Friday, February 26, 2021


 Hear us out.  The notion of investing in fly ball pitchers during this insane home run binge the last few seasons would seem to be a strategy to ensure your team finishes in the basement of your fantasy baseball league but 2021 will bring some change on what became a very frustrating development for everyone attached to the game.  So while fans no doubt love the long ball, we had reached a point of overkill the last few seasons as the "juiced" baseball fly out left and right all game long.  Thus, pitchers who were of the fly ball variety saw their ERA's and WHIP's inflate a bit unfairly as one or two bad pitches in an otherwise dominant game did tremendous damage to bottom line numbers.  Alas, MLB came out a few weeks ago and not only admitted to the juiced ball in not so many words but that they were deadening it for 2021 with  the expectation that home run totals would drop sharply.  So what does this mean for 2021 fantasy baseball?  That means those fly ball pitchers who avoided before are not set up to see the biggest boost to their values this season as their ERA's and WHIP's will settle this season more than those who get most of their outs on the ground.  

Taking this a step further, here are the more notable fly ball pitchers who should earn an extra look or a few extra draft dollars this spring:

1.  Julio Urias

2.  Lance Lynn

3.  Gerrit Cole

4.  Tyler Glasnow

5.  Chris Bassitt

6.  Kyle Hendricks

7.  Marco Gonzales

8.  Mike Fiers

9.  Andrew Heaney

10. Jon Lester

11. Trevor Bauer

12. Zack Greinke

13. Johnny Cueto

14. Martin Perez

15. Aaron Civale

16. Mike Minor

17. Zach Davies

18. Clayton Kershaw

19. Jose Berrios

20. Lucas Giolito


Bank on it.  Put it in ink.  Bet the house.  New York Mets first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith will become the next big slugger in fantasy baseball as soon as the 2021 season commences.  So confident are we that Smith will post a monster season that we suggest reaching a round or two early over his current draft ADP in order to ensure you have a piece of the action.  Already Smith has hinted at what is to come after he quietly earned some MVP consideration in the shortened 2020 season when he hit 10 home runs, collected 42 RBI, and batted a smooth .316 as he and not Pete Alonso became the slugging talk of the team.  

Now in terms of delving in on the particulars, Smith has always been lauded for both his power and ability to hit for average as he was originally the 11th overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft and soon he was tearing things up in the minor leagues.  Alas, Smith would then stumble a bit as an undiagnosed sleep apnea condition left him constantly tired and sapped his concentration and some power.  The issue also led to some run-ins with the Mets front office that included being deactivated by the team for the Grapefruit League opener at the start of 2019.  Once Smith was diagnosed however, he quickly began correcting the condition by hooking up to a BIPAP machine at night to aid in breathing and the results since have been dramatic.  Not only was Smith terrific in 2020 but he also batted .282 with 11 home runs in 197 at-bats in a partial 2019 campaign that saw him fall prey to injury.  Fast forward to 2021 and all is in place for Smith to work either as a cost-effective starting fantasy baseball first baseman, a terrific UTIL or CI option, or as strong as an OF 2 this season.  

We already have noted the natural power that Smith possesses and he was on pace for around 30 home runs if 2020 was of the 162-game variety.  Still just 25, Smith has not even reached his prime just yet which speaks to how exciting an investment he is this spring.  Not only a power hitter, Smith has the chops to hit .300 or better yet again as his 22.5 K/9 rate is league average and he draws enough walks with a 7.0 and 9.6 BB/9 marks the last two seasons to keep pitchers honest.  Add in the RBI and runs opportunities that will come in a stacked Mets lineup and eligibility both at first and the outfield and Smith is quite possibly out favorite sleeper of the upcoming season.  So do yourself a favor and get some shares here because you miss out on what is looking like a monster breakout.  

