The goal of every manager as they begin each draft is to put together the best team possible. Duh, right? A lot of that has to do with roster construction and how the board falls, but in general, we’re always trying to find good value throughout the draft. You don’t have to wait until the mid to late rounds to sniff out those great values either. That begins in the early rounds, and there are plenty of solid values to be had within the top-100 this season. I’ll discuss pitchers another time, but here are some of my favorite offensive fantasy baseball value picks inside the top-100 ADP in 2022 drafts thus far.
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2022 Fantasy Baseball Value Picks in the Top-100 ADP
Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)
It didn’t take long for Pete Alonso to establish himself as one of the most prolific power hitters in the game. In 2019, Alonso established a new rookie record for homers in a season with 53, and has followed that up with 16 in the shortened 60-game 2020 season and 37 in 2021. His 106 home runs since the beginning of 2019 are the most in baseball by 11 over Eugenio Suarez at 95. Alonso also has the best ISO in that span while recording the 4th most RBI (tied) and 24th most runs scored. Only 19 players have 200+ R and 200+ RBI over the last three seasons and that number drops to nine if you add in an 80+ homer threshold. Alonso is one of those nine, showing that he’s one of the best fantasy players in the game when it comes to those three categories.
Pete Alonso absolutely crushes his 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣th career HR to get the Mets ahead early! pic.twitter.com/aZHMB1Weyd
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 7, 2021
Of course, fantasy baseball isn’t just about runs, RBI, and homers. At a minimum, we at least have to add in AVG/OBP and steals, possibly more given your league setup. Alonso won’t help you out in the stolen base department, but he’s shown that he can at least hit for a respectable AVG (career .256) with a solid .347 OBP as well. That still leaves him as a three-category guy, but when the three categories are so damn impressive, you can definitely live with a middle-of-the-road AVG and minimal speed output.
Alonso even improved as a hitter last season, trimming his strikeout, whiff, and swinging strike rates while improving his contact rates.
On top of that, Alonso improved his barrel rate and hard-hit rate by 2.6% and 5.5% respectively. The improvements Alonso made last season show that he’s much closer to the 2019 version than the 2020 version that hit for power but with a .230 average. He’ll have an improved lineup around him as well following the acquisitions of Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha. The last two will likely hit right behind Alonso with the trio of Brandon Nimmo, Marte, and Francisco Lindor directly in front. With solid protection behind him and a good trio ahead of him, I’d expect Alonso’s runs and RBI totals to take a step forward this season. Looking at four projection systems, they all project that to happen.
Alonso’s projections nearly mirror Matt Olson’s who is being taken a full round ahead. I’m not saying to avoid Olson, but if you want similar production a round later, I’d rather scoop up Alonso. Whether or not you should target Alonso depends on your first few selections and if you’ve already secured some speed, but if you’re looking for an elite power bat at a good value, Alonso is a great target in the 5th round of 15-teamers or the 6th round of 12-teamers.
Corey Seager (SS – LAD)
Recently on our 2022 Shortstop Preview episode of the Fantax Toolshed podcast, I said that I believe Corey Seager is one of the five best pure hitting shortstops in the game, maybe even top-3. Since the start of the 2020 season, Seager ranks 3rd in wOBA, 3rd in AVG, 1st in OBP, 3rd in SLG, and 2nd in wRC+ among shortstops with 500+ plate appearances. Now, that doesn’t always translate to fantasy success of course, especially when you’ve had issues remaining on the field as Seager has over most of his career thus far. His 641 plate appearances over that same timeframe ranks only 28th among shortstops.
Corey Seager for the lead in the 12th!!
Oh man this game!! 😱
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 17, 2021
That’s certainly an issue. Part of a player’s fantasy value comes from being able to remain on the field, and Seager hasn’t done that. But in 2022 drafts, that appears to be baked into his cost. You no longer have to use a top-40 pick to secure Seager’s services. In drafts since the calendar turned to 2022, Seager is being taken at pick 87 on average as the 13th pick off the board. That’s great value.
In each of the last two seasons, Seager has hit above .300 with a SLG above .500 while combining for 31 homers, 98 RBI, and 92 runs in just 137 games. He’s also recorded back-to-back seasons with a barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and AVG EV in the top-20% of hitters with a phenomenal approach to go with it. From 8/1 on, Seager ranked 7th in AVG, 4th in OBP, 11th in SLG, and 8th in wOBA among qualified hitters.
So, what can we expect from Seager in 2022?
All of the projection systems have him pushing 600 PA with an average line of .290/86/26/85/3. That’s a solid line and I believe there’s the potential for a higher AVG and 90+ R and 90+ RBI if he can get close to 600 PA. The Rangers lineup isn’t comparable with the Dodgers lineup, but it’s definitely improved and the Rangers might not be done adding pieces either. Looking at Seager’s projected line, it doesn’t feel far off from Xander Bogaert’s projections. Steamer has Bogey at .276/85/24/92/5, ATC at .286/94/26/88/6, and The BAT at .290/91/28/88/4.
