Fantasy Baseball: Reassessing the First Two Rounds

Fantasy Baseball: Reassessing the First Two Rounds

by May 30, 2021 1 comment

We are now about two months into the 2021 season and it’s amazing how much the early rounds of our fantasy baseball drafts would be if we could go back and get a mulligan. Injuries, of course, have been the main factor but performance issues also play a role as we reassess the decisions that were made a couple of months ago. The draft positions found below are the average draft positions from all National Fantasy Baseball Championship (commonly referred to as NFBC) drafts (1,300 drafts) made before the season started. The league set-up is fairly standard: 12-team, Rotisserie, 10 category league. Let’s focus on the first two rounds and react to each pick briefly.

All stats are through May 29 as per baseball-reference.

First Round

1st overall Ronald Acuna Jr. (.278 BA, 15 HR, 37 Runs, 32 RBI, 6 SB) – A+ pick for the first two months of the season and moving forward. He is a true five-category contributor and if we redrafted today, he’d be the smart first overall pick again.

Redrafting today – same general area

2nd overall Fernando Tatis (.298/15/36/36/12) – Shockingly strong numbers considering all his injury scares in the first two months of 2021. He feels like more of a health risk than others here at the very top of the draft (will the shoulder hold up all year?) but if he plays, he is as good as anybody. Seems to do something special every game, he’s electric. He’s putting up these stats despite only having 131 at-bats and missing 17 games.

Redrafting today – same general area

3rd overall Juan Soto (.273/4/22/16/1) – Soto’s numbers are pedestrian so far but he has battled nagging injuries all season (a calf strain at the end of spring training and then a shoulder issue in early May). He’s only 22 so injuries theoretically should not dog him. I would be shocked if he doesn’t put up monster numbers going forward.

Redrafting today – same general area

4th overall Mookie Betts (.240/5/27/17/5) – Betts is considered the safe play to put up solid five-category numbers. But while he hasn’t killed you, he also hasn’t caught fire over the first two months of the season. He doesn’t offer the upside of the three players picked in front of him. His best attribute is his ability to score runs (122 or more in three of the last four full seasons) with is an often-overlooked category.

Redrafting today – move to the bottom of the first round

5th overall Jacob deGrom (3 wins, 0.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 14.8 K/9) – Had a brief injury scare and only have seven starts but they have been vintage deGrom. He shows no signs of slowing down, in fact, he may be improving. The Mets, of course, struggle to score runs for him, thus he only has three wins.

Redrafting today – move him up a spot or two.

6th overall Mike Trout (.333/8/23/18/2) – Was off to a wonderful start to the season until suffering a calf strain that will keep him on the shelf for another six weeks or so. The injury bug seems to be a yearly issue now for Trout – discounting the 2020 season, he hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2016.

Redrafting today – drop him out of the first two rounds

7th overall Gerrit Cole (6/1.78/0.84/12.4 K/9) – You feel like he’s going to win and put up incredibly strong stats every outing. His overall numbers aren’t quite as good as deGrom but he feels safer in terms of injury concerns moving forward. Nothing at all to complain about here, you would love to have him heading up your pitching staff.

Redrafting today – move him up to 5th overall

8th overall Trea Turner (.307/10/26/27/12) – Turner has been the bright spot for the disappointing Nationals. Having 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases already is pretty astounding in today’s game. I’m a little leery of him keeping up the power numbers but he is a special talent.

Redrafting today – move him up to 6th overall

9th overall Shane Bieber (5/3.13 ERA/1.21 WHIP/13.8 K/9) – While not quite on the level of deGrom and Cole, you can’t complain much about the stats Bieber has compiled thus far. The pressure only gets greater for Bieber to continue to carry the Indians as injuries to the pitching staff have increased. Had by far his best outing in a month on Thursday, the previous four outings were a bit below his standards.

Redrafting today – same general area (but you could replace him with a couple of the upcoming pitchers)

10th overall Jose Ramirez (.257/12/35/26/6) – Quietly goes about his business and puts up numbers that rival the players at the very top of the round. Cleveland’s lineup is underwhelming (especially now with the Franmil Reyes injury), I’m not sure what pitchers wouldn’t simply pitch around Ramirez and take their chances with the rest of the lineup.

Redrafting today – move him up two or three spots

11th overall Christian Yelich (.267/1/15/5/4) – Only has 60 at-bats and those limited appearances have been very underwhelming. A serious knee injury was blamed for his less-than-stellar 2020 campaign. A neck injury seems to be the cause of this year’s dip. I doubt he lights the league on fire in the remaining 110 games. He needs to get his body right again and I have some worries that he won’t do that any time soon.

