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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Kenta Maeda Note
Kenta Maeda photo 53. Kenta Maeda SP
Fantasy managers rejoiced when Maeda was traded from the Dodgers to the Twins, but he surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. In the short season, Maeda went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP, and a 32.3% strikeout rate. In addition to simply being let loose with his innings, Maeda made a tangible change to his pitch mix, throwing far fewer fastball and more sliders and changeups (though his fastball was as effective as it had ever been last year, too). Maeda surely won't be able to repeat his numbers from 2020, as he allowed just a .208 BABIP, had an 80.2% LOB rate, and benefited from being able to feast on solely the NL and AL Central lineups. But even with some regression, he should still be a rock solid SP2, and should be drafted as such.
6 weeks ago
Nelson Cruz Note
Nelson Cruz photo 60. Nelson Cruz DH
If you ascribe to the "I'd rather jump off a year too early than too late" philosophy, then you probably haven't been drafting Cruz for the last several years. But if not, then you've not only drafted one of the most underrated fantasy bats in recent memory, but you're probably going to do so again this year. Cruz is back on a one-year deal with the Twins, and he's coming off another utterly dominant season. Fine, his strikeout rate rose again a bit, he didn't hit the ball quite as hard, and he's eligible at utility only. But other than the fact that he will be 41 years old this season, there's nothing in his profile that should cause you to expect significant decline. Prepare to be having the same debate next year, after Crus puts up another 35-homer season this year.
6 weeks ago
Jose Berrios Note
Jose Berrios photo 82. Jose Berrios SP
Berrios may not ever become the dominant pitcher many projected him to be, but he offers a strong floor for fantasy managers. Ignoring his 2016 cup of coffee, Berrios has pitched to a 3.89 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and a strikeout per inning in his career. And although his walk rate went up a tad and he gave up a bit harder contact in 2020's shortened season, his numbers didn't vary from his usual output significantly. Bank on around a 4.00 ERA, a WHIP somewhere around 1.25, and plenty of strikeouts. In today's fantasy game, that's more than adequate for a strong fantasy staff.
6 weeks ago
Byron Buxton Note
Byron Buxton photo 107. Byron Buxton CF
Buxton has immense talent and upside, and it feel like he could be a fantasy superstar if he stays healthy. Limited to just 39 games last year, he hit 13 home runs, greatly increasing his barrel rate (13.5%), average exit velocity (91.2 MPH) and hard hit rate (47.9%). Although he only stole two base, his sprint speed ranked in the 99th percentile. The two things holding Buxton back are his health concerns - he has played more than 92 games just once in his career, and his .238 career batting average, which won't improve until he stops swinging so much, particularly at pitches outside of the zone. But he's still just 27 years old, and has the power and speed to deliver a 30-30 season in a perfect world. Just bake in some missed time into the draft capital you're willing to spend.
6 weeks ago
Max Kepler Note
Max Kepler photo 147. Max Kepler RF
Kepler isn't a fancy player, but he's the kind of depth piece that fantasy managers need to survive a long season. The 36-homer season in 2019 is likely a mirage, as his barrel rate and hard-hit percentage were way out of line with his typical production. But he should be a fairly reliable 25-homer bat who will put up 150-160 combined runs and RBI with the occasional steal thrown in. His career batting average is just .237 but his xBA over the last two years is .257, so he shouldn't actively hurt you. Shrug your shoulders, draft him late, and take the reliable production.
6 weeks ago
Josh Donaldson Note
Josh Donaldson photo 149. Josh Donaldson 3B
Donaldson again missed significant time with a calf strain last year, and was limited to just 28 games. He hit for power and walked plenty when he was in the lineup, and both his average exit velocity and hard hit rate were at or near his career highs. In other words, there doesn't seem to be much of a decline in his performance over recent seasons. Now in his age-35 season, it sounds like the Twins are going to give Donaldson plenty of rest this year in an effort to keep him healthy. Bank on the power, but assume a maximum of 130 games or so. There's a lot of value in that so long as you factor it in appropriately.
6 weeks ago
Miguel Sano Note
Miguel Sano photo 160. Miguel Sano 1B
Sano has always had one of the worst strikeout rates in the majors, but his 43.9% mark in 2020 was awful even by his standards. That's always the risk with Sano - that his strikeout rate is going to bring his batting average down to close to .200, where he'll almost single-handedly tank you in that category. The upside of course is that he absolutely crushes the ball, as evident by the fact that he was no worse than second in baseball in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and barrel rate last year. Sano's contract with the Twins shows they're committed to him, so he should hopefully be beyond concerns of getting sent down to the minors if he struggles. That puts Sano in the high-power, low-average bucket of sluggers, but one who goes much later in drafts than others who will provide similar production.
6 weeks ago
Jorge Polanco Note
Jorge Polanco photo 187. Jorge Polanco SS,2B
Polanco has generally been a bit underrated in his career, but the fantasy community seems to have abandoned him in full after 2020. But there's little reason to do so. Polanco should gain second base eligibility quickly this year, as he moves over to accommodate Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. Polanco's quality of contact isn't great, but he rarely strikes out, doesn't hurt you in batting average, and has enough speed to throw in a handful of steals. With soon-to-be multi-position eligibility, he's an ideal bench candidate.
6 weeks ago
Alex Colome Note
Alex Colome photo 205. Alex Colome RP
Colome has been a quality major league reliever for year, but last year, managed to drop his ERA down to a silly 0.81 and his WHIP below 1.00 for the first time in his career. His success was largely on the back of increased movement on his cutter (which induced a ton of weak contact, but which was also less of a strikeout pitch, leading to a drop in strikeouts), as well as Yasmani Grandal's pitch-framing skills. He'll now move to Minnesota where he'll likely form some sort of committee with Taylor Rogers. He's worth drafting, but only very late, and with the expectation that he won't pile on a ton of saves.
