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2021 Points League Rankings - Outfield

juan soto fantasy baseball rankings outfield MLB injury news

February is finally here and that means that draft season is getting into full gear. And here at RotoBaller, we're about more than just roto leagues. We're here to cover your whole fantasy spectrum.

So let's do some point ranks, shall we? If you've forgotten from last year, I have strong opinions on point leagues. TL;DR? You can't just transfer over value from roto and you can't just take players with good BB/K ratios. You must make your values based on your specific rule and not assume that someone who is good in one scoring system will hold the same value as in another system. If you don't, you'll be behind from jump street. Or, at least you won't be as set up for success as you could be.

Let's leave the infield behind for a tick and head out to the grass, shall we? Acunas, Sotos, and Trout, oh my! Let's get to it.

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Methodology and Common Terms

If you've already been reading along at home, feel free to skip ahead to the ranks. If not, welcome! Let's cover some basics first.

I'll mention this often ( and have mentioned it often); player values can vary wildly depending on your individual league settings. Whether using the standard scoring of the major platforms (ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, Fantrax) or custom setting, understanding how players score in your system and how roster sizes affect value is supremely important. The more you leverage this understanding, the more powerful the position you'll be starting from.

Here are the standard roster settings on the aforementioned platforms:

Fantrax ESPN Yahoo CBS
C 1 1 1 1
1B 1 1 1 1
2B 1 1 1 1
3B 1 1 1 1
SS 1 1 1 1
OF 5 5 3 3
CI 1 1 0 0
MI 1 1 0 0
UT 1 1 2 1
SP 0 0 2 5
RP 0 0 2 2
P 9 9 4 0
Bench 3 3 5 5
IL 0 0 4 0

Here are standard scoring settings on the aforementioned platforms:

Hitters

Hitters Fantrax ESPN CBS Yahoo Generic
1B 1 1 1 2.6 1
2B 2 2 2 5.2 2
3B 3 3 3 7.8 3
HR 4 4 4 10.4 4
Run 1 1 1 1.9 1
RBI 1 1 1 1.9 1
SB 2 1 2 4.2 2
CS 0 0 -1 0 0
BB 1 1 1 2.6 1
K 0 -1 -.5 0 -.25
HBP 0 0 1 2.6 .5

With values varying, it can make doing a general point ranking a little tricky. For example, Ronald Acuna Jr. is a top-five player for me on every platform besides ESPN, where I'd probably put him closer to #20. That's a big swing. So what I've done is to use a "generic" point system as a baseline for doing ranks, as well as talking about per-PA scoring rates. It gives the one-point per-base that all systems generally use, with two points for stolen bases and -.25 points for a strikeout.

This gives us a common baseline so we're at least speaking close to the same language, no matter your platform. But if you're on ESPN, know that you'll need to make heavier adjustments for speed/high K% players.

General System notes

  • Yahoo started mirroring their scoring to their daily fantasy game, making the scoring wildly different than other platforms.
  • ESPN (-1) and CBS (-.5) both subtract points for strikeouts. This is a monster difference and must be properly accounted for. Take Ronald Acuna Jr. versus Juan Soto in 2019, as an example of the difference over a full season. Acuna had a 26.6% K%, while Soto posted a 20.0% K%. That translated to 188 strikeouts for Acuna and 132 SO for Soto, putting Acuna in a 56-point hole under ESPN scoring. That's a big difference.
  • ESPN only gives one point per stolen base. The more a player's value depends on stolen bases (in other scoring formats, as well as roto), the more their value will take a negative hit on ESPN. It's not as an extreme difference as the strikeout scoring but still needs to be accounted for.
  • Players who steal a lot of bases and strikeout a lot are going to take big hits on ESPN. Adalberto Mondesi is the most extreme example of players who are essentially not draftable on ESPN when comparing their scoring to likely ADP. But ¬†Jonathan Villar is in a similar boat, as is the aforementioned Acuna Jr. Let's just say that if you see an ESPN point rankings that have Acuna Jr. in the top-10, you should run away.

