Week 2 Quick Grades (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Greetings, friends, and welcome back to the Fantasy Baseball Quick Grades series. We had a little bit of a COVID-19 scare with the Washington Nationals having an outbreak right at the start of the season that they are still working through, but they’re moving forward and are gradually getting their players back. We have a full week of baseball in the books, and we even saw our first no-hitter of the season on Friday night.
I went over how the grades for this series will work last week, so I won’t repeat everything here. If you’re interested in knowing my process and learning how I create these grades each week, feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher and check out the breakdown I provide here:
The main point is that we are looking at recent performance and upcoming matchups to create weekly grades. These aren’t rest-of-season rankings by any means. Cedric Mullins coming in at No. 2 overall with a 90.30 grade should give that away. Instead, these grades help highlight who has been performing well and projects to continue performing well, at least for the next week.
Week 2 Hitter Grades
We don’t yet have the full 14 days of data that I mentioned wanting to work with back in Week 1, but we do now have more than a week’s worth of games to evaluate. There were certainly some surprises, while some superstars like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Byron Buxton rose to the top. And there were some disappointments, like Keston Hiura.
Working on this week's Quick Grades piece for @FantasyPros and just started going through the numbers.
Out of 203 qualifying hitters, guess who has the lowest wOBA through the first week of the season?
???? Keston Hiura: .083
— mike Maher. (@mikeMaher) April 10, 2021
I’m looking forward to seeing how these grades evolve over the next several weeks, especially when it comes to the likes of Mullins, Nate Lowe, and Yermin Mercedes. Now, let’s take a look at the grades and then get into some notes.
Note: This table is three pages (see the button on the top right) and is sortable and searchable, so feel free to look around!
Week 2 Hitter Grades
According to my numbers, the Orioles, Braves, and Brewers have the best hitter matchups for the week. The Orioles and Braves are both playing seven games, while the Brewers are playing six. Maikel Franco is available in approximately 90% of leagues, and this is the week to stream him. Cedric Mullins figures to be a popular player on the waiver wire this Sunday, and he’s worth some FAAB consideration even if we don’t expect his recent success to continue for the rest of the season. He’s as hot as it gets right now, and the Orioles have him leading off. And if you are a Frankencatcher believer who streams different catchers throughout the year, Pedro Severino is a good candidate for Week 2. Most of the intriguing Braves players are already owned in most leagues, but take a look at available Brewers hitters like Travis Shaw and Avisail Garcia for Week 2, especially with Kolten Wong hitting the IL.
Fades of the Week
According to my grades, the Pirates, Diamondbacks, and Rockies hitters have the toughest matchups this week. For as good as Ryan McMahon looked last week, this upcoming week may not be the best time to start him, even if you’re able to scoop him up off waivers. The same goes for Garrett Hampson. The Rockies are projected to miss deGrom in the Mets series, but they’re scheduled to face Dustin May, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, and Taijuan Walker this week. The Diamondbacks are getting Jesus Luzardo, Patrick Corbin, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg as part of their six-game week, while the Pirates have four games against the Padres and their loaded staff.
With Fernando Tatis hitting the injured list at least for the next couple of weeks, if not longer, it’s time to take a look at Ha-Seong Kim. I don’t expect him to have the same kind of success that he had in the KBO over here in the majors, but he’s still only 25 years old. He will have some struggles, but the potential is there and comes with power/speed upside. Grab him where he’s available, and he is startable in many formats this week.
As for players who are already breaking out, Yermin Mercedes is hitting everything, and Tyler Naquin is thriving in Cincinnati. Akil Baddoo is impressing early, but his is a smaller sample size (and he didn’t qualify for the grades due to a lack of plate appearances).
Now, to the pitchers.
Week 2 Pitcher Grades
In the Week 1 Quick Grades piece, we didn’t have pitcher grades because the whole starting pitcher landscape was very messy, and we didn’t even really know who was going to start when. And while we still don’t have a ton of data to work with after just one week of baseball, we at least have a clearer picture in terms of probable starters. For all of these starting pitchers, we are only work with one or two starts, so there is some projection here based on small sample sizes. And making things even more interesting is that we have a huge schedule of games next week, with 18 teams playing seven games and the other 12 all playing six.
18 MLB teams are playing seven games next week, and the other 12 are all playing six.
As of right now, there are projected to be as many as 47 two-start pitchers next week. Sunday night FAAB is going to be a wild ride in a lot of leagues.
— mike Maher. (@mikeMaher) April 10, 2021
The formula for these grades is likely to change as the season goes on and we have more data to work with, but I kept it simple for this week. Below, you’ll see a grid of probable starters, their matchups, and their grades. The grade is on a scale of 0-100, and here’s what those numbers mean.
I am in 10 leagues of varying size and format, with a good mix of shallow, deeper, scoring, and roster/lineup sizes. The score for all of these players corresponds to how many leagues I would start a pitcher in if I had him in every league. So, a pitcher with a score of 100 means I would start him in all 10 leagues. A pitcher with a score of 50 means I would start him in five leagues. Zero, zero leagues. Got it? Great.
I tried not to rely too heavily on initial performances over the first week, but I did consider them. But I also considered their matchup and their number of projected starts for the week. Two-start pitchers are valuable, so I gave many of those starters a bump depending on their matchups. You’ll see that Madison Bumgarner is a 40, for example, while I would probably have him closer to a 20 if not for two projected starters against the Athletics and Nationals.
But enough about the process. Let’s get to the grades.
Note: The starters below are grouped alphabetically by team and schedule, and the table is two pages to keep the length manageable (you can click to see the second page on the top right).
As noted above, there could be as many as 47 two-start pitchers this week. Some of them, like Gerritt Cole and Yu Darvish, are automatic. You’ll see I gave a pitcher like Max Fried a grade of 100 too, which is largely because he has two starts, with one of them coming against the Marlins. I normally wouldn’t be interested in someone like Wade Miley, but he gets a bump because of his two-start status. Ditto for Danny Duffy and Casey Mize.
For a full breakdown of two-start pitchers for Week 2, be sure to check out Michael Waterloo’s weekly two-start pitchers piece.
Shohei Ohtani – Ohtani was difficult to grade because he really depends on the format. In a perfect world, he would be a two-way player that you could start at both utility and starting pitcher on the same day. But that doesn’t really exist in fantasy right now, and the next best options are him being two different players in the system (which feels kind of counterproductive since now he is taking up two roster spots), or you have him in daily lineups leagues where you can move him back and forth. Now that he is hitting even on days where he is pitching, you lose his bat for that day. But that’s OK. I guess.
But for these grades, we are only considering him as a pitcher. And does his value as a pitcher outweigh what he brings to the table as a hitter? That really depends on the format, but usually not. I gave him a 50 here because of health concerns (he has a blister and could just get skipped in the rotation) and because I’m not starting him as a pitcher everywhere if he means losing his bat in my lineup.
Corey Kluber – Kluber was an intriguing candidate this offseason after signing with the Yankees, and his debut against the Blue Jays was fine. But he got roughed up and chased early by the Rays in his last start, and I’m not really confident starting him against the Blue Jays for the second time in Dunedin this week. I’m not dropping Kluber yet, but he’ll be on the bench in most of my leagues.
Colorado Rockies – Three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and then three games at home against the New York Mets means I am fading most of their pitchers this week. Even with some recent success, the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward for pretty much anyone other than German Marquez in his start against the Mets.
That’s it for this week. Again, if you have any questions, feedback, or requests, hit me up on Twitter!
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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.