Players to Target in AL-Only Leagues (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
AL-Only is one of the more challenging fantasy baseball formats in the game right now. The player pool is shallower, so fantasy managers need to have exposure to players who would go undrafted in redraft leagues. Depth is critical because there are only 15 teams in the AL, so in a 10-team league, every team can’t have back-up positional players who start, let alone who is worth starting. Below I highlight five players, available later in drafts, worth targeting, three of them with multi-position eligibility.
*Average Draft Positions (ADP) based on FantasyPros Consensus ADP.
Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B – DET): ADP – 142
Jeimer Candelario broke out in 2020, posting a .297/.369/.503 slash-line with seven home runs in 185 at-bats. His Statcast profile confirms the breakout as he raised his exit velocity from 88.2 to 90.2 (73rd percentile) year over year and nearly doubled his barrel rate from 5.9 to 10.3 (68th percentile) year over year well. Projections have him batting second this season, a prime spot for runs, RBIs, and home runs. The line-up around him is not very strong, but he offers multi-position eligibility and is available late in drafts.
Mark Canha (1B/OF – OAK): ADP – 124
Mark Canha is a late bloomer who didn’t break into the Majors until 29 years old. He’s been a significant contributor the past three seasons and will bat near the top of the line-up. Canha has improved his batting eye over his last 600 at-bats (14.0% BB% v. 9.5% BB% career average), so he gets a boost in OBP leagues but won’t hurt your average too badly in Standard. Canha has good power, thirty home runs over an entire season is a possibility, and he will steal a handful of bases also.
Andres Gimenez (2B/3B/SS – CLE): ADP – 92
Stolen bases are down across MLB since teams are opting for efficiency over volume. Gimenez stole eight bases in 118 at-bats for the Mets last season. Indians manager, Terry Francona, is one of the more stolen-base-friendly managers in the game right now, and Gimenez should have plenty of green lights this season. He’s projected to start the season in the bottom third of the Indians line-up, which is not ideal, but he’s a unicorn at third base with his stolen base upside. The 22-year-old offers some power. Ten home runs over an entire season is a possibility and won’t kill you in batting average. He could easily displace Cesar Hernandez at the top of the line-up, which would boost his stock enormously.
Elvis Andrus (SS – OAK): ADP – 182
Elvis Andrus had a year to forget in 2020. He played in only 29 games and slashed .194/.252/.330. An unlucky .200 BABIP (vs. .310 BABIP career average) drove the low batting average. His underlying numbers – exit velocity, launch angle, K%, BB%, etc.- are all in line with career norms. In 2019, Andrus slashed .275/.313/.393 with 12 home runs and 31 stolen bases. The 32-year-old is a sound bounce-back candidate with the stolen base upside that is worth pouncing on much earlier than his 182nd ADP.
Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN): ADP – 118
In December, the Minnesota Twins released Eddie Rosario, signaling they are ready for the Alex Kirilloff era to begin in earnest. In 2018, Kiriloff broke out, slashing .348/.392/.578 with 20 HR in 512 AB as a Minor Leaguer in Single-A and Single-A+. He was promoted to Double-A to start 2019 but battled wrist injuries and slashed a disappointing .283/.343/.413 in 375 AB. Last year, he became the first player in MLB history to start his first game during the playoffs. He has a balanced profile with good plate discipline and the potential to be a five-category contributor this season. He may gain first base eligibility as the season progresses, too. Kiriloff is a keeper-league darling, but he needs to be drafted in redraft leagues as well. He has the potential to be the 2021 Rookie of the Year.
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