Data Notes

  • Statcast data is taken from EV Analytics and can be slightly different from Baseball Savant due to EV's own methodology. From their glossary:

Note: Statcast stats are calculated live by in-ballpark cameras and radar. These occasionally fail to record data on certain batted balls. All data and projections displayed at EV Analytics that rely on Statcast data identify these missed balls and estimate what they should have been. Internal tests showed this to be slightly more accurate than either ignoring the missing data or using MLB's.

"The Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented in 2015. 

To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification. For every mph over 98, the range of launch angles expands."

Common Terms

  • Barrel% - Barrels per batted-ball event
  • Air% - total percent of balls hit in the air (fly balls + line drives)
  • Air% average EV - average exit velocity of non-groundballs
  • Air % 100+ mph- the percentage of balls hit in the air that had an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater.
  • Average EV Top-5% - The average exit-velocity of a player's top-5% hardest-hit balls.
  • Average EV Next-20% - The average exit velocity of the next 20% of hardest-hit balls.

In addition to rankings, the charts include how players have scored the last three years in the generic scoring system, as well as what I am currently projecting for 2021. Also included in 2019-20 strikeout rates to better help those who play in leagues where they are punished, make adjustments, as well as wOBA and xwOBA for 2020.

 

Outfielder Rankings

Overall Rank Pos Rank Name All Pos 2019 pt/pa 2020 pt/pa 2020 woba 2020 xwoba 2019 K% 2020 K%
1 1 Juan Soto OF .939 1.173 .470 .451 20.0 14.3
3 2 Ronald Acuna Jr. OF .929 1.045 .407 .401 26.3 29.7
7 3 Mike Trout OF 1.058 .967 .400 .408 20.0 23.2
8 4 Bryce Harper OF .872 .956 .393 .435 26.1 17.6
9 5 Mookie Betts OF .899 .998 .383 .349 14.3 15.4
15 6 Christian Yelich OF 1.109 .741 .337 .365 20.3 30.8
17 7 Cody Bellinger 1B,OF 1.042 .788 .332 .360 16.4 17.3
21 8 Marcell Ozuna OF .832 .981 .437 .417 20.8 22.5
30 9 Eloy Jimenez OF .771 .814 .367 .355 26.6 24.8
35 10 Kyle Tucker OF 1.000 .897 .343 .318 27.8 20.2
37 11 George Springer OF .956 .867 .373 .387 20.3 17.1
48 12 Randy Arozarena OF .957 1.059 .416 .355 17.4 28.9
53 13 Mike Yastrzemski OF .789 .917 .400 .355 26.0 24.4
54 14 Michael Conforto OF .808 .849 .395 .359 23.0 24.5
58 15 Luis Robert OF .761 .311 .315 32.2
61 16 Nick Castellanos OF .768 .755 .324 .356 21.5 28.5
62 17 Aaron Judge OF .832 .921 .368 .361 31.5 28.1
64 18 Starling Marte OF .883 .767 .328 .313 16.0 16.4
65 19 Trent Grisham OF .689 .810 .344 .355 26.2 25.4
69 20 Teoscar Hernandez OF .732 .909 .378 .381 33.0 30.4
78 21 Dominic Smith 1B,OF .832 .933 .405 .374 22.3 22.6
87 22 Eddie Rosario OF .826 .820 .328 .306 14.6 14.7
89 23 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. OF .838 .804 .366 .331 25.1 21.4
92 24 Max Kepler OF .848 .745 .323 .329 16.6 18.4
94 25 Byron Buxton OF .898 .881 .339 .320 23.1 26.7
103 26 Alex Verdugo OF .726 .736 .356 .291 13.0 20.4
104 27 Ian Happ OF .918 .750 .363 .348 25.0 27.3
107 28 Anthony Santander OF .358 .338 21.2 15.2
