Safe Veterans to Target (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
They may not be the most sought-after assets on fantasy draft boards, but they are some of the safest. Each of the following veterans are exactly the type of players that, though they may not carry it, will bolster any successful roster throughout the course of the 2021 season. All eight veterans below feature stable track records of production in recent seasons and are outside of the current Top-50 overall in consensus ADP around the industry.
Salvador Perez (C – KCR) – ADP 87
After averaging 138 games and more than 500 at-bats per year from 2013-18, Perez missed 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. The perennial All-Star came back with a vengeance for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, crushing his way to a .333 average, .986 OPS, and 11 home runs over 37 games. Do not expect Perez to sustain those paces over the course of a typical regular season, but it does show the injury is well behind him. The five-time Gold Glover finished both 2017 and 2018 with 27 homers and 80 RBI while hitting a combined .251. That’s more realistic and quite valuable at the position.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL) – ADP 77
Yes, the counting stats were not really there for Goldy last year. However, he was unquestionably “the guy to not let beat you” in the Cardinals lineup. That led to a 16-percent walk rate – his highest since 2015 – coupled with a career-best 18.6-percent strikeout rate. Goldschmidt hit at least 33 homers in each of the previous three seasons before 2020 and has only once hit under .286 going all the way back to 2012. Now that he has an elite slugger like Nolan Arenado protecting him, those counters could come back in a big way.
Jean Segura (2B,3B,SS – PHI) – ADP 185
Segura is that guy that does a lot of nothing but a little of everything. Combined with some position versatility, that makes him the type of utility man fantasy owners covet in the second-half of drafts. His .266 batting average in 2020 was his lowest mark of the last five years. His homer rate was up a tick while the steals were down. However, all-in-all, Segura was right in line with the player that averaged 11 homers and 83 runs with a .758 OPS from 2017-19. He also hit .294 with 17 steals per year during that span. A rebound to those numbers is certainly not out of the question during his age-31 campaign.
Eddie Rosario (OF – CLE) – ADP 120
The youngest player on the list at age 29 has more than proven himself to be a legitimate fantasy factor over the last six years in Minnesota. Rosario heads to Cleveland for his seventh MLB campaign, looking to maintain his status as a steady run producer. He really came into his own as a power-hitter in 2017 and has since set per-162 paces of 33 long balls and 103 RBI, alongside an .810 OPS., 25-30 home runs, with a batting average in the .270-.280 range is not a ceiling but a reasonable expectation.
Michael Brantley (OF – HOU) – ADP 148
A “professional hitter” if there is one in the game right now; Brantley has finished each of the last four seasons with a batting average between .299 and .311. Since debuting with the Astros on Opening Day 2019, the four-time All-Star has set 162-game averages of 23 homers, 94 RBI, and 94 runs on the back of a strong .309/.370/.497 triple slash. He has only swiped five bases in that same span, so the speed from his younger days is pretty much gone. Everything else remains, making Brantley a nice value at his current ADP.
Lance Lynn (SP – CWS) – ADP 54
Lynn is likely to cost an earlier draft pick than anyone else featured here, but he is worth it. The last two years in Texas have seen him finish fifth and sixth in Cy Young Award balloting, as the big righty has gone a combined 22-14 with a 3.57 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9 across 46 starts. He led the league with 84.0 innings pitched last year and averaged 184 over the previous three. Lynn is now getting set to pitch for a better team in what should be a weaker division offensively.
Kyle Hendricks (SP – CHC) – ADP 82
Hendricks just keeps on keeping on despite the doubters. Year-after-year, the Cubs righty continues to shine in the ratios and strikeout just enough batters to avoid being a liability in the category. 2020 saw him pitching at arguably his best since finishing third for the N.L. Cy Young back in 2016. Over a dozen outings last summer, Hendricks posted a 2.88 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 64-to-8 K/BB ratio across 81.1 innings. That’s right, he rarely walks anyone. Hendricks is also a model of consistency, as he’s boasted a sub-3.50 ERA and sub-1.20 WHIP in each of the last five seasons.
Zack Greinke (SP – HOU) – ADP 99
Can you say Hall of Fame? Greinke’s case should be a cinch for the voters when the time comes. The 37-year-old is well past 200 wins, boasts a career 3.37 ERA, and is approaching 2,700 strikeouts. Okay, fine, his ERA was 4.03 last year. Look closer. His xFIP was 3.51. Also, Greinke sported a 1.13 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, and 10.6-percent swinging-strike rate across 67.0 innings. Do not worry about the velocity. Do not worry about an artificially inflated ERA in the abbreviated 2020 season. Greinke still knows how to get it done.
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