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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Bryce Harper Note
Bryce Harper photo 1. Bryce Harper PHI
In 157 games in Harper's first year with the Phillies, he batted .260 with 35 home runs, 98 runs, 114 RBI, and 15 steals. In 2020, his 157-game pace was .268 with 35 home runs, 111 runs, 89 RBI, and 21 steals. In other words, Harper provides an incredibly safe baseline now with Philadelphia, and fantasy managers can expect roughly 35 home runs, 15-20 steals, and 220 combined runs and RBI. There were some gains for Harper in 2020, as he walked more and struck out less than he ever had in his career, and hit the ball as hard as ever. But there's no reason to expect much growth in Harper's surface numbers at this point. Take the incredibly high floor in the second round and be happy with it.
6 weeks ago
Marcell Ozuna Note
Marcell Ozuna photo 2. Marcell Ozuna ATL
Ozuna had a career year with the Braves last year, slashing .338/.431/.636, a career best in each category. His 18 home runs and 56 RBI led the National League, while his barrel rate, average exit velocity, and hard hit rate were all among the best in baseball. Given that he had shoulder surgery before the 2018 season, it's fair to assume that he needed two full years to recover. And although perhaps we can't expect him to again lead the league in power categories, you should expect roughly a 35-homer, 100-RBI season with a plus batting average. That makes him capable of being your first outfielder in mixed leagues and an asset to any fantasy team.
6 weeks ago
Kyle Tucker Note
Kyle Tucker photo 3. Kyle Tucker HOU
Tucker finally got regular playing time last year and it was mostly what fantasy owners had hoped for. Tucker didn't quite put up his gaudy numbers that he averaged in the minors, but he was on roughly a 25-20 pace while helping out in the other statistical categories. Tucker's batted ball profile didn't completely wow anyone last year, but given his performance, his prospect pedigree and minor-league track record, and his guaranteed spot in a strong lineup, fantasy managers should feel little concern about having Tucker be their first outfielder in fantasy.
6 weeks ago
Pete Alonso Note
Pete Alonso photo 4. Pete Alonso NYM
Alonso didn't quite follow up his incredible 2019 season last year, but he certainly wasn't terrible. The vast majority of his underlying statcast data and metrics looked similar, and he mostly just didn't make quite as consistently hard contact as he did the previous year. Alonso is never going to help you in batting average, but you should expect 40 home runs and 100 RBI this year and for the foreseeable future. With such a high floor, Alonso makes a more than adequate starting first baseman in mixed leagues.
6 weeks ago
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Note
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. photo 5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR
Guerrero Jr. comes into 2021 with fantasy managers asking the same question they asked the year before: can he stop hitting the ball on the ground so much? A 49.6% ground-ball rate was bad in 2019, but a 54.6% ground ball rate in 2020 was downright egregious. Guerrero Jr. hits the ball really, really hard. He was in the top seven percent of MLB in average exit velocity (92.5 MPH) and hard hit rate (50.8%). But until he learns to stop pounding the ball into the dirt, his power upside will be limited. There will be some fantasy manager in your league willing to bet on the upside, so if you want Guerrero Jr., you're going to have to draft him before his numbers say you should. This may indeed be the year that everything clicks. But you'll have to pay to find out.
6 weeks ago
Yordan Alvarez Note
Yordan Alvarez photo 6. Yordan Alvarez HOU
Alvarez missed almost all of last season and had surgery on both of his knees, which is obviously worrisome for his 2021 outlook. His 2019 performance was incredibly impressive on every level (50 homers, 149 RBI in 143 games between the majors and minors), and he offers a high batting average floor to boot. It's all about health with Alvarez, so monitor his performance this spring. If he shows he's remotely healthy, his ADP is going to skyrocket.
6 weeks ago
Nelson Cruz Note
Nelson Cruz photo 7. Nelson Cruz MIN
If you ascribe to the "I'd rather jump off a year too early than too late" philosophy, then you probably haven't been drafting Cruz for the last several years. But if not, then you've not only drafted one of the most underrated fantasy bats in recent memory, but you're probably going to do so again this year. Cruz is back on a one-year deal with the Twins, and he's coming off another utterly dominant season. Fine, his strikeout rate rose again a bit, he didn't hit the ball quite as hard, and he's eligible at utility only. But other than the fact that he will be 41 years old this season, there's nothing in his profile that should cause you to expect significant decline. Prepare to be having the same debate next year, after Crus puts up another 35-homer season this year.
