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Finding Late Home Runs Power in Fantasy Baseball Drafts

Each fantasy baseball team comes with a different build. Some managers go with a balanced attack increasing their totals across the board. Other fantasy players like to attack certain categories early and fill in the rest later. Having a strategy is the most important thing and if you are looking for ways you can make up home runs late in your drafts, this is the perfect article for you. Below I identify four players you can draft late that have tremendous home run upside.

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Cheap Players with Home Run Upside

Davis Schneider – 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

Entering 2023, not many people had heard of Davis Schneider. Schneider was the Jays’ 28th-round pick back in the 2017 draft. Since joining the organization, he has moved slowly through their system never seeming to have too much potential. His breakout started at Double-A in 2022 and continued in Triple-A in 2023. Schneider’s raw power exploded in Buffalo as Schneider crushed 21 home runs in 87 games before earning a promotion to Toronto.

Although the off-season is still chugging along, the Jays seem content with the infielders on their roster. Schneider profiles to be the team’s Opening Day second baseman for the 2024 season and should get an extended run after his impressive end to 2023. Schneider does not come with the prospect pedigree of other 2024 rookies like Jackson Chourio or Jackson Holliday. However, he does come with a 35-game sample of elite production at the Major League level. An Opening Day starter should not be overlooked especially when he can provide the power Schneider is capable of.

One of the hottest trends in baseball is finding batters that focus on hitting fly balls to the pull side. The majority of home runs are hit out to the pull side so prioritizing those two skills makes sense. We have seen Isaac Paredes find success with this strategy and Schneider is following closely in his footsteps. Once Schneider joined the Jays, he hit eight home runs in just 35 games. These home runs came thanks to a 52.1% fly ball rate and a 50.7% pull rate. Very similar profile to Paredes except Schneider’s power profile is even better. Paredes’ critics cite a low barrel rate and overall poor quality of contact as reasons for regression. Schneider posted a 17.8%-barrel rate in the Majors last season after posting an 11.8% rate in Triple-A. Schneider has excellent barrel control which should continue to fuel high home run rates.

The best difference for Schneider compared to Paredes? Their draft price. Sure, they have different positional eligibility to start the season, but Schneider is going nearly 400 picks after Paredes in drafts. Should fantasy managers expect Schneider to post a 176 wRC+ again in 2024? Absolutely not, but he still projects to be an excellent power hitter. Second base can be a difficult position to find home run power from which makes Schneider’s profile even more enticing. You can draft him as 2B36 which is practically free. He is the perfect player to target if you are looking to add home runs late in your fantasy drafts.

Giancarlo Stanton – OF, New York Yankees

Who would have ever thought that we would be talking about Giancarlo Stanton as being a cheap fantasy option? Stanton has been one of the most notorious sluggers in baseball for the better part of the past decade and a half. He has reached the 30-home run mark seven different times. Very few players in baseball can rival Stanton’s power, but a down season in 2023 has his draft price cheaper than ever. Stanton is going as OF76 in fantasy drafts with an average ADP of 320. You will not find a better source of power that late in drafts everywhere else.

Durability has been an issue for Stanton throughout his career. Nothing changed in 2023 as Stanton appeared in just 101 games; his lowest total in a non-COVID season since 2019. A hamstring injury was the culprit in 2023 sidelining Stanton for nearly two months of the season. Even once Stanton returned, things never quite seemed right. Stanton stayed healthy throughout the rest of the season but slashed just .179/.271/.398 the rest of the way. Stanton has struggled to hit line drives the past two seasons, but his BABIP during that period was unbelievably low. His .198 BABIP should bounce back up at least 40 points in 2024.

The one thing that was not a problem, and the reason Stanton finds himself on this list, was his power. Stanton’s exit velocity still ranked in the top four percent in all of baseball and his max EV ranked toward the tops in all of baseball. His barrel rate remained well above the league average at 15.7%. Stanton can still hit some monster home runs. PLV shows that even in his age 33 season, Stanton’s power is still some of the best in baseball.

Giancarlo Stanton PLV

Despite appearing in just 101 games, Stanton still managed to hit 24 home runs. If he were to reach 600 plate appearances, this would be a 35-home-run pace. Stanton might not provide the same batting averages he once did, but he is still an elite source of power.

Stanton’s fantasy value is partially league-dependent. His batting average has been low enough to hurt fantasy teams the last two seasons. That being said, there are not many better home run hitters in the sport. In leagues where you can punt categories likes stolen bases or in points leagues, Stanton is still a great player to target. If you did not draft enough power early in drafts, Stanton could still be beneficial. Not many players outside the top 300 picks have 35+ home run upside like Stanton. His draft price is low this year which makes him a worthwhile investment. Keep in mind, he is just two seasons removed from a 138 wRC+.