110 29 Wil Myers OF .686 .936 .393 .377 34.3 25.7
112 30 Andrew McCutchen OF .791 .743 .322 .343 21.0 19.9
115 31 Jorge Soler OF .871 .655 .327 .338 26.2 34.5
116 32 Charlie Blackmon OF .882 .753 .335 .317 16.4 17.8
118 33 J.D. Martinez OF .865 .600 .285 .304 21.0 24.9
119 34 Joey Gallo OF .944 .616 .292 .300 38.4 35.0
122 35 Kole Calhoun OF .741 .871 .357 .364 25.6 21.9
125 36 Victor Robles OF .747 .533 .268 .254 22.7 28.0
130 37 Tommy Pham OF .773 .642 .282 .348 18.8 21.6
138 38 Kyle Lewis OF .810 .749 .344 .332 38.7 29.3
142 39 Ramon Laureano OF .843 .651 .311 .331 25.6 26.1
145 40 Austin Meadows OF .880 .595 .287 .263 22.2 32.9
147 41 Trey Mancini 1B,OF .830 21.1
148 42 Randal Grichuk OF .679 .778 .329 .320 26.0 21.2
149 43 Michael Brantley OF .808 .754 .356 .314 10.4 15.0
151 44 Mark Canha OF .834 .759 .346 .345 21.5 22.2
159 45 Clint Frazier OF .738 .875 .382 .348 28.5 27.5
164 46 AJ Pollock OF .765 .856 .358 .333 21.6 21.4
166 47 Ryan Mountcastle 1B,OF .725 .371 .319 21.4
177 48 Aaron Hicks OF .745 .756 .346 .364 28.2 18.0
180 49 Kyle Schwarber OF .811 .658 .302 .330 25.6 29.5
186 50 Lorenzo Cain OF .638 .738 .347 .417 17.0 9.5
187 51 Hunter Dozier 1B,OF .780 .683 .321 .319 25.3 25.8
189 52 Raimel Tapia OF .647 .677 .333 .286 22.4 18.4
190 53 Andrew Benintendi OF .689 .380 .238 .272 22.8 32.7
191 54 Bryan Reynolds OF .780 .571 .273 .302 22.2 27.4
196 55 Jesse Winker OF .729 .844 .389 .383 15.6 25.1
198 56 Mitch Haniger OF .759 28.6
202 57 Dylan Carlson OF .574 .260 .303 29.4
207 58 Joc Pederson OF .847 .685 .293 .325 21.6 24.6
216 59 Brandon Nimmo OF .721 .761 .381 .349 28.0 19.1
219 60 Avisail Garcia OF .730 .530 .291 .306 23.6 23.7
220 61 Leody Taveras OF .688 .302 .291 32.1
233 62 Justin Upton OF .701 .670 .302 .315 30.5 25.9
237 63 David Peralta OF .707 .664 .328 .292 20.6 20.6
239 64 Nick Senzel OF .707 .606 .255 .284 24.4 19.2
240 65 Jackie Bradley Jr. OF .678 .751 .347 .299 27.3 22.1
246 66 Harrison Bader OF .662 .744 .332 .314 28.8 32.0
248 67 Corey Dickerson OF .871 .611 .303 .300 20.1 16.7
252 68 Victor Reyes OF .647 .651 .302 .317 21.9 21.1
261 69 Jason Heyward OF .716 .750 .362 .371 18.7 20.4
264 70 Adam Eaton OF .725 .631 .283 .291 16.2 18.2
265 71 Jarred Kelenic OF
270 72 Willie Calhoun OF .812 .405 .214 .230 15.7 15.7
281 73 Hunter Renfroe OF .734 .710 .273 .293 31.2 26.6
288 74 Austin Hays OF .957 .632 .310 .282 17.3 18.7
295 75 Alex Kirilloff OF
299 76 Stephen Piscotty OF .641 .630 .269 .284 21.4 31.0
301 77 Josh Naylor 1B,OF .624 .538 .270 .300 22.9 11.5
305 78 Alex Dickerson OF .782 .897 .390 .346 22.1 17.6
310 79 Yasiel Puig OF .770 21.8
318 80 Cristian Pache OF .125 50.0
319 81 David Dahl OF .815 .414 .205 .227 26.6 28.3
331 82 Kevin Pillar OF .725 .766 .335 .312 13.8 18.4
332 83 Sam Hilliard OF .968 .645 .296 .257 26.4 36.8
348 84 Manuel Margot OF .698 .703 .296 .300 20.0 15.7
388 85 Jordan Luplow OF .880 .568 .289 .293 23.4 20.7
401 86 Jo Adell OF .328 .209 .222 41.7
409 87 Shogo Akiyama OF .566 .299 .309 18.6
411 88 Oscar Mercado OF .747 .336 .157 .190 17.4 29.0
433 89 Austin Slater OF .637 .928 .389 .401 30.7 21.2
435 90 Danny Santana 1B,OF .881 .524 .226 .273 29.5 38.1
440 91 Trevor Larnach OF

