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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Ronald Acuna Jr. Note
Ronald Acuna Jr. photo 1. Ronald Acuna Jr. LF,CF,RF
Acuna missed some time last year and batted a mere .250. And thus ends the negative things you can say about him. He walked at an absurd 18.8% clip, which led him to a .406 OBP despite the poor average. He was one of the league leaders in quality of contact, wOBA, and xWOBA, and we now know after the last two years that he will run often on the bases so long as he continues to bat leadoff, which he should. In other words, from a fantasy perspective, Acuna is an absolute monster. He's a top-three pick and will (deservedly) go first overall in many leagues, and there's still upside given that he just turned 23 years old.
13 weeks ago
Freddie Freeman Note
Freddie Freeman photo 13. Freddie Freeman 1B
Although there were questions about Freeman's 2020 season because of his battle with COVID-19 prior to the season, those questions were answered and then some with his MVP season. The statcast leaderboard is littered with Freeman's name, as he ranked in the top nine percent of the league in barrel rate, average exit velocity, expected batting average, expected slugging percentage, wOBA, xwOBA, xwOBAcon, hard hit percentage, strikeout percentage, and walk percentage. Freeman likely won't reach double digits in steals, but that is about the only negative thing you can say about his fantasy outlook. He's as safe as they come in the other four hitting categories, and comes with next to no risk. He'll likely cost a borderline first round pick on draft day, but he is worth it.
13 weeks ago
Ozzie Albies Note
Ozzie Albies photo 29. Ozzie Albies 2B
A wrist injury limited Albies to just 29 games last season, and affected his performance early in the year before he went on the IL. In other words, there's little reason to draw conclusions from anything he did last year, including his drop in walk rate and increase in strikeout rate. Albies had established a rough 24-15 baseline from 2018-2019, and at 24 years old, there's no reason to expect that floor to decrease. With his power and speed combination, and his locked in strong RBI and runs scored numbers batting near the top of the Braves' lineup, Albies should be either the first second baseman drafted or the second behind DJ LeMahieu, depending on how you want to build your team.
13 weeks ago
Marcell Ozuna Note
Marcell Ozuna photo 35. Marcell Ozuna LF,DH
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.
13 weeks ago
Max Fried Note
Max Fried photo 86. Max Fried SP
In many ways, Fried regressed during his 2020 season. His strikeout rate dropped, his walk rate increased, and his xFIP and SIERA jumped significantly. Nevertheless, thanks to his ability to limit hard contact (his 83.4 MPH average exit velocity and 23.8% hard hit rate allowed were among the best in MLB) led to a massive drop in BABIP allowed, and kept both his ERA and WHIP in check. It's hard to buy a pitcher without an elite strikeout rate whose underlying numbers don't fully support his gains. Nevertheless, Fried was an elite prospect playing on an excellent team, and is just 27 years old. Don't pay for last year's numbers, but don't run away from him in drafts either.
13 weeks ago
Charlie Morton Note
Charlie Morton photo 95. Charlie Morton SP
Morton's 2020 numbers were poor, without question. He was limited to just 38 regular season innings because of a shoulder injury, and pitched to a 4.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. His velocity was way down early in the season (when he got hit hard) and trickled up after he returned, but he got back to his normal 95 MPH fastball in the postseason and totaled a 2.70 ERA. Now 37 and with the Braves, the question is whether fantasy managers can write off Morton's down 2020 season considering his sterling post-season, or whether his age and injury history means they should avoid him. In reality, the answer is neither. Morton should still have gas left in the tank considering his playoff run, but should only be drafted as a value, meaning no earlier than a low-end SP3. Grab him there, at which point the risk-reward balance should reach an equilibrium.
