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Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Bryan Reynolds, C.J. Cron, Kike Hernandez (2021)

Apr 23, 2021

C.J. Cron’s bat is quietly heating up after a slow start.

We are now officially 21 days into the season, and for those leading the pack, congratulations. However, for the rest of us, it’s time to reassess and attempt to fill our team’s greatest needs. With the abundance of injuries and plenty of players off to a slow start, it is imperative to find decent replacements before you fall too far behind. It’s obviously still very early, but now is the time to pick up those difference makers before it’s too late.

Thankfully there are still plenty of productive players out there just waiting to turn your early season woes around. I’ve scoured the undervalued and have discovered 13 players that can help you specifically in at least one category. Many of the highlighted free agents will help your roster in many ways, but most heavily to the attribute they are listed under.

Continuing with my weekly series of Category Analysis, here are 13 players who can assist you in at least one of the ten main categories. These studs are owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and deserve your attention now.

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Batting Average

Bryan Reynolds (OF – PIT): 35%
After a rough 2020 season, Reynolds has returned to his previous form. A solid contributor for both run-scoring categories, Reynolds’ true strength lies in his ability to hit for average. Up to a .308 batting average for the season, Reynolds hit .314 over 546 plate appearances in 2019 and never hit below .302 throughout his minor league career. His batted ball profile backs up his production, and he is back to crushing fastballs. Pick him up now to boost your batting average.

RBI

C.J. Cron (1B – COL): 40%
Cron’s bat is quietly heating up after a slow start. Over the past week, the Rockies slugger has produced seven RBI while regularly hitting in the middle of the lineup. As the weather warms up, expect Cron’s bat to do the same. The beneficiary of playing half his games in Coors and batting behind Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon should result in a favorable amount of RBIs. In 2019, Cron had 78 RBI and 25 homers in only 125 games and crushed 30 jacks the year before. Now in Colorado, expect more of the same. Grab Cron immediately if you’re lacking in power or RBIs.

Runs

Kike Hernandez (2B/SS/OF – BOS): 48%
I wasn’t a big supporter of Hernandez entering the season because I didn’t view him as an everyday player. I also certainly didn’t believe he’d be the Red Sox everyday leadoff hitter. But as long as Alex Cora continues to pencil him in atop the lineup, then the ex-Dodger should continue to score early and often. He hasn’t been the most patient hitter over the past few seasons, so eventually, he may be moved out of the leadoff spot. For now, Hernandez has as many runs scored as Mookie Betts, Vlad Guerrero, and Corey Seager with 11. He is also available in 52 percent of leagues, so if your guys aren’t scoring runs, add him now.

Home runs

Paul DeJong (SS – STL): 48%
DeJong is another player whose poor performance in 2020 kept managers wary of drafting him. Over the past week, DeJong hit three long balls and now has five for the season, rewarding those who still believed in him. The power surge should come as no surprise after a full 2019 season where DeJong crushed 30 home runs to go along with 31 doubles. He’s been striking out nearly a third of the time, but if he can get back to his career norm of 25 percent, then his batting average should return to a more respectable number.

Adolis Garcia (OF – TEX) 4%
Carries a heavy stick as well and could produce more than a few round-trippers. He’s best left to deeper leagues for now, but keep an eye on him going forward.

Stolen Bases

Manuel Margot (OF – TB): 23%
Andrew Benintendi (45%) may be stealing bags more often, but I still favor Margot overall. Not only will he help boost your stolen base total, but he’ll add to the other categories as well. Through the first three weeks of the season, Margot has two homers, nine runs, and 11 RBI. This week he stole his first two bases on the year, after swiping 12 last season and 20 the year before.  He’s playing nearly every day, even with Kevin Kiermaier’s return, and should be started in 12 team leagues.