 

Tier One

All hail the new king of points, Juan Soto, first of his name. Soto is a generational talent and a five-category superstar in rotisserie but the 22-year-old's skill set is going to be particularly dominant in points. Because while his stolen base output may put keep him behind Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. in roto value, Soto's elite walk- and strikeout-rates (20.9% BB%/14.3% in 2020) more than make up the difference in points.

Soto was positively bonkers in 2020 slashed .351/.490/.695 over 196 PA, with 13 HR, 37 RBI, 39 runs, and six stolen bases, finishing with a 1.185 OPS, .478 wOBA, and 201 wRC+, scoring at a rate of 1.173 pts/pa. That wasn't just the highest per-PA scoring rate in baseball, it was over 8% higher than Freddie Freeman (1.083 pts/pa) in second place.

And it wasn't just the results that jumped off of the page, Soto upped his Statcast game even more than before:

All that red is nice and shiny but Soto's improvements are even more impressive at the upper end of his exit velocities. His Air% (100+ mph) jumped from the 92nd-percentile in 2019 to the 98th-percentile in 2020, while his Barrel% (86th-percentile in 2019) and Air% average exit velocity (93rd-percentile in 2019) were both in the 99th-percentile in 2020.

In other words:

via GIPHY

Let's get this out of the way first. Ronald Acuna Jr. may be ranked third overall but his value will be significantly lower (15-20ish) if you play under ESPN standard scoring, considering the full-point penalty for strikeouts and only earning one point per stolen base, as opposed to two-points on other platforms. It cannot be understated how much these two factors will contribute to Acuna's decreased value in other point systems - adjust accordingly.

Putting aside ESPN leagues, Acuna is a monster, albeit slightly less so than outside of points. While his 29.7% K% was up from 26.3% in 2019 (and 25.3% in 2018), Acuna's 18.8% BB% was a significant improvement from his previous career-rate of 10%. Considering his otherworldly exit velocities, a more patient Acuna can only be that much more dangerous; his 16.0% Brl% was in the 95th-percentile, with a 100.7 mph Air% average exit velocity and 57.1% Air% (100+ mph) were both in the 99th-percentile.

Poor Mike Trout, all the way down to number-six overall. Wow, looks like the decline has come fast for the former GOAT. Or, Trout remains one of the most consistent players in fantasy baseball, regardless of format. He just doesn't have the same ceiling as he's had in past seasons and that's okay. It really is.

Trout averaged 1.028 pts/pa in 2018, 1.058 pts/pa in 2019, and .967 pts/pa last year. Even projecting him at .940 pts/pa for 650 PA, Trout is an easy top-10 hitter and is one of the safest bets you can make.

Over the course of a polarizing career, Bryce Harper has been overrated, underrated, and everywhere in between. The worm has turned again in 2021 and the (somehow still only) 28-year-old Harper seems to now be properly rated in roto, clocking in with a 21 ADP on NFBC. But like a poor-man's Juan Soto (who is still crazy rich), Harper combines consistent power and quality contact with elite plate discipline, posting a 20.1 BB% and 17.6% BB% in 2020, with a .435 xwOBA and .486 xwOBAcon.

Harper has also been an elite compiler of plate-appearances and has seemingly shed any "injury-prone" labels pinned on him in his early career. He played in 58-of-60 games in 2020 and reached at least 627 PA in four of his previous five seasons. Playing his home games in a bandbox and hitting in the middle of a strong supporting cast, Harper is first-round production available at the back of the second.

