With the nature of the outfield position, primarily the fact that all teams start three and that platoon outfield bats are commonplace, there are often plenty of underrated gems to be unearthed later in drafts.
This year in particular, there are three outfielders who fit the bill as later-round picks who could help your team in a major way in one or more categories on a weekly basis: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Brantley, and Adolis Garcia.
They’re different players who excel in vastly different areas (batting average, power, stolen bases, getting on base), but they’re late-round value picks all the same.
(ADP data per NFBC.)
Brandon Nimmo – 312.32 ADP
But they also made a number of moves to shore up a desperately lacking lineup that finished the 2021 season with the fourth-fewest runs scored in the league.
That the Mets lineup just got significantly better and deeper is only good news for Nimmo, who was one of the league’s most productive leadoff hitters last season.
*Minimum 300 plate appearances hitting leadoff in 2021
Whether you play in a league that counts batting average or on-base percentage as one of its scoring stats, Nimmo holds plenty of appeal as a run-scoring option later in drafts, especially because he might be due for some positive regression in that regard.
Among the 25 MLB hitters with at least 300 plate appearances as their team’s leadoff hitter last year, Nimmo had the third fewest runs scored with 44, tying with Detroit’s Robbie Grossman. Jose Altuve, for reference, had the most with 117.
For a player who has never had more than 50 RBI in a single season, the decrease in runs scored certainly wasn’t ideal from a fantasy standpoint.
But the Mets lineup is much deeper this year, especially when you consider the addition of the designated hitter in the National League. And while they might not have the lineup depth that Altuve’s 2021 Astros did, it still has the potential to be a top-10 run-scoring unit.
That should lead to more runs scored for Nimmo. It might also lead to more RBI opportunities with players like Escobar, Dominic Smith, and J.D. Davis potentially hitting in the bottom third of the lineup at times.
Adolis García – 168.85 ADP
Now that the Rangers lineup is getting significant reinforcements, García’s fantasy stock should continue to improve. Texas added Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Mitch Garver this winter, and the presence of those three in the middle of the order alongside the 29-year-old should give García an excellent chance at reaching 90 RBI again, if not potentially topping 100 runs driven in.
The only real drawback or cause for concern with the outfielder is in the contact department. The 29-year-old hit just .243 last season with a .223 xBA and a staggering 31.2% strikeout rate.
Still, when he did make contact, it was rather loud.
Admittedly, less overall contact likely had something to do with such sterling marks in some of those categories, but it’s hard to ignore what García does well – hit home runs and steal bases.
Here’s a list of players that includes Adolis García:
What do those seven hitters have in common?
They’re the only players to hit at least 30 home runs with a minimum of 15 stolen bases last year.
*ADP data via NFBC.
If you can structure your roster so that García’s lower batting average doesn’t drag you down in that category, he’ll be an integral part of successful fantasy seasons in 2022, especially with a 168.85 ADP as the 44th outfielder off the board.
Even if your roster isn’t structured to accommodate a player with a low batting average, García gives you the upside to win in terms of home runs and stolen bases every week, whether in Roto or Head-to-Head leagues. It’s borderline impossible to find a player with an ADP after 100, let alone after 150 who can do that.
But Garcia can.
Michael Brantley – 249.15
Brantley does at an elite level what García doesn’t, essentially.
Hit for an incredibly high average.
Since the 2014 season, only Jose Altuve has a higher average among all qualified hitters than the veteran outfielder, and although his power production has waned (he only has 13 home runs in his last 695 plate appearances dating back to 2020) his batting average contributions are consistently excellent.
While Carlos Correa’s departure weakens the league’s highest-scoring lineup from 2021, Brantley should remain entrenched either near the top of it.
Admittedly, those plate appearances didn’t lead to the most RBI or run-scoring opportunities. Bradley finished with just 47 RBI and 68 runs scored, but even if he finishes with similar metrics in 2022, he’ll be a steal at his current ADP given his ability to provide elite production in one category – especially when you consider that category is batting average.
Dating back to 2019, only 32 batters have hit .300 in a full season, and Brantley looks as close to a lock as you can get to providing a .300 average. He’s done it in each of his last five full seasons and his ZiPS projection, per FanGraphs’ Dan Syzmborski, doesn’t have him all that far off either. Per Syzmborski, Brantley is projected to hit .298 in 2022.
Like Garcia, Brantley can help you win the week in a category in either Roto or Head-to-Head leagues. And as of right now, he’s the 241st player coming off draft boards per NFBC.
(Photo by Icon Sportswire) Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@PalmerDesigns_ on twitter)