Top 10 Utility Players to Draft in 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Players who are eligible at multiple positions are invaluable in fantasy baseball. Here are the best 10 you should target in drafts for 2024.

Ha-Seong Kim of the San Diego Padres celebrates after hitting a home run in the first inning during game one of a doubleheader game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 19: Ha-Seong Kim #7 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after hitting a home run in the first inning during game one of a doubleheader game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 19, 2023 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

The Jack of all Trades, Master of None often goes unnoticed in the Fantasy Baseball Landscape.

I often talk about the fantasy baseball season as one big process. A six month gauntlet is not for the weak so it helps to have all the advantages which make your life easier as a general manager. One aspect that may ease your stress is something called positional eligibility.

Dynamic A force that stimulates change within a system or process.

There’s a reason Fernando Tatis Jr. was such a desirable pick last season. He was already in the elite tier of fantasy players even before the Padres asked him to become dynamic in 2022.

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This positional switch-up resulted in gaining outfield eligibility along with his normal shortstop position. A 25/25 season was the result from Tatis in 2023. Even more useful than his final line, fantasy managers were able to insert him in the outfield; a position clearly starving for depth talent in today’s fantasy baseball environment. 

Not only do multiple positions help strengthen weaker positions on your roster, they also make other players on your roster easier to ship off in a trade. If you own more than enough versatility at one position, why not get rid of somebody for a piece that could help another area of your team? 

Drafting four fantastic shortstops who retain positional eligibility while two of them sit on your bench serve absolutely no positive purpose if your pitching staff is struggling. Go get that ace starter you need in exchange for an excess of what you already have! It is a selling point for your player and will be far more attractive for another team trying to fill their needs. 

The following ten players are guys I have confidence in to produce, while being flexible at the same time. Remember the idea of being dynamic and run with it on draft day.

When something goes unnoticed such as the idea of positional eligibility, that’s your opportunity. A more balanced team is the key to a smooth process. Either seize it and cash in or fizzle out of your league. The choice is yours. 

Steer Clear

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF) – ADP 56

When you see a profile like Bellinger’s, it’s easy to see why he has sandwiched two awful seasons between two terrific ones. His exit velocity, barrel, and hard-hit percentages are very weak for somebody who somehow cracked 26 homers.

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The one thing that saved him was his sweet-spot percentage. As we’ve seen with hitters time and time again, this type of stat can easily take a steep dive and isn’t as reliable as other data. I believe his 2024 will look more like his 2021 and 2022 in which he hit .165 and .210. His usual chase percentage will remain ugly and you will be thanking me for letting you know ahead of time.

There’s a reason it took the Cubs until the middle of spring training to invest in Cody Bellinger;  nobody trusts the guy. Scott Boras may overplay his hand at times yes, but regardless Bellinger will not put up the same production as last season.

A horrible year keeps him with the Cubs while a tremendous year would afford him the opportunity to flex his player option and seek more money. Either way it seems to me the club is getting taken for a mediocre player. Good luck with that contract Chicago!

Prove It

Jackson Holliday (2B/SS) – ADP 184

Colt Keith (2B/3B) – ADP 284

Elly De La Cruz (SS/3B) – ADP 37

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These three may just bring the most spark when it comes to your drafts. Holliday and Keith are going later in drafts, which could provide the most value out of anyone. While both of them haven’t seen a major league pitch thus far I still believe both of their bats will have immediate impact in the majors. Keith has a safe floor while it’s a matter of making the roster and playing time for Holliday.

Elly De La Cruz on the other hand has come under much skepticism this offseason as many have zoned in on his horrific second half. His August and September netted multiple strikeouts, putting him down to earth after a torrid start. De La Cruz is still far too young to believe much of anything so far and he will need to prove his worth of an early round selection.

For my money I’d rather invest in Oneil Cruz going nearly fifty picks later with a similar skillset.

Keep your Eyes Open

These players will start the year with eligibility at one spot but eventually gain other positions.

Michael Busch (3B) – ADP 379: Expected DH and First Baseman 

Henry Davis (OF) – ADP 291: Expected Catcher 

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Christopher Morel (OF) – ADP 194: Expected DH and Third Baseman 

Top 10

10. Gavin Lux (2B/OF) – ADP 279

We will start this list with a player batting ahead of Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman. As if that wasn’t enough already, James Outman and Teoscar Hernandez are projected to be batting ahead of Lux. He is very much protected even in the nine hole. Talk about an appetizing counting stats sandwich! 

