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Four Notable ADPs from Early 2021 Fantasy Baseball Drafts

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Nov 27, 2020

Xander Bogaerts has become a steady, reliable fantasy contributor over the past few seasons.

Before we get started, we should note that NFBC drafts tend to attract high-stakes fantasy players engaging in 15-team leagues. That doesn’t mean their average draft position (ADP) info is useless for your 10-12 team “home league.” It’s just important to remember when looking at the data. Starting pitching gets pushed up draft boards, for instance. Additionally, the ADP data could wind up wildly different from the default ESPN or Yahoo! rankings your league uses.

That being said, it’s the best info we have at this point in the offseason. Let’s dive into four notable ADPs that caught this blogger’s eye.

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Bo Bichette (SS – TOR)
NFBC ADP: 18th overall
Well, then. What’s most interesting about Bichette’s aggressive ADP is that he didn’t hit as well this past summer as he did during his rookie campaign. We can all fall victim to overrating young stars who have yet to fail, but I could understand more of a craze for Bichette had he taken a massive step forward in 2020, a la Fernando Tatis Jr.

That isn’t to say the young shortstop was disappointing this year. Far from it, at least when he was on the field. The 22-year-old has totaled 75 games in his big league career, registering a .307/.347/.549 triple-slash line with 16 homers and eight stolen bases. Stretch that out over a full 162-game season (35 HR + 17 SB) and yes, you have a true fantasy superstar.

The issue with Bichette’s 2021 fantasy baseball potential has everything to do with the price. While it’s been impressive, we’re still just working with a 75-game sample. Meanwhile, many established hitters who had a “down” 2020 are going well after him, including Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, and Rafael Devers. It’s vital to note that it remains early, and I do expect Bichette’s ADP to sink a bit as time comes on. The early results are startling enough that it had to be addressed, though.

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
NFBC ADP: 37th overall
Now here’s a shortstop I can get behind drafting at his current price. In fact, when factoring in cost, I’m tempted to call Bogaerts my locked-in shortstop target at this point in the offseason.

Consistency is the word that comes to mind when analyzing Bogaerts heading into 2021. He’s become a steady, reliable fantasy contributor over the past few seasons:

2018 .288 .360 .882
2019 .309 .384 .939
2020 .300 .364 .866

Bogaerts isn’t a Statcast darling, which is okay when we have enough of a sample size to feel confident in his projections moving forward. 2021 will be just his age-28 season, and Boston should continue having a strong offense in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Additionally, Bogaerts quietly swiped a whopping eight bases in 56 games this year. That’s a massive jump from 2019 when he stole just four in 155 contests. We can’t simply extrapolate his eight steals across a full season for 2021, but a return to the 12-15 range is certainly in play, if not likely.

It’s important to note that shortstop is once again looking to be as deep as ever. Nine of the first 39 picks in NFBC leagues are shortstops right now, with Bogaerts checking in as the eighth option off the board. While Fernando Tatis Jr., Trea Turner, and Trevor Story should all be considered first-round picks; fantasy players should keep Bogaerts’ ADP in mind when making early-round decisions.

Ian Anderson (SP – ATL)
NFBC ADP: 82nd overall
Including the playoffs, it has been just 10 big league starts but thus far 22-year-old Ian Anderson looks like everything I wanted Chris Paddack to be entering the 2020 campaign. The similarities between the two exist due to the mastery of their changeups at such a young age. The biggest difference, and the reason I’m optimistic on Anderson moving forward, is that the latter also possesses a curveball – AKA that elusive third offering that has escaped Paddack to this point.

Anderson’s three-pitch mix made him tough to handle right out of the gate. He began his major league career by allowing just one hit over six strong innings against the Yankees. The lone hit he allowed was a homer to Luke Voit. It was the only long ball Anderson would surrender for the rest of the season, playoffs included.

Still, including the playoffs, Anderson finished his rookie season by posting a 1.59 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP to go along with 65 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched. A former first-round pick with good prospect pedigree, the right-hander also posted a 30.8% CSW in his six regular-season starts. CSW is a stat created by Alex Fast of PitcherList, which is short for called strike + whiff rate. A rate north of 30% is considered “good” according to Fast. Anderson’s year-one CSW compared similarly to Blake Snell, Walker Buehler, and Mike Clevinger.

Those are all the positives. There are two concerns with Anderson as it pertains to his ’21 fantasy value, however. The first is control as his 4.2 BB/9 leaves something to be desired. Anderson’s 10.1% walk rate ranked in the bottom third percentile of MLB this year. For all the advantages he has over Paddack’s pitching profile, Anderson is far worse at minimizing free passes.

The other concern is the workload. As stated earlier Anderson logged 51 innings in 2020, which included the playoffs. He totaled 135 2/3 innings back in 2019, but it’s entirely up in the air how teams will handle young hurlers following a peculiar 2020 season. Even equaling his career-high of 135 2/3 innings would mean an 80-inning bump from this year. Still, nearly every starter will have some sort of workload question next summer, so I’d rather focus on skills for this part of the offseason. Thus far, my deeper analysis of Anderson is justifying his average draft position.

Dustin May (SP – LAD)
NFBC ADP: 159th overall
I already covered Dustin May’s current fantasy outlook in my “Dynasty Pitchers to Buy or Sell” article from earlier this offseason. Spoiler alert, he’s a “sell” candidate for me. His current NFBC ADP certainly isn’t outrageous, but shorting May is an early “flag plant” by me for 2021 and beyond.

Let’s start with the fact that we aren’t even sure if May will have a rotation spot on Opening Day. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Julio Urias would seem to be locked in. That leaves May battling Tony Gonsolin for the fifth starter’s job if the organization doesn’t bring in anyone else. Now, this is the Dodgers, so they’ll get creative as the season goes along. Just because May might not be in the rotation on Day One doesn’t mean that he won’t make starts for LA next year.

However, it’s that “Dodgers way” of handling starting pitchers that makes me hesitant to buy in on any of these guys in a significant way. Buehler is one of the best starters in baseball and the team still treats him with kid gloves, limiting his early-season innings without proper training camps. Even if May were to be given an Opening Day rotation spot, I’d consider it highly unlikely that he keeps the gig all year long. There will be spot starts for others, bullpen games, and May’s workload will be inconsistent throughout the summer.

Then there’s the bat-missing issue. May’s 2020 whiff rate ranked in the bottom 7th percentile in the league, and he has struck out just 76 batters in 90 2/3 career innings. The lack of K’s, during an era where nearly every starter averages over a strikeout per inning, severely limits May’s fantasy ceiling. The 23-year-old has registered a career 2.98 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, so he’s still proven to be effective. The lack of a consistent workload combined with the lack of swing-and-miss stuff just gives me pause on hitting that “draft” button when it comes to May.

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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