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Targeting High Floor Players in Fantasy Drafts

Recently, I wrote a piece looking at when it is important to draft high upside players. Well, the same can be said for drafting players with a safe floor. If you want to read a little bit more of the back story to this piece, I encourage you to check out my latest article. For now though lets get right to it. This article identifies one player at each position that will help provide your fantasy team with a stable floor. The best part is that these players will not cost you much in fantasy drafts. Keep reading to find out who they are and what makes them so safe.

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High Floor Players for 2024 Fantasy Baseball drafts

Keibert Ruiz- Catcher, WAS

What Makes Keibert Ruiz so Safe

Highly regarded as a prospect, Ruiz was dealt to the Nationals as part of the giant Max Scherzer/Trea Turner deal that occurred during the 2021 season. Ruiz quickly stepped in as the Nationals’ everyday catcher and has not looked back. He appeared in 112 games in 2022 hitting seven home runs with a .251 batting average. His numbers improved this past season as Ruiz hit 18 home runs with a .260 average across 136 games. He is still only 25 years old and is one of the safest options you can draft at catcher.

Catchers can be the hardest position in all of fantasy to draft. Outside of the top few, there is significant risk that whoever you draft is going to wind up struggling offensively. By drafting Ruiz, fantasy managers can minimize that risk. Why? Ruiz has elite contact skills. This is not just amongst catchers, but amongst the entire MLB. Ruiz posted a whiff percentage in the 97th percentile and a strikeout rate in the 99th percentile. These elite contact skills allow Ruiz to limit his strikeouts and provide a stable batting average for your fantasy team.

Keibert Ruiz PLV

His hit tool looks even better once you factor in his 39.4% sweet spot rate. Ruiz hits a ton of line drives which gives him an even higher batting average floor. His .263 BABIP from last season is fairly unlucky and was weighed down significantly by his poor luck early in the season. During the second half, Ruiz saw his BABIP climb to .312 (a number that more appropriately reflects a player with his propensity to hit line drives). No surprise, Ruiz saw his batting average climb to .300 during the second half.

Although the Nationals do not have the most intimidating lineup on paper, this actually can work in Ruiz’s favor. With little competition behind him for plate appearances at catcher, Ruiz is guaranteed to start a high number of games. Availability is key for catchers as only 10 cleared 500 plate appearances last season. Ruiz is in no danger of falling below that mark in 2024 (assuming he does not get injured). Ruiz also benefits from batting in the middle of the lineup. Despite the mediocre offensive production from Washington, Ruiz still ranked 10th in RBIs and 11th in runs at the catcher position.

Ruiz is not the flashiest pick to make in fantasy drafts, but he is amongst the safest options at catcher later in the draft. He is going to provide solid counting stats mostly due to his reliable availability. At the very least, drafting Ruiz assures you are not going to have a negative asset at catcher. He is going as C15 in drafts around pick 170. He ranked as my C11 for the Fantrax Staff Consensus Rankings and is a prime target if you are drafting more risky players early on.

Why Keibert Ruiz has a low ceiling

The most appealing players in fantasy baseball are those with a combination of power and speed. Ruiz certainly does not have any speed (he stole one base last season) and his power is not as impressive as most fantasy managers look for. Ruiz’s average exit velocity ranked in the 16th percentile in baseball last season and his barrel rate still sat at just 5.8% after increasing over 2% from 2022. PLV shows how his power spiked for a bit during the season, but was still well below the league average for much of the year:

Keibert Ruiz PLV2

The 18 home runs he hit last season were nice but he still only managed to post a .409 slugging percentage. This ranked 15th amongst 24 catchers with at least 350 plate appearances. With little upside in the speed or home run categories, Ruiz’s fantasy value is capped. He is not going to hurt your teams but he is unlikely to be a standout performer at the end of the season. Ruiz should be targeted if you are looking for a reliable catcher, not a high-upside catcher.

Nathaniel Lowe-First Base, TEX

What Makes Nathaniel Lowe so Safe

Nathaniel Lowe’s career turned around once he was traded to Texas. After a solid 2021 season, Lowe exploded in 2022. He posted a 141 wRC+, a .302 average, and hit 27 home runs. Regression was expected entering 2023, but his numbers were still solid across the board. He finished last season with a .262/.360/.414 slash with 17 home runs. Lowe’s fantasy finishes over the past three seasons are: 17th,6th,16th and he profiles as a reliable option yet again in 2024.

When it comes to Lowe’s profile the strides he has made to improve his plate discipline have been impressive. He entered the league with below-average contact skills but has worked to lower his whiff rate each year. He posted a career-best whiff rate of 20.6% last season along with his lowest chase rate since 2020. His plate discipline leads to high walk rates which are especially valuable in OBP leagues and his contact skills provide a high floor for his batting average.

