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2021 Draft Recap: Round Five (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Feb 1, 2022
J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto was the first catcher off the boards in 2021. Will he be the first one taken in 2022?

We’ve made it to Round 5, which will be the last of our reviews of the 2021 fantasy baseball draft’s first five rounds. If you need to catch up, check out our first four recaps here: Round 1Round 2Round 3, Round 4. Without further ado, let’s jump into Round 5:

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5.01:  Whit Merrifield (2B, OF – KC)

In 2019, at the age of 30, Merrifield stole 20 bases in 30 attempts and played in all 162 games. Though his other numbers were good that year, it appeared that his days as a premier base stealer were starting to wane. Last season, at the age of 32, Merrifield stole 40 bases in 44 attempts and again played in all 162 games. He also chipped in ten HRs, 97 runs, 74 RBIs and a .277 batting average. Those who drafted him in the fifth round got a good return on their investment.

Merrifield’s fantasy value hinges on his stolen base output. So the question for 2022 is whether he can repeat last year’s success at the age of 33 or if he’ll start to decline. In drafts thus far, he’s going in the third round, so fantasy managers are banking on a repeat. Round 3 feels a bit optimistic to me, given his declining power. A fifth-round selection seems like a more proper valuation.

5.02:  Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL) 

Ozuna got off to a slow start last year. Then he broke two fingers on a slide in late May and, shortly after that, was arrested for domestic abuse. The charges against him were serious; thus, last year’s fantasy value seems irrelevant. But for the record, in 48 games, Ozuna batted .213 with 7 HRs, 26 RBIs and 21 runs scored.

MLB has cleared Ozuna to return in 2022, but how this plays out in Atlanta is anyone’s guess right now. He may face a suspension or even a release by the club. If he’s back in the Braves lineup, and you can get over the moral dilemma, he’s an excellent candidate to rebound as his xBA, xSLG and xwOBA all exceeded his actuals last season.

5.03:  Blake Snell (SP – SD) 

Blake Snell was bad last year for the Padres through July, posting a 5.44 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP through 84 innings. From August on, however, he was great. In his last eight starts, his ERA was a paltry 1.83, and his WHIP was only 0.77. A groin pull ended his season in mid-September, which was unfortunate for the Padres playoff chances. One thing he did relatively well all season was strike batters out, as he averaged nearly 12 per nine innings pitched.

Snell won’t be drafted anywhere near the fifth round in 2022, as his current ADP is 92. Should he be counted on at all, though? Control has always been his nemesis. If he can manage the BBs, he could prove a fantasy bargain. You can count on a high K-rate, but it may come at the cost of his ERA and WHIP.

5.04:  Aaron Judge (OF – NYY) 

Judge would have been drafted higher than 44th if it wasn’t for durability concerns. In 2021, however, he played in 148 games and stayed reasonably healthy. He rewarded fantasy managers who rostered him with 39 HRs, 98 RBIs, 89 runs, 6 SBs and a .287 BA. Expectations are so high for Judge when he’s healthy that these numbers almost seem disappointing. But in the end, he lived up to his draft position.

Judge’s value in 2022 is trending about one round higher than it was last year. He proved that he could stay healthy, so now he feels less risky. Conversely, it also feels like he has less upside, though, and that he’ll never repeat his magical rookie season.

5.05:  Tim Anderson (SS – CWS) 

Anderson was quite productive in 2021 when he was on the field. Several ailments, including two IL stints, limited him to 123 games; yet he still delivered 17 HRs, 18 SBs, 94 runs, 61 RBIs and a .309 BA. Anderson is proving to be an exception to the rule that you can maintain a high BA despite a lack of plate discipline. He’s done it by generating a high BABIP the past three seasons.

Fantasy managers are beginning to trust him as a result, and thus you’ll likely have to spend a fourth-round pick to get him in 2022. As long as he stays healthy, though, he’s a good bet to deliver a high batting average with solid HR and SB numbers to go with it.

