makes him a strong rotation anchor. Kirby was one of only 13 qualified starters to average at least 6 IP per start last season (190.2 IP in 31 starts). He can be expected to accumulate more volume as he enters his age-26 season, putting him in a position to get more wins. This also makes Kirby a great asset in quality starts (QS) leagues. Kirby is going on average a full round later in Yahoo drafts than in OCs. Drafters who select Kirby as their ace or SP2 will be freed up to take risks on high-upside arms in later rounds because of the stability his profile offers.


3. Seiya Suzuki (OF, CHC, 111, 124.2, 106.3)


Suzuki took a big leap last year, his second full season in the big leagues since coming over from NPB. He improved in nearly every facet, including walk rate (9.4% to 10.1%), strikeout rate (24.7% to 22.3%), chase rate (24.5% to 22%), ICR (38.6% to 45.4%), and xwOBA (.314 to .349). Suzuki finished the season incredibly strong, posting a .313/.372/.566 triple-slash (149 wRC+) and clocking 13 of his 20 homers in 67 games after the all-star break. I expect this strong showing to continue into 2024, where Suzuki will continue to hit in the heart of a deep Cubs lineup. I believe that players like Suzuki, who are strong contributors in every single category but not elite in any of them, are often underrated by drafters who chase upside or look for eye-popping figures in a given category. But, championship teams have steady contributors too, and Suzuki’s per 600 PA production to date in his MLB career is as follows: 75 R, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 9 SB, .275 AVG. That will play outside the top 100, and a repeat of 2023 for Suzuki would yield better numbers in every category aside from steals.


4. Andrés Muñoz (RP, SEA, 118, 128.0, 86.2)


Muñoz might be my favorite bargain on this list, as he’s going over 40 picks later (!!) in Yahoo drafts than OCs. Some of this discrepancy can likely be attributed to closers being pushed up in OCs, which have an overall prize component, but this is a steal nonetheless. Muñoz is going as RP9 in OCs but RP15 in Yahoo leagues! The skills are obvious, as his K% (31.8%), CSW% (36.4%), and GB% (58.6%) all ranked above the 90th percentile last season. A pitcher who gets a lot of Ks while keeping batted balls on the ground can be counted on for quality innings year in and year out.

The main knocks on Muñoz are his health and control, as he has only eclipsed 50 IP once in the big leagues and posted a 10.4% BB% last season. However, these deficiencies are already factored into the RP9 price. Muñoz is poised to enter the season as the unquestioned closer in Seattle given the Matt Brash injury news, so he should rack up a ton of saves on a team known for playing close games and relying on their excellent bullpen.


5. Bailey Ober (SP, MIN, 149, 168.9, 124.7)


The Yahoo rankers can’t be blamed for this one, as drafters are selecting Ober 20 picks later than where Yahoo rankers have him and 45 picks later than he’s been going in recent OCs! Perhaps drafters are thrown off by a 2023 season that saw Ober get optioned to the minors amid an otherwise successful campaign (144.1 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). Ober posted these strong numbers despite an average fastball velocity of only 91.3 MPH because his height (6’9″) and delivery allow him to create excellent extension (7.3 feet, 96th percentile), creating deception whereby his fastball gets on batters quicker than they expect. Ober also boasts an incredible change-up as his primary off-speed pitch (28% usage, 5.54 PLV).

Because of Ober’s extension, it’s always been clear that a spike in fastball velocity would do wonders for his development. That is exactly what we’ve seen this spring. Ober averaged 93.6 MPH on 17 fastballs on March 2 against the Phillies and 92.8 MPH on 18 against the Yankees on March 9. Drafters should monitor if this velocity improvement holds as Ober continues to build up his pitch count and pounce on him in the top 150 of drafts if it does.


6. Shōta Imanaga (SP, CHC, 219, 199.6, 167.3)


While most of the hype surrounding international players coming from overseas this offseason was centered around Yoshinobu Yamomoto and Jung Hoo Lee, the 30-year-old southpaw Imanaga could be the best return on investment of the three for drafters. He inked a four-year, $53 million contract with the Cubs in January and is expected to slot behind Justin Steele in their rotation. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from Imanaga given that he has yet to throw an inning in MLB, but he is a risk worth taking in shallow leagues, as the replacement level of waiver wire players is much higher than in deeper formats. Imanaga’s best offering is a riding fastball with excellent vertical break and approach angle that should play well at the top of the zone. He also, like so many talented Japanese pitchers, features a splitter in his arsenal that will help neutralize right-handed hitters. Yahoo drafters should target him from pick 170-190, which is a great discount for an arm ranked 32nd in Nick’s 2024 Top 400.


7. Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, PIT, 185, 208.7, 166.9)


It feels like fantasy analysts predict a breakout season for Hayes every year, but he has consistently failed to establish himself as a premium fantasy option at the hot corner due to a lack of power (33 HR in 1576 career PAs). Things finally started to look up for Hayes in ’23, as he began lifting the ball more (13.2 average launch angle, a career-high) en route to a 15-homer campaign, which was more than double his previous career high. Hayes’ season last year (65 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, .271 AVG) was enough for him to finish as 3B19 according to the Razzball player rater despite only playing 124 games. Hayes is currently going as 3B21 on Yahoo, so drafters wouldn’t even need to see any improvement from him to get value at the current price. If Hayes can replicate last year’s work over a full season’s worth of games, he should finish inside the top 15 at the position and outpace alternatives like Jake Burger (170.9 Yahoo ADP) and Justin Turner (177.1). Our own Scott Chu has him as 3B17 heading into the season, making him a good option for your team’s corner infield or utility spots.

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald is a Staff Writer for Pitcher List's fantasy team. He is an alum of Vassar College, where he pitched on the baseball team and studied economics and political science. Patrick is an avid O's fan and head-to-head fantasy baseball player (roto remains a work in progress).

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