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All-Undrafted Team (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Lucas Babits-Feinerman | @wsonfirst | Featured Writer
Mar 24, 2021

 
I thought it might be a fun exercise to see what kind of team I could put together with players who were going undrafted in most leagues. You can use this article as a list of sleepers for those in deeper leagues, or you can add these players to your watch lists and monitor them once the season starts. Anyone on the All Undrafted Team has a FantasyPros Consensus ADP after 300 (or did when I wrote the article). I can’t wait to look back at the end of the season and see how this team performed. 

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Hitters

C – Wilson Ramos (C – DET): ADP 308
Last season Wilson Ramos was drafted as a top-10 catcher, but he slashed .239/.297/.387 over 142 at-bats, and now he’s fallen out of the top-300. From 2018-2019 he slashed .296/.354/.448 in 855 at-bats with 29 home runs. Ramos’ troubles last season were bizarre. He hit .161/.246/.242 at home and .300/.337/.500 on the road. During his career, Ramos is a .284/.334/.444 hitter at home and a .264/.310/.425 hitter on the road. He’s 33-years-old, so I’m a little worried that his decline is age-related, but overall, I like his chances for a bounce back. I like the change of scenery for Ramos, coming back to the AL, getting the opportunity to DH, and maybe working his way up the lineup.

1B – Joey Votto (1B – CIN): ADP 306
Likely Hall-of-Famer Joey Votto is 37 years old this season. His batting average has declined for five straight seasons, but last year his OPS improved by .032 points year-over-year. He changed his approach at the plate last season and had a career-high pull% (46.2% vs. 35.8% career). Votto was on pace for over 30 home runs last year and retained his prized batting eye. 

2B – Tommy La Stella (2B – SF): ADP 311
In 2019, LaStella set career highs across the boards. Then, in 2020, he was traded. Before the trade, LaStella was eclipsing his career highs from the previous year in ISO and OBP. The 32-year-old has a superb eye (career 9.6% BB, 10.6% K%), and ditching RingCentral Coliseum (31st Park Factor) for Oracle Park (13th Park Factor) will help him keep the gains he made in 2019 and the first half of 2020. 

SS – Elvis Andrus (SS – OAK): ADP 332
There’s no kind way to say it – Elvis Andrus was terrible last season. He missed time with a back injury and only played in 29 games. Then lost his job to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and was traded to Oakland as a replacement for Marcus Semien. Before 2020, Andrus had stolen at least 21 bases every season of his career (except 2018, when he played only 97 games). He probably won’t hit 20 home runs again, but ten is not out of the question. And his average woes last season were driven by a career-low .200 BABIP (.310 career average). Andrus has enough of a track record that I’m willing to forgive him for his 2020, and I expect his 2021 numbers to be in line with his .274/.330/.372 career averages. Bob Melvin also said Andrus might get a shot leading-off this season which would undoubtedly boost his counting statistics.

3B – Renato Nunez (1B/3B – DET): ADP 392
Third base is brutal after pick 300. There’s post-hype sleeper Carter Kieboom, who hasn’t given me a reason to think he’s ready to deliver on his prospect hype at the Major League level but did well in Triple-A in 2019. Edwin Rios, with tons of power but no job. Yandy Diaz could be a solid producer – if he only had a full-time role in Tampa. Ultimately the decision came down to Maikel Franco and Renato Nunez. And I chose Nunez because I think he’ll hit several more home runs than Franco. Nunez is a non-roster invite with the Tigers, but he hit 43 home runs in 203 games for the Orioles in 2019-2020 and is a career .248 hitter. I’m not thrilled with having two Tigers in my starting lineup, but it is what it is.

OF – Adam Eaton (OF – CWS): ADP 314
Adam Eaton is closest to a five-category contributor that you will find after pick 300. He has played three full seasons in his career, in addition to five partial seasons, and each of those full seasons, he hit at least 14 home runs and stole at least 14 bases. He’s back in the South Side of Chicago, where he played from 2014-2016, the best three-year stretch of his career. His 2020 BABIP was .072 points lower than his career average, making me think his batting average will regress towards career norms (.282 career average) in 2021. 