2021 PROJECTION:  .304 28 HR 98 RBI 88 R 2 SB  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


 By now it is common knowledge in fantasy baseball that the catcher position is one big cesspool on part with tight ends in fantasy football.  Every season there are 2 or 3 very good options and then nothing but question marks from that point onward.  With Yankees slugging catcher Gary Sanchez doing his best to act like the worst hitter in all of baseball a year ago, the position is even more volatile than ever.  Which brings us to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Will Smith who at the age of just 26 in March is shaping up to make a run at the top spot at the position during the 2021 season.  Already lauded for impressive power while coming up the minor league ladder, Smith's knack for drawing walks at an above-average rate allowed him to bat .289 a year ago after a .253 rookie debut in 2019.  Even better, the knock on Smith while in the minors was that he was a strikeout machine but after posting a K/9 rate of 26.5 as a rookie, a new approach at the dish he unveiled last season helped him lower that mark to a swell 16.1.  The latter number is very rare for a catcher in today's game and when you combine the tidy average with the fact Smith cracked 8 home runs in just 137 at-bats a year ago, you can really see the potential that is at hand here.

Now of course we still have to see what Smith will do across a full MLB season and it is likely that the rigors of donning the tools of ignorance for six months would have sent the average downward from the .289 of last season.  On the flip side, Smith would have also easily cleared 20 home runs at his pace and 75 RBI would have been in play as well.  So we are talking about some very impressive and rare offensive numbers for a catcher and that makes Smith a prime target in drafts this spring given these tools.  Yes the cost will be high for someone who is still not a finished product but Smith's path is clearly on the upswing as we head into the new season.  

2021 PROJECTION:  .263 23 HR 74 RBI 63 R 2 SB  

Monday, February 22, 2021


Some news and notes from around the game as fantasy baseball spring training has begun:

-Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins was medically cleared to play from his elbow issues and is expected to be ready for Opening Day.  Like from the moment he arrived on the scene, Hoskins is a pure power hitting asset who will help in homers and runs and not much else.  Add in some ugly batting averages and Hoskins is now looking like just another power specialist after he caught some early hype in fantasy baseball. Try to avoid.

-Great news for Baltimore Orioles outfielder Trey Mancici who will have no restrictions in spring training after coming back from cancer surgery.  Remember that Mancici had a career-year just prior to the cancer diagnosis and is quietly a 25-home run bat who can also hit for average.  Think Mike Morse from back in the day which makes him a very useful OF 3.

-The Milwaukee Brewers are taking a hard look at Jackie Bradley Jr.  Bradley Jr. made some inroads with his batting approach a year ago and can hit 15 homers and steal 8-10 bags so don't ignore him in five OF formats.  

-Ian Kennedy signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers.  After doing decent enough work as a closer for the Kansas City Royals, Kennedy could eventually work his way to the ninth if things break down in front of him.  

-Jeremy Jeffress signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nats but he is in no way a threat to Brad Hand as the team's closer.

-Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is taking up his new approach at the dish and a big finish to his 2020 season lends some credence that there could be some sneaky value as a CI or UTIL bat for at least one more season.  

-Kansas City Royals starter Brad Keller is going to incorporate his changeup more this season after he found some nice success with it in 2020 when he logged a 2.47 ERA in 54.2 innings.  Despite the nice season, Keller should be ignored almost everywhere.  


If you are a guy like yours truly who is always on the lookout for nicely priced starting pitchers with high upside instead of paying massive freight in there early rounds, the Milwaukee Brewers have some deals for you.  While known more for their hitting over the years, the Brew Crew have not one but TWO prime pitching sleepers who carry the immense potential to each reach ace status for the price of an SP 2 or 3 draft cost.  We are referring of course to Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes who both have sizable strikeout ability and also advanced rate stats that scream out future number 1 or 2 starter.  