I'm not down Mookie Betts (I mean, he's still in the overall top-10) but do think he carries more variance then the other elite outfielders in front of him. For one, even though Betts has crossed 700 PA in three of the past four years, I worry the depth of the Dodgers makes it more likely that he is in the 670-680 PA range.

And in terms of his bat, I'm not saying there are red flags. But some very light pink, here and there, in his exit velocities and expected-stats? Well...

His rate of .065 HR per-PA was a career-high but his top-end exit velocities have seen a decline since spiking in 2018:

2017 2018 2019 2020
HR per-PA .034 .052 .041 .065
Barrel% 5.2 14.9 10.9 7.9
Air% Average EV (mph) 89.6 95.6 93.9 91.2
Air% (100+ mph) 25.7 37.3 31.2 26.6
Top-5% Average EV 108.4 108.0 107.2 106.9
Next-20% Average EV 102.6 103.4 103.0 102.3

And the .383 wOBA and .421 wOBAcon both jump off the page but Betts had a .349 xwOBA that was 34-points lower and a .375 xwOBA on-contact that was 56-points lower:

2017 2018 2019 2020
wOBA .339 .449 .380 .383
xwOBA .351 .440 .414 .349
wOBAcon .342 .498 .399 .421
xwOBAcon .358 .484 .446 .375

Let's be honest, though; Betts is a top-tier player hitting at the top of one of baseball's best lineups. He's going to be just fine. But you have to pick some nits when trying to separate first-rounders and Betts has a few more than the guys above him.

 

Tier Two

Slashing .205/.356/.430 in 2020 after being a consensus top-five draft pick, Christian Yelich was a bust in roto. And in point leagues, Yelich was so bad that he finished as only the fourth-best outfielder in our generic point system. Yeah, he sure was awful, alright. The .205 AVG was a killer to roto rosters everywhere but a career-high 18.6% BB% helped buoy his value in most scoring systems. Getting Yelich towards the end of the 1st round/beginning of the 2nd seems like a fair value but one that still carries top-five upside if he was to put it all together again.

You can basically run everything above back around for Cody Bellinger, who was drafted in the top-five but sank his roto teams with a .239 AVG over 243 PA. He was still a bust in point leagues, finishing as the OF 16, putting up the same level of points as Eddie Rosario and Teoscar Hernandez. Not bad but not what you want out of a first-rounder.

Bellinger has a similar upside to Yelich but with a far lower floor. Plus, he has an annoying habit of only putting up elite numbers in odd years. Hopefully, that bodes well for 2021 but I'd prefer more certainty in my early picks:

PA HR R RBI SB ISO AVG wOBA xwOBA xwOBA contact wRC+
2017 548 39 87 97 10 .315 .267 .380 .369 .483 138
2018 632 25 84 76 14 .210 .260 .345 .332 .400 120
2019 660 47 121 115 15 .324 .305 .415 .437 .498 162
2020 243 12 33 30 6 .216 .239 .332 .360 .394 114

The thing about Marcell Ozuna is that 2020 wasn't a fluke. I bet big on Ozuna last season and don't expect to see a lot less in 2021 after he finished as the highest-scoring outfielder in 2020 and the number-six scorer overall. I'm not expecting him to reach those heights again and his value could take a hit if he doesn't return to a cushy lineup spot in Atlanta hitting behind two of baseball's best hitters.

Putting that aside, the bat is for real and it has been for a while. Broken fingers may have limited Ozuna to a career-low  .241 AVG in 2019 but his lasers keep getting hit harder, and harder:

Percentile Ranks 2017 2018 2019 2020
Barrel% 74 73 85 94
Air% Average EV (mph) 92 70 94 95
Air% (100+ mph) 96 89 95 93
Top-5% Average EV 95 96 89 93
Next-20% Average EV 97 95 85 94

Everyone else can have the hype and flash of Luis Robert, give me Eloy Jimenez, all day, every day. Jimenez averaged .81 pts/PA in 2020, with a .367 wOBA (.355 xwOBA) and a .472 wOBAcon (.455 xwOBAcon), hitting 14 home runs in 226 PA and matching the same rate of .062 HR per-PA as he did in 2019. And his exit velocities portend more power in the future, with his Air% (100+ mph) jumping to 55.7%, up from 45.5% in his rookie year.

