Draft Prep: 10 Underrated Hitters To Target In Your Drafts

When you’re going into your draft, you may be tempted to reach for certain players or wait on certain players. These are ten players I think you should reach for,...

When you’re going into your draft, you may be tempted to reach for certain players or wait on certain players. These are ten players I think you should reach for, ten hitters that I believe are being drafted too low. I’ll provide you with where they are currently being drafted, along with where I think they should be drafted.

Note: ADP is from Fantasy Pros and based off a 12-team league.

Robinson Cano (going in mid-3rd, take in 2nd): Robinson Cano proved last year that the past two years were not who he really was. Granted, it’s not like he was terrible the past two years, but the power had dropped significantly. Then, he goes and hits 39 home runs last season and you have to wonder if that’s legit. I believe it is, I think Cano’s figured things back out and is back to being a big power hitter. Now, I don’t think 39 home runs is going to happen again, but I think 25-30 is perfectly reasonable. His HR/FB rate may have elevated last season (19.3%), but it’s honestly not all that far off from his career number of 14.5%. Cano should have a really good average, good power, and a real chance at another 100/100 season, I think he’s worth reaching for.

Carlos Gonzalez (going in late-4th, take in 3rd)People understandably get nervous whenever they see Carlos Gonzalez, and I get it. I owned him during the injury-plagued years, I know how frustrating that was, and yes, now he’s 31, but I think he’ll be fine. CarGo had two very different years, a 40 home run, .271 year and then a 25 home run, .298 season. The real CarGo, I think, is somewhere in between, and I think that player could be very valuable. He’s being drafted in the late-5th round and I think he’s worthy of a third-round grab, though obviously if you can get him later, even better. Players like Rougned Odor, Yu Darvish, and George Springer are all going ahead of him and I think he’s far more valuable than them.

Adrian Beltre (going in mid-6th, take in late-4th/early-5th): Adrian Beltre is 37 and everyone thinks that, for some reason, he’s just going to hit a wall and stop being good. But he’s not. He still has excellent plate discipline, and he showed that he’s still got some power last year. The past two years, his power had dipped quite a bit, but it shot back up, making you wonder, is it real? I think he’s being drafted so late because of his age and people wondering if last year was legit. Well, it was legit. The past two years are what wasn’t. Last season, Beltre’s fly ball rate and HR/FB rate were higher than the past two years, which might scream fluke, until you see that they’re both more in line with his career average. He also saw an increase in hard hit rate and a decrease in groundball rate. He’s real. And I don’t think you should just let him fall in to the seventh because he’s old. He’ll be fine, and if you wanna grab him in the late-4th/early-5th, do it.

Mark Trumbo (going in 7th, take in 5th/6th): Mark Trumbo was a nice surprise last season, and I think a lot of people are looking at that and saying “yea buuuuuut there’s no way that was real.” It was real though. I’m not expecting another 47 home runs, but Trumbo definitively changed his swing in Baltimore, it’s more compact with a lot less wasted movement, and that, along with the fact that he started sitting on fastballs more, generated more power leading to career-highs in hard-hit rate, fly ball rate, and HR/FB rate. I understand the hesitation, I really do, and I’m not saying expect last year all over again, but I think he could get close. Right now he’s being taken after players like Todd Frazier, Carlos Martinez and Billy Hamilton, and I would take him over all of those guys.

Carlos Santana (going late 9th, take in 7th): Everybody hates Carlos Santana for some reason. By far one of the players our site is really high on, I don’t know why anyone thinks Carlos Santana isn’t valuable, especially if you’re in an OBP league. If I had to guess, I think people looked at the 34 home runs last year and laughed and laughed and said “yea ok that’s not happening again.” I’m not here to tell you that 34 home runs is happening again, but I am here to tell you that that’s closer to legit than not. Santana improved his swing a lot, and it resulted in increases in hard-hit rate, HR/FB rate, fly ball rate, and a decrease in soft-hit rate and groundball rate. He might not hit 34 home runs, but I bet he hits at least 30, and with a batting average around the .250s. Players like Jose Bautista and Khris Davis are being drafted ahead of Santana, and I think he should be drafted higher than them, especially in OBP leagues.

