2024 fantasy baseball cheat sheet: Which MLB players have most value at their current ADP?

Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31) runs out a single during game two of the ALDS for the 2023 MLB playoffs against the Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31) runs out a single during game two of the ALDS for the 2023 MLB playoffs against the Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The 2024 MLB season is just around the corner, and that can only mean one thing. Fantasy baseball is just around the corner as well! Whether you're looking to defend your championship from a year ago, or looking to avoid suffering a punishment, knowing average draft positions can be essential to your success.

The key to any successful fantasy baseball season is finding value in players who are undervalued. Sure, none of us commonfolk will ever be as great at finding value as Brad Pitt playing Billy Beane, but we can all try our best to earn the main role in Moneyball 2 with our fantasy baseball prowess. There are players in MLB today who are overlooked in fantasy baseball for a range of uncalled-for reasons, whether its age, health, or just not living up to their potential.

With that, here are our picks for the best value picks in fantasy baseball this season.

C: Alejandro Kirk, TOR

Kirk's disastrous 2023 campaign has dropped him from a must-start player to a late-round backup. That's where the value lies. Despite seeing most of his offensive metrics drop considerably last season, Kirk still consistently made contact. Kirk may never be able to replicate his 2022 campaign, but he's definitely capable of providing starter value at the catcher position. We've already seen an elite fantasy season from Kirk, so a late-round pick on a thin position could be a worthwhile risk.

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1B: Rhys Hoskins, MIL

A .245 average, 30 homers, 90 RBI. That's what Hoskins accomplished practically every year from 2018 to 2022. Those are very, very solid numbers. Assuming he has fully recovered from his ACL tear, we can expect similar production. Obviously, Hoskins is in a worse situation with the Brewers than he was with the Phillies, and American Family Field is a downgrade offensively compared to Citizens Bank Park. That said, Hoskins is still a very powerful bat with a lot to prove in 2024.

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2B: Gavin Lux, LAD

Prior to a season-ending ACL tear last season, there was a lot of hype surrounding Lux, who had reportedly adding six miles per hour to his swing. Now, that hype has mostly disappeared, but if those reports were true, Lux could be in for a massive breakout that Dodgers fans have been expecting for years.

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3B: Ke'Bryan Hayes, PIT

The biggest problem facing Hayes has always been his inability to rack up extra-base hits. However, that changed in the second half of 2023. Hayes slashed .299/.335/.539 with 10 homers over the final two months of the season, and while most people still consider him a single machine, he's now shown potential for a serious offensive breakout.

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SS: Dansby Swanson, CHC

If you heard a player was going to hit 25 home runs with 10 stolen bases and an average around .250, you'd think they were a must-start. That's about what is expected from Swanson. However, given the depth at the shortstop position, Swanson has fallen down draft boards tremendously. The reality is that the shortstop position has gotten so deep that you can wait until the later rounds to pick someone like Swanson and still get starter value despite him not being a top-12 choice at the position.

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OF: Mike Trout, LAA

In the year 2024, it's shocking that Trout is going as late as the seventh round in some drafts. Sure, he no longer gets the opportunity to hit alongside Shohei Ohtani, but Trout put up MVP numbers multiple times before Ohtani was in Anaheim. Since then, Trout has certainly taken a step back, but he seems ready to play at full health again heading into 2024.

A report from Angels' writer Thomas Murray claims that Trout will finally be playing without limitations this season. Trout even hinted that his base-stealing prowess could finally come back, but still tempered some expectations. "I’m not saying I’m gonna go out there and steal 40 bags again," Trout said. "But I might get 20." Keep in mind, last year was the worst season of Trout's career statistically, and he still posted a 131 OPS+. For perspective, 130 is considered Hall of Fame level.

OF: Cedric Mullins, BAL

Since his breakout in 2021, many people have watched Mullins fall out of their good graces while the Orioles have grown up around him. That said, so long as Mullins earns consistent playing time, which looks to be the case in 2024, he is good for 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases. At his late round ADP, that's solid value for your last outfield spot or bench.

OF: Max Kepler, MIN

The biggest knock against Kepler has always been his quality of contact. However, that changed in 2023. Kepler posted a career-high 47% hard-hit rate last season at the cost of some strikeouts. He also posted a career-high 21.6% strikeout rate. However, that trade-off doesn't seem very dangerous considering Kepler still put up a .271 expected batting average and a .503 expected slugging percentage.

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SP: Luis Severino, NYM

It's easy to forget just how good Severino was in 2022. He posted a 3.18 ERA and 3.70 FIP. However, 2023 was vastly different. Severino did not do anything well. Fortunately for Severino buyers, there are reports that he was tipping pitches last season. If that is fixed, there is a great chance that Severino returns to his 2022 form this year. It's a prove-it season for Severino, who is playing on a one-year contract with the Mets. Severino provides ace potential at a late-round value.

RP: Will Smith, KC

This pick is more based on expecting the Royals to take a leap forward in 2024. If the Royals prove to be in the AL Central race this year, like many people expect, then closer Will Smith should get ample opportunity for saves. The AL Central isn't the toughest division, so as long as the Royals' young studs keep developing, there should be plenty of games that need closing out. Smith may have struggled in the ERA department a year ago, but he's undoubtedly the top option for saves in Kansas City, and that's enough to warrant a place on fantasy baseball rosters.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB fantasy cheat sheet: Top value players at each position