Put aside lineup construction and you have an imperfect understanding of a player who hasn’t quite lived up to expectations thus far in his career.

It’s worth noting that even through all of the injuries and struggles, his career averages are still near 20 homers and 15 steals per season. For a guy who is finally ready to go after missing all of last season, I’m banking on a major comeback. 

Keep in mind Lux’s Triple-A stats in his last fully healthy season.

Through 113 games he produced 159 hits, good for a .347 average while adding 26 home runs on his way to a 1.028 OPS. If that doesn’t get you excited about potential damage you must be a Padres fan. Lux has displayed a good eye while also possessing sneaky speed which landed him in the 90th percentile of sprint speed amongst all players. 

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At his ADP it’s hard to see much downside. There are some concerns of a possible platoon with Miguel Rojas but it’s worth noting much of the NL West teams feature right-handed starters, exceptional news for Lux and anyone willing to invest. 

9. Thairo Estrada (2B/SS) – ADP 165

Name a San Francisco Giants player in the last couple of years who has had a positive impact in fantasy baseball. Pretty much all ghosts correct? Even if they’ve missed out on pretty much every big time free agent lately, there are some diamonds in the rough. Thairo Estrada is their best representative.

Estrada seems to have a power ceiling of about 15-20 homers in a full season.

On top of that if you’re looking for steals with solid batting average, Estrada can provide. It’s worth noting he has not yet played a true full season-even his 140 games in 2022 was broken apart by a few injuries here and there.

As a 15/20 guy for the past few seasons he has showed we can trust him and his hitting profile.

We saw his hard contact rate increase from 23% to 30%, while also shortening his swing for results which netted a lesser ground ball percentage last year. Hitting atop this lineup in the two hole will also provide more opportunities than many other middle infielders.

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One of my favorite strategies in fantasy is turning simple chance into solid production. Estrada has all the tools to do just that and provide terrific value.

8. Luke Raley (1B/OF) – ADP 357

For a guy who hit just .249 last year, his past suggests he underperformed overall. In 2021 through 72 games at Triple-A, he put up a .294 mark with 19 home runs. In 2022 through 63 games he put up .300 on top of smacking 14 homers.

Obviously your numbers won’t be quite the same from Triple-A to the majors but all of the peripherals were still there. In just 118 games Raley produced a 19/14 season. If the Rays weren’t the Rays and elected to play him most of the time instead of sitting him on the bench, his profile becomes even more enticing.

Thankfully the Mariners recognized this and recently traded for him to be in Seattle. It wouldn’t be wild for me to predict a quiet 25/20 out of Raley in 2024.

Unlike anyone we’ve talked about so far, Raley is ready to go at first base. Most importantly, the data backs up everything he showed in the minors and last season. His average exit velocity, barrel percentage, and hard-hit numbers are all right around the 80th percentile in MLB.

In addition he boasts good sprint speed landing right around the 87th percentile.

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When evaluating hitters I like to witness their spray charts. Many scouts make a big deal when it comes to pull percentage and that certainly is a big deal for power hitters.

However when we are talking pure hitters who try not to do too much with the pitch, spray charts help to explain just the facts. What I like about Raley is he falls somewhere in the middle of this category, a guy who can provide power, while also hitting for average and thieving a bag here and there. Almost half of the lefty’s 2023 homers came in left and center field, encouraging the idea of him not pressing when up at the plate. 

If nothing has convinced you so far just gaze at that ADP. 357th for an upside as rich as his?

Quick, you have 30 seconds to select your pick in one of the final rounds of your drafts. Mainly looking to round out your outfield crop. Are you taking Andrew Benintendi, Charlie Blackmon, or Mr. Raley? The answer is an easy one for me.

7. Brandon Drury (1B/2B) – ADP 245

Nobody is talking about the Angels being an actual threat this upcoming season. No doubt about it, I understand that argument and why so many fans are upset with the way their organization has handled business. On the other hand, I’d like to look at the glass half-full and provide some light in an otherwise dark tunnel. 