OF – Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX): ADP 379
Calhoun suffered a fractured jaw when he was hit in the face by a Julio Urias fastball last March. Then he battled hamstring injuries during the season and stumbled to a .190/.231/.260 slash line in 100 at-bats. It’s possible that the trauma from the hit-by-pitch affected his mindset in 2020 and contributed to the poor performance. In 2019, the former top-100 prospect slashed .269/.323/.524 with 21 home runs in 309 at-bats. He has good plate discipline (6.3% BB%, 15.7% K% since 2019), and scouts rated like his hit tool. Sadly, he’s likely to begin the season on the IL, but I can’t pass up his home run upside, and I’ll make sure to have a capable back-up to start the season until he’s ready for action.

OF – Adam Duvall (OF – MIA): ADP 376
Adam Duvall hit 26 home runs in his last 98 games from 2019-2020, a 40 home run pace over 150 games. He’s a typical low batting average slugger with a premium spot in the Marlins lineup. He’s going to drain batting average, but I don’t care because, similar to Willie Calhoun, his home run upside is too tantalizing to pass up. 

U – Brandon Belt (1B – SF): ADP 375
Brandon Belt broke out in 2020, setting career bests in ISO, SLG, OBP, Barrel%, Exit Velocity, BB%, K%, AVG, wOBA, and wRC+. He’s an intriguing sleeper candidate with the caveat that the 2020 season was too short to be a reliable sample size. I’m more than happy to take a flier on him toward the end of my draft, and he provides some batting average upside that this team desperately needs. 

U – Jason Heyward (OF – CHC): ADP 356
I had trouble deciding between Justin Upton and Jason Heyward for this pick. I chose Heyward because my team doesn’t need home runs as much as it needs batting average and stolen bases. It’s unlikely that Heyward will contribute more than a handful of steals, but I give him the edge there over Upton. Heyward has been remarkably inconsistent during his career but had a strong 2020 season. Heyward’s 2020 featured a 131 wRC+, 1.8 WAR, six homers, two stolen bases; that paces out to 5.4 WAR, 18 home runs, and six stolen bases over 150 games. Better in real life than fantasy, but Heyward could have worked his way up in the lineup as the season progressed (he spent most of 2020 in the bottom third) and boosted his counting stats, fulfilling his potential as a five-category contributor. 

Pitchers

SP – Tejay Antone (SP/RP – CIN): ADP 300
Tejay Antone is battling for a spot in the Reds starting rotation this Spring Training. He’s out with a groin right now and is likely to open the year in the bullpen, but if he pitches as he did in 2020, then the Reds will be hard-pressed not to give him more innings. Antone recorded 98th-percentile fastball spin and 95th-percentile curve spin to go with an 88th-percentile xERA and 86th-percentile K%. He has a potent sinker-slider-curveball mix. Walks could be an issue this season, but I like his upside, and I’m willing to give him a shot. 

SP – Luis Severino (SP – NYY): ADP 313
Severino is a 27-year-old former ace who struck out 450 batters in 384 2/3 innings with a 3.18 ERA from 2017-2018. The Yankees have one of the strongest lineups in baseball. He’s on track with his rehab and should return to game action before the All-Star break. If you add his production with whoever you have filled in while stashing Severino on IR, you get a potential fantasy ace at a deep value.

RP – Yimi Garcia (RP – MIA): ADP 324
Yimi Garcia has a career 0.98 WHIP in 174 2/3 innings pitched. He’s in the mix for saves in Miami, and while Anthony Bass is likely to open the season as closer Garcia is a better pitcher. He had 98th-percentile fastball spin and 89th-percentile curveball spin with 91st-percentile xERA, 11.40 K/9, and a 3.80 K/BB ratio last-season. Bass has a career 6.42 K/9 and 4.32 ERA, almost an entire run higher than Garcia’s career ERA. 

RP – Chris Martin (RP – ATL): ADP 322
Mark Melancon was the Braves closer last season, but he’s in San Diego now, so the competition for saves is between Chris Martin and Will Smith. I’m giving the edge to Martin both from a ‘stuff’ standpoint and also because he’s a righty, while Smith is a lefty. Teams usually prefer to have right-handed closers. Martin has done an excellent job limiting walks since returning to the MLB from Japan in 2018. Last season he had a 6.67 K/BB ratio with a 10.0 K/9, and he has experience closing in Japan, too. 

P – Mike Minor (SP – KC): ADP 303
Mike Minor’s average fastball velocity dipped two MPH from 2019 to 2020, but he’s been throwing well during Spring Training, and it looks like he may be able to recapture the lost velocity. In 2019, Minor struck out 200 batters in 208 1/3 innings with a 3.59 ERA. Minor had a 100th-percentile fastball spin that season which helped him excel in allowing soft contact and outpitch his peripherals. The Royals are underrated going into Opening Day, and I think Minor could rack up some Wins pitching for them this season if he can continue to recapture his lost velocity. 

