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Fantasy Baseball Player Notes

2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Notes

Juan Soto Note
Juan Soto photo 4. Juan Soto LF,RF
There aren't enough superlatives in the English language to describe what Soto has done in his career given his young age. Had he merely repeated his incredible 2019 numbers last season, fantasy managers would have been ecstatic. Instead, he upped his walk rate from an elite 16.4% to a truly remarkable 20.9%, cut his strikeout rate down to just 14.3%, and batted .351. Soto does not have the speed or baserunning chops to steal 30 bases in a season, which is the only thing keeping him from being considered worthy of drafting first overall. But given what he's accomplished through his age-21 season, it's truly scary to think of how high his ceiling may be. Draft him as a top-five pick and enjoy the ridiculous production.
18 weeks ago
Trea Turner Note
Trea Turner photo 7. Trea Turner 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.
18 weeks ago
Max Scherzer Note
Max Scherzer photo 25. Max Scherzer SP
Scherzer had a decent season for a mortal, but for someone with his career track record, it was a major disappointment. His 3.74 ERA was his highest since 2012, his 1.38 WHIP the highest of his career, and his 7.8% walk percentage his worst in a decade. Scherzer still struck out plenty of batters but entering his age-37 season and with a ton of mileage on his arm, it's only fair to accept that the old Scherzer is gone for good. But though he may not be a consensus top-three starter anymore, he's still perfectly capable of being a fantasy ace. After all, Scherzer's velocity hasn't declined much, and his 31.2% strikeout rate was tied for 10th among starters. Scherzer likely won't reach 200 innings pitched again and his ERA seems destined to remain above 3.00 going forward, but he's far from someone to avoid in fantasy drafts.
18 weeks ago
Stephen Strasburg Note
Stephen Strasburg photo 73. Stephen Strasburg SP
Strasburg was limited to just five innings in 2020, with an injury that eventually required carpal tunnel syndrome. Although that's a minor surgery, the truth is that fantasy managers have very little data as to the impact and/or successful recovery rate after that surgery for pitchers. Strasburg's a tricky draft pick in any given year - he always provides strong value when he's on the mound, but has only topped 200 innings pitched twice in his career. Now entering his age-33 season, Strasburg will likely again provide excellent overall numbers assuming he is healthy. He looks great in the spring, though he's currently battling a minor calf injury, though it shouldn't keep him out for long. Draft him as an SP2, but anything more than 160 innings is gravy.
18 weeks ago
Josh Bell Note
Josh Bell photo 116. Josh Bell 1B,DH
Bell looked like a superstar in the making in the first half of 2019, but struggled for much of the second half of the season and then fell off a cliff in 2020. He slashed a mere .226/.305/.364 and hit only eight home runs. His strikeout and ground ball rates took massive jumps, while his walk rate and launch angle plummeted. Bell blamed his struggles on his swing getting long, and you could tell by how often he changed his stance and swing last year that he simply could not figure things out. Now with the Nationals, the 29-year-old Bell will have a chance to revive his career. We've seen the upside, so he's certainly worth drafting at a discount, but he's much more of a borderline corner infielder than a starting-caliber first baseman.
18 weeks ago
Patrick Corbin Note
Patrick Corbin photo 130. Patrick Corbin SP
Corbin had a disastrous 2020 season, during which he went 2-7 with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. His strikeout rate plummeted, and his velocity dropped significantly, with his fastball seeing a dip of almost two miles per hour. Corbin leans heavily into his slider, and he needs it to be pristine to be an effective pitcher. And although it wasn't a terrible pitch in 2020, the swinging strike rate on it dropped from 28.1% to 21.2%, and the whiff rate from 52% to just 38.2%. If the loss in velocity and effectiveness of his slider were entirely due to the oddities of the shortened season, then Corbin is going to be a major value in drafts this year. But if not, then his days as a "set it and forget it" starter are likely over. Monitor Corbin's performance this spring, particularly with his velocity. If it's back up to prior levels, then push him up your board significantly.
18 weeks ago
Brad Hand Note
Brad Hand photo 132. Brad Hand RP
Hand joins the Nationals on a one-year deal after Cleveland declined his option. His velocity declined a bit last season, but the league's collective lack of interest in Hand is surprising, given that he's coming off one of the best seasons of his career, led the league in saves, has been a top-10 reliever over the last five seasons, and is a lefty. Dave Martinez wants Hand to be the Nationals' closer based on his comments, but it's unclear whether he'll be the sole option. The Nationals barely have another lefty reliever in their bullpen, let alone a reliable one, so chances are that Hand will be deployed earlier in the game if the opposing team has multiple left-handed hitters due up. All that to say that Hand is a reliable reliever who you should draft for his overall numbers, but he may provide fewer saves than most traditional closers.