Would I take Bogaerts over Seager in 2022 drafts? Yes. Is Bogaerts a safer investment than Seager? Also yes. Am I saying that Bogaerts is a bad value? No. But if you don’t want to pay up for a shortstop in the early rounds and want one that can provide top-50 value close to pick 100, Seager is a great option.
Bryan Reynolds (OF – PIT)
In general, the entire Pittsburgh Pirates team gets undervalued in fantasy every season. It’s understandable given Pittsburgh’s underwhelming performance lately, but it also creates plenty of value in drafts. That starts right in the top-100 with Bryan Reynolds. In two of his three seasons in the Majors, Reynolds has quietly proven to be one of the best hitters in baseball. In both 2019 and 2021, Reynolds hit above .300 with an OBP above .375, and a SLG north of .500. I’m putting little to no stock in his 2020 performance given the circumstances surrounding that shortened season. Reynolds proved in 2021 that his 2019 debut was 100% legit.
In both of those two seasons, Reynolds xBA and xSLG, along with his contact skills, backed up his performance. Looking at just 2021, Reynolds recorded an 87.8% zone contact rate, 77.8 contact rate, and a 10.7% StStr rate. He also trimmed his whiff and chase rates while posting a 10.4% barrel rate and 40.8% hard-hit rate with an 11.6% walk rate and 18.4% strikeout rate. Every metric from that last sentence besides the hard-hit rate were new career-bests for Reynolds.
The aggregate line for Reynolds of .283/85/23/85/5 is very solid, but might even be a bit low. It wouldn’t shock me if Reynolds replicated his 2021 line in 2022, especially with the Pirates lineup improving in the top-half around him. I’m expecting Ke’Bryan Hayes to take a step forward along with Oneil Cruz joining the fray. And hopefully, Yoshi Tsutsugo can carry over his late-season surge. It’s not a great lineup, but it’s not terrible anymore and Reynolds could once again crack 90 runs and 90 RBI hitting in the three-hole and pushing 650+ PA.
There’s no outfielder being taken higher that was a good match to put Reynolds up against, but I’m including him in this article because he’s a solid value at pick 95 on average. For reference, Reynolds finished inside the top-50 on Razzball’s player rater last season. I’ll be targeting Reynolds plenty this season as a safe OF2.
Other Values in the Top-100
Alex Bregman (3B – HOU)
Hopefully his shoulder surgery allows him to be 100% in 2022 after battling through the ailment in 2021. His best days are likely behind him, but full health should yield a nice bounceback campaign from Bregman this season. He’ll still be hitting in the middle of a loaded Houston lineup and have the Crawford boxes in his sites. Bregman could once again yield top-50 value while being taken around pick 100 on average.
JD Martinez (OF – BOS)
How can someone as consistently good as JD Martinez be undervalued so frequently in drafts? He played enough in the outfield last season to retain eligibility and bounced back from his abysmal 2020 season. As I’ve said before, I’m not putting much stock in 2020, especially when it comes to proven veteran hitters such as Martinez. He’s consistently been one of the steadiest four-category producers in the games and finished as a top-50 player last season in Razzball’s player rater. Once again hitting in a good lineup and good hitter’s park, I’d bank on Martinez returning a positive ROI on his 99.5 ADP.
Jonathan India (2B – CIN)
Outside of having one of the best mops in baseball, Jonathan India quickly established himself as a locked-in top-100 fantasy player last season. In 631 PA, India racked up 21 homers, 12 steals, 69 RBI, and 98 runs with a .269/.375/.459 slash line. His on-base skills have been his strong-suit dating back to his collegiate days at the University of Florida and he’ll have a solid lineup behind him again in 2022, leading off in one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball. Projection systems have him putting up a similar line or slightly better line in 2022 than he did in 2021, which makes him a phenomenal value at pick 93.
Austin Riley (3B – ATL)
The 2021 breakout was glorious to witness, and also appears to be very legitimate. Riley finished 2021 hitting .303/.367/.531 with 33 homers, 107 RBI, and 91 runs scored, and was especially dangerous in the second half of the season, recording the 8th best wOBA with the 3rd most RBI. He likely won’t hit .300+ again, but with his improvements at the plate, .275+ is very attainable with another 90+/30+/100+ campaign in the middle of a good Atlanta lineup. With 3rd base getting murky outside the top-100, I’d be willing to scoop up Riley at his 63 ADP, especially considering that he finished #28 on Razzball’s player rater last season.
Media Credit: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire, Baseball Savant, Fangraphs, ATC (Ariel Cohen), Steamer, Zips, TheBat (Derek Carty), Razzball, Fox Sports MLB
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