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2021 Draft Recap: Round Two (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Jan 8, 2022
Francisco Lindor

Last week, we started our review of the first five rounds of 2021 fantasy drafts with picks 1-10. If you missed it, check it out here. This week we’ll cover Round 2 (picks 11-20), so let’s jump right in:

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2.01:  Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL)

Last season, the 2020 MVP got off to a slow start with his batting average, hitting only .235 through May. He did, however, have 12 HRs, 29 RBIs, and 33 runs, so his struggles were limited to one category. Freeman’s BA normalized as he finished the year with a .300 average. He also knocked 31 balls out of the park, scored 120 runs, stole eight bases, and drove in 83 while playing in 159 games. The RBIs were a bit disappointing, but those who drafted him had to be happy with the overall results.

As of now, Freeman is a free agent. While most assume he’ll eventually return to the Braves, his fantasy outlook could change a bit if he ends up elsewhere. Freddie’s such a good hitter, though, that it shouldn’t change his outlook too much even if this happens. He should once again be a solid second-round pick in this year’s drafts.

2.02:  Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)

One of the big debates last year was where should Yelich be drafted. After monster seasons in 2018 and 2019, Yelich struggled with a .205 batting average and 30% K-rate in the short 2020 campaign. Most were betting on a rebound, given his relatively high ADP last year. Unfortunately for those who drafted him, his 2021 was injury-riddled and ineffective. A back injury and Covid illness limited him to 117 games. Worse, he hit only 9 HRs, with 51 RBIs and a .248 BA. So if you drafted him, you got stuck with mediocre production.

Whether Yelich can rebound in 2022 is again debatable. But this year, he won’t be drafted so early. How far he’ll fall remains to be seen, but his current ADP is around 100. If he regains any semblance of his former self, he could end up being a bargain, but the risk with him is pretty high.

2.03:  Trevor Story (SS – COL)

Trevor Story didn’t live up to the expectations associated with the 13th overall pick in 2021, but he still managed to provide a fair amount of power and stolen bases. His final statistics included 24 HRs, 20 SBs, 88 runs, 75 RBIs, and a .251 BA in 595 plate appearances. Perhaps the rumors of an impending trade dogged him all season, but in the end, his performance was well below his production of 2018 and 2019. Bad luck may have contributed, as his .293 BABIP was well below his career norm.

The big question for Story this Spring is where will he be playing? He’s a free agent, and if he leaves Colorado, his value will plummet. Over his career, he’s a .241/.310/.442 (BA/OBP/SLG) hitter on the road vs. a .303/.369/.603 hitter at home. Should he stay with the Rockies, he’s probably worth a 3rd or 4th round pick next season. However, if he moves on, he could drop as far as Round 8, depending on his landing spot.

2.04:  Trevor Bauer (SP – LAD)

Where do we start with Bauer? First, his off-field issues limited him to 17 starts in his first, and possibly last, season with the Dodgers. He didn’t pitch after June due to his legal troubles. When he did pitch, he threw well for the most part. His shortened season stat-line included eight wins, 11.5 K’s per nine, a .259 ERA, and a 1.0 WHIP. After the announcement that MLB would start cracking down on “sticky stuff,” he showed some signs of regression, but we never got to see what the full impact might have been.

At this point of the offseason, Bauer is not draftable as it’s unclear how much he’ll pitch in 2022, if at all. Even if he resolves his legal issues before the season, he still may face suspension by MLB. The only thing you can do with Bauer at this point is stay tuned.

2.05:  Cody Bellinger (1B – LAD)

Bellinger had a miserable 2021, starting with offseason shoulder surgery. Many people expected him to get off to a slow start, but he never got the chance. Instead, a cleat to his lower leg on April 5th resulted in a hairline fracture that would sideline him for nearly two months. In addition, a hamstring injury sent him back to the IL in mid-June for a few more weeks. Upon his return, he never got untracked and started to lose playing time down the stretch as the Dodgers were fighting for a division title. In total, Bellinger played in only 95 games contributing ten HRs, three SBs, 39 runs, 36 RBIs, and a .165 batting average. Yikes!

If there’s a bright spot to Bellinger’s 2021, it’s that he redeemed himself in the playoffs. He looked like his old self with a .353 BA, 7 RBIs, and 5 SB’s in only 34 ABs. While that didn’t help fantasy managers, it does suggest that perhaps he started to figure things out. He’s sure to improve in 2022 to some extent, but where should he be drafted? Right now, his early ADP is just over 100. If he looks healthy this Spring and you can get him in the tenth round, that could prove a real bargain.