P – Josh Lindblom (SP – MIL): ADP 326
Josh Lindblom came up as a reliever, went to the KBO, became a starter, and returned to the Majors last season, where he had a 5.16 ERA over 45 1/3 innings pitched (10 starts). However, his FIP was a respectable 3.88 (4.24 xFIP), his K/9 was 10.32, K/BB was 3.25, and his Statcast profile shows a lot of promise. He has a six-pitch-mix with excellent spin rates, and his 12.4% Swinging Strike rate last season tied for 16th among qualified pitchers. He opens the season as the Brewers’ fifth starter, and I like him as a sleeper.

P – Drew Smyly (SP – ATL): ADP 347
Drew Smyly had a breakout 2020 with a 14.35 K/9, 4.67 K/BB, 3.42 ERA, and 2.56 xFIP in 26 1/3 innings pitched (five starts). The big difference between Smyly’s 2020 and 2019 was the success of his curveball. In 2020, it evolved into one of the best curveballs in the game (50% WHIFF, 36% PutAway%). He added a 2.6 MPH in velocity, which added about 5% in spin rate. I’m not sold on the breakout because it came over such a small sample size, but if he can maintain his 2020 success in 2021, then he’ll probably finish as a top-20 fantasy pitcher.

P – Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA): ADP 364
Yusei Kikuchi added velocity and developed a cutter in 2020, but on-field results didn’t follow. He had a 5.17 ERA in 47 innings pitched (nine starts), but the underlying numbers were much more promising (3.30 FIP, 3.78 xFIP). Kikuchi’s strikeout rate of 9.00 K/9 isn’t as high as some of the other players on this list, but it’s still good enough not to be a liability in strikeouts. I think Kikuchi can offer value as a back-end fantasy starter – his stuff in 2020 was better than his results. 

Bench

B – Sam Hilliard (OF – COL): ADP 386
Sam Hilliard is on track to open the season as the Rockies’ starting Center Fielder. He strikes out way too much, and there’s no reason to think that will stop in 2021. But hit over 42 home runs in 2019 (Triple-A and MLB combined) with 24 stolen bases and plays half his games at Coors Field. Maybe he will be worth starting at home this season and offers unparalleled upside among his peers at his ADP. 

B – Ty France (2B/3B – SEA): ADP 287
I wanted to take Luis Arraez here because I need at least one reserve who can boost my batting average, but he will likely open the season as a reserve for the Twins, so I chose Ty France instead. France hit .305 last season, he has a red-hot Spring Training, and his Statcast profile supports the batting average breakout. 

B – Amed Rosario (SS – CLE): ADP 337
Amed Rosario is without a clear role on his new team, but the Indians are open to trying him in Center Field. I need stolen bases, and Rosario is in an excellent position to contribute in that category. Indians manager, Terry Francona, is aggressive on the base paths. I think Rosario will play well enough to secure himself regular at-bats, even in a super-utility role, as the season progresses. In 2019, he slugged 15 home runs, stole 19 bases, and batted .287. 

B – Austin Slater (1B/OF – SF): ADP 398
Austin Slater had a strong 2020 season when he wasn’t battling injuries and is a player I’m watching closely. He had five homers and eight steals in 85 at-bats, slashing .282/.408/.506. Playing time is a concern here, but if he can sustain his 2020 Statcast-supported-breakout, then there’s a lot of value to be had.

B – Myles Straw (OF – HOU): ADP 315
Myles Straw seems to have locked-down the Astros starting job in Center Field, and he’s in consideration to lead-off for them this season. He has zero power but can steal plenty of bases. One thing that makes Straw different from other stolen base threats is his career .394 OBP in the minor leagues. You can’t steal first base, but Straw doesn’t have to because he’s a patient hitter who draws plenty of walks.

B – Bobby Witt Jr. (SS – KC): ADP 335
Royals General Manager, Dayton Moore, said Bobby Witt Jr. might break camp with the Royals. If that happens, I’m all over Witt as a late-round flier. I’ll stash him at the end of the bench and wait to see how it shakes out. He’s the second overall pick from the 2019 draft, ranked seventh overall on MLB.com’s top-100 prospect list, and offers five-category contribution potential.

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Lucas Babits-Feinerman is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Lucas, check out his archive and follow him @WSonFirst.

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