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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Lucas Giolito Note
Lucas Giolito photo 20. Lucas Giolito SP
Giolito followed up his breakout 2019 season with a nearly identical 2020 season. His ERA was within .07, his WHIP within .02, and his strikeout percentage within a point and a half. Despite pitching in a homer-friendly park, Giolito has managed to limit home runs, which is a key to his continued success with the White Sox. He won't face quite an easy schedule this year (AL and NL Central pitchers had plenty of sub-par offenses to feast on in 2019), but entering his age-27 season, he should only continue to improve from a skills standpoint. Draft him as an SP1, albeit a low-end one.
30 weeks ago
Jose Abreu Note
Jose Abreu photo 32. Jose Abreu 1B,DH
For most players, fantasy managers need to consider whether to discount a highly out-of-character dip in their numbers given the shortened season. For Abreu, it's the opposite - whether fantasy managers should give credence to an outstanding MVP season, during which Abreu vastly outperformed his numbers from every other season of his career. Everything was good for Abreu in 2020, everything. He hit the ball harder than ever and consistently. He got on base more. He had career-high paces in every category. Abreu will be entering his age-34 season, so there's no way you should expect a repeat performance, but it's worth noting that he has increased his average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage in each of the last five seasons. Abreu's cost doesn't match his numbers last year, of course, but you'll still have to pay a hefty price in drafts. Given his safety and and his newly-discovered upside, however, it's worth it.
30 weeks ago
Luis Robert Note
Luis Robert photo 38. Luis Robert CF
Robert's production was pretty much what it was cracked up to be in terms of his power and speed, but his .233 batting average was a little hard to stomach. He struck out way too much (32.2% of the time, bottom 6% of the league), and just didn't make hard enough contact consistently to keep his average above water. But Robert will be just 24 years old this season, so there's plenty of room for growth in that area. That's particularly true given that Robert was a career .312 hitter in the minors and .314 in Cuba. Even if he was a batting average drain, which you shouldn't expect, given that he was on a roughly 30-25 full-season pace last year, fantasy managers should be able to stomach it. Draft him as a borderline first outfielder in fantasy leagues and reap the rewards.
30 weeks ago
Tim Anderson Note
Tim Anderson photo 39. Tim Anderson SS
Anderson doesn't seem like he should be that valuable in fantasy. He doesn't have a ton of power, he rarely walks, and his quality of contact is nothing to write home about. But he's hit .335 and .322 the last two seasons, and although both numbers significantly surpass his xBA, it's clear that Anderson is going to be a plus value in that category. He won't excel in any other area, but he will chip in about 20 homers and 15-20 steals which, along with his batting average, makes him an excellent value given that his ADP is always in check.
30 weeks ago
Lance Lynn Note
Lance Lynn photo 57. Lance Lynn SP
Lynn turned in another stellar year in 2020, leading MLB with 84 innings pitched, striking out plenty of batters, and keeping his walk rate and overall numbers in check. But there are a few warning signs under the hood, including his 4.19 FIP, his 4.34 xFIP, and his career-high 79.4% LOB rate. Of bigger concern is his trade to the White Sox and hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field, particularly because Lynn had a 38.3% fly-ball rate in 2019 and a 42.3% fly-ball rate last year. That led to the worst HR/9 rate of his career and second-worst HR/FB rate (13.8%) in 2020. Countering those troublesome warning signs, however, is the fact that he'll be caught by perhaps the best pitch framer in baseball in Yasmani Grandal, and that will generally help with his numbers which, again, were excellent last year. Add it all up and Lynn's ERA should likely increase simply because of the additional home runs he'll allow if he can't turn around his trend in fly-ball rate, but Grandal's presence and Lynn's general aptitude on the mound should allow for another strong season and make him worthy of a selection as an SP2.
