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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Bo Bichette Note
Bo Bichette photo 21. Bo Bichette SS
Bichette missed about half the season with a knee injury last year, but was productive when he was on the field, batting .301 with an .840 OPS. His 162-game pace was 28 home runs, 100 runs, 128 RBI, and 22 steals, so he was well on his way to earning his lofty draft price. If there was a wart to Bichette's season it was that his walk rate dropped to just 3.9%, one of the worst in the league. But, given that he had just 128 plate appearances, that's likely just the product of a small sample size, since he never walked at less than a 6.6% clip in his career. Batting in a stacked lineup, Bichette should once again put up strong five-category numbers, and should be one of the first shortstops drafted in fantasy leagues again in 2020.
3 days ago
George Springer Note
George Springer photo 42. George Springer CF
Springer's batting average fell off a tad last year, but once he was past his wrist injury, he was explosive, batting .316 with a 1.033 OPS over the final month of the season. His expected statistics were excellent, as he ranked in the top eight percent of the league in xBA, xSLG, and xWOBA. Now with the Blue Jays and an extreme hitter's park (wherever the Blue Jay play this year), he should once again be in line for a stellar year. Home runs and runs scored should again be plentiful, making Springer a rock solid second outfielder in mixed leagues.
3 days ago
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Note
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. photo 56. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B,DH
Guerrero Jr. comes into 2021 with fantasy managers asking the same question they asked the year before: can he stop hitting the ball on the ground so much? A 49.6% ground-ball rate was bad in 2019, but a 54.6% ground ball rate in 2020 was downright egregious. Guerrero Jr. hits the ball really, really hard. He was in the top seven percent of MLB in average exit velocity (92.5 MPH) and hard hit rate (50.8%). But until he learns to stop pounding the ball into the dirt, his power upside will be limited. There will be some fantasy manager in your league willing to bet on the upside, so if you want Guerrero Jr., you're going to have to draft him before his numbers say you should. This may indeed be the year that everything clicks. But you'll have to pay to find out.
3 days ago
Hyun Jin Ryu Note
Hyun Jin Ryu photo 77. Hyun Jin Ryu SP
Fantasy managers expected some regression from Ryu after his career season in 2019 and with him moving to the Blue Jays, but it really didn't come. He continued to be among the best in the game at limiting opposing batters' quality of contact, and upped his strikeout rate to 26.2%, second best of his career. Ryu's 2.69 ERA was a bit higher than the 2.32 mark he put up in in 2019, but his FIP, xFIP, SIERA, and xERA were all the same or better than the previous year. In short, other than the potential for injury, which hasn't been a factor in the last two seasons, there's no reason to doubt Ryu at this point.
3 days ago
Cavan Biggio Note
Cavan Biggio photo 82. Cavan Biggio 2B,3B,RF
Biggio doesn't hit the ball particularly well and is passive almost to a fault. He swung at just 36% of the pitches he saw last year, third-fewest in MLB, and that represents a continued trend. That passivity leads to increased strikeouts, but also plenty of walks, as Biggio took a free pass 15.5% of the time last season, which ranked in the top 8 percent of baseball. Despite not making consistently strong contact, Biggio has hit 24 home runs in his 159 major league games, and he's added on 107 runs and 20 steals. Those numbers play extremely well for fantasy, particularly at the weak second base position. Biggio is likely to add third base eligibility with the Blue Jays' addition of Marcus Semien, which should only add to his value, and he makes a fine pick if you can nab him in the fifth round or so where his ADP generally lands.
3 days ago
Teoscar Hernandez Note
Teoscar Hernandez photo 84. Teoscar Hernandez RF
Hernandez missed 10 games due to injury and still put up an impressive 16 home runs in his mere 50 games. The statcast leaderboard is peppered with Hernandez's name, as he hit the ball hard consistently throughout the year. He also upped his line drive rate significantly, which his why the underlying statistics supported his massive jump in batting average. But it's hard to tell if Hernandez's 2020 season was real or just a very hot 50-game stretch. After all, he still struck out more than 30 percent of the time, and his walk rate dropped by about two points. In the end, given his home park and his supporting case, you can buy Hernandez as a 35-homer bat who will chip in steals and help with the remaining counting stats. But assume he hits closer to his .245 batting average, and don't count on the 50 homer pace you saw last year.
3 days ago
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Note
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. photo 89. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF
Gurriel Jr. has developed into an extremely strong major league hitter, showing far more power than he did in the minors. He makes consistently strong (though not elite) contact, and although he swings a ton, his strikeout rate isn't prohibitive. Gurriel isn't going to be elite in any category, but he's going to provide some value in all five. Batting in an excellent lineup and hitter's park (whichever one it may be), Gurriel should be a fine pick in drafts in all formats.
3 days ago
Marcus Semien Note
Marcus Semien photo 118. Marcus Semien SS
Semien looked like he had made some major and sustainable gains in 2019, cutting his strikeout rate way down and being far more selective, which led to better contact. Unfortunately, Semien looked a lot like the old version of himself in 2020, with a strikeout rate over 20% and similar mediocre contact to that which he had made consistently prior to 2019. He signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays, which is a great landing spot for him, as he'll likely bat near the top of a strong lineup, see an upgrade in home park, and earn second base eligibility. That makes Semien far more enticing as a potential draft-day target, but he should still be considered only a middle infield option in mixed leagues.