Brandon Drury will still be hitting right after Mike Trout and in front of Anthony Rendon, followed by Taylor Ward. I’m not saying these guys are the Dodgers, I’m just advocating the idea that we shouldn’t give up on this team-at least its offense.

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If you average out Drury’s 2022 and 2023 seasons, you get a very cheap player to fill your middle infield who put up 27 homers and 85 RBI’s along with an average above .260. Not bad right?

In addition to his solid performance, he might be the one person on this list who qualifies for the most positions by the end of the season. He is starting out with first and second base eligibility but has also played third base and some outfield in past years, giving optimism for his versatility expanding as the season moves along. 

6. Whit Merrifield (2B/OF) – ADP 270

If people like to hate one player at this point in his career, Merrifield gets a lot of blame for simply being a productive player. Let’s not forget just last year he was an All-Star while also representing the Blue Jays as their only Silver Slugger award finalist. Yes it’s true and something you probably missed or quickly glanced over. 

There is some concern when it comes to playing time since he is featured on a deep Philadelphia roster. My prediction is that even though he may start the year in a bench role, Johan Rojas will soon be leapfrogged. Rojas just doesn’t hit well and if the Phillies want threats 1-9 along with fantastic experience, they’ll go with Whit.

Merrifield has excellent steals upside along with a career .284 average and 14 homers per season. Many also forget he lead the league in hits back in 2018 and 2019. His whiff and strikeout percentage remain very low since he’s usually putting bat-to-ball in the box. This steal and contact-first profile serves fantasy managers well in both points and roto leagues.

5. Spencer Steer (1B/3B/OF) – ADP 96

The first half of these rankings were players getting drafted outside ADP 150. These next five will be a bit more expensive yet produce even more for your team. We will start out with Cincinnati Reds super-utility man Spencer Steer.

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Steer has elite chase and sprint numbers while also capturing two rare corner infield spots on top of playing the outfield. Steer impressed in his rookie season sporting an .820 OPS, 37 doubles, and 15 steals. He’s got an underrated eye with several walks to show for it just as he did throughout his minor league career. This could bump him up in OBP leagues if that’s a type of format you play.

One downside of Steer is the sheer depth which is present with the Reds offense. Jonathan India has been on the trade block for ages and Christian Encarnacion-Strand is slated to start on the bench to begin the year.

It’s vital to see David Bell’s confidence in Steer because as proof just last year he played 156 total games even amongst that loaded depth chart. I’d also like to point out Steer is projected to bat third in this Reds offense. There are too many positives to ignore here.

The consistent production showed in the minors tells us his floor is relatively high and it makes sense why the ADP is pricey. I’d say he’s the safest selection out of anyone thus far.

4. Anthony Santander (1B/OF) – ADP 126

In many platforms the Orioles power hitter is only eligible in the outfield. At the same time many other sites feature him at first base. For the good of the people I have included him for two reasons. First of all I want to explain how underrated he is.

Second he is expected to move around between the outfield, first base, and DH. In other words patience is a virtue. Wait until the season gets going a bit and he will be eligible at three spots on all platforms.

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If you haven’t already picked up on it, consistency is one of my favorite characteristics when it comes to fantasy baseball. Santander has played in nearly every game for the past two years on his way to averaging 80 runs, 31 homers, and 92 RBI’s to go along with a .250 average.

That type of production is way too much to be going at 126th overall. If he is available anytime past pick 80 it’s a true bargain. Bryan Reynolds and Nick Castellanos are going almost 50 spots ahead of him with relatively similar statistics.

His switch-hitting ability allows him to spray the ball to all fields, a big plus not having to face that newly-designed deep left field in his Camden Yards home since he bats lefty a majority of the time.

All of the support from past data and trustworthy underlying numbers should be enough to trust in Santander. Now try inserting him in the three hole in one of the leagues best offenses. I’ll take that all day long. At his late ADP I’m calling him the most valuable piece on this list.

3. Ha-Seong Kim (2B/SS/3B) – ADP 84

We have arrived at my favorite player on this list. Ha-Seong Kim led my dynasty team to a championship last season and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. A superstar for years in the KBO, Kim finally displayed his true potential by putting up 38 steals along with 17 homers over 152 games for the Friars. 