6 weeks ago
Michael Pineda Note
Michael Pineda photo 213. Michael Pineda SP
Taylor Rogers Note
Taylor Rogers photo 219. Taylor Rogers RP
Rogers has been the reliever to roster in Minnesota for the past two seasons, but he's totaled just 39 saves over that span. Even with the shortened 2020 season, that's just not the total you want to see from a reliever if you're relying on him as an RP1, especially when the Twins as a team have totaled 92 saves over the last two years. Rogers's lack of saves is all about Rocco Baldelli's philosophy, rather than Rogers's lack of effectiveness (he's totaled a 2.80 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9 over the last three years). Unfortunately, Baldelli is unlikely to abandon his committee approach with the additions of Alex Colome and Hansel Robles. Rogers is still a fine RP2, but certainly don't expect him to get every save chance in Minnesota.
6 weeks ago
Mitch Garver Note
Mitch Garver photo 234. Mitch Garver C
As quickly as Garver exploded onto the scene in 2019 with 31 home runs in just 93 games, he disappeared last year, to the tune of a .167 batting average and two home runs with a 45.7% strikeout rate. An intercostal strain led to his shortened season and almost certainly affected his performance. He's been red hot in the spring thus far, and should be slowly moving up your draft board. If you're looking for a catcher who has the potential to finish within the top-5 but is being drafted only as a low-end starter, this is your guy.
6 weeks ago
Alex Kirilloff Note
Alex Kirilloff photo 295. Alex Kirilloff RF
Kirilloff's bat is probably major-league ready, but since he hasn't yet played above Double-A and his fielding is iffy at best, he's going to begin the year at the Twins' alternate site. But his .317/.365/.498 slash line in his minor league career suggests he'll hit upon his promotion, which will likely be in late-April once the Twins gain a year of control. Even though he won't begin the year with the big club, draft him for your bench. He'll be an expensive waiver wire pickup if you don't.
6 weeks ago
Andrelton Simmons Note
Andrelton Simmons photo 343. Andrelton Simmons SS
J.A. Happ Note
J.A. Happ photo 358. J.A. Happ SP
Luis Arraez Note
Luis Arraez photo 359. Luis Arraez 2B,3B
Ryan Jeffers Note
Ryan Jeffers photo 417. Ryan Jeffers C
Randy Dobnak Note
Randy Dobnak photo 421. Randy Dobnak SP,RP
Tyler Duffey Note
Tyler Duffey photo 430. Tyler Duffey RP
Matt Shoemaker Note
Matt Shoemaker photo 479. Matt Shoemaker SP
Cody Stashak Note
Cody Stashak photo 524. Cody Stashak RP
Jorge Alcala Note
Jorge Alcala photo 605. Jorge Alcala RP
Caleb Thielbar Note
Caleb Thielbar photo 627. Caleb Thielbar RP
Hansel Robles Note
Hansel Robles photo 650. Hansel Robles RP
Devin Smeltzer Note
Devin Smeltzer photo 693. Devin Smeltzer RP
Shaun Anderson Note
Shaun Anderson photo 755. Shaun Anderson RP
Brent Rooker Note
Brent Rooker photo 778. Brent Rooker RF
Lewis Thorpe Note
Lewis Thorpe photo 785. Lewis Thorpe RP
Jake Cave Note
Jake Cave photo 792. Jake Cave CF,RF,LF
Jordan Balazovic Note
Jordan Balazovic photo 967. Jordan Balazovic SP
Jhoan Duran Note
Jhoan Duran photo 973. Jhoan Duran SP
Willians Astudillo Note
Willians Astudillo photo 988. Willians Astudillo C,1B
Dakota Chalmers Note
Dakota Chalmers photo 1001. Dakota Chalmers SP
Glenn Sparkman Note
Glenn Sparkman photo 1018. Glenn Sparkman RP
Luke Farrell Note
Luke Farrell photo 1190. Luke Farrell RP
Cory Gearrin Note
Cory Gearrin photo 1203. Cory Gearrin RP
Derek Law Note
Derek Law photo 1224. Derek Law RP
Edwar Colina Note
Edwar Colina photo 1238. Edwar Colina RP
Ian Hamilton Note
Ian Hamilton photo 1268. Ian Hamilton RP
Keon Broxton Note
Keon Broxton photo 1281. Keon Broxton CF
Ian Gibaut Note
Ian Gibaut photo 1323. Ian Gibaut RP
Robinson Leyer Note
Robinson Leyer photo 1325. Robinson Leyer RP
Juan Minaya Note
Juan Minaya photo 1329. Juan Minaya RP
Brandon Waddell Note
Brandon Waddell photo 1345. Brandon Waddell RP
Kyle Garlick Note
Kyle Garlick photo 1437. Kyle Garlick LF
Trevor Larnach Note
Trevor Larnach photo 1471. Trevor Larnach RF
Travis Blankenhorn Note
Travis Blankenhorn photo 1476. Travis Blankenhorn 2B
JT Riddle Note
JT Riddle photo 1481. JT Riddle 3B
Nick Gordon Note
Nick Gordon photo 1519. Nick Gordon SS
Royce Lewis Note
Royce Lewis photo 1528. Royce Lewis SS
Rob Refsnyder Note
Rob Refsnyder photo 1542. Rob Refsnyder DH
Tzu-Wei Lin Note
Tzu-Wei Lin photo 1543. Tzu-Wei Lin SS