Not gonna lie, I’m so excited for my for-real draft! There are so many rookies and such young dynamic talent in the game right now and I want all of them on my fantasy team. I want to fill my roster with shiny new toys and dream about how their upside will all come to fruition and help me dominate my league. I do this every year right about now. I think it’s normal. I think it’s part of loving fantasy baseball. A more important part of being a good fantasy baseball manager, though, is tempering that excitement. It’s about dimming the luster of the unknown so that you can focus on the established commodities that will balance your roster with upside and dependability.
I’m talking about veteran players, of course. The stalwarts that have helped you to championships in the past. They often get outshined this time of year – especially if they’re coming off a bad season or an injury-plagued one – and it leads to their undeserved devaluing. In this article, I want to share the names of ten veteran players who are healthy, doing pretty well so far this spring, and could give you some serious returns on your investment. So, let’s put away the prospect list for a minute and get down to business.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
10 Fantasy Baseball Veterans You Might Be Overlooking
Max Muncy, 2B/3B, Dodgers (Current ADP 132)
The overall numbers for Max Muncy last season (.196 average in particular) are total cringe. That’s why this perennial 30 homerun-hitting second basemen has seen his ADP fall to mid-round territory. But he entered last season with a UCL injury, one he suffered on the last day of the 2021 season. He finished 2022 really strong, though, hitting 12 of his 21 HRs in the last two months and getting his exit velocity back to pre-injury levels. He says he’s fine now and his 6 hits in his first 17 at-bats this spring help back it up. There’s a very short list of 2Bs who could hit you 30 bombs, especially with power being harder to find these days. There’s lots of value here.
Lance Lynn, P, White Sox (Current ADP 134)
It’s pretty easy to write off a 35-year-old pitcher whose numbers declined from what we’re used to seeing. But for Lance Lynn, 2022 was a tale of two seasons. After returning from knee surgery that pushed his first start to mid-June, he stumbled out of the gate: 7 starts, 7.50 ERA. After that, presumably when his knee felt right again, his last 14 starts produced a 2.52 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. He looked really good on Tuesday against the Brewers, too: 4 IP 0 ER 2 H 1 BB 5K. The old man’s still got it. Go get him in the 11th round.
Chris Sale, P, Red Sox (Current ADP 157)
I used the ‘Sale of the Century’ pun already this spring, so why don’t I change it to Steal of the Century? His ADP now feels criminally low to me after watching him breeze through 5 scoreless innings this spring with 7 Ks. He looked particularly sharp this Saturday when he K’ed 5 and hit 95 MPH on the gun. He’s healthy, folks. The ADP might climb, but it would have to climb a lot for the value to fade.
Ketel Marte, 2B, Diamondbacks (Current ADP 193)
Whether injuries or underperformance, Ketel Marte has disappointed fantasy managers for two straight seasons. 2022 was especially frustrating because despite being relatively healthy, he just didn’t produce anywhere near the level we expected. I came into this draft season thinking I was all done… until saw his ADP! That got me digging deeper. Still only 29, his underlying metrics are still pretty impressive. Max exit velocity: a whopping 96%, average exit velocity still pretty good at 72%, plate discipline still well above average. He just got three hits on Wednesday for the Dominican Republic. Maybe this is the year he gets back to the .300/25 HR production we’ve been hoping for. For a thin position and at this price? I’m willing to find out.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Angels (Current ADP 197)
Injured for the better part of the last two seasons, Anthony Rendon, now 32, sure comes with a ton of injury risk. But let’s not forget who this guy was just a couple of seasons ago. For four seasons in a row (if you count 2020 as a season), he gave you over a .900 OPS. His career-best season, 2019, saw his OPS swell to 1.010! That is some serious upside for a guy going in the last few rounds of a standard 12-team draft. He’s off to a nice start this spring, but more importantly, he’s looking healthy by all accounts. There’s nothing to lose here and plenty to gain. Even more so for points leagues.
Jack Flaherty, P, Cardinals (Current ADP 210)
Jack Flaherty was hampered by shoulder issues last season. After starting on the DL he came back too early and only made three starts in June before being put back on the shelf. When he returned again, there was only time for 5 more starts. They weren’t much better than the June starts, but his velocity was back up and he at least had a respectable 3.86 ERA. The guy’s still only 27. He was injured in 2021 also, but effective when in the rotation. He’s been pretty good this spring, too: 7 IP 3ER 6H 7K 1BB. He was an ace once. Again, not much to lose at this price.
Patrick Sandoval, P, Angels (Current ADP 212)
A trendy breakout pick last year, Patrick Sandoval’s 2022 season was not so bad. In fact, he finished with a 2.91 ERA and a very respectable 9.1 K/9 rate. And yet, the poor guy has gone backward on draft boards! OK, fine, his WHIP was high, he walks a few too many, and consequently wasn’t able to go deep in too many games. But he’s still just 26, he has upside for an even higher K rate with his nasty change-up and slider, and if he can figure out a way to get more economical, expect that win total of only 6 last season to rise steeply (the Angels will have a good season one of these years, no?). He also just held the stacked USA lineup in check last night in the World Baseball Classic, after giving up no walks in 5 spring innings. Love the value here.
Michael Conforto, OF, Giants (Current ADP 245)
After hitting a home run in each of his last three spring games, it looks like Michael Conforto didn’t need much time to shake off the rust of missing all of 2022. He had a down year in 2021. Could we blame that on an injured shoulder that required surgery? If so, you could be looking at a late-round 30 HR player at a position that could be very thin by the 21st round of a standard draft. If I’m short on outfielders, or maybe need a place-holder for Tatis until he’s OF eligible, he’s my guy.
Trevor Rogers, P, Marlins (Current ADP 267)
It might be too early to call Trevor Rogers, age 25, a veteran. But I wanted to mention him and his breakout season in 2021 does feel like a while ago. It was just last year that we thought he could take the next step as an ace and were drafting him near the early rounds. Was the sophomore jinx in effect? He’s had three really sharp outings this spring, yielding only 2 runs in 9 IPs while striking out 11. No walks either. Word is, the change-up that made him so effective in 2021 is back to form. Have we soured a little too much? Would you like an ace-level pitcher with your last draft pick? Yeah, I bet you do.
Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, Cubs (Current ADP 279)
You’re not going to like Trey Mancini’s stat line for the last two seasons. He averaged less than 20 HRs and hit a combined .247. Makes sense his ADP would be outside the rostered player pool of a standard 12-team league. After digging a little deeper, though, there are some numbers I do like. He’s still sporting a near-elite max exit velocity (80%) and barrels (75%), a solid average exit velo (61%), and some expected power metrics that say he’s still a slugger. Is it possible he got worn down in his first season back from surviving cancer (2021), and was thrown off by Camden Yards’ very extended left field wall, followed by being a platoon bat in Houston (2022)? Well, it costs you nothing to find out.
Are you buying in on these overlooked veterans? For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!