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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Mookie Betts Note
Mookie Betts photo 2. Mookie Betts 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.
18 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.
18 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.
18 weeks ago
Walker Buehler Note
Walker Buehler photo 22. 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.
18 weeks ago
Corey Seager Note
Corey Seager photo 27. Corey Seager SS
2020 was essentially a perfect season for Seager. More than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, he morphed into the player that most people expected him to be at this stage of his career. Seager increased his barrel rate from 7.3% to 15.8%, his average exit velocity from 88.8 MPH to 93.2 MPH, and his hard hit percentage from 38.2% to a remarkable 55.9%. Seager's 2020 season does not look fluky, but rather the product of a highly-touted prospect being fully recovered from injury and entering his prime. Seager may not reach the nearly 50-homers he was on pace to hit last year, but a 30-homer season with above a .300 average is well within reach. In other words, his performance over the shortened season is not one to write off.
18 weeks ago
Clayton Kershaw Note
Clayton Kershaw photo 34. Clayton Kershaw SP
Kershaw turned back the clock a bit in 2020, as the shortened season allowed him to let things go a bit more and add some of the velocity he had lost over the previous two seasons. The result was his best WHIP and ERA since 2016 and best strikeout rate since 2017. Kershaw isn't going to reach 200 innings pitched at this stage of his career, not with his injury history and the Dodgers' depth in their rotation and World Series aspirations. But even entering his age-33 season, he offers next to no downside. Consider this: Kershaw had probably the worst season of his career in 2019 and pitched to a 3.03 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP with more than a strikeout per inning. Draft him as a strong SP2 but bank on 160 innings. Anything more is gravy.
18 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.
18 weeks ago
Kenley Jansen Note
Kenley Jansen photo 121. Kenley Jansen RP
It feels like Jansen has been on the verge of losing his job at several points over the last two seasons, but he continues to receive nearly every save opportunity for the Dodgers. But Jansen is far from the dominant reliever he was in his prime, as his patented cutter has gone from 94 MPH in 2016 to just 90.9 MPH last year. The Dodgers have plenty of depth behind Jansen, including Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly, and Corey Knebel, so Jansen's leash probably won't be all that long. At the same time, Jansen will certainly be the closer coming into the season and has a lengthy track record and a large contract. In today's day and age, that makes him a fairly desirable fantasy closer, despite the concerns.
18 weeks ago
Julio Urias Note
Julio Urias photo 131. 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.
18 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.
18 weeks ago
Justin Turner Note
Justin Turner photo 152. Justin Turner 3B
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.
18 weeks ago
AJ Pollock Note
AJ Pollock photo 156. AJ Pollock LF,CF
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.
18 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.
17 weeks ago
Gavin Lux Note
Gavin Lux photo 199. Gavin Lux 2B,SS
David Price Note
David Price photo 200. David Price SP,RP
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.
18 weeks ago
Chris Taylor Note
Chris Taylor photo 239. Chris Taylor 2B,SS,LF,CF
Tony Gonsolin Note
Tony Gonsolin photo 250. 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.
18 weeks ago
Blake Treinen Note
Blake Treinen photo 424. Blake Treinen RP
Danny Duffy Note
Danny Duffy photo 439. Danny Duffy SP
Brusdar Graterol Note
Brusdar Graterol photo 442. Brusdar Graterol RP
Edwin Rios Note
Edwin Rios photo 455. Edwin Rios 1B,3B
Corey Knebel Note
Corey Knebel photo 498. Corey Knebel RP
Yoshi Tsutsugo Note
Yoshi Tsutsugo photo 505. Yoshi Tsutsugo 1B,3B,LF
Victor Gonzalez Note
Victor Gonzalez photo 525. Victor Gonzalez RP
Tommy Kahnle Note
Tommy Kahnle photo 573. Tommy Kahnle RP
Joe Kelly Note
Joe Kelly photo 574. Joe Kelly RP
Austin Barnes Note
Austin Barnes photo 579. Austin Barnes C
Jimmy Nelson Note
Jimmy Nelson photo 748. Jimmy Nelson SP,RP
Mitch White Note
Mitch White photo 760. Mitch White RP
Scott Alexander Note
Scott Alexander photo 765. Scott Alexander RP
Albert Pujols Note
Albert Pujols photo 766. Albert Pujols 1B
Matt Beaty Note
Matt Beaty photo 783. Matt Beaty 1B,3B,LF,RF
Josiah Gray Note
Josiah Gray photo 788. Josiah Gray SP
Keibert Ruiz Note
Keibert Ruiz photo 1039. Keibert Ruiz C
Steven Souza Jr. Note
Steven Souza Jr. photo 1063. Steven Souza Jr. RF
Alex Vesia Note
Alex Vesia photo 1092. Alex Vesia RP
Brandon Morrow Note
Brandon Morrow photo 1125. Brandon Morrow 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
Neftali Feliz Note
Neftali Feliz photo 1239. Neftali Feliz SP,RP
Mike Kickham Note
Mike Kickham photo 1309. Mike Kickham P
Phil Bickford Note
Phil Bickford photo 1322. Phil Bickford RP
James Pazos Note
James Pazos photo 1360. James Pazos RP
Tim Federowicz Note
Tim Federowicz photo 1433. Tim Federowicz C
Billy McKinney Note
Billy McKinney photo 1444. Billy McKinney LF,RF
Sheldon Neuse Note
Sheldon Neuse photo 1462. Sheldon Neuse 2B,3B
Matt Davidson Note
Matt Davidson photo 1473. Matt Davidson Util
DJ Peters Note
DJ Peters photo 1487. DJ Peters CF
Zach Reks Note
Zach Reks photo 1512. Zach Reks LF
Luke Raley Note
Luke Raley photo 1516. Luke Raley LF,CF,RF
Omar Estevez Note
Omar Estevez photo 1534. Omar Estevez 2B,SS