BATTERS: 2018 End-gamers

Let's continue our end-game theme by moving on to hitters who could provide significant value to you late in your drafts or for a token bid.

There is a lot of profit to be found in end-game hitting speculations, especially if you target those with emerging or hidden skills.

Keeping in mind that an end-game target in one league might require a heavy investment in another, here we'll present a large cross-section of guys in each league who could generate a lot of profit for you in 2018.

As a reminder, you can find an exhaustive list of preseason batting targets at the following links:

Let's identify potential end-game targets by looking at guys who returned an R$ of $5 or less in 2017 but had a 40+ BPV:

40+ BPV, <$5, 2017*

Name                League  Pos     bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX  Spd  '17 $  BPV
==================  ======  ======  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  =====  ===
Hernandez, Teoscar      AL      LF   6%  59%  0.17  243    68  139  104     $1   77
La Stella, Tommy        NL   3B/2B  13%  86%  1.11   99   111   95   78     $1   74
Winker, Jesse           NL      RF  11%  80%  0.63  125   116  100   95     $2   73
Eaton, Adam             NL      RF  13%  80%  0.78   99   101   87  139     $1   70
Marte, Ketel            NL      SS  11%  83%  0.78   74    95   77  145     $2   61
Delmonico, Nick         AL      LF  14%  78%  0.74  113    92  104   95     $3   61
White, Tyler            AL      1B   6%  74%  0.25  158   130  185   80    -$1   59
Utley, Chase            NL      2B   9%  82%  0.56   95   120  134  115     $3   57
Sogard, Eric            NL   2B/SS  15%  85%  1.22   63    91   62  100     $3   53
Chapman, Matt           AL      3B  10%  68%  0.35  158    99  134  106     $3   53
Zobrist, Ben            NL   2B/LF  11%  84%  0.76   76   109   84  111     $3   53
D'Arnaud, Travis        NL       C   6%  83%  0.39  105   109  114   76     $5   53
Hernandez, Enrique      NL   CF/SS  12%  73%  0.51  132   116  122   93     $1   52
Hazelbaker, Jeremy      NL      LF  15%  62%  0.45  148   101  161  184     $0   51
Toles, Andrew           NL      LF   5%  83%  0.31   93    84   84  106     $0   51
Osuna, Jose             NL   RF/1B   4%  81%  0.23  106    97   65  104     $0   51
Rasmus, Colby           AL      LF   5%  63%  0.16  197   119  187   96     $2   51
Iannetta, Chris         NL       C  12%  68%  0.43  166    98  131   68     $5   51
Rojas, Miguel           NL   SS/3B   9%  88%  0.84   52    72   32  117     $4   49
Gillaspie, Conor        NL      3B   6%  88%  0.50   68    70   69   99    -$5   48
Kipnis, Jason           AL      2B   8%  79%  0.39  110    96  122   92     $4   48
Telis, Tomas            NL      1B   3%  90%  0.30   54   112   87  117    -$3   47
Diaz, Aledmys           NL      SS   4%  85%  0.31   76    81   69  116     $3   47
Escobar, Yunel          AL      3B   8%  85%  0.57   70   105   75  102     $5   46
Valaika, Pat            NL      SS   4%  71%  0.13  165    98  145   72     $4   46
Szczur, Matt            NL      LF  14%  77%  0.77   80    63   72  135    -$2   45
Bird, Greg              AL      1B  11%  71%  0.45  137   105  162   86    -$1   45
Vogt, Stephen           NL       C   7%  80%  0.38  105   106  122   86     $1   45
Plawecki, Kevin         NL       C  12%  83%  0.82   78   100   78   84    -$1   45
Pederson, Joc           NL      CF  12%  75%  0.57  121   100  101   73     $1   45
Camargo, Johan          NL   3B/SS   5%  79%  0.24  100    91   64  123     $4   44
Rivera, T.J.            NL   3B/1B   4%  85%  0.28   79   102  101  103     $4   44
Davis, J.D.             AL      3B   6%  68%  0.20  165   108  125   90    -$2   44
Jaso, John              FA   RF/1B  13%  74%  0.61  121   109  149   73    -$1   44
Granite, Zach           AL      CF  11%  90%  1.33   28    72   33  115    -$1   43
Travis, Devon           AL      2B   4%  79%  0.18  115   104  131   75     $2   42        
*min 50 AB

Here is a closer look at some of the more intriguing guys in the above group, along with some others who could provide nice profit to you in 2018.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Ehire Adrianza (SS, MIN) is going undrafted in nearly all leagues (689 ADP) after the marginal results he posted in 2017. Still, owners looking to fill a MI slot in deep leagues could do worse than looking here. Adrianza owns a solid collection of plate skills (9% bb%, 85% ct%, 0.64 Eye) and showed solid rates of hard contact (104 HctX) and underlying power (110 xPX) late in 2017. His real upside comes with his legs though. His 137 Spd and good pitch recognition could net him 20 SB if he can carve out a super-utility role in the MIN lineup.

Jabari Blash (RF, LAA) is being ignored in the draft market (693 ADP) after posting a pretty bad stat line in 2017 (.213 BA, .675 OPS in 164 AB). Nevertheless, Blash did post elite underlying power (168 xPX) and had a very good walk rate (14% bb%). If he can close down some of the holes in his swing, Blash could emerge as viable fifth-OF filler in deep leagues later in the season.

Nick Delmonico (LF, CHW) quietly put up an intriguing set of skills in his CHW debut during the 2H of 2017: 14% bb%, 0.74 Eye, 113 PX. He also delivered a 110+ PX and .800+ OPS against both LHers and RHers. His ability to play both the infield and outfield should give him multi-position eligibility early in the season, too.

