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Engel's Insider Angles: Rebounds And Values From The Yankees Beat

The Fantasy Sports Writers Association award-winning Fantasy Baseball Insider Series continues on RotoBaller.com! Every year during fantasy baseball draft season, Scott Engel talks to prime MLB sources to get exclusive nuggets of information.

On the condition of anonymity, former and current players, executives, scouts and media members provide their unfiltered insights on key players and situations, and Scott supplies his fantasy baseball viewpoints on their commentaries. These reports contain many viewpoints that you will not find anywhere else, from the truest experts on the game:

This season’s Insider Series continues with an in-depth look at the New York Yankees from a longtime media member who has covered the team for over two decades, and MLB for over 30 years. He is very well connected with key members of the organization. His comments appear in italics.

Featured Promo: Get any full-season MLB and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Team Sync platform, Premium articles, daily Matchup Rating projections, 15 lineup tools, DFS cheat sheets, Research Stations, Lineup Optimizers and much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Luke Voit

”We saw what he is capable of in close to 60 games last year, and he is the type of player who can do very well over 150 games or so. The home run power is obviously there and he fits well in that lineup. He can have an outstanding season this year. He reads pitchers very well and has very good focus at the plate. He has a very good eye, and knows how to get his pitches to get on base.”

Engel’s Fantasy Angle: Obviously the ISO of .333 from last season will be hard to replicate. Voit raised his Launch Angle to 15.2 last season and his HR/FB% shot up to 34.9, and should regress in that regard this season. He actually did have a high O-Swing% last season , but that may revert back under 30 this season, more in line with what we saw in 2019. Voit isn’t the supreme power source he looked like when you project his 56 games from last season over a full year. But he also proved his 2019 season was no fluke, and he can certainly improve on those numbers over a full season in 2021. He is also capable of a higher OBP than last season’s .338. You can get 35 homers and 90-plus RBI from Voit. That makes him well worthy of the NFBC Average Draft Position of 61.5.

 

Gleyber Torres

“He is another example of how the shortened season affected some players. He is still one of the young superstars in the game. He is a young player and had some problems adjusting to the schedule last season. That messed him up. He is capable of hitting 30 to 35 home runs this season. I like his patience at the plate. He does not swing at first pitches that much. I expect Torres to have a big rebound year.”

Engel’s Fantasy Angle: This beat writer obviously reflects the opinion of the fantasy baseball community at large, as an ADP of 66.4 reflects a lot of widespread confidence that 2020 was simply a lost season for Torres. The ISO of .125 has to be tossed aside, as does  the HR/FB% of 7.1 and the Barrel% of 3.7. Torres’ Swing% actually dropped from 51.8 to 41.9 last season, so it was clear he was more tentative. Torres just turned 24 this season and there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding him last season in terms of the COVID-19 adjustments and injuries in the lineup around him. This should be more of a normal season for Torres and you should expect him to hit around .270 with 30-plus homers.

 

Clint Frazier

“He is going to get his regular spot now, and will finally get a chance to prove what he can do. He has worked towards this opportunity. He is one of those players other teams wanted because of his abilities. If he gets the consistent playing time the production will show. I am very high on him and so are a lot of scouts. He now has the confidence of the organization and his teammates. I can see him hitting .275 to .280 with 25 homers and 75 to 80 RBI.”

Engel’s Fantasy Angle: This outlook has a lot more to do with the intangibles than what we can provide with advanced statistics. Since last season, this source has been stressing to me that Frazier was a player that just needed a chance to play consistently, and not have his name floated in trade discussions. Frazier was always wondering where he stood in the organization and on the field, and now he can freely focus on his game and deliver the expected results. He may not quite hit .270, as he strikes out frequently, yet he can provide really good quality power and run production for the ADP of 177.8.

 

Gary Sanchez

To me, the struggles are over. Seeing him this spring, and the way he is hitting the ball, he is a totally different player. Throw last year out the window, that was not the real Gary Sanchez. Last year he played some of the worst defense at catcher I had seen in 10 years. He had a total mental block. It screwed him up in his at-bats. It can happen to  any player, but it is especially tough on a catcher. Now it looks like his offseason is paying off in the spring. He is different now because he it worked on his issues every day over the winter, with a coach in the Dominican Republic. He changed his stance behind the plate. We are seeing an All-Star catcher now. Last year, he chased one pitch after another, but now he’s got the eye at the plate. He is more relaxed at the plate. He is going deep to the opposite field and left center, and we haven’t seen that in two years. This is going to be a big rebound season for him. His mentality is different. He is going to hit .260 and approach 30 home runs.”

