The Consistency Crew: 2024's most secure fantasy baseball draft picks

Way back in 2012, I was one of the writers who labeled Matt Kemp the No. 1 overall fantasy player after he hit .324 with 39 homers and 40 steals the previous year. My reasoning included the theory that the Dodgers star was a can’t-miss player due to his durability after missing a total of 11 games the previous four years.

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Of course, Kemp went on to sit 56 games in the '12 campaign and 89 contests the following year. His durability pattern was similar to that of Hunter Pence, who was baseball’s most durable player from 2008 to '14 before he struggled to stay healthy each of his next six seasons.

True certainty in fantasy baseball doesn’t exist, which is the reason these games are so much fun. That said, managers constantly attempt to find the most trustworthy options in a rocky universe, as injured and inconsistent players are the main reasons fantasy teams go astray.

Here are several players who should be reliable contributors for at least one more year.

Sean Murphy (C, Atlanta Braves)

The physical requirements of the catcher position make its members inherently risky, but Murphy is as reliable as any of his peers. Most projection systems have the 29-year-old playing in 100-120 contests after he appeared in 108 games during his initial season with the Braves. As the No. 1 catcher in baseball’s most productive offense and someone who has never been on the injured list, Murphy should have no trouble meeting expectations. And there is room for him to play more than expected.

Freddie Freeman (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Reliability is a prime reason Freeman is being selected in the first round. The 34-year-old is one of the few players at his position who contributes to all five categories, which means he could experience a decline in one aspect of his game and still remain incredibly productive. And it seems highly unlikely that Freeman will tail off in all three of speed, power and contact skills in the same season.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Luis Arráez (2B, Miami Marlins)

For very different reasons than Freeman, Arráez is among the safest players. Unlike Freeman, Arráez does only one thing well, but he is so good at hitting for average that it is hard to envision things changing in his upcoming age-27 season. Arráez rarely strikes out (5.5% in 2023) and hits so many line drives (28.5% in ’23) that he is a lock to be among the batting average leaders. Those who can live with his meager contributions in homers, RBI and steals should get what they expect.

Austin Riley (3B, Atlanta Braves)

Because of the incredible depth of the Braves lineup, it’s hard to resist their players when commenting on safety. Riley draws nearly every plate appearance from the coveted No. 3 lineup spot and has produced at least 30 homers, 90 runs and 90 RBI each of the past three seasons. A lack of speed is the only reason Riley falls to Round 2 of drafts.

Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays)

Managers who maintain modest steals hopes for Bichette should feel comfortable that he will meet expectations. Heading into his age-26 season, the career .299 hitter has hit at least .290 in each of his five seasons, and he has reached the 20-homer plateau for three straight years. Wise managers will set expectations for 10 steals and be happy with anything beyond that.

Alex Verdugo (OF, New York Yankees)

Verdugo is not only reliable but also as boring as a fantasy asset can be. The 27-year-old is durable (his last IL stint was in 2019), hits at least .280 almost every year and has accumulated 11-13 homers each of the past three years. Yankee Stadium could help him collect a few more round-trippers, and he should remain one of the safest players in the late rounds of drafts.

Logan Gilbert (SP, Seattle Mariners)

Finding reliability at pitcher is perhaps the toughest obstacle, but Gilbert has performed at a remarkably similar level in each of his three MLB seasons. The 26-year-old has shown few signs that he will take his game to another level, but 32 starts with a 3.70 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and a strikeout per inning would make managers happy.

Jhoan Duran (RP, Minnesota Twins)

In 130 career innings, Duran has produced remarkable ratios (2.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) while striking out one-third of the batters he has faced. And his fastball averages a blistering 101.9 mph. Duran could save anywhere from 25 to 40 games, but it would be shocking if his skills were anything short of spectacular.