There might not be another player in the top-50 who has a better chance than Kyle Tucker of making the leap to top-10 production in 2021. Tucker finished as a top-30 scorer overall in 2020, scoring at a rate of .90 pts/PA, with a .349 wOBA. After playing in 58-of-60 games last year, it looks like the Astros are finally committed to Tucker in a full-time role. If Tucker approaches 650 PA, his skill-set will make him elite under most formats.

From a current Astro to a former one, George Springer flew north this winter and has landed atop what is looking to be one of baseball's most exciting offenses. Springer is set to bat leadoff for Toronto, setting the table for the legacy trilogy and Teoscar Hernandez. Already one of the most consistent scorers in points, Springer is set to far exceed his draft price, yet again.

2017 2018 2019 2020
Point per-PA .859 .741 .956 .867

 

Tier Three

Let's start the tier off with former St. Louis Cardinal and current electric superstar, Randy Arozarena, who has scored at the astronomical rates of .957 pts/PA in 2019 and 1.054 pts/PA in 2020. Crazy, right? The catch is, is that those "seasons" consisted of just 23 PA and 76 PA. Though Arozarena did get another 86 PA over the course of an electric playoff run, hitting 10 home runs and posting a 1.273 OPS.

I don't think Arozarena is going to hit like the best player in baseball over the course of a full season. But Arozarena has run and crushed at virtually every stop he's made since playing his first full year in the states, consistently posting combined rates that translate to 20+ HR and 25+ SB over a full season.

No, seriously...All he's ever done is run and crush:

Season Team G PA HR SB ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2017 STL (A+) 70 295 8 10 .196 .275 .333 .472 .368 134
2017 STL (AA) 51 195 3 8 .129 .252 .366 .380 .347 115
2018 STL (AA) 24 102 7 9 .286 .396 .455 .681 .496 211
2018 STL (AAA) 89 311 5 17 .116 .232 .328 .348 .310 81
2019 STL (AA) 28 116 3 8 .206 .309 .422 .515 .416 162
2019 STL (AAA) 64 283 12 9 .236 .358 .435 .593 .432 151
2019 Cardinals 19 23 1 2 .200 .300 .391 .500 .380 138
2020 Rays 23 76 7 4 .359 .281 .382 .641 .422 176
2020 Playoffs 20 86 10 0 .455 .377 .442 .831 .515 239

Even when he was at his "worst", slashing .232/.328/.348 during his first crack at Triple-A, Arozarena still hit five home runs, with 17 SB over 311 PA.  Maybe we should just stop doubting all the evidence in front of us and realize that Randy Arozarena is the electric Cuban superstar we've been waiting for, not that whiffer up in Chicago.

Even in leagues that don't penalize strikeouts, Luis Robert just doesn't profile great in points. Putting aside his 32.2% K% and 22.1% SwStr%, Robert's .233 AVG did an excellent imitation of a .226 xBA, as did his .311 wOBA and .315 xwOBA. In roto, Robert makes up value by virtue of his speed. But that's not enough to carry you in points and Robert's price is far higher than I'd be willing to pay.

Going by where he's been available in my first drafts this offseason, it looks like I may roster Mike Yastrzemski on 100% of my teams, whether roto, points or anything else. For one, he should pile up plate-appearance while leading off every day for a Giants offense that shouldn't be horrible.

But putting aside his 150-ish draft price and what could be something approaching 700 PA, Yastrzemski hasn't precisely been a slap-hitter since hitting the big leagues.

G PA HR R RBI SB ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2019 107 411 21 64 55 2 .245 .272 .334 .518 .353 120
2020 54 225 10 39 35 2 .271 .297 .400 .568 .407 159
Career 161 636 31 103 90 4 .254 .281 .357 .535 .372 134

Maybe it's still a small sample but Yastrzemski has now played a combined full season in his first two years. Just how ga-ga would we go over someone who put up these 161-game totals in their rookie year? At a minimum, I'm guessing it'd be super ga-ga.