6 weeks ago
J.D. Martinez Note
J.D. Martinez photo 8. J.D. Martinez BOS
Martinez had a disastrous 2020 season, during which he slashed just .213/.291/.389 and hit seven home runs. Martinez simply didn't hit the ball nearly as hard as he used to, and hit a ton of fly balls, the combination of which helped to drain his batting average significantly. There's a ton to dislike about last year, but given that Martinez has talked about how much he relies on watching video in-game, and his inability to do so last year because of COVID-19 protocols, it seems likely that you can write off last year to a slump that didn't have time to end. He'll be eligible at utility only, but there's a massive opportunity for profit if you are willing to largely look past 2020.
6 weeks ago
Keston Hiura Note
Keston Hiura photo 9. Keston Hiura MIL
Hiura looked to be on the verge of superstardom heading into 2020, if he could just cut back on his bloated 30.7% strikeout rate. Instead, he struck out more than ever (34.6% of the time), en route to a league-leading 85 strikeouts. That led to a massive drop in production, notably in batting average, which fell from .303 in 2019 to .212 last year. Hiura was never a high-strikeout player in the minors. He never struck out more than 26.3% in any level and he had an overall strikeout rate of just 21%. If he can manage to cut down on the whiffs, he should be a top option at second base given his power and speed, but for now, drop him down your draft board a bit from where he was heading into 2020. He's still a borderline top-five option, especially since he will add first base eligibility after the Brewers signed Kolten Wong, but exercise more caution.
6 weeks ago
Giancarlo Stanton Note
Giancarlo Stanton photo 10. Giancarlo Stanton NYY
It's all about the injuries with Stanton, as after two healthy seasons, he's been limited to just 41 games over the last two. There's little to analyze with the slugger other than his health. He still hits the ball as hard as anyone and walks and strikes out a ton. There's been little decline in his batted ball data over the last two years, but even if there had been, the sample size would be too small to draw any conclusions. Stanton is likely eligible at utility only in your league, but that limitation should let him come as a discount in drafts. Have power on your bench ready to fill in if you draft Stanton, but there's no reason to run from him.
6 weeks ago
Tommy Pham Note
Tommy Pham photo 11. Tommy Pham SD
Pham had a terrible 2020 season, during which he slashed .211/.312/.312 and hit just three home runs. A broken hamate bone limited him to just 31 games, and to make matters worse, he was stabbed in the lower back during an altercation in the offseason. But even entering his age-33 season, there are reasons to be optimistic about his 2021 outlook. Pham had averaged roughly 22 home runs and 22 steals with a .284 batting average the three years prior to last, and he had the highest hard-hit rate of his career in 2020. Indeed, his expected batting average of .266 was 55 points higher than his actual average. There's reason to expect Pham to return to his 20-20 ways if he can remain healthy, and batting in a loaded Padres lineup, he should add plenty of counting stats.
6 weeks ago
Jorge Soler Note
Jorge Soler photo 12. Jorge Soler KC
Soler's injury-shortened 2020 season didn't live up to his massive 2019 campaign, but he did show that a lot of his gains were legitimate. Yes, it was more of a 30-homer pace, but his barrel rate, average exit velocity, and hard hit rate were all elite, as they were the prior year. Soler struck out way too much (34.5% of the time), and if he can't fix that, then his average will suffer as it did last year. But, his walk rate remains high and the power is going to be there with how hard he hits the ball. He's a source of cheap power you can grab later than other similarly-profiled bats going several rounds earlier.
6 weeks ago
Josh Bell Note
Josh Bell photo 13. Josh Bell WSH
Bell looked like a superstar in the making in the first half of 2019, but struggled for much of the second half of the season and then fell off a cliff in 2020. He slashed a mere .226/.305/.364 and hit only eight home runs. His strikeout and ground ball rates took massive jumps, while his walk rate and launch angle plummeted. Bell blamed his struggles on his swing getting long, and you could tell by how often he changed his stance and swing last year that he simply could not figure things out. Now with the Nationals, the 29-year-old Bell will have a chance to revive his career. We've seen the upside, so he's certainly worth drafting at a discount, but he's much more of a borderline corner infielder than a starting-caliber first baseman.