Let's start off with Woodruff who figures to come at a higher cost than Burnes due to his linear growth the last few seasons.  For one thing, Woodruff has really upped his strikeout ability the last four seasons as he went from an ugly 6.7 rate in 2017 all the way up to 11.1 a year ago.  Add in K rates over 10.0 in both 2018 and 2019 and Woodruff has more than proven his high upside ability in the strikeout realm alone.  Then when you add in the fact he has logged ERA's of 3.62 and 3.05 the last two seasons and WHIP's of 1.14 and 0.99 in that span and boy is there a lot to like here.  What really makes Woodruff stand out even more is that he is a groundball pitcher and has uncanny control for someone who strikes out as many guys as he does.  With BB/9 rates of 2.22 and 2.20 the last two seasons, Woodruff pretty much checks all of the boxes in terms of his ability reeking of the ace variety.  Yes he is a late bloomer at the age of 28 and the 121.2 innings he tossed in 2019 are an MLB high for him which calls into question whether Woodruff can sustain this level of pitching over a full 162-game season but at least for the first half of 2021, the number could be insanely good.  Worst case scenario is that you can also sell high on Woodruff when July comes around as he should tire from that point on but that is a concern for a future date.  

In term of Burnes, he is the younger of the two at 26 but also someone who has less of a track record after pitching to a horrid 8.82 ERA in 2019.  Burnes pitched mostly out of the bullpen that season however and in the shortened 2020 campaign, he was terrific with a 2.11 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 59.2 innings pitched. Add in an immense 88 K's in 59.2 innings and boy as Burnes a terrific strikeout artist.  Unlike with Woodruff though, Burnes has rough control with 3.67 and 3.62 BB/9 rates the last two seasons but anyone who can punch out as many batters like he can puts him in the sleeper tier for the late middle rounds. 

When you look at both guys through a prism, Woodruff is the one who really can reach ace status, while Burnes could be an SP 3 if all breaks right.  What you are certain of is receiving a ton of strikeouts between the two of them and the upside to really pay off as upside picks.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021


Run Adalberto RUN!  That about sums it up when it comes to Kansas City Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi who in his young career has become one of the more polarizing players in all of fantasy baseball.  On the one hand you have the supreme base stealer in the game whose value on that statistic alone carries immense value in an MLB era where that skill is vanishing quickly.  On the other hand, you have critics who rightfully knock Mondesi for a completely undisciplined hitting approach that results in brutal OBP numbers and annually shaky batting averages.  Even though it seems like Mondesi has been around forever as he gets set for his sixth MLB campaign, he is still only 25 and won't turn 26 until July.  So in essence Mondesi still has room to grow as he is still a year or so away from his prime but for now he remains a very skilled but flawed player.  

Digging in a bit more on the numbers, Mondesi batted .256 with 6 home runs and 24 steals in 219 at-bats in the shortened 2020 campaign.  The OBP remained ugly at .294 and Mondesi was comically bad both with his 4.7 BB/9 and 30.0 K/9 rates.  So as you can see, Mondesi is not pretty on a day-to-day basis with his numbers but on the flip side, no one in the game today is a more potent base stealer and the allure here is that if the guy can just gain even a smidge of improvement in terms of approach, 70 steals is not out of the question.  Those 70 steals would be pure fantasy baseball gold and even 50 would fall into that category as well.  Hence, the continued high cost of owning Mondesi this season but like with those who annually overpaid for the flawed Billy Hamilton before him, the risk remains sizable.  So in terms of how to handle Mondesi in 2021, we have no issues if you choose to use an early third round pick here but that is only if you spent picks 1 and 2 on .300 hitters who have pop.  That is the best avenue toward Mondesi ownership and anything more pricy that an early third round pick would force us to pass.  Again the steals are going to be insane here but the damage Mondesi will do elsewhere surely can offset some of this impact.