Delino DeShields (LF, TEX) won't be available as an end-gamer in most leagues (202 ADP), but it's worthy to note that DeShields will enter 2018 with significant SB upside in a time when they are hard to come by. After struggling with his approach at home plate early in 2017 (0.30 Eye, -26 BPV in 1H), the light started to turn on for DeShields in the second half (11% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.53 Eye, 33 BPV in 2H). He also posted an elite 182 Spd in the 2H and improved his success rate. There is legit 40-SB upside here.

Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE) was one of the leaders in exit velocity in 2017, a nugget that will be overlooked by those who only notice his pedestrian surface stats with CLE (.679 OPS in 156 AB). He also surged in the second half with CLE (.810 OPS in 92 AB) while showing hints of the top-tier plate discipline he displayed in the minors (14% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.83 Eye). His groundball stroke caps any hope for power at the moment, but his line-drive stroke and ability to make contact put a .300 BA within reach. And it's likely that he will qualify at several positions early in the season.

Zach Granite (CF, MIN) likely will begin the season in the minors after a lackluster spring and the other options that MIN has available for its bench. Nonetheless, Granite has displayed an intriguing combination of plate discipline and steals in the minors, and underneath his ugly .237 BA and .611 OPS with MIN in 2017 were the same types of attributes: 11% bb%, 90% ct%, 1.33 Eye, 115 Spd. He's someone who will be available in most drafts (639 ADP) and could make an impact in a reserve role later in the season.

Jace Peterson (LF, NYY) is a former supplemental first-round pick who has the ability to fill a utility role in 2018. Peterson's production (.847 OPS) and skills (57 BPV) both soared in the second half of 2017, and he did so while improving his plate skills (16% bb%, 76% ct%, 0.81 Eye). While he doesn't hit the ball with much authority (58/12/30 G/L/F), his combination of decent legs and on-base ability does give him some SB intrigue in very deep AL-only leagues.

Jurickson Profar (LF, TEX) has gone from top prospect in the game to an afterthought in most leagues (550 ADP). Here's why that might be a mistake. He's still just 25, he built a solid plate foundation in the 1H of 2017 with TEX (15% bb%, 0.64 Eye), showed good speed (123 Spd), and has shown tiny hints this spring that maybe his long history of shoulder woes are behind him (four extra-base hits, two SB in 37 AB). Profit plays in deep leagues don't get much better than Profar.

Devon Travis (2B, TOR) is another high-upside bat who has been saddled by injuries. He has looked healthy so far this spring and has shown some of the power that made him a premium 2B investment in keeper leagues a few years ago. And he's available late in many drafts (390 ADP). There remains good upside here if you can stomach his history of poor durability.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Albert Almora (CF, CHC) has struggled so far this spring (.574 OPS in 38 AB), making it likely that he'll be relegated to work against lefties again early in 2018. Don't underestimate the value he could have in that role, as Almora was one of the NL's better producers against lefties in 2017 (.898 OPS in 111 AB). His plate skills against them were really good too (10% bb%, 85% ct%, 0.76 Eye). And he was able to convert his groundball stroke in the 1H (56/17/27 G/L/F) to more of a line-drive/flyball stroke in the second half (43/24/33 G/L/F). At age 24, it's way too early to assume that Almora no longer should be considered a growth stock.

J.P. Crawford (3B, PHI) likely will add more value with his glove than his bat during his 2018 rookie season. That said, Crawford's bat awoke in the minors late in 2017, he is a former top prospect, and he's still just 23. He's also being taken pretty late in most drafts (372 ADP). Crawford remains a good stash in keeper leagues and could be worth using as your MI.

Tyler Flowers (C, ATL) might be available as an end-gamer in some leagues given the fact that he has never hit more than 15 HR in a season and hasn't even reached that level in any of the last four. The raw power that made Flowers one of the better catching prospects early in his career began to manifest itself in the 2H of 2017 (127 PX, 138 xPX). There's some sneaky power upside here.

Alen Hanson (2B/RF, SF) is another bat with sneaky upside who is going undrafted in a lot of leagues (655 ADP). We know Hanson owns elite wheels (173 Spd in 2017) but does not reach base enough to use them (.262 OBP in 2017). That said, he did flash some good contact skills in the 1H of 2017 (85% ct%), so we can't dismiss his attractiveness as a SB dart throw in deep leagues.

Jeremy Hazelbaker (LF, ARI) hasn't even earned a bench job this spring, so viewing him as an end-gamer is not something that most owners will do. That said, Hazelbaker showed tons of power (148 PX, 161 xPX) and speed (184 Spd) in a tiny MLB sample in 2017, and he did provide some value in both areas back in 2016 (12 HR, 5 SB in 200 AB). His struggles to put the bat on the ball make him a risky bet to add much value, but if you play in a deep league and need a fifth OF, there are worse speculations if he can find an MLB role.

Enrique Hernandez (LF/SS, LA) is a bench player who can give you good production if you use him in doses. Against lefties, he's one of the better bats in the game: .946 OPS, 172 PX, 0.73 Eye in 152 AB. He gets exposed against RHers (.499 OPS, 82 PX, 0.36 Eye in 145 AB). Still, he's young enough (26) to solve some of his warts against same-sided pitchers.

Joc Pederson (CF, LA) seems to be a shell of his former self, at least if you take a look at his 2017 results (.738 OPS, 45 BPV in 273 AB). However, check out Pederson's surging contact rate over the last four seasons: 61%, 65%, 68%, 75% ct%. And those gains have come both against lefties and righties. At age 26 and at his 385 ADP, there's a lot of profit potential here, especially given his murky role to start the season.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.