Diamond Drafting: Fantasy Baseball's Underrated and Overlooked Hitters

Scott EngelCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 26:  Jayson Werth #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against Dan Wheeler #35 of the Tampa Bay Rays during game four of the 2008 MLB World Series on October 26, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

When I draft these days, and it’s very often, I’m seeing some very good batters slip further than they should. Using RotoExperts’ Diamond Draft software, I have been able to identify and target certain hitters in many drafts, grabbing good value performers who are being overlooked by many of my competitors.

Getting exactly who you want is never easy, especially in snake drafts, where you always have to adjust on the run. Yet I have been willing to take these guys exactly when I want them, and I’m expecting very good results.

I’ll say it again. If you think I’m trying to sell you something, I am. Because I want you to win your league. Diamond Draft is proven and reliable.

When you pick a few of these hitters, you may elicit chuckles or reactions of surprise. Some will be greeted with indifference. But you’re not out to impress your leaguemates. Your goal is to beat them, and by nabbing these underrated standouts, none of the dissenting draft day opinions of your opponents will matter in the end.


Jayson Werth, OF, Philadelphia

He’s the best example of a player who is going to produce excellent Rotisserie numbers, yet he simply doesn’t excite many owners. I want to absolutely make sure I have Werth on my teams, and don’t care what anyone else thinks. So when I take him in the seventh or eighth round, I always seem to conjure up another drafter who says “Werth? Really?” I don’t bother explaining myself.

He is often the highest-ranked player on my board when I take him, and I’m drafting him when I want him, not when other people think I should. I’m not waiting until a few rounds later just because he may fall that far, because I reduce my chances of landing him.

Werth is Diamond Draft’s 15th-ranked outfielder, projected to hit .270 with 29 home runs and 25 steals. Werth naturally ends up on my roster as my second outfielder, and those are outstanding projections for a player slotted there. I have complete confidence he can approach those numbers, as increased at-bats in 2009 will lead to impressive overall production.


Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego

He sometimes isn’t considered among the top picks at first because of his home park, a perception that works to my/your advantage when you want to grab him. Gonzalez is DD’s fifth-ranked first baseman, projected to hit .291 with 39 homers and 120 runs batted in.

I have been able to get him past the ninth round in many snake drafts, and landed him for  a very reasonable $20 in an NL-only auction last week ($230 cap). I’ll see Derrek Lee auctioned off for nearly the same price on occasion. Whatever he doesn’t do from the power perspective at home is well balanced by how he performs on the road.


Mike Fontenot, 2B, Chicago

He is possibly the single-most undervalued player in fantasy baseball right now.  Fontenot has nailed down the second base job, yet he somehow went for one dollar in the same NL-only auction I previously mentioned. DD projects Fontenot to hit .295, with 14 homers and 73 RBIs. My buddy Brad Evans of Yahoo! Sports wrote a great piece on Fontenot, which truly illustrates his fantasy potential for 2009.


Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Astros

Yes, he is a notorious injury risk. Yet I can grab him for only a few bucks in an NL-only auction, and have been taking him past Round 20 in mixed snake drafts. I’ll certainly take him for the batting average and a boost in stolen bases. DD projects Matsui to hit .290 with 25 steals. He looks mighty nice next to Fontenot in my middle infield.


Dallas McPherson, 3B, Marlins

I’ve seen him go completely undrafted in a few mixed leagues. That’s understandable, as some have vowed to never be teased by him again. But McPherson has a legitimate shot to win a starting job and his power is certainly not in question. He can hit more than 20 homers for sure with extensive playing time, as DD refers to him as a "Mike Jacobs clone."


Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers

He isn’t considered a “sexy” pick, and often falls even further than Werth. I’ve been able to easily get Ethier in double-digit rounds of snake drafts. Published reports indicate he is ticketed to hit third in front of Manny Ramirez. That only boosts his value further. DD has him projected to hit .309 with 25 HRs.


Shin Soo-Choo, OF, Cleveland

I’ve seen him drop near the 20th round in some mixed leagues. That may seem outrageous to more experienced fantasy leaguers, but it also depends on who you are playing with. Not everyone I draft with is an expert, and Choo will slip far in some leagues where the competition isn’t intense. DD projects Choo to hit .296 with 20 HRs and 90 RBIs.


Kendry Morales, 1B/OF, Angels

Another player who often goes ignored in mixed leagues, Morales is set to take advantage of the departure of Mark Teixeira. He has displayed significant power this spring, is reportedly slotted to hit fifth, and DD projects him to .283 with 25 homers. What a bargain!


Daniel Murphy, OF, Mets

He’s a very promising pure hitter who will emerge as a fan and fantasy favorite this season. I have landed Murphy for as a low as three dollars in an NL-only auction, and have seen him slip to reserve rounds in other drafts. Personally, I’m expecting a .280-plus average with more than 15 homers and over 80 RBI.


Carlos Gomez, OF, Twins

DD has him projected to steal 34 bases. There is no doubting his speed, and he’s a great bargain at the end of mixed league drafts. So is Nyjer Morgan of the Pirates, who has recently started to show signs of life in spring training after a bad start. Morgan is projected to start in left field and steal 27 bases. I procured him for one dollar in my recent NL-only draft.


John Baker, C, Marlins

I am treating catchers much like defense/special teams in fantasy football this season. I’ll leave them until the end of the draft, and after doing my homework, I’ll simply take a good value that has been passed by. I don’t get caught up in positional scarcity at catcher, so I will avoid taking Russell Martin or Brian McCann early on.

I don’t see why you should take a catcher earlier when other players at other positions give you much better stats. I draft for the best overall hitting numbers possible, regardless of position.

Baker has enjoyed a very good spring and there has been talk the Marlins are so comfortable with him, he was a reason they passed on Ivan Rodriguez. DD has him projected to hit .292 with 11 HRs and 68 RBI, and I will take that for one dollar. Baker and Jesus Flores of the Nationals are two solid picks at the end of a draft, even in two-catcher leagues.


Try the FREE Demo of Diamond Draft here. Also be sure to listen to Scott Engel’s Experts Edge on Thursday night at 8 pm ET, when he interviews New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes on BlogTalkRadio.com.