2021 PROJECTION:  .255 10 HR 43 RBI 75 R 46 SB

Saturday, February 20, 2021


Now that's not good.  San Diego Padres fireballing starter Dinelson Lamet admitted to reporters on Saturday that doctors informed him the likelihood of him tearing a ligament in his elbow and being forced to undergo a second Tommy John surgery if he kept pitching through the end of last season.  Given that Lamet throws 100-mph, this is not good news to hear at all and it pumps the breaks in this space in terms of targeting him in drafts.  We have always been big boosters of Lamet given his massive strikeout ability and spacious home ballpark when combined give off the aura of a future fantasy baseball ace.  While Lamet is capable of reaching that level in 2021, his draft price has risen under all the recent hype to the point that he carries some significant risk.  So while we wouldn't avoid Lamet altogether, we are only looking here if he can be had for your SP 3 at most.  


When looking back at the extreme volatility that was the 2020 shortened fantasy baseball season, there were a slew of beyond rough seasons posted by a ton of previously high-end players that the entire campaign was one big throw out.  With just 60 games or less of numbers to post, those who were slow starters at the dish or who missed time with injury were then stuck with some ugly statistics that perhaps clouded their overall profile heading into the 2021 fantasy baseball season.  As we have said countless times since, the entirety of the numbers last season have to be taken with a grain of salt and so it is a great idea to just look more toward 2019 than 2020 when it comes to projecting things going forward.  This brings us to Oakland A's outfielder Ramon Laureano who had a extremely tough go of it last season when he batted just .213 with 6 home runs and 2 steals in 183 at-bats. The real shame of it all is that Laureano was a big target of this peanut stand given how much of a revelation he was in 2019 when he exploded onto the scene with 24 home runs, 13 steals, and a .288 average at the age of 24.  Given the attraction of any power/speed offensive player, Laureano's ability to also hit for average quietly put him on the five category tier leading into last season.  Alas, things went haywire for Laureano whose decent start to the season was soon marred by a slump and an incident where he charged the Houston Astros dugout which incited a brawl.  Add in being hit by a pitch three times in the Astros series and Laureano became totally unhinged last season.  So as we continue to espouse, it is best to throw the numbers out for Laureano regarding last season and instead, target him as a very nice sleeper pick who will come at a cheap draft cost.  Again we are talking about potential five category production who can be had for a middle round cost.  So your best bet is to be aggressive here as Laureano is very talented and capable of big numbers if all breaks right.  


Yesterday we went into our even more stated opinion that using a high draft pick on a starting pitcher is a terrible idea given the fact they have the highest injury rate by far of any position on the field and that issue will grow even more potent now that every pitcher has to ramp up from zero or less than 100 innings a year ago to now 150 at least for 2021.  Now we get word from a number of teams around the league that a six-man rotation may be in play to remedy some of these health concerns.  One prominent team that came out and said as much was the New York Mets as manager Luis Rojas exclaimed on Saturday when meeting with the media.  The Mets already had Jacob DeGrom, David Peterson, and a June return of Noah Syndergaard under contract heading into last winter and then under new owner Steve Cohen, swung trades for Carlos Carrasco, Jordan Yammamoto, and Joey Lucchesi; while also signing Taijaun Walker and Jerad Eickhoff.  With each of those names having great to decent MLB experience, the Mets have the arms to do so.  So in essence, starting pitchers will see even MORE value taken way since their innings would be curbed a bit more and then have their turn in the rotation moved back an extra day or two each time through.  So for those who are still holding out on the thought that taking starters early is a good idea, you may want to rethink that strategy.

Friday, February 19, 2021


Boy is this going to get ugly.  Already it is well-established that this site has continually advised AGAINST drafting pitchers early in yearly fantasy baseball drafts given the high volatility that centers on an injury rate that is unmatched at any other position.  Add in that a starter only impacts four standard ROTO categories while a five tool hitter you can get in the first three rounds impacts five and it is foolish to use such precious draft commodity on a pitcher.  This mantra will only be reinforced tenfold for 2021 as   starters will now be expected to ramp up from pitching on average 60-70 innings from a year ago in the shortened campaign to now 150-200 in this expected full season.  That has disaster written all over it from a health standpoint as injuries will be more pronounced than ever before.  So while there are still some who think drafting a Gerrit Cole or Jacob DeGrom in the first or second round is a smart ploy with the belief that having a rock solid stud makes sense, these guys are just as prone to getting hurt as any other hurler.  

