Fantasy Baseball: The Seasonal Draft Stack

If you are familiar with my DFS writing, you know that I have previously joked about the phrase “stacking” in DFS and that it can “suck” or be used improperly.  That is entirely a conversation for another day which I will cover with the DFS articles in March, but just note that I am not entirely against the basic logic on the upside of a stack.  There is value in doing a stack in seasonal drafts as well, especially in leagues where you are able to manipulate your lineup each week (or day) and very much so in a points based league.

The basic benefits of a stack concept for seasonal fantasy baseball are very simple and similar to that in DFS.

  • If one guy in the lineup is producing RBI then someone is scoring those runs
  • If one guy in the lineup is getting on base, stealing bases and scoring, then someone is likely driving him in
  • If one team is simply scoring a lot due to a ballpark or playing in a bad pitching division/schedule then all ships rise with the sea level as they say

I have seen this work year after year in H2H Points leagues where someone has 3 to 4 players from one of the top offenses in Baseball and they wind up having a great season.  Now you can probably sit here and say, yeah, duh, if I have Vlad, Bichette and Springer from the Jays I am looking pretty.  Of course, but landing all three of those in a re-draft league (*cough*, I have two of them on my dynasty team and the third is not Springer *cough*) can always be difficult and so we want to identify in re-draft who is going to provide the best value as a stack.

However, this isn’t just finding a team who has 4 hitters with low ADP that we can look to roster.  If it was that easy, everyone would just stack the Pirates and win every season.

No, we should apply some logic and draft strategy here as well.  So I am going to walk through the two stack concepts which I find the best to use.

Note:  Stacking never includes pitchers.  Thank you.

Fantasy Baseball Stack Prep

Before we get into the two methods though, I first want to point out the critical aspect of this strategy.  The benefit of planning a stack before you draft is that you can KNOW what positions you will be filling in with your stack and when you plan to do it.  Three of the four players in any stack should come after the 10th round with higher emphasis on being 12th round or later.  If I know that the ADP on three players I want is rounds 14, 16 and 19 then there is no excuse for me not nabbing them in 13, 15 and 18 to ensure I get my stack.  By doing this, if I know that I am getting SS (13th), OF (15th) and 1B (18th) as a random example then I know not to overload on those positions earlier — which helps me determine where I am going in rounds, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc….

Method #1:  Build around the Franchise Pick

This method assumes that you will spend your top pick on a hitter because the first round is generally a great spot to make sure you lock in that anchor bat who is going to produce across the board at a level others will not.  So among these target first rounders, are there any which we can then automatically plan our stack around?  Yes!  Glad you asked.

Juan Soto & Nationals Stack

upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/6c/Wa...Okay, so sure you need to nab one of  the top overall picks here, but who doesn’t want to build around the best hitter in baseball when the value is so extreme on everyone else?  The value mind you is extreme because … well because the team is not that good.  However, Soto is projected across the board for 100+ runs, 100+ RBI, 100+ walks and should hit 30+ home runs if he see’s enough pitches.  He is the best hitter in the game and if he is healthy the pieces around him are going to have solid stretches as they play in an above average hitters park and have road series in the division at Atlanta and Philadelphia.  Two parks that also play great in the summer months.

The other Nationals in this stack after Soto in the first round include

1B – Josh Bell, ADP 137 … Rounds 9-11

Josh Bell is 29 so the upside of him finally hitting his prime are long gone.  In a full season with Washington last year he was able to put up a respectable second half line of .277/.381/.506 with 15 HR.  Bell is probably still going a little too high here, but if we already have Soto there’s great reason in taking Bell as well.  Because if Soto is going to play the full season then Bell should perform at his value — and if you drafted Soto, you’re gonna need Bell to play well.

2B – Cesar Hernandez, ADP 329 … Rounds 21-24

Hernandez played 149 games between Cleveland and Chicago in 2021, he played 58 in the shortened 2020 and put up 161 games in back to back seasons with the Phillies prior to the pandemic season.  Second base is his to lose with the Nationals and he’ll have a great shot to be hitting at the top of the order ahead of Soto.  Hernandez is getting viewed as being washed up after a .232 season which saw him put the ball in play considerably less than in his prior full season in 2019 with the Phillies.  But again, if we are counting on our anchor franchise pick in Soto, then we want the guys around him — especially the veterans.

3B – Carter Kieboom, ADP 556 … Virtually un-drafted in many leagues

This is our dart pick at the bottom.  Kieboom is just 24 years of age and had his largest cup of coffee last season extending into a regular every day player when he got 249 PA and … well, he sucked.  But his xSLG rate did jump up from a pathetic .212 in 2020 to .347 in 2021, so there are signs of potential improvement.  He won’t cost you a single thing and by no means is he the piece you rely upon at 3B every day in your stack.  But again, buy into the team around your franchise pick.

Byron Buxton & Twins Stack

This one is going to require you to possibly over pay on Buxton where he might normally go, but in the early rounds if there is a player you want you typically have to ignore your draft pick slot and just take them when you can.

With Buxton, you know the drill, if he can give you anything close to 120+ games then you are going to get great return.  The kid will hit across so many categories when  healthy that he justifies being a top 5 round selection and as of the time I am writing this his ADP is right at 62 overall.

It’s the rest of this veteran lineup which is very intriguing however.  The stadium is middle of the road, the division has some young arms and some good staffs in it, but the Twins should still hit bombs.

3B – Josh Donaldson

Much like Buxton, injuries seem to become a problem for the Rain Maker.  However for a position like 3B to grab Donaldson somewhere between 13-15th rounds and lock in 25-30 HR upside is not bad.