Lowe also benefits from batting directly behind Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in the lineup. He has produced at least 70 runs and 70 RBIs each of the past three seasons. 2023 saw him post 89 runs and 82 RBIs. The only other first basemen to hit 15+ home runs, score 80+ runs, and hit 80+ RBIs besides Lowe are:

  • Paul Goldschmidt, Spencer Torkelson, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman, Christian Walker, Pete Alonso, and Matt Olson

Pretty good group of names to be a part of.

Lowe is currently going as 1B19 in fantasy drafts right around pick 200. Lowe is not going to lead the league in any one category, but he can provide valuable contributions to four categories. By drafting Lowe, you ensure that your fantasy team will not need another first baseman throughout the 2024 season. He has an extremely high floor and quietly is just one season away from posting a 141 wRC+. Lowe is going too late in fantasy drafts for how safe of a profile he is.

Why Nathaniel Lowe has a Low Ceiling

The term slugger is used to describe first basemen more than any other position. When thinking of first basemen, your mind races to Pete Alonso, Matt Olson, or past players like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Home runs are imperative for a first baseman’s fantasy value. Lowe’s 27 home runs from 2022 looks more like an anomaly than what to expect moving forward.

The biggest issue is a low fly ball percentage. His highest fly ball percentage Lowe has ever posted is 30.6%. He does not hit enough fly balls to post the power numbers needed to finish toward the top of the first base rankings list. The only player to finish inside of the top five at first base last season without 30+ home runs was Freddie Freeman who stole over 20 bases. Lowe does not have that kind of upside but is still one of the safest players at the position.

Luis Arraez- Second Base, MIA

What Makes Luis Arraez so Safe

The rationale behind including Luis Arraez on this list is not hard to figure out. Arraez is arguably the best pure hitter in the Major Leagues. Entering 2023, Arraez had a career batting average of .314. An off-season trade landed him in Miami where Arraez had no trouble adjusting. He won the batting title with an outlandish .354 average. There was a point in the season that many even believed that he had a chance to bat .400.

Some may look at Arraez’s FanGraphs page and think that his .362 BABIP is bound to regress. While BABIP is a statistic heavily influenced by luck, there is skill to running a high BABIP.  Arraez’s ability to hit line drives is like no other in the game. He has never posted a line drive rate below 25.8% in his entire career. His rolling sweet spot chart is like no other in the league:

Luis Arraez Savant

Although Arraez lacks upside in many other categories, he is going to be one of, if not the best, players in baseball for your team’s batting average. Arraez is essentially slump-proof thanks to his elite contact skills and already-mentioned tendency to hit line drives. He is being drafted as 2B15 at pick 161 in drafts. You know what you are getting with Arraez which is something not a lot of other second base options can say.

Why Luis Arraez has a Low Ceiling

Arraez is the best pure hitter in baseball but he does not have very much upside elsewhere. His fantasy value is capped by a lack of both power and speed. The 10 home runs Arraez hit last season represented a career-high, but there were no notable changes to his quality of contact to suggest this should be his new norm. With his home run output likely capped at 10, Arraez would need to be an elite base stealer to finish toward the top of the second base rankings. Unfortunately, his sprint speed ranks in the 21st percentile and he has never stolen more than four bases in a season. His elite hit tool gives Arraez a high fantasy floor, but he lacks the ceiling other players have.

Ha-Seong Kim- Shorstop, SDP

What Makes Ha-Seong Kim so Safe

Kim joined the Padres following the 2020 season where he became a bit of a star in Korea. With Major League baseball taking a back seat during the pandemic, attention shifted overseas where Kim put on a clinic. High expectations did not result in fast success for Kim stateside. He posted just a 71 wRC+ in his rookie season and a 106 wRC+ in his second season did not do much to inspire confidence.

Kim finally put it all together in 2023. He hit 17 home runs, stole 38 bases, and increased his wRC+ to 112. He appeared in a career-high 152 games cementing himself as a core piece of the Padres’ future. Kim also quickly turned himself into one of the most reliable infielders for fantasy managers to count on.

To start, Kim’s multi-positional eligibility boosts his fantasy value beyond his production. Managers can slot Kim at second base, shortstop, third base, middle infield, or corner infield. Players like that are not often the most productive fantasy assets, but this is where Kim stands out. His stolen base totals took off with the new rules in 2023 and he seems like a safe bet to steal 25+ bases again in 2024. This is production helps provide Kim with a stable floor.
In addition to his speed, Kim also has exceptional plate discipline and contact skills. He lowered his chase rate by over 4% in 2023 down to 20.4% while also bringing his whiff rate down to an impressive 17.7%. Plus speed, plus speed, and above-average walk rates make Kim an extremely reliable fantasy asset.

Kim is currently being drafted as the 12th shortstop off the board in fantasy drafts. Although he might not offer the same upside as Oneil Cruz (who is being drafted right in front of him), he does offer a much higher floor. If you were aggressive with your first few picks, grabbing Kim is a great way to lower your team’s volatility.