6 weeks ago
Franmil Reyes Note
Franmil Reyes photo 14. Franmil Reyes CLE
Reyes didn't quite live up to his power potential last year with just nine home runs in 59 games, and his 50.3% ground ball rate certainly didn't help. His Statcast data waned a bit from his monstrous 2019 season, but his 92.4 mile per hour average exit velocity was in the top two percent in baseball. There's just not a ton to dislike about Reyes, other than he offers nothing in the way of speed. On his absolute worst day, he's a 30-homer bat with a batting average that won't kill you. On his best day, he's a lite version of a healthy Aaron Judge. Expect at least three-category production, and make it four if he can maintain the 10% walk rate he showed in 2020.
6 weeks ago
Michael Brantley Note
Michael Brantley photo 15. Michael Brantley HOU
After a few hours where it looked like Brantley was heading to the Blue Jays, he'll instead return to the Astros on a two-year contract. Despite his advancing age, Brantley remains one of the safest players in all of fantasy, batting at least .299 in each of the last six seasons in which he played at least 11 games. He both walked and struck out more than usual last season, but given that he played in just 46 games, there's little reason to draw any firm conclusions from that data. The bigger issue is that Brantley excels in only batting average, and although he'll offer something in each of the other four rotisserie categories, he won't be a difference-maker. Draft Brantley in the middle-to-later rounds if you need an average boost, but there's little upside.
6 weeks ago
Willson Contreras Note
Willson Contreras photo 16. Willson Contreras CHC
Contreras has established a pretty decent baseline for what fantasy managers can expect over the course of a full season. He'll likely give you a floor of 15 home runs and 110 combined runs and RBI, with upside for more. Those numbers don't sound impressive, but they're enough to make Contreras a top-five catcher easily. Given his safety, there's an argument to be made to take him as high as second overall at the position. But, even so, there's no need to select him before the eighth round or so, as there's not an appreciable difference in the production of the next seven or eight catchers beyond J.T. Realmuto.
6 weeks ago
Justin Turner Note
Justin Turner photo 17. Justin Turner LAD
Turner signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, he remains a key cog in an incredibly strong lineup where he's had plenty of success for several years. On the other, he's almost certainly going to see a downtick in his playing time given his age and the presence of Edwin Rios. Turner is still a batting average asset, has shown little decline in his batted ball data, and almost always produces when he's in the lineup. But he's much more valuable in daily transaction leagues where you can swap him in and out of the lineup.
6 weeks ago
Andrew McCutchen Note
Andrew McCutchen photo 18. Andrew McCutchen PHI
McCutchen returned from his torn ACL and put up a decent season, hitting 10 home runs and stealing four bases in 57 games. If you watched him play, you could see he wasn't 100% himself, and his sprint speed dropped to just 27.4 ft/s, by far a career low. But he looks and reportedly feels healthier this spring, and will lead off again for the Phillies. Expect 20-plus homers, close to double-digit steals, and plenty of runs scored. And because he's an aging veteran, expect him to be a value on draft day.
6 weeks ago
AJ Pollock Note
AJ Pollock photo 19. AJ Pollock LAD
Pollock's production when healthy is rarely in doubt. In 141 games over the last two seasons, he's hit 31 home runs, scored 79 runs, drove in 81, and stolen seven bases while batting .270. But it's the "when healthy" part that is the key to Pollock's value, as he hasn't topped 113 games played since 2015. He's a better pick in shallow leagues where you can replace him if and when he misses time due to injury. But the performance is that of a solid OF3 or OF4 when he's in the lineup.
6 weeks ago
Austin Meadows Note
Austin Meadows photo 20. Austin Meadows TB
Meadows missed time with an oblique injury last year, and, more importantly, because of complications from COVID-19. Meadows's strikeout rate ballooned to 32.9% and his average fell to just .205 in 2020. Even if you expected regression from his 2019 season, he's just much better than a player who put up the 87 wRC+ and .292 wOBA we saw last year. Though it's absolutely fair to write off Meadows's season entirely, it's a bit worrisome that he struggled so much against lefties (.143 batting average), as that could potentially open him up to a platoon situation if he struggles against them out of the gate. The best course of action is to discount him from his numbers in 2019 for certain, but still buy him as a strong third outfielder, which should bake in the risk of any continued struggles against his upside.