13 weeks ago
Dansby Swanson Note
Dansby Swanson photo 96. Dansby Swanson SS
Swanson's four-year trend in OPS is .636, .699, .748, and finally .809 last season. There's little to dislike about his profile at this stage in his career. He makes consistently good contact, has improved his launch angle enough to where that contact translates into home runs, and his walk and strikeout rates are strong enough so that his batting average should remain a benefit to fantasy managers. He also ranked in the 90th percentile in sprint speed last season, so he should reach double digits in stolen bases this year, as he had done in the two years prior to 2020's shortened season. In short, Swanson's skill level and output should no longer be in doubt, and he makes a strong starting option at the shortstop position.
13 weeks ago
Ian Anderson Note
Ian Anderson photo 109. Ian Anderson SP
After rising through the minor leagues, Anderson had an excellent debut season with the Braves in 2020, pitching to a 1.95 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with a 29.7% strikeout rate. He was even better in four postseason starts, allowing just two runs over 18 2/3 innings while striking out 24. Anderson led all starters in barrel rate (just 1.2%), and has an excellent fastball, curveball, and changeup. His control isn't elite, but his raw stuff and prospect pedigree suggest that his 2020 season was no fluke. Draft him with confidence as a No. 2 starter.
13 weeks ago
Travis d'Arnaud Note
Travis d'Arnaud photo 158. Travis d'Arnaud C,1B
It took a long time but d'Arnaud has finally developed into one of the best hitting catchers in the game, as he was projected to be. It's difficult to quite buy what we saw last year, considering d'Arnaud's batting average (.321) and slugging percentage (.533) were miles ahead of his career marks, and even the numbers that he had put up in recent seasons. With that said, he'll bat in the middle of a strong Braves lineup and be presented with plenty of RBI opportunities, so 15 home runs with 55 RBI should be considered the floor for a healthy d'Arnaud. Those numbers aren't just passable, they're extremely strong for a catcher in fantasy, and he should be drafted as a relatively strong first catcher in mixed leagues.
13 weeks ago
Mike Soroka Note
Mike Soroka photo 173. Mike Soroka SP
Soroka pitched in just three games last year before rupturing his Achilles tendon. He's progressing well but the best case scenario for him appears to be a late-April return. When healthy, he's someone who fantasy managers can rely on as an ERA and WHIP stabilizer, who should contribute plenty of wins. The strikeouts won't be there, however, and given that he's coming off a significant injury, the Braves will likely be extra cautious with him when he does start. All that to say, don't draft Soroka expecting much more than 100-120 innings out of him. If you do that, you'll likely be happy with your return on investment.
13 weeks ago
Austin Riley Note
Austin Riley photo 186. Austin Riley 3B,LF
Riley made some notable gains last year after he looked like he might fall out of fantasy-relevance entirely with the way he closed his 2019 season. He essentially traded off some power for contact, as his swing percentage dropped, his contact rate increased, and he improved on both his walk and strikeout rates. Although there was some question as to whether the Braves would add another third baseman in free agency, it appears they're content to roll with Riley to begin the year. That should make him a cheap source of power for fantasy, one whose batting average (.262 xBA last year) won't hurt you too badly.
13 weeks ago
Will Smith Note
Will Smith photo 193. Will Smith RP
Smith had a rough 2020 season, losing several weeks to a bout with COVID-19 and being far less effective than usual when he did pitch. His dominant slider just wasn't the same, as batters hit .263 (after never hitting better than .193) and tallied a .398 wOBA (after never totaling higher than .282) against it. But Brian Snitker appears to be willing to throw out Smith's poor season almost entirely. Although he hasn't named Smith the closer, he has professed his confidence in him, and there's been speculation from beat writers that Smith will ultimately win the role after a battle with Chris Martin and A.J. Minter. Draft Smith as the presumptive closer unless you hear otherwise from Braves camp.