Regardless of where he eventually signs*, Eddie Rosario will be a cuddly and comforting blanket of points goodness in 2021, putting up unassuming numbers that return a consistent profit, year after year:

2017 2018 2019 2020
Points per-PA .778 .764 .826 .820

We may have seen the best of Rosario's power, with his Air% average exit velocity and Air% (100+ mph) both dropping to career-lows in 2020 but has the type of low-strikeout, high contact profile that can thrive in points, even as home runs decline.

*Hey! He just signed with Cleveland, where he's set to bat behind Jose Ramirez. My opinion on Rosario has changed 0%.

Believing he may be an injury Beetlejuice, only getting injured after you've said his name too many times, I hesitate to even mention Byron Buxton. So let's whisper. Buxton hit 13 home runs in 135 PA, with his .096 hr/pa leading all hitters. All of them! And this power surge doesn't look like a small-sample blip, as Buxton saw big jumps in all of the exit velocities that matter:

2017 2018 2019 2020
HR per-PA .031 .000 .034 .096
Barrel% 6.7 1.8 8.8 13.7
Avg EV (Air%) 93.1 90.0 93.3 96.5
Air% (100+ mph) 24.8 26.9 38.3 48.9

Now please, for the sake of his precious health, no one mention his name again for the next eight months.

 

Tier Four

Last chance to get on the Anthony Santander train, at least north of a 150 ADP. Before having his season ended by an oblique strain, Santander was breaking out in 2020, slashing .261/.315/.575 and hitting 11 home runs over 165 PA, good for a rate of .067 HR per-PA. And that power isn't a big surprise after Santander hit 20 HR in 93 games in 2019 after getting called up from Triple-A in early June.

In his 570 PA between 2019-2020, Santander has combined for:

31 HR - 70 R - 91 RBI - 1 SB - .261 AVG

Santander is projected for over 600 PA by the BAT, Depth Charts, and Steamer, with ATC projecting 590 PA. Those are pretty likely projecting considering he's seemingly locked into the number three spot in the lineup, with virtually no competition for playing time. Plus, he'll play 80 games in a bandbox of a home ballpark with another 30 games coming at noted hitting venues Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and the Rogers Centre. What if I were to tell you that you could get 30+ HR and a sub-20% K% after pick-150...Is that something you might be interested in?

We're going back-to-back with outfielders who are coming at big discount after having their seasons prematurely ended by oblique issues. Jorge Soler had only a .228 AVG in 174 PA, hitting eight home runs, with a 34.5% K%. Soler's home run rate dropped from an absurd .071 hr/pa in 2019, to .046 hr/pa in 2020, with his Air% average exit velocity dropping from 97.4 mph (99th-percentile) to 92.6 mph (74th-percentile). But digging deeper into his exit velocities of balls hit in the air, things aren't as dire. Santander's Brl% stayed steady at around 18.0% (99th-percentile in 2019 and  his Air% (100+mph) saw a significant jump, moving from 45.7% (96th-percentile) in 2019, to 61.7% (100th-percentile) in 2020.

After breaking out in 2019 following his trade to the Rays, Austin Meadows went back to his Pirates roots and had a no good, rotten season in 2020, slashing .205/.296/.371, with a .667 OPS and .287 wOBA.

And Statcast judged him even harsher:

Season PA HR HR/PA K% ISO AVG xBA wOBA xwOBA xwOBAcon
2018 191 6 .031 20.9 .174 .287 .268 .332 .320 .387
2019 591 33 .056 22.2 .268 .291 .286 .380 .379 .461
2020 152 4 .026 32.9 .167 .205 .182 .287 .263 .329

Even more concerning than the above, at least in terms of his fantasy value, is how he has struggled more and more against lefthanders. Because when you play on a team as platoon-happy as Tampa Bay, any whiff of handedness issues will send you to the pine in a hurry.

