Fantasy Baseball 2014: Undervalued Players

Jonathan Villar

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

 

Value means everything.

NFL Free Agency kicked off a few days ago, and it reminded me too much of fantasy baseball. Watching players be either overpaid or underpaid, then seeing the value of the position alter because of it. So, as a result, I did something I tend to avoid doing during my weekends.

I thought.

With fantasy baseball drafts in full swing (pun fully intended), who are some guys being overlooked and drafted far lower than they are deserving?

You down with ADP?

 

Jonathan Villar, Houston Astros (212): Not many people know who this guy is (thanks, Astros), but they will by the time the season ends. Speed is enticing and speed is what you are going to get out of Villar. Via ESPN, Villar attempted to swipe a bag 40 percent of the time last season, which was the third-highest rate among all players with at least 50 stolen base opportunities. In just 58 games during his rookie season, he stole a strong 18 bases, so if you extrapolate that to a full season, Villar could be in line for 40 bags in year two. Combine that speed and base path awareness with the fact that he walked 10 percent of the time, and we have plenty of upside here. I get that he plays for Houston, but this guy is being drafted behind the likes of Derek Jeter, folks. He has way more upside, way more untapped potential.

Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves (127.3): I love Teheran, and feel like he is a top-20 starting pitcher in fantasy. However, being drafted as the number 30 arm according to ESPN, he’s being undervalued to me. This is a guy who, because of plenty of injuries to the Braves rotation, will start the seasons atop the rotation, and for good reason. In 2013, he was strong, but even showed growth as the season progressed, boosting his strikeout rate while lowering his HR/9 after the All-Star Break. The Braves have a very, very good lineup behind him, so I’d expect him to improve on his 14 wins from a season ago. He is one step away from emerging as a top tier fantasy pitcher, but after finishing as a top-25 pitcher on ESPN’s Player Rater, why is he being drafted 30th overall among pitchers?

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees (145.7) I wrote more in depth about Sabathia before, but I’m higher on him than most this year. Sure, last season was incredibly bad for the former ace, as he posted the highest ERA of his career (4.78), fewest strikeouts since 2006 (172) and the highest WHIP of his career (1.37). And while he was bad, seeing a noticeable decrease in fastball velocity, I do think Sabathia was also a bit unlucky last year. For instance, his strand rate of 67.4 percent was the first time it was below 70% since 2002. He also allowed the most home runs of his career (28), while sporting an outlier of a HR/FB rate of 13 percent, by far the highest of his career. That won’t be the same next year, and the Yankees were also hurt last year. 2014 sees more depth in their lineup, which could result in more win chances for Sabathia. It’s a good thing his value is this low, as fantasy owners can get a potential top-30 pitcher for a bargain.

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (151.7): Belt is one of the prime examples of all the young talent at the first base position this year. I love him as a breakout candidate after posting a strong year three. Belt batted a strong .289 with 17 homers and 67 RBI, but there is so much untapped power potential for this kid. He hit a ridiculous 39 doubles a season ago, proving that the power is there for double-digit home runs. He also lowered his strikeout rate after the All-Star Break. Currently being drafted as the 17th first baseman, I think Belt, at just 25-years old, is in for a very good season, and could easily exceed his draft day value.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

 


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