13 weeks ago
Drew Smyly Note
Drew Smyly photo 252. Drew Smyly SP
If you're willing to buy into Smyly's 2020 season, then he's likely to come at a major discount in drafts. He added more than two miles per hour to his fastball, struck out 37.8% of the batters he faced, and leaned more into his excellent curveball. There's reason for optimism after the Braves offered him a substantial one-year deal. Of course, Smyly's real issue is his health, as he missed two full seasons because of Tommy John surgery and even last year was limited to 26 1/3 innings. But there's reason to believe his gains last year are sustainable, so taking him late in your drafts, is worth the gamble.
13 weeks ago
Chris Martin Note
Chris Martin photo 323. Chris Martin RP
Cristian Pache Note
Cristian Pache photo 364. Cristian Pache CF,LF
Tyler Matzek Note
Tyler Matzek photo 456. Tyler Matzek RP
A.J. Minter Note
A.J. Minter photo 486. A.J. Minter RP
Orlando Arcia Note
Orlando Arcia photo 568. Orlando Arcia SS
Shane Greene Note
Shane Greene photo 590. Shane Greene RP
Kyle Wright Note
Kyle Wright photo 592. Kyle Wright SP
Josh Tomlin Note
Josh Tomlin photo 606. Josh Tomlin SP,RP
Grant Dayton Note
Grant Dayton photo 609. Grant Dayton RP
William Contreras Note
William Contreras photo 652. William Contreras C
Yolmer Sanchez Note
Yolmer Sanchez photo 694. Yolmer Sanchez 2B,3B
Jacob Webb Note
Jacob Webb photo 700. Jacob Webb RP
Tanner Roark Note
Tanner Roark photo 713. Tanner Roark SP
Luke Jackson Note
Luke Jackson photo 718. Luke Jackson RP
Ender Inciarte Note
Ender Inciarte photo 719. Ender Inciarte CF
Sean Newcomb Note
Sean Newcomb photo 739. Sean Newcomb SP,RP
Johan Camargo Note
Johan Camargo photo 764. Johan Camargo 2B,3B,SS,LF,RF
Huascar Ynoa Note
Huascar Ynoa photo 776. Huascar Ynoa SP
Pablo Sandoval Note
Pablo Sandoval photo 800. Pablo Sandoval 1B,3B,DH
Jasseel De La Cruz Note
Jasseel De La Cruz photo 848. Jasseel De La Cruz SP,RP
Yoan Lopez Note
Yoan Lopez photo 878. Yoan Lopez RP
Touki Toussaint Note
Touki Toussaint photo 880. Touki Toussaint SP,RP
Bryse Wilson Note
Bryse Wilson photo 905. Bryse Wilson SP,RP
Tucker Davidson Note
Tucker Davidson photo 936. Tucker Davidson SP
Ehire Adrianza Note
Ehire Adrianza photo 939. Ehire Adrianza 1B,2B,3B,LF,RF,SS
Alex Jackson Note
Alex Jackson photo 972. Alex Jackson C
Jonathan Lucroy Note
Jonathan Lucroy photo 993. Jonathan Lucroy C
Drew Waters Note
Drew Waters photo 1024. Drew Waters LF,CF
Kevan Smith Note
Kevan Smith photo 1053. Kevan Smith C
Phillip Ervin Note
Phillip Ervin photo 1104. Phillip Ervin LF,CF,RF
Travis Demeritte Note
Travis Demeritte photo 1111. Travis Demeritte RF
Victor Arano Note
Victor Arano photo 1172. Victor Arano RP
Edgar Santana Note
Edgar Santana photo 1174. Edgar Santana RP
Jesse Chavez Note
Jesse Chavez photo 1211. Jesse Chavez SP,RP
Ty Tice Note
Ty Tice photo 1247. Ty Tice RP
Jesse Biddle Note
Jesse Biddle photo 1307. Jesse Biddle RP
Jeff Mathis Note
Jeff Mathis photo 1429. Jeff Mathis C
Abraham Almonte Note
Abraham Almonte photo 1451. Abraham Almonte LF,RF
Guillermo Heredia Note
Guillermo Heredia photo 1468. Guillermo Heredia LF,CF,RF