D.J. LeMahieu (going in 8th, take in 7th): The dude his .349 last year. That’s awesome. What caused that? Well a fair amount of it was BABIP, which was an insanely high .388, but it was also thanks to better plate discipline. LeMahieu saw a decrease in strikeout rate and whiff rate, and an increase in walk rate. He also finished the year fourth in the league in contact rate, seventh in contact rate in the strikezone, and 11th in contact rate outside the strikezone. Basically, D.J. LeMahieu just kept hitting the ball and he didn’t stop. Now, .348 isn’t happening again, but LeMahieu can hit .300-.310 pretty easily with the potential for 15-20 steals and 10ish home runs (with potential for more). He’s worth reaching for in the seventh to make sure you have him, he’s going to be good.

Maikel Franco (going in 12th, take in 8th/9th): While Maikel Franco doesn’t walk a ton, he doesn’t strikeout a ton either, and that’s odd for a power hitter like him. That plate discipline, I think, will get better, and with it, his skills will continue to increase. Franco is only 24, he’s got the time and the ability to become an excellent power hitter. He saw an increase in hard-hit rate and fly ball rate last year along with a decrease in groundball rate. He’s hitting the ball better, and I think he’ll continue to do it. The average dropped a bit last year, but I think that was partially due to the drop in BABIP as well. If he bats .270 with 25-30 home runs, 75-80 runs and 90 RBIs, that’s well worth an 8th or 9th round pick rather than a 15th. If you want to wait til later than the 8th or 9th because you think you can get him later, go ahead, but I think he’s worth the reach.

Victor Martinez (going in 16th, take in 10th): V-Mart may be old, but he’s far from dead. Now 38, V-Mart had an excellent season last year, hitting .289 with 27 home runs. Yes, he’s aging, and yes there’s injury concerns, and yes, the DH-only position is difficult to deal with, but Martinez is someone worth working with because his production will still be excellent. He had probably the worst year of his career as far as plate discipline goes, but it was still better than the majority of major league hitters, which really says something about how good Martinez actually is. Usually a decrease in plate discipline is the first sign of a decline for older players, but V-Mart’s elite contact ability and above average power ability make him still a worthwhile add, even if we’re seeing him decline. He’s got a good floor, and 20-25 home runs with an average in the .270s-.280s make him worth the grab in the 10th round.

Kole Calhoun (going in 13th, take in 10th/11th): Kole Calhoun saw a drop in power last year but an increase in average, thanks a lot to his improved plate discipline. However, despite the drop in power, his hard hit rate shot up from 28% to 35.3%. If he maintains that hard hit rate, along with the improved plate discipline, the home runs will normalize (and by that I mean increase), and he’ll be a high-.260s/low-.270s hitter with 20+ home runs and 80 runs and RBIs a piece. That’s worth a snag in the 10th or 11th round.

Travis Jankowski (Undrafted, take in last few rounds): At this point, Travis Jankowski is going undrafted in standard leagues, and I think that that’s a mistake. As of right now, Jankowski will likely start and lead off for the San Diego Padres, and if that happens, he’s a high-upside player. I understand the people who look at him and say “oh he just gets steals,” but he’s more than that. Yes, Jankowski’s greatest asset is his speed, and he could easily steal 35-40 bases, but leading off for the Padres, he could also get like 60+ runs. The RBIs won’t really be there much because of the Padres lineup, and Jankowski’s average will probably be like .250, so it won’t kill you but it won’t help. That being said, especially in an OBP league (his walk rate shot up last year), Jankowski is worth a late-round grab, if for nothing else but the speed.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

One response to “Draft Prep: 10 Underrated Hitters To Target In Your Drafts”

  1. Max says:

    Go WIZARDS BB! John Wall 4 MVP

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