6 weeks ago
Christian Walker Note
Christian Walker photo 21. Christian Walker ARI
Walker's power waned last season and his barrel rate dropped precipitously, but there were still plenty of things to like about his 2020 campaign. Notably, he cut his strikeout rate to a career-best 20.6% while raising his average to a strong .271. Walker is not, and is probably never going to be, a superstar fantasy asset. But he is a quiet producer who should help in four of the five rotisserie categories and is often overlooked. He's an ideal corner infielder for a team that needs steady production.
6 weeks ago
Jesse Winker Note
Jesse Winker photo 22. Jesse Winker CIN
Winker had a quietly strong 2020 season, getting on base at a .388 clip and hitting 12 home runs in 54 games. He hit the ball hard consistently and walked an impressive 15.3% of the time, which help to offset his rise in strikeout rate (25.1%, well above his career mark). He'll likely bat leadoff for the Reds, and should be an asset in both home runs and runs scored. That's not a profile that blows you away, but it's enough for you to use as a fifth outfielder.
6 weeks ago
Mark Canha Note
Mark Canha photo 23. Mark Canha OAK
Fantasy managers seem to have declared Canha's 2019 season as a fluke after he hit just five home run last year, but much of his 2020 seems to suggest 2019 was fairly legitimate. Canha built on his massive gains in walk rate in 2019 (13.5%) and increased it to 15.2%, and his quality of contact largely remained the same. He's got 20-homer power still, and he'll likely lead off or bat second for the A's. You won't need to pay much for him and given his average draft position, there's a high probability of a profit.
6 weeks ago
J.D. Davis Note
J.D. Davis photo 24. J.D. Davis NYM
Raimel Tapia Note
Raimel Tapia photo 25. Raimel Tapia COL
Tapia doesn't make a ton of hard contact, but he slashed .321/.369/.402 last year and led off for the Rockies for the majority of the season. He's slated to do so again this year, which means he should be a cheap source of runs, batting average, and steals. Tapia's been around for awhile and never held a starting job all season, but he's in an excellent position this year and can be drafted late in all mixed leagues as a fifth outfielder or bench player.
6 weeks ago
Joc Pederson Note
Joc Pederson photo 26. Joc Pederson CHC
Rowdy Tellez Note
Rowdy Tellez photo 27. Rowdy Tellez TOR
Jesus Aguilar Note
Jesus Aguilar photo 28. Jesus Aguilar MIA
Ty France Note
Ty France photo 29. Ty France SEA
Mitch Moreland Note
Mitch Moreland photo 30. Mitch Moreland OAK
Willie Calhoun Note
Willie Calhoun photo 31. Willie Calhoun TEX
Calhoun was set to build on his breakout 2019 season when an errant pitch fractured his jaw in spring training. Even with the delayed season, he was never able to fully recover, at least not mentally, and he had a lost campaign. He's now back and focused, particularly after working with a hitting coach in the offseason. He will likely earn everyday at-bats splitting time between DH and the outfield, but a low grade groin strain is going to keep him out of action for a couple of weeks. His draft price is negligible, so feel free to stash him with one of your last picks, and hopefully reap the rewards after the first week or two of the season.