5.06:  Pete Alonso (1B – NYM) 

Alonso had a solid 2021, but much like Aaron Judge, it fell a bit flat compared to his outstanding rookie season of 2019. His final numbers included 37 HRs, 94 RBIs, 81 runs and a .262 batting average. These statistics are satisfactory, but you can find similar production much later in drafts.

Alonso still has a lot of fans in fantasy baseball, as his ADP thus far in 2022 is about the same as in 2021. His HR totals could tick back up next year, but this is hardly a sure thing. His deliverables seem more worthy of the seventh round than the fifth.

5.07:  Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN) 

Maeda performed brilliantly in the short 2020 season, which set him up as a popular draft choice in 2021. Unfortunately, he regressed closer to his career norms and battled through injuries, ultimately leading to Tommy John surgery in September. In total, Maeda posted a 4.66 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 9.6 K’s per nine and six wins in 21 starts for the year. He had a bit of bad luck in terms of BABIP, but in hindsight, it appears that his 2020 season was the outlier. That season, the BABIP against him was only .208, and his BB/9 was only 1.35 – significantly lower than his career norm.

As he will be out for most, if not all, of 2022, Maeda’s not draftable. If he’s still on your board, scratch him off.

5.08:  J.T. Realmuto (C – PHI) 

Realmuto was the first catcher drafted in 2021 and delivered pretty much as expected. He wasn’t the best fantasy catcher last year; that honor went to Salvador Perez (C – KC), but he was arguably the second-best. For the season, Realmuto batted .263 with 17 HRs, 13 SBs, 73 RBIs and 64 runs scored – excellent numbers for a catcher. If you subscribed to the “best player at a weak position” strategy and drafted Realmuto, you likely weren’t disappointed.

Realmuto’s stock for 2022 is similar to that of 2021. Fantasy managers will again take him in the fifth or sixth round as his appeal as a catcher who fills multiple categories remains. His ADP is too high based on the raw numbers he provides, but it depends on your draft strategy. If the NL adopts the DH, it will increase Realmuto’s value.

5.09:  Tyler Glasnow (SP – TB) 

Glasnow was superb last year, thrilling his fantasy managers through his first 13 starts. However, he lasted only four innings before leaving with an injury in his fourteenth start. That injury ended up being a partial tear of his UCL. He tried to rehab through it but threw in the towel in September and opted for Tommy John surgery. It was an unfortunate end to an excellent season for Glasnow where he delivered five wins with a 2.66 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 12.6 K’s per nine.

Glasnow will miss the entire 2022 season as he didn’t have surgery until September. Thus, he won’t be fantasy-relevant again until 2023.

5.10:  George Springer (OF – TOR) 

Expectations were high for Springer in his first year in Toronto with a stacked lineup around him. Unfortunately, he strained his oblique in Spring Training, which led to his starting the season on the IL. Then he pulled his quad during rehab, which cost him a few more weeks. He returned for a few games in late April before going back on the IL until late June after re-aggravating his quad injury. Another injury, this time to his knee, would sideline him again in late August. In total, Springer ended up playing in just 78 games due to all of the injuries.

In those 78 games, however, Springer was outstanding. He slugged 22 HRs, drove in 50, scored 59 runs and stole four bases while batting .264. The talent is there if he can stay on the field. Unfortunately, staying on the field has been an issue for him the past few seasons. Despite the injury risk, fantasy managers are still willing to spend a fifth-round pick on him in 2022. Springer should prove worthy of the selection if he plays in 140+ games, but that’s a big “if.”

Fifth Round Overview

Injuries and under-production marred much of the fifth round of the 2021 draft. Of the ten selections, only Merrifield, Judge and Realmuto delivered for fantasy managers. The fifth round was a bit of a microcosm of the first five rounds in total, which contained more disappointments than revelations. Many of the fantasy gems from 2021 came later in the draft. Players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B – TOR), Marcus Semien (2B – TEX), Shohei Ohtani (DH, SP – LAA) and Carlos Rodon (SP – FA)  were some examples of great values that occurred after Round 5.

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