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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Mookie Betts Note
Mookie Betts photo 2. Mookie Betts 2B,CF,RF
Betts's first year with the Dodgers was basically exactly what fantasy managers expected - that is to say it was pretty much in line with what he did with the Red Sox. If you want to quibble, his walk rate dropped a few percentage points and he struck out at a career-worst 15.4% clip. But at this point, there are few safer players than Betts - you know he'll give you strong production in all five categories and he bats atop one of the best lineups in all of baseball. Betts should be a top-three pick and there's every reason to consider him number one overall. The downside is borderline non-existent.
36 weeks ago
Trea Turner Note
Trea Turner photo 7. Trea Turner 2B,SS
Turner was the best version of himself in 2020, slashing his strikeout rate to below 14% and setting career bests in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, wOBA, and wRC+. Above all, Turner locks down two incredibly scarce categories for fantasy managers, stolen bases and batting average, while offering production in the other three hitting categories. Still just entering his age-28 season, Turner is in the prime of his career, and should continue to put up stellar numbers. He's a top-eight pick in rotisserie leagues.
36 weeks ago
Cody Bellinger Note
Cody Bellinger photo 15. Cody Bellinger 1B,CF,RF
Bellinger was unable to replicate the magic of his 2019 breakout during last year's shortened season. His average dipped to .239, the worst mark of his career, his power dropped significantly, and he didn't make the same quality of contact. But although he slid backwards in his walk and strikeout rates, his regression there was minimal, and his expected batting average was .284. In other words, Bellinger got worse in 2020, but it wasn't quite as bad as the surface numbers suggest. He did have offseason shoulder surgery after getting injured during a post-season celebration, and that's always a bit worrisome for a hitter. But given that a "down" year for Bellinger at this point is a 30-15 season, he warrants being selected early in the second round.
36 weeks ago
Trevor Bauer Note
Trevor Bauer photo 19. Trevor Bauer SP
Bauer capped off a Cy Young season by signing a massive deal with the Dodgers. There's no other way to describe Bauer's 2020 season other than utterly dominant. A 1.73 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP, and a 36% strikeout rate. Notably, the spin rate on almost all of his pitched jumped dramatically, and every single one of them was more effective than we'd previously seen. Bauer had an outstanding season in 2018 and followed it up with a sub-par 2019, so we shouldn't take for granted that he'll be the best pitcher in baseball for the second season in a row. But on the best team in baseball with a near bulletproof 2020 resume, he should be drafted as a top-five starter and a second-round pick.
36 weeks ago
Walker Buehler Note
Walker Buehler photo 21. Walker Buehler SP
Because the Dodgers wanted to closely watch Buehler's routine and workload, he got a late start to the shortened season, essentially using his first few starts as the end of his spring training. He also dealt with blisters late in the year. All that to say, Buehler's 36 2/3 regular-season innings are, for the most part, largely meaningless. He gave up a few more home runs and walked a few more batters than usual, and he won just a single game. But none of it matters. Value Buehler as you did after his 2019 season - as one of the true stud pitchers in the game. Once the big three of Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, and Shane Bieber are off the board, Buehler should come under immediate consideration, as the type of starting pitcher who can be your fantasy ace.
36 weeks ago
Max Muncy Note
Max Muncy photo 94. Max Muncy 1B,2B,3B
Muncy's batting average dropped to a ridiculously low .192 last year, and there were two culprits. The first is that his line drive rate plummeted from 23.5% to just 13.8%, leading to far more ground balls. The second was that he simply didn't hit the ball as hard. His hard hit rate and average exit velocity fell, and his HR/FB rate dropped seven points. Muncy dealt with finger and elbow injuries, so those may account for his poor season, but even then he was on pace to reach the 30-homer plateau for a third straight year. Muncy has position eligibility galore, and at the weak second base position, so continue to draft him in the middle rounds as a cheap source of power who adds value thanks to his ability to play all around the infield for your fantasy team.
36 weeks ago
Julio Urias Note
Julio Urias photo 133. Julio Urias SP,RP
Urias had an interesting season (other than his postseason, which was dominant). His numbers overall were very solid, with a 3.27 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. But his strikeout rate dipped dramatically as a full-time starter, and his SIERA (4.88) and xFIP (5.06) suggest he got lucky. But the bottom line is that Urias is excellent at limiting hard contact, and he's allowed just a .257 BABIP over the last two seasons, which should keep his ERA in check. The Dodgers' rotation is overflowing, so it's possible they continue to limit Urias's innings. But for now, he should be considered an SP3, and as his playoffs showed, there's plenty of room for growth with his strikeout numbers.
36 weeks ago
Will Smith Note
Will Smith photo 151. Will Smith C
Smith had an outstanding 2020 season, walking a ton, striking out little, and getting on base at higher than a .400 clip. The power he showed in his 54-game stretch in 2019 remained, and he ranked in the top 10% of the league in wOBA, expected wOBA, and expected slugging percentage. Given how the Dodgers play the entire season with an eye toward the playoffs, as well as the presence of Keibert Ruiz, it's possible that Smith may get more rest than other catchers this year. But that's a minor point against someone who should be one of the top options at his position. He's no worse than a top-five catcher, and there's a good argument that he should be the second player selected at his position.
