We’re getting closer to Opening Day, but plenty of leagues still have their drafts between now and first pitch. If you’re among those still waiting to select their 2016 roster, consider the following bargain alternatives to some popular fantasy targets. All average draft position (ADP) data is courtesy of FantasyPros.
DRAFT: DEXTER FOWLER (188 ADP)
INSTEAD OF: SHIN-SOO CHOO (133)
Choo is a better bet to hit 20 home runs, but Fowler launched 17 himself last season and holds a significant edge in stolen bases over the past two years (31 to Choo’s seven). The two have virtually identical batting averages over that span, and Fowler’s position atop the Cubs’ stacked lineup should help him easily outpace Choo in runs.
DRAFT: ADAM EATON (111)
INSTEAD OF: MOOKIE BETTS (22)
Betts is younger, more exciting, and just more obviously talented than Eaton. But the pair produced eerily similar numbers in 2015, each hitting around .290 with 90+ runs scored and home run totals in the teens. They even had identical average batted ball distance as measured by Baseball Heat Maps. Long term, and probably even this year, Betts is the better option. You could get a good portion of his production from Eaton nearly 100 picks later, however. That would free you up to, say draft Chris Sale early instead of settling for somebody like Jordan Zimmermann later.
DRAFT: MARCUS SEMIEN (271)
INSTEAD OF: BRANDON CRAWFORD (138)
The shortstops for the two Bay Area teams share some striking similarities. Looking at last season, they posted identical batting averages (.257), run totals (65) and walk rates (7 percent). Crawford hit 21 homers to Semien’s 15, but that’s also nearly double the amount he’d bit in his first four MLB seasons. Some regression seems like a safe bet. Semien also offers more upside on the bases, having swiped 11 bags last year. Crawford’s getting all the attention in drafts, but Semien could easily outproduce him.
DRAFT: JOSE QUINTANA (147)
INSTEAD OF: SONNY GRAY (65)
There’s no doubt that Gray is an excellent pitcher. In two-plus seasons and nearly 500 innings, he’s put together a 2.88 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with solid, if unspectacular, strikeout and walk rates. That ERA is the 10th best mark among qualified starters since his debut in 2013. Gray uses his friendly home park and a ground ball heavy approach to great effect, regularly outpitching his fielding independent numbers. But Quintana can give you similar production at a significant discount. Would you rather have Gray and Elvis Andrus, or Quintana and Corey Seager?
Kyle Bishop is a lead MLB columnist at RotoBaller.com. His articles and Fantasy Baseball Rankings are your secret weapon for winning fantasy leagues.