The following should worry anyone who rosters Meadows in 2021 on the assumption of a full-time role:

wOBA OPS K%
vs LHP vs RHP vs LHP vs RHP vs LHP vs RHP
2018 .389 .297 .921 .707 22.5 20.0
2019 .346 .394 .837 .960 29.9 18.8
2020 .184 .331 .391 .766 36.6 31.5

The fact that Trey Mancini is apparently healthy enough to go to Spring Training with no restrictions, is amazing news, in and of itself. But some fantasy players haven't forgotten how good Mancini was in points prior to missing the 2020 season, averaging .83 points per-PA and finishing as the 32nd-highest score in 2019. Set to bat cleanup behind the aforementioned Santander and playing in the aforementioned bandbox known as Camden Yards, Mancini is easy money at his current price.

 

Tier Five

Dylan Carlson averaged .574 pts/PA in his first 119 PA in the major leagues, slashing .200/.252/.364, with three home runs, a .264 wOBA, and a 29.4% K%. It's not that I don't think the future can be bright for the Cardinals top prospect, I just don't it's coming as fast as the people drafting seem to think it is. With no guarantee to reach 550 PA, there's too much risk in using a top-140 pick on a rookie with plate-discipline issues

Jesse Winker hit 12 home runs in 183 PA, posting a .389 wOBA that was in the top-8% of the league, along with a .383 xwOBA that were both in the top-5%. And yet, still, no one believes in Winker, with the Reds outfielder coming in north of a 200 ADP.

The  .844 pts/pa that Winker scored in 2020 was a career-high but carrying a high rate of scoring is nothing new:

2017 2018 2019 2020
Points per-PA .810 .723 .729 .844

Now in Washington, former Cub Kyle Schwarber hasn't been as awful in points as you'd normally expect from someone who has such a high strikeout-rate, posting a scoring rate of .74 pts/pa in 2018 and .81 pts/pa in 2019. He dipped to career-low .66 pts/pa in 2020, with a dismal .188 AVG and 29.5% K%, while also seeing drops in his usually elite exit velocities and barrels. Schwarber's Brl% went from the 95th-percentile in 2019 to the 77th in 2020, while his Air% (100+ mph) dropped from the 98th-percentile to the 74th.

More worrisome is how committed the Nationals will be to committing playing him every day, considering his defensive limitations and .287 wOBA against LHP for his career. If you roster Kyle Schwarber, how likely are you to start him versus lefties? His 200 ADP still makes him ripe for value in leagues with daily moves but for those without, make sure to bake in the weeks where you'll have to sit him because of a schedule filled with left-handers.

 

Tiers Six and Seven

There is so much about Victor Reyes that I like. He had a mini-breakout in 2020, slashing .277/.315/.391 over 213 PA, hitting four home runs, with eight stolen bases, and is set to bat leadoff in 2020. And while he'll never be confused for a power hitter, there have seen notable increases in Reyes' power-related exit velocities, while his home run rate has doubled each of the past two seasons. Granted, it's easy to double-up when starting at .005 hr/pa, but still.

2018 2019 2020
Points per-PA .546 .647 .651
HR per-PA .005 .010 .019
Barrel% 3.3 2.0 3.9
Avg EV (Air%) 87.3 85.7 91.3
Air% (100+ mph) 14.3 13.8 17.5
Top-5% Average EV 103.2 105.9 106.3
Next-20% Average EV 98.3 99.8 100.9
Average Launch Angle 6.4 9.1 10.6

What's worrisome about Reyes is whether his issues versus right-handed pitching. Because if the switch-hitter starts losing playing time versus RHP, and/or gets moved down the order, his value will drop significantly. And that's the fear baked into my projections, thinking 550 PA is more likely than 625+ PA.

AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA wRC+ BB% K%
vs RHP .262 .288 .396 .685 .134 .295 83 2.4 22.9
vs LHP .342 .419 .368 .787 .026 .356 125 11.6 14.0

As much as I believe in the future of Jarred Kelenic and think he'll score at an above-average rate right out of the gate, how much will Kelenic actually play in 2021? There is a near-zero chance that he makes the team out of spring training or is called up before the Super-Two deadline. And considering he only has 92 PA above High-A, I don't see it as a lock that he'll get called up immediately following the early-June deadline. That makes 350-400 PA the most likely outcome and that's just not enough for me to want to stash.



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