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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Nelson Cruz Note
Nelson Cruz photo 43. Nelson Cruz DH
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.
7 weeks ago
Byron Buxton Note
Byron Buxton photo 73. Byron Buxton CF
Buxton has immense talent and upside, and it feel like he could be a fantasy superstar if he stays healthy. Limited to just 39 games last year, he hit 13 home runs, greatly increasing his barrel rate (13.5%), average exit velocity (91.2 MPH) and hard hit rate (47.9%). Although he only stole two base, his sprint speed ranked in the 99th percentile. The two things holding Buxton back are his health concerns - he has played more than 92 games just once in his career, and his .238 career batting average, which won't improve until he stops swinging so much, particularly at pitches outside of the zone. But he's still just 27 years old, and has the power and speed to deliver a 30-30 season in a perfect world. Just bake in some missed time into the draft capital you're willing to spend.
7 weeks ago
Max Kepler Note
Max Kepler photo 94. Max Kepler RF
Kepler isn't a fancy player, but he's the kind of depth piece that fantasy managers need to survive a long season. The 36-homer season in 2019 is likely a mirage, as his barrel rate and hard-hit percentage were way out of line with his typical production. But he should be a fairly reliable 25-homer bat who will put up 150-160 combined runs and RBI with the occasional steal thrown in. His career batting average is just .237 but his xBA over the last two years is .257, so he shouldn't actively hurt you. Shrug your shoulders, draft him late, and take the reliable production.
7 weeks ago
Josh Donaldson Note
Josh Donaldson photo 99. Josh Donaldson 3B
Donaldson again missed significant time with a calf strain last year, and was limited to just 28 games. He hit for power and walked plenty when he was in the lineup, and both his average exit velocity and hard hit rate were at or near his career highs. In other words, there doesn't seem to be much of a decline in his performance over recent seasons. Now in his age-35 season, it sounds like the Twins are going to give Donaldson plenty of rest this year in an effort to keep him healthy. Bank on the power, but assume a maximum of 130 games or so. There's a lot of value in that so long as you factor it in appropriately.
7 weeks ago
Miguel Sano Note
Miguel Sano photo 107. Miguel Sano 1B
Sano has always had one of the worst strikeout rates in the majors, but his 43.9% mark in 2020 was awful even by his standards. That's always the risk with Sano - that his strikeout rate is going to bring his batting average down to close to .200, where he'll almost single-handedly tank you in that category. The upside of course is that he absolutely crushes the ball, as evident by the fact that he was no worse than second in baseball in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and barrel rate last year. Sano's contract with the Twins shows they're committed to him, so he should hopefully be beyond concerns of getting sent down to the minors if he struggles. That puts Sano in the high-power, low-average bucket of sluggers, but one who goes much later in drafts than others who will provide similar production.
7 weeks ago
Jorge Polanco Note
Jorge Polanco photo 120. Jorge Polanco 2B,SS
Polanco has generally been a bit underrated in his career, but the fantasy community seems to have abandoned him in full after 2020. But there's little reason to do so. Polanco should gain second base eligibility quickly this year, as he moves over to accommodate Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. Polanco's quality of contact isn't great, but he rarely strikes out, doesn't hurt you in batting average, and has enough speed to throw in a handful of steals. With soon-to-be multi-position eligibility, he's an ideal bench candidate.
7 weeks ago
Mitch Garver Note
Mitch Garver photo 149. Mitch Garver C
As quickly as Garver exploded onto the scene in 2019 with 31 home runs in just 93 games, he disappeared last year, to the tune of a .167 batting average and two home runs with a 45.7% strikeout rate. An intercostal strain led to his shortened season and almost certainly affected his performance. He's been red hot in the spring thus far, and should be slowly moving up your draft board. If you're looking for a catcher who has the potential to finish within the top-5 but is being drafted only as a low-end starter, this is your guy.
7 weeks ago
Alex Kirilloff Note
Alex Kirilloff photo 179. Alex Kirilloff RF
Kirilloff's bat is probably major-league ready, but since he hasn't yet played above Double-A and his fielding is iffy at best, he's going to begin the year at the Twins' alternate site. But his .317/.365/.498 slash line in his minor league career suggests he'll hit upon his promotion, which will likely be in late-April once the Twins gain a year of control. Even though he won't begin the year with the big club, draft him for your bench. He'll be an expensive waiver wire pickup if you don't.
7 weeks ago
Andrelton Simmons Note
Andrelton Simmons photo 209. Andrelton Simmons SS
Luis Arraez Note
Luis Arraez photo 220. Luis Arraez 2B,3B,LF
Ryan Jeffers Note
Ryan Jeffers photo 237. Ryan Jeffers C
Jake Cave Note
Jake Cave photo 392. Jake Cave CF,LF
Royce Lewis Note
Royce Lewis photo 399. Royce Lewis SS
Brent Rooker Note
Brent Rooker photo 404. Brent Rooker RF
Trevor Larnach Note
Trevor Larnach photo 413. Trevor Larnach RF
Willians Astudillo Note
Willians Astudillo photo 443. Willians Astudillo 1B,3B,C
Aaron Sabato Note
Aaron Sabato photo 497. Aaron Sabato 1B
Misael Urbina Note
Misael Urbina photo 529. Misael Urbina CF
Kyle Garlick Note
Kyle Garlick photo 645. Kyle Garlick LF
Keon Broxton Note
Keon Broxton photo 649. Keon Broxton CF
Travis Blankenhorn Note
Travis Blankenhorn photo 686. Travis Blankenhorn 2B
JT Riddle Note
JT Riddle photo 691. JT Riddle 3B
Nick Gordon Note
Nick Gordon photo 727. Nick Gordon SS
Rob Refsnyder Note
Rob Refsnyder photo 746. Rob Refsnyder 1B
Tzu-Wei Lin Note
Tzu-Wei Lin photo 747. Tzu-Wei Lin SS
Tomas Telis Note
Tomas Telis photo 758. Tomas Telis C
Aaron Whitefield Note
Aaron Whitefield photo 794. Aaron Whitefield CF