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Friday, January 15, 2021

2021 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: DJ LEMAHIEU 2B New York YANKEES

Perhaps all it took was Liam Hendricks finally opening the vault to offseason spending to get things moving but perennial Hot Stove stars the New York Yankees got in on the fun Friday by bringing back star second baseman DJ LeMahieu on a six-year deal worth $90 million.  Arguably the best pure hitter in baseball the last two seasons, LeMahieu has really exploded during that span with the Yankees after a solid but unspectacular beginning of his career with the Colorado Rockies.  Despite all of the advantages that playing in Coors Field brought forth, LeMahieu's career 92 OPS+ was below average.  With the Yankees the last two years that numbers has jumped sharply to a splendid 145+ as LeMahieu has batted .327 and .364 during that span.  Add in 36 total home runs in basically a little less than a season and half due to COVID-19 and LeMahieu at the age of 32 remains as good as ever.  So in terms of 2021 fantasy baseball, LeMahieu is as good a place to start in terms of shoring up your batting average numbers.  He is as close to a lock as you can get for someone to bat at least .315 and that number will likely be higher.  What's crazy too is that the power really jumped up after LeMahieu departed Coors Field which is not something you ever see but Yankee Stadium is obviously no slouch in term of being a home run park.   So while we remain wary of the 26 homers from 2019 possibly being an outlier, predicting 20 is very safe to go with 100-plus in both runs and RBI.  Add it all together and you get everything at a very high level from LeMahieu outside of steals and that is well worth a late second or early third round pick this spring.  

2021 PROJECTION:  .323 23 HR 104 RBI 109 R 4 SB  



2021 FANTASY BASEBALL FIRST BASEMAN RANKINGS

Some things never change in fantasy baseball and one firm rule that remains true to this day is that the first base position is where the majority of your power numbers will come from.  Every year we always say to be aggressive netting your first baseman early on in the draft and then to also come back here for your CI or UTIL bat as well.  This year's crop is deep as always but you want to get one of the top guys if you can.  


1.  Freddie Freeman

2.  Cody Bellinger

3.  Jose Abreu

4.  Pete Alonso

5.  Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

6.  D.J. LeMahieu

7.  Anthony Rizzo

8.  Luke Voit

9.  Matt Olson

10. Max Muncy

11. Pau; Goldschmidt

12. Josh Bell

13. Dominic Smith

14. Rhys Hoskins

15. Mike Moustakas

16. Eric Hosmer

17. Christian Walker

18. Ryan Mountcastle

19. Rowdy Tellez

20. Hunter Dozier

21. Trey Mancini

22. Carlos Santana

23. Jared Walsh

24. Miguel Sano

26. Andrew Vaughn

27. Jake Croneworth

28. Yuli Gurriel

29. Nate Lowe

30. Joey Votto



Thursday, January 14, 2021

2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: LIAM HENDRICKS TO TAKE OVER NINTH INNING DUTIES WITH WHITE SOX

Finally some free agent movement.  For the first time in this very slow moving Hot Stove season, a contract was signed for over $50 million and it was the continually aggressive Chicago White Sox who were the team to do it when they forked over $54 million on a three-year deal for closer Liam Hendricks.  Clearly in "go for it" mode heading into 2021, the White Sox push aside but solid but far from spectacular Alex Colome who remains a free agent himself.  

Now in terms of Hendricks, you can't name many pitchers who have been more dominant the last two seasons as he logged ERA's of 1.80 and 1.78, while posting obscene 13.00-plus K/9 rates.  Add in splendid control and solid home run rates and Hendricks is about as difficult a chore as it gets in all of baseball in terms of trying to get a hit off of the guy.  As you all know we never recommend opening the draft vault for closers but if you do choose to do so, Hendricks has to be right near the top of the list as an option under such a scenario.  With the White Sox likely in position to win a bunch of games this season with their emerging lineup and impressive rotation, Hendricks should be in line for a boatload of save chances this season.  In fact, a run at 50 saves is not out of the question if Hendricks stays healthy and the season doesn't get too interrupted.  So again the price will be high on Hendricks for 2021 fantasy baseball drafts given he is one of the few proven closers but at the very least you know you are getting a monster if you choose to take an early stab there.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2021 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ANDRES GIMENEZ SS CLEVELAND INDIANS