We all know the KBO is not at the current skill level currently present within the MLB. However, there are still talented players and real competition over there.

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In his seven years of professional ball before arriving to the majors, Kim averaged 36 home runs and 56 steals. Take a breath and appreciate these monster ratios. The quiet assassin himself will continue batting leadoff ahead of Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Manny Machado. As bad as the Padres season may have seemed, they still put up a +104 run differential.

For some reason many don’t seem to be trusting Kim’s 2023 breakout. Let’s dive a bit deeper.

One look at his percentiles page and I’m already confident in the man. His chase, whiff, strikeout, and walk rates are all exceptional. Many people seem to be claiming he got lucky with the 17 homers as they point to the low exit velocity.

Don’t accept this false narrative because there is a contradiction here.

His pull percentage is a whopping eight percent above the average major leaguer. Pulling the ball can make up for low exit data just as he showed in Korea. If anything I believe right around 15 homers is his floor, not his ceiling.

If you don’t already love the guy, just attend a game at Petco Park where you’ll hear the whole stadium literally roar his name while he’s staring down the opposing pitcher. There just aren’t many guys in the whole league who can put up a near 40 steal season for your squad. Give me all the possible shares of Ha-Seong Kim.

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2. Matt McLain (2B/SS) – ADP 70

What a rookie season for the most valuable guy on the Reds. Yes, I said it. Elly De La Cruz is a tremendous player with a ceiling that reaches to the clouds.

But last year, and this year too in my opinion, give me McLain. He is as solid as solid can be, producing a .507 SLG with 16/14 in just half a season. Are we talking about a potential 30/25 guy with a .285 floor? Playing every home game at Great American Ball Park? Yikes.

He’s pricey at 70th overall but for good reason. He is my favorite pure hitter out of any bats here and most of my reasoning comes from his spray chart. Remember, try to find as many dynamic guys as possible when drafting. McLain has a chart as balanced as Freddie Freeman. Add on an additional 94th percentile sweet-spot rate with a patient eye and you’ve got the real deal.

Before the Reds took him out of what seemed to be tee-ball, his 2023 Triple-A numbers in 40 games ended up resulting in a massive 1.154 OPS. In redraft leagues I’m all in while also making a huge push to take him in dynasty leagues of all formats.

Even though his ADP seems to be high, I predict many will pass just because of how quiet McLain was. Everyone was talking about Elly while McLain went about business and showed fantastic consistency just as he did in the minors.

1. Mookie Betts (2B/OF) – ADP 4

Nobody on this list can match the talent Mookie Betts comes with. He’s probably been the best leadoff hitter in the past few years even with Ronald Acuna Jr’s insane 2023. He was already going to be a tremendous talent even if Shohei didn’t sign with the Dodgers.

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But in the age of deferred money, Ohtani will make up the three most dangerous bats in the game at the top of the order alongside Betts and Freddie Freeman. Kind of scary to look at LA’s +194 differential last season and then realize they signed maybe the greatest baseball player of all time.

It’s hard to find a way you could argue against Mookie’s value. Did I mention he will soon be picking up shortstop eligibility, too

Every single underlying batting category is blood red. I see zero weaknesses in his profile. He can hit to all fields and his 2023 max exit velocity was 110.1 while owning an expected WOBA of .407.

His barrel percentage alone almost doubled that of the average major leaguer; 12.4 to 6.9. Not sure why any pitcher would throw him a fastball in the zone since he hit 22 of them over the fence in 2023. You can’t even argue his off speed recognition is a hole because he had the best average on those balls out of any pitch type back in 2022. 

Steals can be found on the waiver wire in today’s environment. However, I know Mookie has the ability to grab 25 even though he only got 14 in 2023.

It’s not a question of ability rather a matter of Freeman and Ohtani easily being able to drive him in without having to take the risk of stealing. Dave Roberts didn’t seem all that eager to give Betts the green light last season so don’t expect anything wild in that category.

Mookie should obviously be gone within the top five picks of any draft. If he somehow slips past this mark, grab him to lead your team. One lesson I’ve learned in my years playing fantasy baseball is that you should value consistency as one of the most vital characteristics when it comes to drafting and building a winning team. Betts is as dependable as they come.