Final Update: Spring Training Risers & Fallers (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
The final tune-up before Spring Training has arrived! This will be the last update before we get into the regular season. This article is an updated version of an article that you can find here. I encourage readers to check out the names listed in this article, too!
Here are the risers and fallers from the previous week of Spring Training so far with Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from FantasyPros. These rankings and statistics are up to date as of March 28th.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B – PIT): ECR 135
The ninth-rated prospect in all of baseball, Hayes has been as good as advertised in Spring Training thus far. In 24 games last season, Hayes posted a 1.124 OPS and has seemed to build off that success. He is hitting over .400 so far in Spring Training. Someone will have to drive in runs for Pittsburgh, and although he is known more for his defense, I don’t see why it can’t be Hayes. His stock continues to rise, and fantasy baseball managers may end up with a steal of a pick if Hayes can continue to produce at a high level.
C.J. Cron (1B – COL): ECR 241
Projected to be the starting first baseman for the Colorado Rockies, Cron is destroying the baseball in Spring Training. In 50 plate appearances, he is slugging over .700 and has four home runs to his name. Cron has a strong track record, having posted an OPS+ above 100 in each of the past three seasons. He has been an underrated hitter most of his career, and a starting gig in Colorado can only mean great things for his fantasy production. The former Angel could be in for a career year — if he can stay healthy.
Austin Hays (OF – BAL): ECR 252
Baltimore players may be a bit undervalued in the grand scheme of fantasy baseball. Much like the aforementioned Pirates, some players will have to produce for the Orioles. Hays has quietly been a productive hitter during his tenure with the Orioles in limited at-bats. In Spring Training, Hays is slashing .404/.440/.723. He could be a sleeper pick come draft time and has the potential to bring back lots of value at his current ECR.
Freddy Peralta (SP/RP – MIL): ECR 274
Freddy Peralta recently secured a spot in Milwaukee’s starting rotation, beating out Josh Lindblom to do so. Admittedly, I was relatively high on Lindblom heading into the season. However, now Peralta garners all of Lindblom’s hype. Peralta is also a more effective pitcher than Lindblom, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he was able to beat him out. The young right-handed pitcher is a strikeout machine. Peralta has posted at least 11 SO/9 throughout his career. He has continued his stellar pitching into Spring Training. In 13.2 innings, Peralta has struck out 23 batters. The young pitcher is all upside and could become a draft day steal.
Walker Buehler (SP – LAD): ECR 21
Buehler didn’t quite turn in the spectacular season many fantasy baseball managers had envisioned for him in 2020. He was still productive, as he posted a respectable 4.36 FIP, but he regressed from his All-Star season of 2019. Buehler’s struggles have continued; he has given up 15 earned runs and 26 hits in just 17 innings pitched. Buehler is being taken around the beginning of the second to the early third round, but as of now, I would feel a lot more comfortable about taking another pitcher like Lucas Giolito, Aaron Nola, or even Max Scherzer. Buehler’s ceiling is immensely high, but let someone else take the risk at his current average draft position (ADP).
Javier Baez (SS – CHC): ECR 57
Simply put, Javier Baez was one of the worst hitters in all of baseball last season. He had a .599 OPS and 75 strikeouts to seven walks. He looked lost at the plate, chasing pitches everywhere. So far in Spring Training, Baez has continued to struggle. His OPS currently sits at .539, and he only has eight hits in 50 plate appearances. It’s been a rough stretch of hitting for the gold glover as he continues to fall down draft boards. That said, I can’t see a season where Baez is this poor at hitting again. I think he should rebound to more of a .775 OPS hitter, but just temper your expectations come draft day.
Brandon Lowe (2B/OF – TB): ECR 76
Brandon Lowe has rightfully gained a lot of hype this offseason. He is coming off a tremendous 2020 season and continues to produce better numbers year in and year out. Lowe was so good last season that he finished eighth overall in the MVP race. Now, the power-hitting infielder is being drafted inside the top-70 players. However, Lowe has really struggled in Spring Training, as he only has one extra-base hit to go along with an abysmal .468 OPS. This is more than likely just a bump in the road, but let’s hope Lowe can find his swing before the season begins.
Ha-Seong Kim (2B/SS – SD): ECR 269
The 25-year-old Kim is coming off a 30-home run season in the Korean Baseball Organization. Kim has a lot of potential, but unfortunately, that hasn’t translated to any success at Spring Training. He has yet to register an extra-base hit and only has six total hits so far. Kim and Jake Cronenworth are more than likely going to be battling for the second base position early on in the season, and right now, Cronenworth has a large lead on Kim. Playing time may ultimately become an issue for Kim, but realize that his potential is extremely high.
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Travis Cain is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For More from Travis, follow him @TravisCain_.