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Fantasy Baseball Picks: DraftKings MLB Best Ball ADP Trends

Garion Thorne breaks down a few players who have seen their ADP altered due to their recent performance in the World Baseball Classic.

2023 World Baseball Classic: Quarterfinal Team Puerto Rico v. Team Mexico Photo by Rob Tringali/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We are just a week away from the start of the MLB regular season, yet highly competitive baseball has been taking place across the world since early March. On Tuesday, Japan defeated the USA 3-2 to win the World Baseball Classic for the third time in the tournament’s history. However, this year’s edition felt different. This time, more eyeballs were glued to the action, which is obviously going to impact public perception of these players.

Don’t believe me? Well, believe the ADP trends. Using data collected from three separate DraftKings Best Ball drafts conducted over the last three weeks, let’s take a look at some assets who have seen their stock rise or fall while playing for their country this month.

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OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

March 10th: 11th
March 17th: 5th
March 21st: 4th

We’re about to enter Trout’s 12th full season in the big leagues. A two-week stretch where the All-Star slashed .296/.406/.556 and made the All-Tournament team isn’t going to change too much about how we view his generational greatness. Still, it had been a long time since most people had an opportunity to watch Trout on the field, and his WBC exploits and storylines were far more positive than simply reading a FanGraphs page where the slugger has failed to reach 500 plate appearances every season since 2019.

Trout’s getting older and his strikeout rate is rising, yet his career wRC+ of 172 trails only the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds in MLB history. Considering the Best Ball format mitigates some injury risk, there’s a case to be made that Trout should be the consensus No. 2 pick after Aaron Judge.

OF Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays

March 10th: 58th
March 17th: 42nd
March 21st: 33rd

Remember the September run Arozarena had back in 2022? The one where we all decided he was now the greatest baseball player on the face of the Earth? Well, he just recaptured some of that magic for team Mexico. In 20 at-bats over six games, Arozarena slashed .450/.607/.900 with a 1.507 OPS that was the highest of any player with at least 20 plate appearances in the WBC. He also made some amazing catches in the outfielder and just generally stole the spotlight with his charismatic personality.

As an asset in season-long formats, Arozarena tends to have more value in 5x5 rotisserie leagues, where his potential for 30-plus steals fills a dire need in terms of statistical scarcity. In Best Ball, I’d be cautious when it comes to drafting Arozarena with this much helium. While the tools are obvious, the 28-year-old is coming off a 2022 campaign where he posted only a 26th percentile expected batting average (.234) and a 32nd percentile expected wOBA (.301). Also, despite seeing over 600 PAs the last two seasons, Arozarena’s never managed more than 20 home runs. I prefer George Springer or Luis Robert in a similar range.

P Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres

March 10th: 42nd
March 17th: 50th
March 21st: 57th

It’s important to note that this data was collected prior to Kyle Schwarber sending a Darvish cement mixer into the upper tank at loanDepot Park on Tuesday, so there might be an even bigger ADP dip on the horizon. Also, it’s not as if that was the lone blemish of Darvish’s WBC performance. He was beat up by Korea across three innings of work in his lone start of the tournament, then proceeded to surrender a solo home run to David Fletcher in a relief outing versus Italy. Underwhelming to say the least.

Like the aforementioned Trout, Darvish has a long track record of success in MLB. However, the right-hander will turn 37-years-old in August and there were some red flags below the surface in what was overall a very good 2022. For instance, despite allowing a career-worst 9.0% opponent barrel rate, Darvish enjoyed the lowest BABIP of his tenure in the Majors (.250). Also, though his strikeout rate did climb back to a fantastic 28.8% following the All-Star break, Darvish averaged a paltry 7.6 strikeouts per nine over his first 14 starts of the season. There’s clearly still a lot left in the tank — as evidenced by the Padres’ willingness to ink the veteran to a long-term extension — yet I’d be investing in Max Fried, Zac Gallen and Kevin Gausman before touching Darvish in 2023.

OF Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles

March 10th: 102nd
March 17th: 85th
March 21st: 79th

Santander was an absolute force for Venezuela in the WBC, with four extra-base hits and an .882 slugging percentage in just 17 at-bats. As it pertains to public perception, it’s difficult to get a read on the switch-hitting outfielder. Santander has racked up nearly 1,800 plate appearances in the big leagues, yet he’s done so while mostly playing for an irrelevant Orioles squad. He’s the type of asset that most casual baseball fans have heard of, but have likely never seen step into the batter’s box. However, big home runs in matchups with Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic can change things quickly. Let alone hitting 33 bombs in a breakout season with Baltimore in 2022.

Santander is also the exact archetype of player to benefit from the Best Ball format. In 5x5 leagues, the 28-year-old is a three-category asset if you’re feeling optimistic, but likely a two-category asset if you’re being a realist. At the end of the day, he’s a career .245 hitter with a regrettable .300 OBP and three stolen bases to his name. Yet, in a setting where power is rewarded above all else, Santander is an intriguing value, thanks to an 88th percentile expected wOBA (.352) and an 87th percentile expected slugging (.471). If Santander’s still on the board around pick 80, feel free to indulge without hesitation.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.