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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. 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.
37 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.
37 weeks ago
Marcell Ozuna Note
Marcell Ozuna photo 35. Marcell Ozuna LF
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.
37 weeks ago
Max Fried Note
Max Fried photo 88. 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.
37 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.
37 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.
37 weeks ago
Ian Anderson Note
Ian Anderson photo 110. 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.
37 weeks ago
Travis d'Arnaud Note
Travis d'Arnaud photo 158. Travis d'Arnaud C
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.
37 weeks ago
Mike Soroka Note
Mike Soroka photo 170. 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.
37 weeks ago
Austin Riley Note
Austin Riley photo 191. Austin Riley 3B
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.
37 weeks ago
Will Smith Note
Will Smith photo 192. 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.
37 weeks ago
Adam Duvall Note
Adam Duvall photo 362. Adam Duvall CF,LF,RF
Cristian Pache Note
Cristian Pache photo 364. Cristian Pache CF
Tyler Matzek Note
Tyler Matzek photo 458. Tyler Matzek RP
A.J. Minter Note
A.J. Minter photo 486. A.J. Minter RP
Darren O'Day Note
Darren O'Day photo 499. Darren O'Day RP
Orlando Arcia Note
Orlando Arcia photo 569. Orlando Arcia LF
Kyle Wright Note
Kyle Wright photo 594. Kyle Wright SP
Manny Pina Note
Manny Pina photo 634. Manny Pina C
William Contreras Note
William Contreras photo 654. William Contreras C
Jacob Webb Note
Jacob Webb photo 703. Jacob Webb RP
Luke Jackson Note
Luke Jackson photo 723. Luke Jackson RP
Sean Newcomb Note
Sean Newcomb photo 744. Sean Newcomb RP
Huascar Ynoa Note
Huascar Ynoa photo 777. Huascar Ynoa SP
Touki Toussaint Note
Touki Toussaint photo 882. Touki Toussaint SP
Tucker Davidson Note
Tucker Davidson photo 938. Tucker Davidson SP
Drew Waters Note
Drew Waters photo 1025. Drew Waters LF
Kevan Smith Note
Kevan Smith photo 1053. Kevan Smith C
Jay Jackson Note
Jay Jackson photo 1072. Jay Jackson RP
Phillip Ervin Note
Phillip Ervin photo 1104. Phillip Ervin RF
Travis Demeritte Note
Travis Demeritte photo 1111. Travis Demeritte RF
Chadwick Tromp Note
Chadwick Tromp photo 1407. Chadwick Tromp
Guillermo Heredia Note
Guillermo Heredia photo 1468. Guillermo Heredia CF,LF