30 weeks ago
Liam Hendriks Note
Liam Hendriks photo 65. Liam Hendriks RP
Hendriks showed last year that his 2019 breakout season was not a fluke, as he improved on just about all of his numbers. Not only did he put up 14 saves in the shortened season, but he dropped his ERA to 1.78, his WHIP to 0.67, and his walk rate to just 3.3%. In short, there's nothing negative you can possibly take away from his 2020 season. Despite moving to a worse park with the White Sox, Hendriks is, without question one of the top closers in fantasy, and should be either the first or second (behind only Josh Hader) relief pitcher drafted.
30 weeks ago
Yoan Moncada Note
Yoan Moncada photo 76. Yoan Moncada 3B,DH
If you're looking for reasons to throw out a player's 2020 season, Moncada's battle with COVID-19 offers you just that for him. His quality of contact dropped like a stone, he struck out a ton, and he went back to his old passive approach, rather than the aggressive one that had led to such gains in 2019. Moncada detailed his struggles after suffering from the virus, so it's a legitimate excuse and surely led to his struggles. Moncada is likely to hit about 25 home runs, and help you everywhere except perhaps batting average (though his .315 mark in 2019 shows his upside). Although he won't be a superstar, at a third base position that gets shallow quicker than expected, he makes a fine option you can wait on but who will offer plenty of production.
30 weeks ago
Yasmani Grandal Note
Yasmani Grandal photo 147. Yasmani Grandal C,1B
Grandal is getting up there in age for a catcher, and there were a few warning signs for the veteran. He struck out nearly 30% of the time last season, well above his typical rate, and his expected batting average, slugging percentage, and wOBA were some of the worst of his career. At the same time, he continued to walk at a near-elite clip, and again provided plenty of power from a position where pop is hard to find. The good news for Grandal is that both his large contract and his elite pitch framing skills should keep him in the lineup as often as possible, which will help to pad his counting stats, though his recovery from a knee injury may cause Chicago to take it easy with him at the outset. He's just a tad outside of the elite range at the position, but he's a locked in fantasy starter.
30 weeks ago
Craig Kimbrel Note
Craig Kimbrel photo 171. Craig Kimbrel RP
As a whole, Kimbrel's 2020 numbers were abysmal. A 5.28 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP, and a walk rate of 17.4%. And yet, there were some encouraging signs. Not only did his strikeout rate bounce back to 40.6%, but he was actually an elite pitcher after his first four outings. How elite? He pitched to a 1.42 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP, and stuck out 53.1% of the batters he faced. It wasn't perfect, as Kimbrel still walked five batters per nine innings over that stretch. But he showed that he still has some has left in the tank. Although he never reclaimed the closer's job despite his strong finish, it's a good bet that the Cubs hand him the ninth-inning role to start, as they try to rebuild his trade value in the final year of his deal. That means Kimbrel should at least get save chances for the first several weeks of the season, and, as such, should be drafted as low-end second closer with just a modicum of upside.
30 weeks ago
Dallas Keuchel Note
Dallas Keuchel photo 212. Dallas Keuchel SP
Keuchel pitched to a remarkable 1.99 ERA last year, though that's hardly to be expected to repeat in 2021. His xFIP was nearly two runs higher, his BABIP against was nearly 40 points below his career average, and his already low strikeout rate dipped to just 16.3%. Having Yasmani Grandal as a catcher certainly helps a pitcher outperform his expected stats, but even if Keuchel were to repeat his 2020 performance, his strikeout rate is such a drain that it keeps his value in check. If your staff is dominant in strikeouts, then you can roll with Keuchel at the very back end of your rotation. But if not, just ignore him on draft day.
30 weeks ago
Andrew Vaughn Note
Andrew Vaughn photo 259. Andrew Vaughn 1B,DH,LF,RF
Vaughn's minor league numbers from 2019 don't jump off the page, but make no mistake, he has the talent to become an instant quality hitter in the majors. He raked all throughout his college career, and not only carries plenty of thump in his bat, but also has an excellent approach that should keep his batting average and OBP well above the league average. He looks more and more likely to win the everyday DH job for the White Sox, in which case, he'd be an absolute steal if you can get him outside the top 160 or so, which you should be able to do everywhere.
