By: Nate Leer
With the season over a quarter of the way done, now is a great time to look at who the best fantasy baseball values have been to this point. These are players that were likely undrafted or drafted late depending on your league settings. However, each of these players has returned significant value to their owners. If any of them is still available in your league, grab them quick!
Here’s the 10 fantasy baseball players who have had the biggest return on investment for their owners:
1. Ervin Santana – SP – Min: Big Erv is having a career year. Considering the lack of starting pitching depth around the league and the fact he went undrafted in many leagues, Santana is my best value so far. That said, his low strikeout rate for an ace makes me think he will come back to Earth at some point, at least for fantasy baseball purposes. If you have benefited from his performance so far, don’t be afraid to trade him while his value is high.
2. Mark Reynolds – 1B – Col: Reynolds went nuts early but has cooled off of late. However, he is still hitting for a good average and will hit for power if given enough ABs. And that is the big question for Reynolds: Will he continue to get enough ABs to be productive. If he gets 250 ABs in Denver plus another 250 on the road, he should be good for 30-35 HRs or more and hopefully a decent average. Most fantasy owners can find room for that production in their lineups.
3. Lance McCullers – SP – Hou: Unlike some of the names on this list, McCullers was drafted in all but the most shallow leagues. That said, he has significantly outperformed his average draft position. He is one of the top fantasy pitchers to this point and has the talent to back it up. Health has been the biggest issue to this point in his career and he seems to be feeling good now. Owners are loving his production with fingers crossed it lasts.
4. Greg Holland – RP – Col: Holland has returned to being his dominant self. It is impressive to see this kind of rebound after major surgery. If he and his team stay hot, he could be the best closer in fantasy baseball for 2017.
5. Aaron Judge – OF – NYY: So far, Judge’s strength and ability have covered any holes in his swing caused by his long arms. He would not be the first oversized slugger we have seen but many tall kids have parts of the strike zone they can’t cover well. Maybe Judge is an exception or maybe he will be exposed yet. He will definitely be given plenty of chances to prove the power is legit.
6. Ryan Zimmerman – 1B – Was: Zim has resurrected his career in a HUGE way. He is hitting for power and a great, if unsustainable, average. He will certainly cool off some but he is another guy who will keep producing if healthy, especially given the lineup of which he is a part.
7. Eric Thames – 1B/OF – Mil: Thames is in a major funk of late so it remains to be seen whether he can rebound to perform like he did the first month or so of the season. I don’t own Thames in any leagues but will be watching closely if another owner gives up on him. The guy’s work ethic and approach indicate he should be able to get righted eventually.
8. Marcell Ozuna – OF – Mia: There is a good chance Ozuna was drafted in your league but he is returning tremendous value for a mid to late round pick. He has shown flashes of dominance before so health seems to be the only obstacle to a big season.
9. Michael Pineda – SP – NYY: Pineda has been a good fantasy SP this year which is a nice return while many bigger names are struggling and/or injured. Expect more of the same with possible upside still left for the young former stud prospect.
10. Jason Vargas – SP – KC: It may not be sustainable but Vargas has been a solid fantasy SP. He is a free agent after the season and the Royals suck so he is a prime trade candidate. Where he lands could swing his value up or down.
Other early values: Charlie Morton – SP – Hou, Dan Strailly – SP – Mia, Chris Owings – SS/OF – Ari, Elvis Andrus – SS – Tex, S Castro – 2B – NYY, Corey Dickerson – OF – TB, Ender Inciarte – OF – Atl.