 

Engel’s Fantasy Angle: This is a very positive report for those who will draft Sanchez or may have already drafted him. The ADP of 163.9 reflects a lot of fantasy skepticism after an awful 2020 season. Sanchez is being drafted after the likes of Travis d’Arnaud and Christian Vazquez. Sanchez has not hit above .235 since 2017, so expecting him to bat .260 seems like a very lofty turnaround in that regard. Yet seeing him hit .235 to .240 would not be a major stretch if he bounces back as indicated here. The ISO can certainly rebound to the .250-plus range, so 30-plus homers is very attainable. At the very least, Sanchez should be able to play much closer to his 2019 levels, and that would be a very good return for the current fantasy draft slot.

 

Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge

“Both have gone away from their from the way they have trained in the past, which was a lot of weight training. That led to strains and tears. Now they are doing more yoga training and calisthenics. Stanton looked awesome in the postseason, and we can expect more extra base hits and better contact. He can hit .280 if he stays healthy. Judge is still symbolic of the ideal home run hitter, but you will still see him strike out a lot. These guys are obviously big question marks as they are injury prone, but the Yankees may have the answers for them with a newer strength and conditioning coach.”

Engel’s Fantasy Angle:  Stanton hit .316 with four home runs and 10 RBI in five ALDS games last year, and had two homers in his other two playoff games. He did play 159 and 158 games in 2017 and 2018. Last season, this source emphasized that Stanton and Judge needed to get off their heavy weight training regimens that affected their bodies. New York made some changes to its strength and conditioning staff prior to last season, and now that team can have a bigger impact over a more natural regular season schedule and timelines. The only obvious concern with Stanton and Judge is how often they will be available. The new training routines can offer more hope in that regard. Stanton can be a value play at an ADP of 118.6 as the fantasy community has finally stuck it to him big-time for his lack of availability. Playing less time in the outfield can only help him stay in the lineup. Judge still sits at 54.6, and we have yet to see more than one full season out of him. Yet these sort of reports can make you feel easier about taking the shot on him there.

 

Jordan Montgomery

“This may finally be his breakout year. I always liked his ability to mix pitches well. Now that he has some more experience under his belt, and has the confidence of the manager and organization. He likes to throw inside and while he won’t strike out a ton of guys, yet he will not walk many and should have a good WHIP.”

Jordan Montgomery 2020 Pitch Tracking via Statcast

Engel’s Fantasy Angles: The last two seasons, Montgomery’s ERA was 5.11, yet the XFIP did not match at 3.87. The walk rate of 4.7% was obviously very impressive and he can certainly provide close to a strikeout per inning. Montgomery featured a five-pitch mix last season and used four of them consistently. Opponents hit just .171 against his curveball and .228 against the changeup. Montgomery is an evolving starter who can be very serviceable in fantasy baseball over a full season this year, especially at an ADP of 225.1.

 

Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon

“They have big hopes he is going to be the Kluber of the past. The Yankees are counting on him and Taillon. But we have to remember these are the Yankees. They wouldn’t have picked these these guys up if they did not think it would work out and help them. They put in money with guys like this because they see something that makes it worthy of them to go ahead and do it.  They are a win now team, and need these pitchers to get them over the hump. If they don’t, the Yankees are in big trouble. But they made sure they looked them over carefully before they signed them. The Yankees have some of the top evaluators in the game. I don’t think these were bad moves at all.”

Engel’s Fantasy Angle: This is a case where if a Major League front office, especially one like that of the Yankees, is willing to go in on Kluber and Taillon, then fantasy players should do the same. Those inside the game have more information to go by on the outlooks of these players than we do. As this source indicated, the Yankees did not overdo it in terms of contract commitments to either pitcher. Kluber has an ADP of 188 and Taillon is at 206.1. So you also are not making a heavy investment on them. Both have looked pretty good this spring and there can be significant value returns on both of them if there are no major setbacks. A former teammate of Kluber’s I spoke to last spring raved to me about his pre-injury form. Kluber and Taillon seem to be very worthy “daring” later selections.



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