30 weeks ago
Cesar Hernandez Note
Cesar Hernandez photo 303. Cesar Hernandez 2B,DH
Eloy Jimenez Note
Eloy Jimenez photo 328. Eloy Jimenez DH,LF
Jimenez is going to miss 5-6 months with a ruptured pectoral tendon, an absolutely brutal blow to a player who was being drafted as a borderline top-10 outfielder. You can draft him with your last pick and hope to be able to stash him on your IL all season long, but for the most part, you can ignore him in redraft formats.
29 weeks ago
Dylan Cease Note
Dylan Cease photo 352. Dylan Cease SP
Michael Kopech Note
Michael Kopech photo 353. Michael Kopech RP,SP
Kopech remains one of the top pitching prospects in the game, but he hasn't pitched competitively in about two-and-a-half year at this point. His fastball and slider are more than MLB caliber, and he had a 31.2% strikeout rate in the minors. But after missing all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery and opting out last year, it wouldn't be wise to just expect Kopech to step right back into a rotation without any growing pains. The White Sox also have depth in their rotation after trading for Lance Lynn and signing Carlos Rodon, so Chicago can, and likely will, stick Kopech in the minors to start the year to continue his development. But given their championship aspirations, he should crack the rotation at some point during the season if he show he is back to form.
30 weeks ago
Carlos Rodon Note
Carlos Rodon photo 407. Carlos Rodon SP
Aaron Bummer Note
Aaron Bummer photo 419. Aaron Bummer RP
Garrett Crochet Note
Garrett Crochet photo 463. Garrett Crochet RP
Matt Foster Note
Matt Foster photo 530. Matt Foster RP
Evan Marshall Note
Evan Marshall photo 543. Evan Marshall RP
Ryan Tepera Note
Ryan Tepera photo 662. Ryan Tepera RP
Adam Engel Note
Adam Engel photo 695. Adam Engel CF,RF
Carl Edwards Jr. Note
Carl Edwards Jr. photo 741. Carl Edwards Jr. RP
Jace Fry Note
Jace Fry photo 779. Jace Fry RP
Leury Garcia Note
Leury Garcia photo 856. Leury Garcia 2B,3B,CF,LF,RF,SS
Reynaldo Lopez Note
Reynaldo Lopez photo 920. Reynaldo Lopez RP,SP
Jimmy Cordero Note
Jimmy Cordero photo 922. Jimmy Cordero RP
Billy Hamilton Note
Billy Hamilton photo 930. Billy Hamilton CF,LF
Brian Goodwin Note
Brian Goodwin photo 966. Brian Goodwin LF,CF,RF
Jonathan Stiever Note
Jonathan Stiever photo 1003. Jonathan Stiever SP
Zack Collins Note
Zack Collins photo 1009. Zack Collins C,DH
Danny Mendick Note
Danny Mendick photo 1219. Danny Mendick 2B,RF,SS
Tim Beckham Note
Tim Beckham photo 1264. Tim Beckham 2B,3B,SS,LF
Jimmy Lambert Note
Jimmy Lambert photo 1317. Jimmy Lambert RP,SP
Jose Ruiz Note
Jose Ruiz photo 1328. Jose Ruiz RP
Kevin McCarthy Note
Kevin McCarthy photo 1368. Kevin McCarthy RP
Seby Zavala Note
Seby Zavala photo 1408. Seby Zavala C
Gavin Sheets Note
Gavin Sheets photo 1465. Gavin Sheets 1B,DH,RF
Yermin Mercedes Note
Yermin Mercedes photo 1486. Yermin Mercedes C,DH
Micker Adolfo Note
Micker Adolfo photo 1511. Micker Adolfo RF
Blake Rutherford Note
Blake Rutherford photo 1513. Blake Rutherford CF,RF