Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (ADP #51)
He was a disappointment last year despite posting a 105 wRC+ as a 20-year-old rookie seeing his first big league action. Of course, that’s because the expectations were so high after the super prospect hit .381 across the minors as a teenager the season before. Guerrero walked more times than he struck out during his minor league career, and while that’s against obviously weaker competition, no major league hitter would be expected to bat .380+ in the high minors right now.
Guerrero doesn’t provide steals and may eventually have to move to a full-time DH role, but this is a special prospect with an “80” hit tool (and 80 raw power, as the homers are going to come in bunches once he further adjusts his increasing launch angle. In fact, his average HR distance last year — 418 feet — ranked fourth in MLB, one spot behind Mike Trout).
Rogers Centre is among the league leaders in boosting home runs for right-handers, and Guerrero is slated to hit third or cleanup this season behind intriguing young hitters who are also on the upswing. The ball has a special sound when it comes off Guerrero’s bat, and while I’m hardly the only one hyping him, I have Vlad ranked not only ahead of Kris Bryant (ADP #44) but also Anthony Rendon (#20), whom fantasy managers are buying high despite him changing leagues and going from one of the best hitter’s parks to one of the most favorable for pitchers (and Vlad being 10 years younger).
It's only a matter of when, not if, Guerrero wins his first batting title. He won’t ever be this cheap in fantasy drafts again.
Victor Robles, Washington Nationals (ADP #77)
There was some concern after Robles required an MRI last week on his oblique, but he’s since returned to action (and recorded a steal over the weekend). Hopefully, that just makes him more affordable. Robles has ugly Statcast numbers (his Hard Hit% was in the bottom 4% of the league last season), but at 22 years old and with fewer than 630 career ABs, there’s a good chance he starts hitting the ball harder in the future (he’s a career .300 hitter in the minors).
Steals are at an absolute premium in fantasy leagues right now (I’ve bumped Starling Marte up to my OF7), as THE BAT (and ATC) projects just six players to record at least 30 stolen bases this season (Steamer projects just four), and among those six, Ronald Acuna and Trea Turner are the only two also projected to hit more homers than Robles.
In other words, here’s a young player who provides the scarcest hitting commodity while not being a negative in the other categories (like most base stealers) who should also benefit greatly from playing in arguably the second-best hitter’s park in baseball. I have Robles ranked ahead of Austin Meadows (#35), who plays in one of MLB’s best pitcher’s parks, doesn’t offer the same SB upside, and has an extensive injury history.
Franmil Reyes, Cleveland Indians (ADP #136)
He’s coming off a season in which he hit 37 homers in fewer than 500 at-bats while playing 50+ games in Petco Park. Reyes no longer has to worry about playing time, now locked in as Cleveland’s DH, which should also help keep him healthy (and he’s still OF eligible). The 24 year old finished top-five in baseball last season in average exit velocity and Hard Hit%, so there’s a strong chance at a run at 45+ homers while not killing your batting average. Reyes is slated to hit fifth in the Indians’ lineup behind OBP monsters Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez, so his modest draft cost is dumbfounding. I have Reyes as a top-25 outfielder, ahead of the much pricier Ramon Laureano.
Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (ADP #145)
Another young power hitter getting underrated at draft tables for no apparent reason other than having never done it for a full season before, Sano hit 34 homers over just 105 games last year to go along with a 125-RBI pace (over 600 ABs). He posted a 143 wRC+ after the All-Star break, should have an easier time staying healthy now moving to first base with the Josh Donaldson signing, and possesses legit 50-homer potential.
Target Field boosts batting average and run-scoring, and Sano finished No. 1 in Barrel% and Hard Hit% and No. 2 in exit velocity among all hitters last season, so his ADP is comically low. I have Sano ranked ahead of Matt Chapman (#98). Bet on him to win the HR title at 100/1(!) and I strongly suggest you “reach” for him in fantasy drafts.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (ADP #227)
He’s on the downside of his career, but Posey presents a buying opportunity for those who wait to address the dire catcher position (which you should). Posey’s feeling better physically further removed from hip surgery and with scar tissue now finally healed, and some power started to return in spring. San Francisco moved its fences in during the offseason, which will also help Posey, who hits to all fields and is the rare catcher who bats toward the top of a lineup and doesn’t destroy batting average. I’m still treating Posey as an easy top-10 fantasy catcher.