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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Javier Baez Note
Javier Baez photo 41. Javier Baez SS
Everything went wrong for Baez in 2020. His already high strikeout rate increased to 31.9%. His already low walk rated fell to an abysmal 3.0%. He swung less, made contact less, and did not hit the ball as hard as he used to. In the end, Baez earned every bit of his .203 batting average and poor counting stats. But how much weight do you put into a 59-game stretch for a veteran like Baez, particularly when he complained that his inability to watch video between at-bats affected his overall performance. The answer is a little, but not all that much. Baez had a stellar three-year run as a reliable power-speed combination, and he'll be just 28 years old this season. The Cubs lineup won't be overly strong, but Baez should certainly put up numbers closer to his 2017-2019 totals than those he put up in 2020.
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Anthony Rizzo Note
Anthony Rizzo photo 52. Anthony Rizzo 1B
Rizzo's average dropped to just .222 last year and his counting stats waned, though the latter failing was much more due to the lack of production from the rest of the Cubs lineup. His walk and strikeout rates, however, stayed mostly in line, and his BABIP was an artificially low .218 (career mark of .289), which is partly why there was such a gap between his xBA of .266 and his actual batting average. With that said, Rizzo didn't hit the ball nearly as hard last year, as he saw career worsts in average exit velocity and hard hit rate. He likely won't ever be the player he was at his peak, but there's still plenty in his bat that can help fantasy managers, including the handful of steals he will throw in each year. He's a starting-caliber first baseman still, without question, and he'll go at a discount because of last year's numbers.
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Kris Bryant Note
Kris Bryant photo 69. Kris Bryant 3B,LF,RF
Bryant had a terrible 2020 season, but it seems like fantasy managers are forgetting how consistent he's been. Over the last four seasons, he has a 162-game pace of a .278 average, 29 home runs, 112 run scored, 80 RBI, and five steals. His quality of contact was awful last season, but hard contact has never really been his calling card anyway, and he battled back and wrist injuries. Bryant doesn't deserve a mulligan entirely for last season, but give it minimal weight in your evaluation.
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Willson Contreras Note
Willson Contreras photo 88. Willson Contreras C
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.
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Ian Happ Note
Ian Happ photo 107. Ian Happ 2B,3B,LF,CF
Happ has always made consistently hard contact, but his strikeout rate was simply untenable, hovering around 34% in his first two seasons. But he has cut that down to a more manageable 26% over the last two years, and he's batted .260 with 23 home runs and 58 RBI over 115 games in that span. Happ has some speed even if he hasn't shown it recently, and he'll likely bat leadoff for the Cubs, who may need to manufacture runs more than in previous years. The average probably won't help you much, but he should contribute in four categories at a relatively inexpensive price.
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Joc Pederson Note
Joc Pederson photo 184. Joc Pederson 1B,LF,RF
Jason Heyward Note
Jason Heyward photo 226. Jason Heyward CF,RF
Nico Hoerner Note
Nico Hoerner photo 256. Nico Hoerner 2B,3B,SS
David Bote Note
David Bote photo 303. David Bote 2B,3B
Cameron Maybin Note
Cameron Maybin photo 306. Cameron Maybin LF,RF
Sergio Alcantara Note
Sergio Alcantara photo 357. Sergio Alcantara
Trent Giambrone Note
Trent Giambrone photo 358. Trent Giambrone
Matt Duffy Note
Matt Duffy photo 359. Matt Duffy 2B,3B
Alfonso Rivas Note
Alfonso Rivas photo 361. Alfonso Rivas
Austin Romine Note
Austin Romine photo 448. Austin Romine C
Jake Marisnick Note
Jake Marisnick photo 486. Jake Marisnick CF
P.J. Higgins Note
P.J. Higgins photo 568. P.J. Higgins C
Miguel Amaya Note
Miguel Amaya photo 577. Miguel Amaya C
Ildemaro Vargas Note
Ildemaro Vargas photo 633. Ildemaro Vargas 2B,3B
Michael Hermosillo Note
Michael Hermosillo photo 644. Michael Hermosillo LF
Ian Miller Note
Ian Miller photo 663. Ian Miller CF,RF