Fantasy Baseball is one of the most exciting times of the year, and especially the draft. Many GMs take weeks and weeks to formulate a strategy to acquire the best combination of hitting, pitching and speed.
Different leagues call for different strategies and different strategies call for different leagues. Whether it be ROTO, H2H or anything else, the statistics that you use in your league can completely alter each player's value. If you take out strikeouts or batting average, then Adam Dunn becomes a stud.
As you will see in my articles this season, my specialty is the head-to-head format. I love the weekly banter and destruction you can lay on one of your friends every week! Moreover, it completely alters the strategy, timing and overall makeup of your draft.
As a result, I am here to help you.
Let's look at 12 hitting 'stars' that you can grab in later rounds.
Remember, unlike other articles that talk about later rounds, I actually mean it. All of the players mentioned in this list have an average draft position (ADP) of pick 175 or higher. So tread lightly with the term 'hitting stars'.
NOTE: Depending on your strategy, some will not be worth your while, whereas others can be extremely useful.
One of my favorite picks this year. I hope no one in my leagues is reading this, as I believe Jonathan Lucroy can be a monster.
Lucroy put up almost the exact same totals in 40 less games in 2012 than he did in 2011. He played less than 100 games, but look at these numbers: .320 AVG, 12 HR, 58 RBI, 46 R, .881 OPS.
I would almost take that as a season total for a catcher, but in less than 100 games?
Sign me up! I have no idea why he is ranked so low.
A career .290 hitter with a .476 SLG percentage, Andre Ethier knows how to hit.
In a down season last year, Ethier still managed 20 HR, 89 RBI and a .284 AVG.
Batting in the heart of a potent lineup which features Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp, Ethier should surely eclipse the 100 RBI plateau.
Drafting a consistent vet who is in a 'new' situation coming off a poor year is a great recipe for picking a player with excellent value in the later rounds.
So when a player hits 30 HR and has a SLG percentage over .500 you assume that he is of the Adam Dunn mold and batting .200 thus bringing his ADP down in the 200s.
But Corey Hart still hit a decent .270 and is a career .276 hitter. Couple in 91 runs and it almost seems senseless that he is ranked so low.
But just like some of his peers to follow on this list, there is an area that hinders Hart's fantasy value. Yes he is injured and will miss some time at the beginning of the season, but stashing him on your bench will reap rewards later.
Strategy: Deal with the peripherals
Hart can give you some great numbers when drafted so late. However, if you are a team that focuses on limiting strikeouts and garners a lot of walks, then Hart isn't for you. His splits and K/BB (151/44) are terrible. So if you are focusing on some of the other less sexy categories and punting HR or runs, then leave Hart off your draft board.
I might have a soft spot for Carlos Quentin after he helped me win my baseball title when I snagged him up as a nobody off waivers in 2008. Quentin has one thing going against him every year, his health.
When he plays and plays consistently, Quentin can be a great asset to any team. At 30-years-old, Quentin can still hit the long ball, and do so with effectiveness.
Quentin only played in 86 games last season, yet still amassed 16 HR, 46 RBI and 21 2B. Moreover, he also had an excellent K/BB ratio (41/36).
If Quentin plays a full season, he could easily hit the 30/100 mark and become an extra later round selection for any team. If you can deal with the average AVG and no steals, then Quentin can really help your squad.
Jayson Werth hit .300 last season. He had 21 doubles and 8 stolen bases in an injury plagued season (81 games). Couple that with an always solid K/BB rate (57/42) and you would have had a very solid season.
Playing in Washington, he has a nice lineup around him and I think he could have a big season without all of the pressure of the big contract. The spotlight will be elsewhere (cough, cough Strasburg cough cough), so he should be able to have a very productive season.
At pick 229, you could do much worse than the bearded one.
Michael Cuddyer was a hot commodity last season during draft time. With his 2B eligibility (which is now gone), Cuddyer was picked (in my keeper league) one pick behind Ryan Howard and only a handful behind Craig Kimbrel.
Now, with an ADP of 208, Cuddyer can provide some solid numbers for your squad. In 101 games Cuddyer amassed 16 HR and 58 RBI, not bad for a 200-plus pick.