6 weeks ago
Colin Moran Note
Colin Moran photo 32. Colin Moran PIT
Austin Slater Note
Austin Slater photo 33. Austin Slater SF
Miguel Cabrera Note
Miguel Cabrera photo 34. Miguel Cabrera DET
Renato Nunez Note
Renato Nunez photo 35. Renato Nunez BAL
Wilmer Flores Note
Wilmer Flores photo 36. Wilmer Flores SF
Jose Iglesias Note
Jose Iglesias photo 37. Jose Iglesias LAA
Garrett Cooper Note
Garrett Cooper photo 38. Garrett Cooper MIA
Khris Davis Note
Khris Davis photo 39. Khris Davis TEX
Shohei Ohtani Note
Shohei Ohtani photo 40. Shohei Ohtani LAA
Pedro Severino Note
Pedro Severino photo 41. Pedro Severino BAL
Yoshi Tsutsugo Note
Yoshi Tsutsugo photo 42. Yoshi Tsutsugo TB
Daniel Vogelbach Note
Daniel Vogelbach photo 43. Daniel Vogelbach MIL
Matt Carpenter Note
Matt Carpenter photo 44. Matt Carpenter STL
Victor Caratini Note
Victor Caratini photo 45. Victor Caratini SD
Asdrubal Cabrera Note
Asdrubal Cabrera photo 46. Asdrubal Cabrera ARI
Jay Bruce Note
Jay Bruce photo 47. Jay Bruce FA
Shohei Ohtani Note
Shohei Ohtani photo 48. Shohei Ohtani LAA
Depending on your league settings, Ohtani has the potential to be a dominant force in 2021. There has never been any doubt about his talent, and he looks fantastic in the spring, hitting home runs at will and pumping in high-90s fastballs when on the mound. He's been batting on days he pitches, and Joe Maddon has suggested that he's going to throw out the old rules that led to Ohtani's decreased playing time. If you can move him between hitter and pitcher on a daily basis, then move him up your board significantly. Even if not, he should provide plenty of value when healthy as either a hitter or a pitcher, so make sure he's on your radar as you move into the double-digit rounds.
6 weeks ago
Albert Pujols Note
Albert Pujols photo 49. Albert Pujols LAA
Edwin Encarnacion Note
Edwin Encarnacion photo 50. Edwin Encarnacion FA
Matt Kemp Note
Matt Kemp photo 51. Matt Kemp FA
Zack Collins Note
Zack Collins photo 52. Zack Collins CWS
Kevin Cron Note
Kevin Cron photo 53. Kevin Cron FA
Brad Miller Note
Brad Miller photo 54. Brad Miller PHI
Jose Martinez Note
Jose Martinez photo 55. Jose Martinez NYM
Ryan Braun Note
Ryan Braun photo 56. Ryan Braun FA
Jed Lowrie Note
Jed Lowrie photo 57. Jed Lowrie OAK
Abraham Toro Note
Abraham Toro photo 58. Abraham Toro HOU
Yoenis Cespedes Note
Yoenis Cespedes photo 59. Yoenis Cespedes FA
Jose Marmolejos Note
Jose Marmolejos photo 60. Jose Marmolejos SEA
Pablo Sandoval Note
Pablo Sandoval photo 61. Pablo Sandoval ATL
Shin-Soo Choo Note
Shin-Soo Choo photo 62. Shin-Soo Choo FA
Tim Lopes Note
Tim Lopes photo 63. Tim Lopes MIL
Yadiel Hernandez Note
Yadiel Hernandez photo 64. Yadiel Hernandez WSH
Bobby Bradley Note
Bobby Bradley photo 65. Bobby Bradley CLE
Logan Morrison Note
Logan Morrison photo 66. Logan Morrison FA
Josh Phegley Note
Josh Phegley photo 67. Josh Phegley FA
Eric Thames Note
Eric Thames photo 68. Eric Thames FA
Matt Joyce Note
Matt Joyce photo 69. Matt Joyce PHI
Matt Adams Note
Matt Adams photo 70. Matt Adams COL
Phil Gosselin Note
Phil Gosselin photo 71. Phil Gosselin LAA
Derek Dietrich Note
Derek Dietrich photo 72. Derek Dietrich NYY
Matt Davidson Note
Matt Davidson photo 73. Matt Davidson LAD
Taylor Jones Note
Taylor Jones photo 74. Taylor Jones HOU
Yermin Mercedes Note
Yermin Mercedes photo 75. Yermin Mercedes CWS
Mark Trumbo Note
Mark Trumbo photo 76. Mark Trumbo FA
Jorge Ona Note
Jorge Ona photo 77. Jorge Ona SD
Yasmany Tomas Note
Yasmany Tomas photo 78. Yasmany Tomas WSH
Rob Refsnyder Note
Rob Refsnyder photo 79. Rob Refsnyder MIN
Dylan Cozens Note
Dylan Cozens photo 80. Dylan Cozens MIL
Ryan Goins Note
Ryan Goins photo 81. Ryan Goins CWS