The true value of a player can sometimes be hard to determine when drafting your team. Knowing when to snatch up the right guy can be the definitive key to triumph. Waiting for certain players that are going two or three rounds after others but return similar value is the most intelligent way to build yourself a championship-contending team.
The following piece will give you an in-depth look into some of the most undervalued outfielders available in drafts. With the outfield being such a plentiful position selecting the right combination of players is vital to overall team success. With that being said let's get into it!
2018 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Outfielders
Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals (FantasyPros OF13)
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Shipped to the Cards in December, Ozuna finds himself in a really good situation in St. Louis. The Marlins are heading in a completely new direction with former Bronx legend Derek Jeter at the helm. That direction involved moving almost every impactful player on last year's roster including the two-time All-Star in 2017. The reason I am so excited about Ozuna heading into 2018 is that of the culture he now belongs too. The Cardinals have been a successful franchise for the last decade and winning takes priority over all else.
The problem with Ozuna was never his talent level as he always possessed the raw skill set to succeed at the major league level. He just needed the proper surroundings. Since becoming the 'Miami Marlins', the team has finished below the .500 mark in each season. That can personally deflate a player like Ozuna who plays with a ton of emotion. Moving to St. Louis where a winning culture has been established with a team led by veterans like Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter should do wonders for the young outfielder. He will have the protection he needs in a solid Cards lineup along with the added motivation of competing for a playoff spot in the National League.
Ozuna is currently being drafted as the 13th outfielder off the board, behind the likes of Justin Upton & Andrew Benintendi. I expect Ozuna to not only out produce the previously mentioned names, but could work his way into the top five among outfielders, placing himself just behind the likes of Mookie Betts and Charlie Blackmon. If you need to reach for Ozuna towards the tail end of the second round of your draft go ahead and do so.
Ryan Braun & Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers (OF28 & OF17)
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You know what they say, the more the merrier, and for the Brewers, the offseason went about as well as possibly could have. They completely retooled their outfield with the signings of Yelich & Lorenzo Cain and look to be a threat this upcoming season. I am going to focus on Braun and Yelich below.
Starting with Braun, as he is the most seasoned member of the Brew Crew. No this is not 2011 and the MVP seasons are behind him. However, at the ripe age of 34, Braun can still offer a ton of production for your squad. Last year was a bit of a down year for the six-time midsummer classic participant; but with the new additions in Milwaukee, Braun should see a significant uptick in production.
The one thing to keep an eye on with him is where exactly he will play. If the Brewers decide to go with an outfield of Cain, Yelich, and Domingo Santana, he will likely be shifted to first base and last year's breakout star Eric Thames will be the odd man out. Adding first base eligibility only helps the return of value you would get from drafting Braun to your team.
Now on to Christian Yelich, who has just scratched the surface of his potential. He is heading into his prime years with a new team and a new mindset on making an impactful debut with his new club. Currently being taken as the 17th overall outfielder, I would not hesitate to make Yelich top-10 outfielder. He will outperform Nelson Cruz and Justin Upton, both of whom are being drafted slightly ahead of him. If he falls to you in round five or six of your draft, you should be smiling.
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (OF96)
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Probably not a name most people were expecting to see on this list of the players. But, when thinking about value, you have to factor in that taking a risk at strategic moments can lead to getting the most out of your team. Kemp has moved back to LA for a second go around with the team that drafted him. He dealt with some injury issues in Atlanta over the last couple of seasons and has seen his production decline even when he was on the diamond.
Yes, obviously the outfield in LA is crowded. Chris Taylor is a lock in center field for most days. Yasiel Puig is an everyday starter in right. So where does that leave Kemp? Dave Roberts will certainly have his choice of the litter between Kemp, Joc Pederson, and Kike Hernandez in the outfield.
The selling point on the veteran for me is that he is down 41 pounds coming into Spring Training this year, and is reportedly in the best shape of his life. Working his way into an almost every day role should not be that challenging for the former All-Star. Hernandez is a role player and Joc Pederson still has a ton of holes in his swing. Kemp is currently being drafted as the 96th outfielder behind guys like Jesse Winker, Keon Broxton, and Jose Martinez.
If he can get a decent chunk of playing time, Kemp is a steal that late in the draft. For a guy who could easily blast 25 plus home runs in the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine, don't forget about him when moving into the later rounds of your draft. You won't regret it.
Another player on a new team, this one moving away from a winning situation in St. Louis into a rebuilding squad in Oakland, that might be a blessing in disguise though. Piscotty is heading home on a six-year contract that will keep him with the Athletics through the 2023 season. One of the more under the radar moves this offseason, the 26-year-old found himself out west with a good amount to prove. Last year the slugging outfielder only appeared in 107 games and his numbers were down considerably from the 2016 season.
In that, his best year, he hit .273 with 22 long balls, 85 runs batted in and 86 runs scored. Those are really solid numbers for a guy who is going off the board as the 90th outfielder taken. Back home and with a new squad I fully expect Piscotty to hover around those career-best numbers he put up just two seasons ago. He is still only 26 years of age and coming into his prime as a hitter.
Currently being taken behind Austin Jackson & presently unsigned free agent Jose Batista, Piscotty should vault himself into the top 70 of outfielders by the end of the year. He is well worth a late-round flyer as most people will overlook him due to his new digs with a lesser team. Don't be one of those people.
Mallex Smith, Tampa Bay Rays (OF110)
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Certainly, the least-known player in the group, Smith goes out every day and gives a hundred percent effort. He was productive in 81 games last season, chipping in 16 steals to go along with a .270 batting average.
He is not a big power guy as is evident from his measly two home run total from last season. However, he is a solid overall player who can get on base, swipe a bag, and score some runs. The Rays are in a complete rebuild as they have sent away cornerstone All-Star Evan Longoria to San Fran and more recently moved outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona.
The playing time should be there for Smith and he is currently being drafted as the 100th outfielder off the board. If you are looking for runs scored & speed late on draft day, take a gander towards this youngster.
That concludes my list of some of the most undervalued outfielders coming into 2018 drafts. When drafting remember that seeking value is the key to building a successful and sustainable contending fantasy roster. Good luck to all of you in your upcoming drafts!
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