Now in his second year at Coors Field expect Cuddyer to play well and put up some impressive, maybe even career numbers.
As well all know, Justin Morneau has been unable to stay healthy for a full season. It was a very encouraging sign last season; however, as Morneau played in 134 games (versus 69 and 81 the previous two seasons).
Now that he feels quite healthy and his injuries are farther behind him, expect Morneau to have a much more productive season.
In 134 games, Morneau produced a meager 19 HR and 77 RBI. Not terrible numbers, but not that great either.
When comparing 1B eligible players that are going 150 picks ahead of Morneau (if not more), can you justify grabbing a guy like Freddie Freeman (23 HR, 94 RBI) or Mark Teixeira (24 HR, 84 RBI) so early when Morneau will be available so late?
It is not everyday that in a standard 12-team league that you can get a 40-100 player in the 14th round.
Adam Dunn had 41 HR last season. What else would you like me to say? He also maintained his high walk rate (105 BB) and even stole two bases!
Strategy: Just rake baby
There are some teams that will just punt strikeouts and average and just go for the big boppers. Guys like Dunn, Alvarez, Mark Reynolds (circa 2009) are excellent pieces if you can work them properly into your lineup. Think of them as the Dwight Howard type fantasy basketball player.
So if you have high average players, then do not grab Dunn, but if you want to either punt the avg or strikeout category then grab a couple of these hammers and let it rip.
It is never a bad idea to grab a career .300 hitter who has something to prove on his new team.
Michael Young definitely had a bad year last season as his role on the team changed and he knew that he was on his way out. Now hitting either right in front or behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Young will show that he is still a solid fantasy piece at the age of 36.
What makes him even more appealing is his 2B,3B,1B eligibility.
Again, for a perennial 200 hit guy, you could do worse with the 207th pick.
I had high hopes for Brett Gardner in 2012, but injuries limited him to a grand total of 16 games.
It is rare that you can get 50 steals this late in the draft, and Gardner certainly can do that for your squad.
Gardner walks a lot and thus has a solid OBP. Couple that with a plethora of runs and steals and you got yourself a good late piece to help you in both ROTO and H2H when needed.
Strategy: All speed, all the time
Some GMs like to focus on high average low power options for their squad. That means they punt HR and RBI (although it is surprising how well they can do in a given week with contact hitters) in favour of dominating other categories.
A guy like Gardner will definitely give you a boost in walks, hits, runs and stolen bases but will hold your squad back in HR, RBI, OPS.
So depending on your strategy, Gardner could be an excellent late addition to your team.
Kendrys Morales was the odd man out in many situations last year with both the signing of Albert Pujols and the emergence of Mark Trumbo.
I have always been a fan of Morales and I believe he is an underrated pure hitter. Do you remember how high his stock was before that terrible walk-off injury?
Kendrys had 22 HR and 76 RBI in 134 games for the Los Angeles Angels last season. Nothing fantastic but not terrible either and he usually does so with a decent batting average.
Morales now plays for the Seattle Mariners and will be slotted right in the middle of that lineup. I expect Morales to have a big year and he could easily go over 100 RBI now that he is truly healthy after being affected by the injury bug much of last season and the seasons prior.
30-100 potential with a good average at pick 216? I'm in.
Like Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse joins the Seattle Mariners lineup and will probably be slotted in either the third or fourth spot in the lineup.
Even before his breakout year in 2010, Morse had been hitting well. A career .295 hitter with 30 HR possibilities, Morse can certainly make an impact in your lineup now that he is fully healthy and ready to play everyday.
He will also potentially gain 1B eligibility throughout the year, so keep that in mind.
I have been high on Morse for awhile, click here if you don't believe me. Just watch out for his terrible K/BB splits (368/100 career).
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions in regards to your fantasy draft or fantasy baseball in general, drop a comment below and I will get back to you.
Get at me on Twitter @the__ste (double underscore) for fantasy advice, fantasy articles, MLB and Jays news and discussion, as well as anything else I find awesome.