18 weeks ago
Victor Robles Note
Victor Robles photo 135. Victor Robles CF
There were plenty of warning signs with Robles' batted-ball data heading into 2020, and they're only greater now after an abysmal season during which he slashed .220/.293/.315. The MLB average in barrel rate and average exit velocity are 6.4% and 88.3 MPH, respectively. Robles clocked in at 4.8% and 83.3 MPH in 2019, and then fell to a ridiculous 1.7% and 82.2 MPH in 2020. His continously poor contact limits any upside, but it's worth noting that he still hit 17 homers and stole 28 bases in 2019 despite it all. Robles is still just entering his age-24 season, so massive long-term growth is still certainly on the table. But for now, it's impossible to justify drafting him as anything more than a fifth outfielder in mixed leagues.
18 weeks ago
Kyle Schwarber Note
Kyle Schwarber photo 163. Kyle Schwarber LF
Schwarber gave back many of his 2019 gains last year, seeing a rise in strikeout rate (29.5%) and his batting average dropping to an abysmal .188. But Schwarber's season was far from linear: over the first half of the season, he slashed .230/.343/.448, but those numbers dropped to .154/.279/.346 over the second half. At the same time, he continued to hit the ball extremely hard, with a 92.8 MPH average exit velocity, which was top 5% in the league. Given his consistently hard contact, the better course of action seems to forgive Schwarber for what amounted to an extremely poor 24-game stretch to close out the season. Now batting in the middle of the Nationals lineup with a fresh start and entering his age-28 season, Schwarber should rebound to somewhere between his 2018 and 2019 numbers.
18 weeks ago
Starlin Castro Note
Starlin Castro photo 312. Starlin Castro 2B,3B
Yan Gomes Note
Yan Gomes photo 356. Yan Gomes C
Tanner Rainey Note
Tanner Rainey photo 370. Tanner Rainey RP
Will Harris Note
Will Harris photo 490. Will Harris RP
Daniel Hudson Note
Daniel Hudson photo 501. Daniel Hudson RP
Luis Garcia Note
Luis Garcia photo 511. Luis Garcia 2B
Alex Avila Note
Alex Avila photo 572. Alex Avila C
Kyle McGowin Note
Kyle McGowin photo 588. Kyle McGowin RP
Carter Kieboom Note
Carter Kieboom photo 593. Carter Kieboom 3B
Wander Suero Note
Wander Suero photo 614. Wander Suero RP
Jon Lester Note
Jon Lester photo 621. Jon Lester SP
Kyle Finnegan Note
Kyle Finnegan photo 651. Kyle Finnegan RP
Andrew Stevenson Note
Andrew Stevenson photo 725. Andrew Stevenson LF,RF,CF
Austin Voth Note
Austin Voth photo 761. Austin Voth SP,RP
Josh Harrison Note
Josh Harrison photo 769. Josh Harrison 2B,3B,LF
Rogelio Armenteros Note
Rogelio Armenteros photo 804. Rogelio Armenteros SP
Erick Fedde Note
Erick Fedde photo 892. Erick Fedde SP
Joe Ross Note
Joe Ross photo 953. Joe Ross RP,SP
Jefry Rodriguez Note
Jefry Rodriguez photo 996. Jefry Rodriguez SP,RP
Rene Rivera Note
Rene Rivera photo 1047. Rene Rivera C
Welington Castillo Note
Welington Castillo photo 1052. Welington Castillo C
Yadiel Hernandez Note
Yadiel Hernandez photo 1060. Yadiel Hernandez DH,RF
Ryne Harper Note
Ryne Harper photo 1128. Ryne Harper RP
Ryan Zimmerman Note
Ryan Zimmerman photo 1133. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Luis Avilan Note
Luis Avilan photo 1158. Luis Avilan RP
Steven Fuentes Note
Steven Fuentes photo 1168. Steven Fuentes SP
Gerardo Parra Note
Gerardo Parra photo 1194. Gerardo Parra RF,LF
Aaron Barrett Note
Aaron Barrett photo 1222. Aaron Barrett RP
Seth Romero Note
Seth Romero photo 1316. Seth Romero RP
Sam Clay Note
Sam Clay photo 1330. Sam Clay RP
Dakota Bacus Note
Dakota Bacus photo 1337. Dakota Bacus RP
Paolo Espino Note
Paolo Espino photo 1357. Paolo Espino SP,RP
Javy Guerra Note
Javy Guerra photo 1365. Javy Guerra RP
Ben Braymer Note
Ben Braymer photo 1384. Ben Braymer SP
Tres Barrera Note
Tres Barrera photo 1411. Tres Barrera C
Raudy Read Note
Raudy Read photo 1428. Raudy Read C
Jordy Mercer Note
Jordy Mercer photo 1441. Jordy Mercer SS,2B,3B
Derek Dietrich Note
Derek Dietrich photo 1445. Derek Dietrich DH
Jake Noll Note
Jake Noll photo 1483. Jake Noll 1B
Yasmany Tomas Note
Yasmany Tomas photo 1539. Yasmany Tomas DH