Why Ha-Seong Kim has a Low Ceiling

Although Kim hit a career-high 17 home runs last season, his power metrics are suspect at best. Kim’s average exit velocity sat in the bottom seven percent of the league last season at 86.2 mph. His barrel rate was just 4.2% and he was one of the luckiest hitters in terms of his home runs hit. Not only did 90% of Kim’s pulled barrels go for a home run last season, but he also hit six home runs on balls he did not barrel. In terms of batters with 15+ homers, only Randal Grichuk, Isaac Paredes, Ozzie Albies, and Alex Bregman saw a higher percentage of home runs hit from non-barreled balls. Kim’s power, or lack there of it, lowers his fantasy ceiling. He is a valuable asset, but not one that is going to win you your league.

Alec Bohm- Third Base, PHI

What Makes Alec Bohm so Safe

Although Alec Bohm has not progressed as fast as many believed he would when Philadelphia drafted him third overall, he has quickly proven to be a reliable offensive option in a deep lineup. Bohm has increased his wRC+ from 76 in 2021, to 98 in 2022, and up to 105 in 2023. Coming out of college, his 6’5” frame came with plenty of power projectability although it is his contact skills that have shined.

Bohm posted a whiff rate of 18.1% last season helping fuel a career-best 15.4% strikeout rate. The only two qualified third basemen to post a strikeout rate lower than Bohm were Jose Ramirez and Alex Bregman. Bregman is going 60+ picks higher than Bohm and Ramirez is a second-round pick in most drafts.

Bohm’s fantasy profile has gotten safer thanks to the improvements to his game power. As mentioned, his big frame provides plenty of raw power but Bohm has needed to work hard to get this to translate to game power. This past season, his launch angle increased for the third consecutive season up to 11.1 degrees. His career-high 33.8 fly ball percentage helped Bohm reach the 20 home run mark for the first time in his career. Playing his home games in Citizens Bank Park will continue to benefit him and helps make his floor even higher. The additional benefit of batting in the middle of an elite lineup makes him an even more enticing option.

Bohm is going as the 14th third basemen off the board in fantasy drafts. Although he is not going to win you your league, he can add substantial value to fantasy teams. If you went after high-variance players early in your draft, adding Bohm gives you a player with a stable floor that you can count on throughout the 2024 season.

Why Alec Bohm has a Low Ceiling

As mentioned before, Bohm’s game power has been underwhelming throughout his Major League career. His 2023-barrel rate of 5.7% does not inspire much confidence about his ability to hit more than the 20 home runs he did last season. With his power ceiling capped, his upside becomes more reliant on speed. Well, this is definitely not a part of Bohm’s game. His sprint speed ranked in the 32nd percentile last season. He has never stolen more than four bases in a season and that should not be expected to increase in 2024. Bohm lacks the power that the elite fantasy performers at the position possess and does not have the speed to make up for it. He is likely to finish in the 10-15 range but comes with a high floor considering his draft price.

Brandon Nimmo- Outfield, NYM

What Makes Brandon Nimmo so Safe

In a year filled with disappointment and frustration for the Mets, Nimmo continued his spectacular run of offensive performances. For the fourth consecutive season, Nimmo posted a wRC+ of at least 130. His 24 home runs were a career-high thanks to career-bests in average exit velocity, fly ball percentage, and barrel rate. Going as OF44 in fantasy drafts, it is difficult to beat the value and safety that Nimmo provides.

Even though the Mets’ season was disappointing, the top half of the Mets’ lineup is still among baseball’s best. Nimmo gets to bat leadoff and bat in front of Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso. This makes Nimmo an elite contributor in the runs category. He has scored at least 89 times in each of the past two seasons.

Runs are just one category, but Nimmo’s value grows even safer once you turn to batting average. His .274 average (which is tied for his lowest mark since 2019) ranked 27th out of 105 qualified outfielders. Nimmo’s great contact skills and excellent understanding of the strike zone provide him with an extremely stable batting average floor.

The added bonus of Nimmo’s provides an additional layer of value. Injuries hampered Nimmo early in his career but he has proven each of these past two seasons that he is capable of posting respectable home run totals. His increase in barrel rate inspires more confidence looking ahead to 2024. At pick 192, you are unlikely to find a more reliable fantasy asset than Nimmo. He might not have the same upside as Morel (who was included in the previous article) going 14 picks later, but you get a much much much higher floor by drafting Nimmo.

Why Brandon Nimmo has a Low Ceiling

The lack of stolen bases really lowers Nimmo’s fantasy ceiling. Even after making significant strides in the power department, Nimmo’s value is still capped. Nimmo has never stolen more than nine bases in a season and has not stolen more than five since 2018. Running is simply not a part of his game, but it is key to being an elite fantasy option in the outfield. The top five outfielders according to FanGraphs Auction Calculator averaged 41.6 stolen bases last season. Now, part of that is skewed by Acuna’s 73 but the lowest number of that group was Mookie Betts with 14. Nimmo is not going to get anywhere close to the numbers needed to finish as an elite fantasy option. He is a great value late in drafts, but is not going to win you your league.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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