3 days ago
Kirby Yates Note
Kirby Yates photo 154. Kirby Yates RP
Yates was one of the most dominant relievers in the game in 2019, but missed almost the entire 2020 season and had surgery in August to remove bone chips from his elbow. He'll now head to the Blue Jays where he'll serve as their closer. Yates is older than you think - he'll be 34 years old by Opening Day - and any pitcher coming off elbow surgery is a risk. But given that he had a 42% strikeout rate and excellent control before his lost 2020 season, he offers plenty of upside. With few reliable closers outside of a handful of top options, Yates makes an intriguing RP pick who could offer a major return on investment if he shows he's back to form in the spring.
3 days ago
Randal Grichuk Note
Randal Grichuk photo 239. Randal Grichuk CF
Nate Pearson Note
Nate Pearson photo 251. Nate Pearson SP
Pearson gained a ton of buzz early in spring training last year, but wound up pitching just 18 innings overall while battling elbow soreness. The stuff is there, without question. His fastball reaches triple digits, his slider is dominant, and his curveball and changeup are far above average. There's always a bit more uncertainty with young power pitchers, particularly when they've had elbow injuries like Pearson has. And, after trading for Steven Matz, the Blue Jays have plenty of rotation depth and shouldn't feel pressured into putting Pearson into their rotation if he struggles in the spring. But the capital necessary to acquire him is minimal, and there are few pitchers who match his upside, making him a fine, late-round dart throw.
3 days ago
Rowdy Tellez Note
Rowdy Tellez photo 299. Rowdy Tellez 1B,DH
Danny Jansen Note
Danny Jansen photo 334. Danny Jansen C
Jansen's playing time is uncertain this year with the presence of both Reese McGuire and Alejandro Kirk, but his defense is likely to keep him in the mix as a starter most games. He hasn't developed into the offensive force most thought he would become, and his average has been downright dreadful. But he's put up 19 home runs and 59 RBI over 150 games in the last two seasons, and the Toronto lineup is incredibly strong. If he wins the job outright out of spring training, he should be considered a fairly strong second catcher.
3 days ago
Alejandro Kirk Note
Alejandro Kirk photo 338. Alejandro Kirk C
Kirk has the bat to to be a fantasy asset if he can stay in the lineup, particularly with catcher eligibility. He is a career .315 hitter with a .918 OPS in the minors, and had a strong, albeit short, stint in the majors last year during when he had a .983 OPS in nine games. The biggest obstacle for Kirk is that the Blue Jays have two solid defensive catchers in Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, and although they could put Kirk at DH, they have plenty of other options for that position. In other words, Kirk needs to hit and hit early to cement a lineup spot. If he does, he's got top-10 catcher potential pretty easily.
3 days ago
Robbie Ray Note
Robbie Ray photo 345. Robbie Ray SP
Jordan Romano Note
Jordan Romano photo 348. Jordan Romano RP
Ross Stripling Note
Ross Stripling photo 444. Ross Stripling SP
Steven Matz Note
Steven Matz photo 491. Steven Matz SP
Jacob Waguespack Note
Jacob Waguespack photo 508. Jacob Waguespack RP
Rafael Dolis Note
Rafael Dolis photo 548. Rafael Dolis RP
Tanner Roark Note
Tanner Roark photo 654. Tanner Roark SP
Tyler Chatwood Note
Tyler Chatwood photo 665. Tyler Chatwood SP
David Phelps Note
David Phelps photo 718. David Phelps RP
Trent Thornton Note
Trent Thornton photo 763. Trent Thornton SP
Ryan Borucki Note
Ryan Borucki photo 862. Ryan Borucki RP
Julian Merryweather Note
Julian Merryweather photo 888. Julian Merryweather SP,RP
Reese McGuire Note
Reese McGuire photo 933. Reese McGuire C
Joe Panik Note
Joe Panik photo 956. Joe Panik 2B,3B,SS
Tommy Milone Note
Tommy Milone photo 980. Tommy Milone SP
Patrick Murphy Note
Patrick Murphy photo 1009. Patrick Murphy RP
Tim Mayza Note
Tim Mayza photo 1019. Tim Mayza RP
Anthony Kay Note
Anthony Kay photo 1049. Anthony Kay RP
Tom Hatch Note
Tom Hatch photo 1051. Tom Hatch RP
Joel Payamps Note
Joel Payamps photo 1055. Joel Payamps RP
Ty Tice Note
Ty Tice photo 1100. Ty Tice RP
Anthony Castro Note
Anthony Castro photo 1179. Anthony Castro RP
Travis Bergen Note
Travis Bergen photo 1234. Travis Bergen RP
T.J. Zeuch Note
T.J. Zeuch photo 1259. T.J. Zeuch SP
Jonathan Davis Note
Jonathan Davis photo 1367. Jonathan Davis RF
Santiago Espinal Note
Santiago Espinal photo 1373. Santiago Espinal SS
Josh Palacios Note
Josh Palacios photo 1421. Josh Palacios CF
Forrest Wall Note
Forrest Wall photo 1476. Forrest Wall CF
Tyler White Note
Tyler White photo 1480. Tyler White 1B
Breyvic Valera Note
Breyvic Valera photo 1492. Breyvic Valera 2B
Kevin Smith Note
Kevin Smith photo 1502. Kevin Smith SS