OF – Alex Kiriloff

Kiriloff is a young player still who is still likely trending towards having his breakout season in 2023 more than 2022, but they’re going to let him play a lot and he showed some power signs last year finally.

C – Mitch Garver

In leagues where you do have to start 2 catchers you won’t be disappointed with Garver as one of them.

Also can consider:  Miguel Sano, Max Kepler

I personally am a Kepler mark, but he could be shipped out if Kiriloff emerges finally.  Sano gets hot for a week or two every year, loves hitting in Cleveland of all places and is likely going to eat his way out of the league at some point.

Fernando Tatis & Padres Stack

Everything in the Padres stack depends upon Tatis or Machado, but either one is worthy of taking in my mind.  For Nando, he’s obviously going at the very top of drafts for good reason so that’s why Machado is an alternate second option.  But the real value is on the rest of the players on this stack.

1B/2B – Jake Cronenworth

There is a chance the Padres will have Cronenworth playing 1B a lot more if they move on from Hosmer.  San Diego has plenty of other options in the infield but taking Cronenworth’s bat out of the lineup is not a long term option here.  His strikeout rate improved even more down to 14% last season but it was his improvement on swings and misses both in and outside of the zone overall which was most encouraging.  I think Cronenworth will give you strong average, good pop and this lineup when it gets hot will put up good numbers.

OF – Trent Grisham

You know what you are getting with Tatis/Machado and Cronenworth.  It’s Grisham who can put this lineup back on the map as a top tier offense.  Many will point out that his only season with a HH% over 36% was in the shortened pandemic 2020 season when they played all divisional/AL West games against some bad pitching staffs.  He Also benefited from his highest BAbip, ISO, pull %, AVG, SLG, etc… You get the idea.  But his EV has gone up and he will run enough to help out in that category too.  The only issue with Grisham right now are the strikeouts, and that’s why he is going to be drafted lower.

Also consider:  Austin Nola

Method #2:  Just Take the Late Value

In this method I am not concerned with who I took early on and building around them as much as I just want to lock up three hitters in the teens from the same team who I think can all have solid seasons.

Note, these are generally going to be teams that you wouldn’t expect to be “great”.

Baltimore Orioles

Alot should be made about the Orioles odd re-construction to the left field wall at Camden Yards and in the month of April alone Baltimore is likely to get off to a rough offensive start.  But these guys are all drafted late and as the season moves along Camden Yards will still be favorable for hitting, especially lefties — just not as much as prior years.

1B/OF – Ryan Mountcastle

There are a good number of options on this team, but it all starts with Ryan Mountcastle for me.  Sure, Cedric Mullins is a likely top 5 round pick who should do well — even if the Orioles send him elsewhere.  But Mountcastle is the cornerstone anchor in the lineup who should lead the Orioles in HR and RBI while actually hitting a respectable average considering how often he will strike out.

C – Adley Rutschman

Adley is among the top catching prospect in Baseball and rookie Catchers hitting can be a challenge, but the Orioles are for sure going to let him figure things out in the bigs this season.  He is about as sure of a thing prospect as we have seen in a while.

1B – Trey Mancini

Last years come back player of the year should be in line for another good season for the Birds, likely hitting third and ahead of Mountcastle.

Also Consider:  Anthony Santander (OF) and Rougned Odor (2B)

San Francisco Giants

As a team the Giants hit for better AVG, scored more runs and hit more Home Runs than the Atlanta Braves.  In fact, they led all teams not named Toronto in Home Runs in 2021.  No, their home park isn’t among the elite parks, but it has played more favorable since moving in the fences two years ago.  Not to mention the Giants get road park boosts in Colorado and Arizona (when roof opened) that makes them enough to consider.

The risk with a Giants stack?  They for sure will platoon some guys, so this is a lineup which looks better in leagues where daily or mid-week lineups can be set.

SS – Brandon Crawford

Can he replicate the near MVP season from a year ago?  He seemed to benefit from the heavier ball a season ago as anything down he was jacking out of the park, so a shift back to a non “dead” ball in 2022 could result in higher strikeouts but I trust him to return good value.

1B – Darin Ruf

If they just let Ruf play more games he is an option in all draft formats.  His current ADP is extremely low at 452, so you can get him whenever you want and plug in a backup 1B who has lots of power and should drive in runs when he plays.  With the DH coming to the NL the Giants could opt to get Ruf into the lineup more often.

OF – LaMonte Wade

Both Wade and Mike Yastrzemski are viable third options in a Giants stack but the arc on Wade is trending more up right now than Yas’ and in some leagues he gives you some position flexibility as well.  In leagues where we can manage lineups daily being able to platoon him with Ruf is going to be a common option.

SUMMARY

In summary, this isn’t necessarily a strategy to employ in every league and every format.  But it’s one which allows you to remember to plan ahead when drafting and not worry about over reaching in the middle to late rounds to ensure that you get your value core players.  DailyAmbush Members have access to our Dashboard and Tools, which can help with planning our your stack strategy, looking at positional rankings and digging into the customized projections further.

OTHER VALUE STACKS

  • Colorado Rockies – Brendan Rodgers, Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia
  • Cincinnati Reds – Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Tyler Naquin
  • Chicago Cubs – Ian Happ, Frank Schwindel, Patrick Wisdom
  • Cleveland Guardians – Jose Ramirez, Franmil Reyes, Amed Rosario

BEST HIGH END STACKS

  • New York Yankees – Gallo, LeMahieu, Torres, Sanchez
  • White Sox – Robert, Anderson, Abreu

 

srenner

Founder and CEO for The Daily Ambush. Author or The Dongers Club (MLB), The Ambush (NFL), The Slapshot (NHL) and The Tailgate (CFB).