In some cases, a veteran player having a lower ADP comes down to injury history. Or, perhaps it’s due to worry about a decline in production. At any rate, it happens every year that some established players get overlooked in fantasy drafts. Sometimes the concern about injury or decline in production is both valid and validated at the end of the season. Sometimes, however, it’s not—leaving all sorts of value later in drafts for fantasy managers to take advantage of.
This year in particular, on the position player side of things, there are three veterans with lower ADPs who could easily outperform their current draft position: Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Justin Turner.
It’s not an intentional National League West deep dive, but all three seem to possess plenty of fantasy upside if their production in 2021 and overall track record are anything to go by.
(ADP data per NFBC.)
Brandon Crawford – 206.15 ADP
Shortstop is an incredibly deep position this year. Elite fantasy stars like Trea Turner, Bo Bichette, and Marcus Semien are among the top five players at the position. Further down the draft board, Corey Seager, Jorge Polanco, Bobby Witt Jr., Carlos Correa, and Chris Taylor are all going outside the top 11.
With all the marquee names, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how good Brandon Crawford was last season.
Currently, the 25th shortstop going in drafts, the 35-year-old was elite in both real life and in fantasy.
The veteran also chipped in with 11 stolen bases, and while that didn’t rank as highly among shortstops (it was tied for the 12th-highest) it further underscored Crawford’s fantasy value as a player who can contribute in at an above-average rate in a number of categories. He was one of just eight players last season to hit at least 20 home runs, steal a minimum of 10 bases and bat at least .290. The other seven are all fantasy stalwarts you may have heard of.
Brandon Belt – 225.28 ADP
During the 2020 season, Brandon Belt finished in the 96th percentile league-wide in barrel rate with a 16.8% metric. The number, in part, helped boost his power metrics. The first baseman’s previous career-high for home runs in a season was 18, but he connected on nine of them in only 179 plate appearances in 2020. Belt hadn’t topped an 11.5% barrel rate in his previous five seasons so it was certainly something to watch in 2021 with a larger sample size.
And while the sample size wasn’t quite a full season’s worth, it showed the power was very much here to stay as a part of the veteran’s game. In 381 plate appearances, Belt hit 29 home runs while batting .274 with a .378 on-base percentage, a .406 wOBA, a .323 ISO, and three stolen bases. Belt actually hit the 11th most home runs among all first basemen last season despite significantly fewer plate appearances than the players ahead of him on the leaderboard.
What’s more, his barrel rate actually improved from his 2020 metric, jumping to an even 17%.
Ideally, Belt would’ve had a full season’s worth of plate appearances in 2021 to continue mashing home runs. But, when he was on the field he produced. If you’re in the position in drafts where all the elite first basemen get drafted early, players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt, and Pete Alonso, and you want to wait for a first baseman after that, Belt is probably your best bet.
In fact, since the start of the 2020 season, longtime Giant has arguably been baseball’s most productive first baseman when he’s been in the lineup.
If he can log anywhere from 450 to 500 (or more) plate appearances next season, he’ll end up being one of the best value picks of the draft.
Justin Turner – 155.36 ADP
There are plenty of intriguing third base options for fantasy managers to choose from if they don’t draft one of the elite options in early rounds of drafts. After José Ramírez, Rafael Devers, Manny Machado, and Austin Riley, managers could go for the high-risk, high-reward play with Adalberto Mondesi or try and bank on a rebound season (at least from a home run standpoint) from Alex Bregman. Anthony Rendon is another rebound candidate to watch while Ke’Bryan Hayes could have a breakout year.
But, at least as of writing this, Justin Turner is being drafted after all those third basemen—13 of them in fact. And while that may make sense with some of the elite options, that Turner is the 14th third baseman going off the board with an ADP of 155.36 is surprising. Surprising to the point that this is very much a “value pick” type of situation given what the veteran brings to the table and his quality track record.
The third baseman is certainly someone to bank on where batting average is concerned. Since making his Dodgers debut in 2014, Turner has never seen his batting average dip below .275 in a single season. His .278 average last season was his second-lowest in his Los Angeles tenure but was actually the 23rd-best in baseball last season.
And this is all without mentioning leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring. Turner’s value should be even higher in those leagues, making him even more of a steal at his current ADP. Turner was one of just five third baseman to log at least 25 home runs and a double-digit walk rate last season. Crucially, he was the only one of the six who hit better than .270.
And while on-base percentage might not be part of every fantasy league’s scoring format, that Turner routinely turns in a quality on-base percentage brings some additional fantasy value in a stacked Dodgers’ lineup. Wherever he hits in the order, the 37-year-old should continue to cross home plate with regularity. Since the start of the 2020 season, only four third baseman – Ramirez, Machado, Devers, and Riley—have more runs scored.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)