36 weeks ago
Justin Turner Note
Justin Turner photo 152. Justin Turner 3B,DH
Turner signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, he remains a key cog in an incredibly strong lineup where he's had plenty of success for several years. On the other, he's almost certainly going to see a downtick in his playing time given his age and the presence of Edwin Rios. Turner is still a batting average asset, has shown little decline in his batted ball data, and almost always produces when he's in the lineup. But he's much more valuable in daily transaction leagues where you can swap him in and out of the lineup.
36 weeks ago
AJ Pollock Note
AJ Pollock photo 156. AJ Pollock LF,CF,DH
Pollock's production when healthy is rarely in doubt. In 141 games over the last two seasons, he's hit 31 home runs, scored 79 runs, drove in 81, and stolen seven bases while batting .270. But it's the "when healthy" part that is the key to Pollock's value, as he hasn't topped 113 games played since 2015. He's a better pick in shallow leagues where you can replace him if and when he misses time due to injury. But the performance is that of a solid OF3 or OF4 when he's in the lineup.
36 weeks ago
Andrew Heaney Note
Andrew Heaney photo 179. Andrew Heaney RP,SP
Heaney is a fine pitcher, but it feels like he has a lot more to him than his career 4.44 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. His fastball is hittable and he throws it often, and his curveball isn't quite good enough to offset the damage. He was outspoken about working this offseason to become less predictable, so hopefully that manifests itself in his 2021 performance. But there's no reason to draft him as anything but a pitcher who will give you decent strikeouts and mediocre ratios, hopefully as someone you can use on your bench and stream in the right matchup.
35 weeks ago
Dustin May Note
Dustin May photo 198. Dustin May SP,RP
May has been named the Dodgers' fifth starter by Dave Roberts, a surprising twist given the presence of David Price and Tony Gonsolin. Given the Dodgers' depth and their history, it's unlikely that he'll remain in the rotation from start to finish, but if you haven't drafted yet, move him significantly higher on your board.
35 weeks ago
Gavin Lux Note
Gavin Lux photo 199. Gavin Lux 2B,CF,LF,SS
David Price Note
David Price photo 200. David Price RP,SP
Price was traded to the Dodgers along with Mookie Betts, but hasn't yet made a start with the team after opting out of the 2020 season. He'll be back for 2021, but his role isn't yet solidified according to reports, especially considering the extreme depth of the Dodgers' rotation. When healthy, even at his advanced age, Price is still a quality major league starter, with above-average strikeout and walk rates. The issue for Price is really health, as he's averaged only about 120 innings per season over his previous three years. His average draft position reflects the risk, and assuming he does end up in the rotation, he offers as much upside as anyone going in his range. There's still juice left for Price when he's healthy, so monitor reports out of the spring.
36 weeks ago
Tony Gonsolin Note
Tony Gonsolin photo 248. Tony Gonsolin SP,RP
Gonsolin doesn't have a guaranteed spot in the Dodgers' rotation to start the season, and with the team signing Trevor Bauer, it's unclear just how much he'll start this season. His stuff doesn't blow you away, but he's got a 2.60 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 86.2 big league innings. And there were gains last year, as he cut his walk rate down and upped his strikeout rate. Gonsolin is an ideal candidate to have on your bench, because if he does get a spot in the rotation, he'll be a popular waiver wire add, and he can add value as a reliever in the meantime. So draft him late, and likely reap the rewards.
36 weeks ago
Blake Treinen Note
Blake Treinen photo 426. Blake Treinen RP
Brusdar Graterol Note
Brusdar Graterol photo 444. Brusdar Graterol RP
Edwin Rios Note
Edwin Rios photo 457. Edwin Rios 1B,3B
Victor Gonzalez Note
Victor Gonzalez photo 525. Victor Gonzalez RP
Tommy Kahnle Note
Tommy Kahnle photo 573. Tommy Kahnle RP
Austin Barnes Note
Austin Barnes photo 582. Austin Barnes C
Mitch White Note
Mitch White photo 761. Mitch White RP,SP
Matt Beaty Note
Matt Beaty photo 785. Matt Beaty 1B,3B,LF,RF
Evan Phillips Note
Evan Phillips photo 1085. Evan Phillips RP
Alex Vesia Note
Alex Vesia photo 1092. Alex Vesia RP
Bobby Wahl Note
Bobby Wahl photo 1134. Bobby Wahl RP
Zach McKinstry Note
Zach McKinstry photo 1178. Zach McKinstry 2B,3B,LF,RF
Garrett Cleavinger Note
Garrett Cleavinger photo 1182. Garrett Cleavinger RP
Phil Bickford Note
Phil Bickford photo 1322. Phil Bickford RP
Beau Burrows Note
Beau Burrows photo 1369. Beau Burrows RP
Sheldon Neuse Note
Sheldon Neuse photo 1462. Sheldon Neuse 2B,3B
Jason Martin Note
Jason Martin photo 1514. Jason Martin LF,CF
Luke Raley Note
Luke Raley photo 1516. Luke Raley CF,LF,RF
Omar Estevez Note
Omar Estevez photo 1534. Omar Estevez 2B,SS