Hunter Renfroe – OF, Kansas City Royals

Renfroe’s career has been a roller coaster. He has eclipsed 30 home runs twice in his career while also batting under .235 in four different seasons. This past season, he was amongst the players who got the boot out of LA when the Angels decided to shed any salary possible down the stretch. He got inconsistent playing time in Cincinnati but signed a two-year deal with the Royals this off-season in hopes of getting his career back on track.

Now 32 years old, Renfroe is no spring chicken, but that does not mean we should overlook the skills he still has. Renfroe has been one of the premier power-hitting outfielders over the last several seasons. Renfroe ranks 12th in baseball since 2017 in total home runs hit. The names ahead of him are Judge, Schwarber, Trout, Betts, Martinez, Stanton, Gallo, Harper, Ozuna, Bellinger, and Springer. All certified sluggers. Renfroe deserves more recognition than he is receiving.

Looking back on his 2023 season, Renfroe’s power output started out strong. Through July 4, Renfroe had hit 15 home runs. His 600 plate appearances pace was 27.5 home runs which would have been right in line with his career norms. From a numbers standpoint, July was Renfroe’s best month. He slashed .296/.418/.519 in that month before falling into a major slump in August. His slump led to his release by the Angels and his playing time was inconsistent after that. The mental toll of a full Major League season is unmatched. Watching your team fall out of contention, getting released, and starting fresh in a brand-new clubhouse can be difficult for any player. There is the possibility that these events led to Renfroe’s end-of-season struggles.

Landing in Kansas City does not provide Renfroe with the most favorable home run hitting conditions, but it does provide Renfroe with a starting job. Landing with the Royals ensures that Renfroe will be in the lineup regularly in the middle of the order. The Royals’ top of the lineup is quietly very solid giving Renfroe the chance to bat behind Bobby Witt, Salvador Perez, Vinnie Pasquantino, and MJ Melendez. This is even more important than a favorable ballpark.

With how late Renfroe is going in fantasy drafts, he should be a prime target for anybody looking to add more home runs to their team. Renfroe is as close as it comes to a lock for 20+ home runs and he is being drafted as OF90 outside of the top 450 picks. He is being undervalued by the rest of the fantasy community making now the perfect time to draft him.

Rowdy Tellez – 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Rowdy Tellez fell in and out of stardom quickly in Milwaukee. After being acquired during the 2021 season, Tellez seemed to finally reach his potential in 2022. Receiving regular playing time, Tellez crushed 35 home runs and posted a 110 wRC+. His BABIP sat down at .215 despite solid quality of contact metrics and a previous career BABIP of .281. The new shift ban in 2023 appeared to create more optimism over Tellez’s average bouncing back in 2023. Milwaukee seemed to have a 30+ home run .230 bat locked into their lineup.

The 2023 season did not materialize as Tellez had hoped. Through April, everything seemed to be going well. Tellez crushed eight home runs, his BABIP was up to .236, and his wRC+ sat at 130. He was playing every day and batting in the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup. He continued to play well through most of May and owned a .249/.328/.486 slash line on June 4. Tellez went ice cold over the next month before landing on the IL with forearm inflammation on July 5. There is no telling how long Tellez was dealing with this injury, but it seems to have had a major impact on his performance. Even after Tellez returned, he was never the same. PLV shows just how drastic his drop in power really was during 2023:

Rowdy Tellez PLV

Power outages like this from notorious power hitters do not just happen. Tellez was dealing with an injury that zapped his power. He hit just one home run after coming off of the IL and posted a 76 wRC+. His late-season struggles resulted in him being non-tendered by Milwaukee.

Now, Tellez is seeking a fresh start in Pittsburgh. He profiles to be at the very least a strong-side platoon player with the potential to get everyday at-bats. Although the home run factor for left-handed hitters is worse at PNC Park, the overall park factor is more favorable. The biggest key is that Tellez should be healthy heading into 2024. In 2023, Tellez still posted a max EV of 114.8 mph and a sweet spot percentage well above the league average. His barrel rate fell off as the season moved along, but it is fair to wonder how much of that was a result of his forearm bothering him. This is the same player who is just one season removed from crushing 35 home runs. We could see a return to form from Tellez in 2024.

The best part about drafting Tellez is the price you have to pay. After being a popular breakout pick each of the last two seasons, Tellez has fallen out of favor in the fantasy community. His current ADP is 1B42 in drafts behind players like Elehuris Montero, Ryan Noda, and Carlos Santana. The home run upside that Tellez provides is rivaled by few others that late in fantasy drafts. He is an Opening Day starter which few others at pick 547 can say. He is the perfect first baseman to target if your fantasy team needs a power boost.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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