 The "other" guy in the blockbuster New York Mets acquisition of star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians was the top prospect the former sent to the latter in the deal.  We of course are referring to speedy shortstop Andres Gimenez who along with Ahmed Rosario head over to Cleveland in the deal and both guys will have a prime chance to start from Opening Day for the club and have a chance to further unveil the talents that made both guys much talked about prospects while coming up the Mets system.

In terms of Gimenez, he made his debut at the ripe old age of 21 for the Mets in 2020 as injuries absolutely ravaged the team and while obviously very young and raw, opened a bunch of eyes by putting up the following numbers:

.263

3 HR

12 RBI

22 R

8 SB

All of those numbers were accumulated in just 49 games and the 3 homers and 8 steals reveal some burgeoning power/speed game that Gimenez carries around.  The fact that Gimenez will only be 22 for the majority of the 2021 season shows you how much upside he carries around and in a game where stolen bases are becoming a rare and VERY pricey commodity, the kid carries some sizable upside in terms of fantasy baseball.  With a full allotment of games and at-bats this season, Gimenez has the natural speed to crack 20 steals easy and maybe even push for 30 if he adjust well enough to major league pitching.  Keep in mind Gimenez hit only .250 at Double-A in 2019 and while the .263 was much better in the majors last season, count on opposing pitchers making it difficult on the kid this season now that they have some video on how to approach him.  Still a 21.2 K/9 rate last season was solid for a rookie but Gimenez does need to show more patience as evidenced by his tiny 5.3 BB/9.  With the Indians insisting on Gimenez being the one to front their return package for Lindor, count on the team giving him a long leash to show what he can do.  Still well off the fantasy baseball radar of many, all it will take is a late round pick to possibly net a speedy breakout shortstop this season.  

2021 PROJECTION:  .255 5 HR 34 RBI 67 R 19 SB  


2021 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT PREVIEW: JUSTIN FIELDS QB OHIO STATE

Heading into the 2020 season, there seemed little debate that Ohio State QB Justin Fields would be the locked-in number 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.  Fast forward through the fall/winter college football season and that previously held premise is no longer etched in stone.  Now it does need to be mentioned that Ohio State had about as disjointed a season as a school could have given the Big Ten's late start and the fact the Buckeyes deal with some serious COVID issues throughout.  Perhaps that is the reason Fields ran hot and cold at times and thus, opened the door for BYU's Zach Wilson to stake his claim to the second ranked QB in the draft.  In terms of the positives, you would have a very tough time finding a quarterback who has as pronounced an athletic skill set as Fields who combines breathtaking speed/agility with above-average accuracy and a knack for throwing on the run.  Fields also showed unbelievable toughness and the knack for rising to the occasion when he tossed 6 touchdown passes in the CFP semifinals in beating Clemson after taking a vicious hit to the ribs early in the game.  There are some downsides that interested NFL teams need to consider however; with the most concerning being Fields' struggles going through his reads and being able to consistently make throws while facing the rush in the pocket and that is what we saw from him in the National Championship Game defeat against Alabama.  The latter is certainly a red flag as these were the same concerns that many had about Akili Smith and Robert Griffin III when those two pronounced NFL busts came out of college and struggles against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship only reaffirmed the matter.  Finally, there is the not so small matter that Ohio State historically has not produced any decent NFL passers; with fresh memories of the comical career to this point of Dwayne Haskins still fresh in the mind. That being said, Fields has drawn a lot of DeShaun Watson companions since 2019 began and that is not a bad place to be in terms of projections.  Whether or not he can get there makes Fields more of a risk now than he appeared to be the season prior.