The still-to-be-determined start of the 2020 MLB season has added an interesting wrinkle to fantasy baseball draft prep. We here at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts in these unprecedented times.
Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts, in many cases, because of the delayed start to the season. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?
Today's feature focuses on Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura.
Draft or Pass at current ADP: 49 (2B6)
Hiura might be the most anonymous Top-50 projected fantasy player in baseball.
Imagine hitting over .300 with 19 HR, 49 RBI, 9 SB with an OPS of .938 in your rookie season. One would think that would warrant Rookie of the Year consideration, right?
Not in 2019. Hiura didn't get a single vote. Pete Alonso of the Mets rightfully took home the prize with a 53 HR, 120 RBI season. Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Soroka and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. finished second and third, respectively, in the vote total.
The Brewers know what they have in the impact 23-year-old.
So what makes Hiura such an impact option this early in fantasy drafts?
For starters, the power is legit. Hiura hit 19 home runs playing in just 84 games his rookie season. Hiura grades as a 60/60 for raw power on the 20-80 scale over at FanGraphs. Furthermore, the NL Central, even during a shortened season should play well to power hitters, with Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Chicago (with the wind blowing out at Wrigley), and St. Louis, are all favorable for hitters.
Secondly, Hiura hits the ball everywhere. He only pulled the ball 30.3% of the time, while going opposite field 29.3% of balls in play. Pitchers will have to find a way to continue to get it past Hiura to get him out, after finishing 2019 with a high strikeout rate of 30.7%.
He also has plenty of protection in a dangerous Brewers offense. Christian Yelich has put up MVP caliber seasons the past two years, Lorenzo Cain is an ideal bounce-back candidate after a disappointing 2019, and Ryan Braun is still a feared middle of the lineup presence. All three are likely to hit ahead of Hiura, who should have ample opportunity to drive in runs and put the ball over the fence.
SI’s Fantasy analyst Shawn Childs looks at Hiura as an expensive ADP option in high stakes leagues, with concern that a fourth-round pick without enough of a sample could be potentially dangerous despite the upside.
Hiura won't be cheap in 2020 (ADP – 42). The question here comes between his highlights and small sample size of success or expected regression for outperforming his previous resume in power. Let's set his floor at .280 with 90 runs, 25 home runs, 85 RBI, and 15 steals while hoping for more upside. His one black mark is a balky right elbow that may need TJ surgery down the road.
In a 12-team league, Hiura lands at 49 as the 2B6. That puts him at the tail end of the fourth round. I'm likely to pass on him here only because there are reliable options behind him in drafts with players like Whit Merrifield, Jonathan Villar, DJ LeMahieu, and Yoan Moncada. Max Muncy is another stud option going in the overall high 60s-lower 70s range if your league offers him at both first and second base as an option.
While he does have top-three upside at the position, Hiura ultimately scares me a tad at that price point for a position that does have quality depth and versatility. I like the player, but I'll pass at his current ADP.
READ MORE: 2020 Milwaukee Brewers Fantasy Team Preview
Latest SI Fantasy Baseball
- Luis Castillo: Budding Ace With Attainable Areas of Growth
- Draft or Pass: Nick Castellanos Has More Untapped Power!
- Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Superlatives
- Javier Baez: Small 2019 Setback Not a Deterrent on Draft Day
- Washington Nationals Fantasy Superlatives
- Jack Flaherty: Youth, Upside vs. Age, Track Record
- Bryce Harper: Buying the Bounce-Back