Finding high batting average in the later rounds of a draft is not easy. You need to accept that you will either find high batting average floor with little help in other categories or take risks on players likely to be helpful in other categories and may be strong in average but have a low floor there. Fortunately, because it is the later rounds, this may be all you need to help round out your team. I will suggest several players that fall into each bucket. ADP is from NFBC and ATC projections from Fangraphs.
Michael Brantley-ADP-247-2022 ATC Projection-499 PA, 11 HR, 65 R, 54 RBI, 2 SB, .291 Avg.
Michael Brantley is the old standard here. He simply knows how to hit for a high average. With an ADP of 247, it may be a bit of a stretch to call him “late-round”, but close enough. Hitting in the Astros lineup will get him runs and some RBI, but he will provide little to nothing in the way of home runs and stolen bases. Still, pairing him with one of the many Miguel Sanó-like players also available late is a solid strategy. Even though he is getting older, he is as reliable as they come.
Spencer Torkelson–ADP-250-2022 ATC Projection-435 PA, 19 HR, 57 R, 59 RBI, 3 SB, .248 Avg.
The projections have Torkelson batting around .240-.260. However, he has an above-average hit tool and an advanced approach. He could end up hitting closer to .280-.290. He also has more of a power upside than the other hit-for-average players this late. He certainly doesn’t have the same high floor as Brantley, and playing time could be a concern, but if you want or need to take a risk here, Torkelson is it.
Here are a few additional guys who could help with batting average.
Connor Joe–ADP-340-2022 ATC Projection-423 PA, 14 HR, 55 R, 54 RBI, 1 SB, .266 Avg.
You can take a chance on Joe. In 2021 in 211 PA, he hit .285 for Colorado. He has also hit for some fairly high averages in the minor leagues, with a little bit of power. Admittedly this upside is moderate, but he has more to offer than the other available average plays in this area.
Wilmer Flores–ADP-397-2022 ATC Projection-394 PA, 15 HR, 49 R, 51 RBI, 1 SB, .267 Avg.
Pickings are getting pretty slim down here. Right-lefty platoon splits take a very long time to stabilize, but Flores has hit lefties at a .278 clip and 116 OPS+. At this point in your draft hopefully, you have a good idea if you can use Flores as a platoon against LHP. If so, he’s a pretty good option this late.
Nico Hoerner–ADP-406-2022 ATC Projection-444 PA, 5 HR, 49 R, 43 RBI, 11 SB, .273 Avg.
In 149 PA in 2021, Hoerner hit .302. He has little power to speak of, but his 91st percentile sprint speed should help to keep his average up and tack on some SB for you. It is easy to see him getting a lot of playing time in a questionable Cubs lineup. As a prospect, he was given an above-average hit tool as well.
Jose Miranda–ADP-414-2022 ATC Projection-392 PA, 13 HR, 48 R, 49 RBI, 2 SB, .271 Avg.
Miranda had an excellent 2021 season in AA and AAA, combining for a .344 Avg. across 591 PA. Fangraphs gives him a 35 Present Hit tool but a 55 Future. His 2021 certainly exceeded those grades and he may be in line for significant playing time for the Twins in 2022. He also hit a combined 30 HR in 2021. Based on 2021, he has a pretty high ceiling for going so late in a 15-team draft.
Photos by (Icon Sportswire/All-Pro Reels Photography) Adapted By Shawn Palmer (@Palmerguyboston on twitter)