So in terms of 2021, we continue to espouse using the first three rounds to go for hitters (ideally a five tool outfielder, first baseman, and a shortstop) and then you can take your first look at a pitcher in Round 4.  We are going to go all in on number 2 or 3 starters this season and you can make a fantastic rotation out of guys such as the following who will all make our lists:

Sonny Gray

Zac Gallen

Jack Flaherty 

Lance Lynn

Kenta Maeda

Carlos Carrasco 

Dinelson Lamet 

Tyler Glasnow

Corbin Burnes

Zack Wheeler

Jose Berrios

Chris Paddack

Patrick Corbin

David Price

Eduardo Rodriguez

Frankie Montas

Julio Urias

These are all terrific starters and four of these would make a tremendous rotation and then you can add a bunch of high upside fliers.  So where in the past we would go into the season with 5 starters, we will now go up to 7 given they injury issues that will be a major part of the season.  This is the correct way to go here so go all in on this strategy.  

Thursday, February 18, 2021


While San Francisco's Mike Yastrzemski earned a ton of rightful praise as a late blooming hitter for the Giants in 2020, another outfielder in a similar boat out west was Seattle Mariners outfielder Dylan Moore. Already 29-years-old, it took Moore until 2019 to show some very intriguing fantasy baseball skills that make him someone to target as a rare sleeper who is pushing up on 30.  After all this is what happens when you go out and post 9/11 and 8/12 slashes in the home runs/stolen base categories the last two seasons and so Moore is absolutely someone to dig a bit deeper prior to drafts this spring. 

As we already noted, Moore is a late bloomer who was originally a seventh round pick back in 2015 by the Texas Rangers.  After failing to make it to the majors with the Rangers, it took Moore until 2019 to finally get a look where he batted .206 with 9 home runs and 11 steals in just 282 at-bats.  Now the average was very ugly obviously and a hideous 33.0 K/9 rate did its thing there.  However the juice is apparent in Moore's game as he has good power and the wheels to help in the run game as well.  Think a poor man's Starling Marte here with an uglier average as a comparison.  

Proving his 2019 debut was no fluke, Moore then went out and improved his average to .255 last season with another 8 home runs and 12 steals in 159 at-bats.  Clearly, Moore has interesting power and speed and those players are becoming more rare by the year in fantasy baseball.  Add in an expected spot in the number 2 slot in the order this season for the M's and Moore will also have the ability to pad his runs scored and to a lesser extent his RBI total.  Given the low profile that is presented for almost all Seattle players, it literally will cost almost nothing to own Moore this season and at the very least he makes for a swell OF 3 or bench option to plug in when he is needed.  Again, power/speed guys like Moore don't grow on trees anymore and those in search of value can do a lot worse here in the later rounds of the draft.  


 In finally admitting the obvious, MLB pretty much came out and copped to the fact the baseball has been royally juiced the last few seasons and have taken firm steps for 2021 to make sure the home run derby that was taking place on a nightly basis will be lessened.  This is obviously a big piece of news for the upcoming fantasy baseball season on a number of fronts, with the first being that most or all of the home run totals will dip for hitters in 2021.  While pure power guys like Cody Bellinger or Anthony Rizzo may not be impacted as much, guys like Paul DeJong or Marcus Semien will likely become shaky investments overnight given how much they benefitted from the juiced ball of late.  Hence, it is imperative that you pay some extra attention to the overall game of any hitter you want to draft this season and in particular focus on positive batting averages.  Given that DeJong and Semien don't help in the average department, the dip in steals is a big hit to their value and this is especially true since they don't also steal bases.  So in essence, you can only accept shaky average hitters as either backups or if they steal basis like a Cavan Biggio.  So again with the power numbers dipping all across the game, the difference between players will come in the average and steals departments which will help if you pick up guys who help there.  For example someone like Andres Gimenez who may not hit for a high average but who can offset that with stolen bases.  Or an Alec Bohm who can hit for average and decent pop but not swipe many bases.  This is the trend you should be looking at for your teams this season and this is likely going to determine more than anything who will be the contenders in your leagues.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021