Wins

Danny Duffy (SP – KC): 49%
Danny Duffy looks like a man on a mission to start the season. And while I’m not buying the late resurgence, I’m happy to ride the hot streak while it lasts. Duffy has gone through similar patterns before where he looks unhittable one month just to revert to throwing BP fastballs the next. So far, he hasn’t given up his usual number of home runs leading to a FIP and xFIP below four (his best since 2017). Also, his four-seamer is traveling a full mile per hour faster than in the previous two seasons and is at its highest since 2016. If Duffy can somehow keep it going, then paired with a solid bullpen and Kansas City’s hot hitting lineup, the Royals “ace” should keep producing wins for the first-place club.

Domingo German (SP – NYY) 26%
Another option now that he is back with the big league club. He had a rough couple of first starts, but it looked as though he was just missing his spots and perhaps a few weeks at the alternate site cleared up the issues. *Update: German beat the Indians on the road Thursday night. He lasted six innings, allowed two earned runs, and struck out six. Add German ASAP.

Saves

Kendall Graveman (RP – SEA): 45%
The Mariners projected closer Rafael Montero has already blown three saves over the first few weeks of the season. While in contrast, set-up man Kendall Graveman remains perfect on the year with a 0.0 ERA through 7.2 innings. Even though Montero’s overall numbers aren’t that bad, the club has already turned to Graveman twice in save situations, and for a good reason. Through those 7.2 innings, Graveman has allowed only one hit and two walks while compiling eight strikeouts.

With a revamping of sorts to his pitching arsenal, Graveman has become a much tougher opponent. He has not only changed his repertoire but has even added velocity as well. His sinking fastball is averaging nearly two miles per hour more than in previous seasons. He looked downright nasty against the Dodgers on Monday and if Montero continues to be inconsistent, look for the M’s to call on Graveman more often than not to close out the ninth inning.

ERA

JT Brubaker (SP – PIT): 47%
JT Brubaker’s hot start comes on the heels of an underrated 2020 campaign. The Pirates’ rookie, throughout his first three games of the season, has thrown 15.1 innings and allowed a total of three runners to cross the plate (one in every outing). During those three outings, he also earned two wins and struck out 18 batters. Brubaker had great numbers in 2018 and ’19 in Pittsburgh’s farm system as well and is a strong candidate to maintain the solid production going forward. Teams will eventually make the necessary adjustments, and an innings limit could be in play (like it is for many young pitchers this season), but for now, add Brubaker and start him in the choice matchups.

A true test will come this Friday when he faces off against Nelson Cruz and the Minnesota Twins. You could scoop him up before the start just to avoid the rush, but maybe leave him on your bench for this one to see how he fairs.

Ryan Weathers (SP/RP – SD) 13%
Also an intriguing option. Now that Dinelson Lamet is out for an undetermined amount of time expect Weathers to stick in the starting rotation where he’s already completely shut down the Dodgers in back-to-back games (9.2 innings total). He comes with very little track record, but he was the seventh overall pick in 2018. With what he’s shown so far, Weathers absolutely deserves a waiver claim in the 87% of leagues where he is still available. There could very well be something to the 21-year-old’s breakout.

WHIP

Dane Dunning (SP – TEX): 44%
Fantasy managers still haven’t completely bought in on Dunning’s abilities, despite his hot start. Dating back to his first start last season, Dunning has kept opposing hitters below a .200 BA and a 7.5 BB%. Through 10 games (including three this season), Dunning has produced a consistently low 1.02 WHIP (0.80 this year). He amassed similar numbers in the minors for the White Sox and will likely continue to do so throughout the season for the Rangers. Dunning’s low 90’s diving sinker paired with three above-average off-speed pitches has made the Florida native extremely difficult to hit. He may eventually reach an innings limit, but for now, Dunning will help lower your rising WHIP.

Strikeouts

Brady Singer (SP – KC): 45%
After a disastrous start to the season, Singer rebounded to hold the hot-hitting Angels and Blue Jays to one total earned run over 11 innings while striking out 12. In his shortened rookie campaign last year, the Royals’ top pitching prospect struck out nearly a batter per inning and faired extremely well down the stretch. He is already up to 17 K’s over 14.1 innings pitched and should continue to rack up the whiffs as the season progresses.

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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.

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