2.06:  Francisco Lindor (SS – NYM)

Expectations were high in New York after they acquired Lindor and signed him to a long-term extension before the season. Perhaps this made him press a bit as he got off to a terrible start. Through May, Lindor hit only .194 with 4 HRs, 4 SBs, and 11 RBIs. Mets fans were not pleased. He started to turn things around in June, but an oblique strain in mid-July sent him to the IL until late August. If there was a silver lining to his fantasy managers (and Mets fans), it’s that he looked good down the stretch. In Sept/Oct, he hit nine HRs, scored 23 runs, and drove in 25 with a .257 average.

Lindor is still only 28 years old, so it is easy to expect he’ll rebound in 2022. He’s never really been a high average hitter, but he should be able to improve on last year’s .230, and the power and speed are likely to return. Fantasy managers will be nervous about selecting him after last season. As a result, he may be available as late as the sixth round, which could end up a substantial value.

2.07:  Yu Darvish (SP – SD)

2021 was a tale of two halves for Yu Darvish. The Padres and fantasy managers had to be pleased with his first half when he threw 105 innings with a 3.09 ERA, a 1.0 WHIP, and a 10.7 K/9 ratio. In the second half, however, those numbers dropped to a 6.16 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and a 10.9 K/9. His xFIP was constant throughout the season, as was the BABIP against him. However, his FIP rose considerably in the second half, as did his walk rate.

Many suspect the ban on foreign substances was the cause of Darvish’s downfall, as that is when his season took a turn for the worse. Perhaps that was the case, or maybe Darvish is just an inconsistent pitcher. He’s been alternatively great and awful throughout his career, so 2021 could just be another one of those blips. As we head into 2022, Darvish has too much upside to pass on drafting. However, he’s probably more of an SP3 or SP4 with upside than an SP1.

2.08:  Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)

After a solid, but not spectacular, first half of 2021, Harper got hot. He was a beast down the stretch and rode his surge to a second MVP award. In the end, Harper proved worthy of his draft position for fantasy managers by contributing 35 Hrs, 13 SBs, 101 runs, 84 RBIs, and a .309 batting average. The RBIs were a bit light, but he delivered up to or beyond expectations everywhere else.

Harper has been a relatively consistent fantasy producer for most of his career. The one stat that seems to fluctuate is batting average, but he should deliver 30+ HRs, 100ish RBIs, and double-digit steals again in 2022, assuming he stays healthy. He may end up a bit over-priced based on his stellar 2021, but if you can land him in the second round, you likely won’t be disappointed.

2.09:  Lucas Giolito (SP – CWS)

Fantasy managers made Giolito the sixth pitcher off the board last year, surprising given some of the names still on the board. But he was terrific in 2019 and 2020 and appeared to be on the brink of becoming a true ace. It didn’t quite happen in 2021, though. His ERA and WHIP were similar to the prior two campaigns, and he stayed healthy, but his K-rate dropped by two per game, and he only won eleven games in 31 starts despite playing for a division winner. He was arguably the third-best pitcher on his team behind Lance Lynn (SP – CWS) and Carlos Rodon (SP – CWS). Giolito pitched more to contact in 2021. As a result, he struck out and walked fewer batters but gave up more HRs – which is not ideal for fantasy baseball.

Heading into 2022, Giolito appears to be trending towards being drafted as an SP2 in the third round. His current ADP seems a bit optimistic based on his 2021 production.

2.10:  Manny Machado (3B – SD)

Machado was one of the rare players whose fantasy output was in line with his ADP last season. He stayed relatively healthy all year and contributed solid numbers across the board. His final statistics included 28 HRs, 12 SBs, 92 Runs, 106 RBIs, and a .273 batting average.

Machado has been around so long that it’s easy to forget he’s still only 29 years old. So there’s no reason to expect any regression from him anytime soon. He’s a solid choice in the late second to third round once again in 2022.

Second Round Overview

Last year, only three of the second-round draft picks delivered as expected for fantasy managers (Freeman, Harper, and Machado). The rest were dogged by injuries, poor performance, or both. As a result, this year’s second-round won’t feature most of these players.

Next week: Round 3 (picks 21-30)

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