I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  Already filled with Hall of Fame genes as the son of former Houston Astros great Craig, Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio has quickly become a fantasy baseball darling after posting HR/SB totals of 16/14 and 8/6 during his first two seasons in the majors as a much-hyped prospect.  What also has been very impressive with Biggio has been his uncanny patience for a young player as his BB/9 rates of 16.5 and 15.5 are as good as it gets which really elevated him in leagues that use OBP.  So it appears on paper as we move to the 2021 fantasy baseball season that Biggio should be front and center as an early round draft pick and that makes sense given the power/speed game as a whole.  That being said, there are still some issues with Biggio which tempers the enthusiasm just a bit and for him this centers on his ugly .234 and .250 batting averages his first MLB seasons and this was the concern about him when he made the journey from the minors to the majors in 2019.  The question is whether Biggio can make gains there this season and if so, how high he could elevate his numbers across a full season.

As far as the average is concerned, Biggo's very high walk rates should be a major boost to making gains in that category but the offset is that he has been a high strikeout guy going back to his minor league days. That followed Biggio to the Jays as his 28.6 K/9 was hideous as a rookie but in his defense, that number dipped some to a much more acceptable 23.0 a year ago.  Considering that Biggio is only 25, is stands to reason he can still make gains there as he further develops this season.  As noted earlier, the high walks rate is one big boost to helping that number and if Biggio can curb the K's even a little more towards the 20.0 range, his overall value could really explode given the fact he can be a 20/20 guy easy if MLB gets a full season in.  So with all that said, Biggio is a guy we would target heavily in the third round this season as we feel confident he can curb the K's even more and since the batting average would rise in response, this combined with the power/speed game could quickly turn him to one of the best overall players in the game.  

2021 PROJECTION:  .267 22 HR 65 RBI 88 R 19 SB  


I guess when you know what pitch is coming, it makes it easier to compile numbers.  This is the only way to currently view Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa who it seems like just yesterday was the guy everyone in the fantasy baseball community was drooling over as the former 2012 number 1 pick overall went nuts right out of the MLB gate when he posted HR/SB totals of 22/14 and 20/13 his first two seasons in the league.  It was at that point however where serious injuries began to take hold and almost from the start of his third season in 2017, Correa pretty much completely lost the ability or desire to steal bases.  With that very precious tool removed from his fantasy baseball statistical belt, it made it more imperative that Correa continue to hit for big power and post swell counting numbers in RBI and runs.  While Correa overall remained solid on those categories, he was not great either.  

Fast forward to there last two seasons and of course we have the whole trash can banging scandal that has marred the Astros since the start of the 2020 season.  With the Astros having been exposed as knowing ahead of time what pitches were coming at a high rate, it immediately called into question all of the offensive numbers Correa and his teammates put forth during the pre-2000 campaigns.  Thus, when Correa then went out and batted just .264 with all of 5 home runs in 58 games last season, it made one wonder just how much the scandal helped prop up the numbers in the first place.  

In essence this is the situation facing all prospective owners of Correa for 2021.  Not only has he completely lost his stolen base game which is no small thing but now he suddenly is struggling to hit and hit for power which brings us back to how much the scandal helped him. Given that shortstop is incredibly deep this season, it stands to reason that Correa is simply not worth the trouble this season.  Remember too that the reason we all lusted after him in the first place was because of the power/speed game and that aspect has been gone for a few seasons now.  So add it all together and Correa really is not worth the stress of owning this season unless he came dirt cheap and even then he still appears to be a shaky investment in this peanut stand's opinion.  

2021 PROJECTION:  .263 14 HR 65 RBI 67 R 2 SB