Redrafting today – drop out of the first two rounds

12th overall Trevor Story (.255/5/26/23/8) – He’s similar to Betts. I would expect him to improve as the year goes on. Even at his current pace, he contributes to your team (the eight stolen bases in particular). As long as he doesn’t get traded (and therefore, wouldn’t play his home games at Coors Field), I would expect his numbers to improve quite a bit.

Redrafting today – move down a few spots

Second Round

13th overall Freddie Freeman (.239/12/32/29/2) – The power is nice, the average is down (odd given that Freeman has been as reliable in that category as any other player in the past few years). The Braves as a team have yet to get on a roll. Same with Freeman but I would expect him and the team to pick it up in the coming months.

Redrafting today – same general area

14th overall Trevor Bauer (5/2.07/0.82/11.8) – Proving that 2021 wasn’t a fluke, Bauer is off to a very nice start to his Dodgers’ career. He is in the conversation as the third-best starting pitcher in the league after deGrom and Cole. Whether you move him up the draft chart largely is dictated by your preference of hitting vs. pitching.

Redrafting today – move up a bit (I would still take Bieber over him in starting pitching ranks but it’s close)

15th overall Cody Bellinger (.211/0/2/2/0) – Only played four games before he injured his leg. He’s on the verge of returning to the Dodgers’ lineup. While he should be very good the rest of the year, his season-long season won’t add up after missing two months.

Redrafting today – drop out of the first two rounds

16th overall Yu Darvish (5/2.16/0.93/10.7) – Darvish has been exactly what the Padres were hoping for when they traded for him in the off-season. He’s in the top-tier of starting pitchers. He’s with one of the best teams in the league so the wins should keep coming.

Redrafting today – same general area

17th overall Bryce Harper (.274/7/25/13/4) – Currently on the injured list though only expected to be out for another week or so. He’s been fine though certainly hasn’t carried fantasy teams so far (especially in the RBI category, 13 seems like a fluky low number).

Redrafting today – move down to the end of the 2nd round

18th overall Francisco Lindor (.191/4/22/11/4) – Perhaps the most disappointing player so far in 2021. Simply switching leagues cannot explain his struggles over the first two months of the season. He’s too good to stay at this level. However, you wouldn’t even consider drafting him highly given what we know now.

Redrafting today – drop out of the first two rounds

19th overall Lucas Giolito (4/4.04/1.17/10.7) – Giolito certainly doesn’t rank as highly as many of the pitchers here but don’t be too deceived by his overall stats, they are brought down by one atrocious start. He hasn’t been a top-two-round pitcher up till this point. Don’t be surprised, though, if he is from here on out.

Redrafting today – move down to the end of the 2nd round

20th overall Manny Machado (.233/6/25/31/6) – The batting average is down, the other numbers are rather average. He has been a bit of a roller coaster his whole career so perhaps this isn’t too surprising. I’m sure he’ll improve as the season goes on but the overall numbers will not be elite given what he’s done so far.

Redrafting today – drop out of the first two rounds

21st overall Walker Buehler (3/2.66/0.90/8.7) – It’s strange that he only has three wins in that he has 10 starts (eight of which have been quality starts) for the best team in baseball. The strikeout numbers are less than the other pitchers in this group but you could do a lot worse than Buehler in this spot.

Redrafting today – same general area

22nd overall Aaron Nola (3/3.72/1.10/10.5) – The ERA is not too special when you consider that runs are down across the board this season. But Nola is durable and solid. That’s nice for your third starter but not what you’d like a more dynamic player in this spot.

Redrafting today – drop out of the first two rounds

23rd overall Bo Bichette (.267/11/42/31/7) – His numbers are bolstered by having the third most at-bats in MLB but it’s hard to poke too many holes here. Bichette is giving you strong numbers in four categories and the batting average is fine as well.

Redrafting today – move up a bit

24th overall Adalberto Mondesi (.389/1/1/3/1) – Mondesi suffered an oblique strain towards the end of spring training and has only recently returned. His speed-power combination is tantalizing and if he stays healthy, he’ll certainly help you from here on out. He’s been hot since coming back. After missing nearly the first two months, his overall stats will not match up to this draft status.

Redrafting today – drop out of the first two rounds

Reassessment

Surprisingly, pitching has been the safest of the high picks thus far in the 2021 season. None of the eight pitchers that had an ADP in the first two rounds has been a bust. Nola and Giolito haven’t carried your team yet but they have still been effective overall. I only took one pitcher out of the first two rounds. The hitters have been more volatile.

If we take seven players out of the first two rounds, who are some possible players to take their place? Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be the first choice and you could easily put him high in the first round. He’s been the breakout star of 2021. The Red Sox have three hitters – Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers – who could all make the list.

Nick Castellanos and Kris Bryant have bounced back from rather poor 2020 seasons. There are a few others who have been top tier thus far but it’s doubtful they will keep up this pace (Jesse Winker, Marcus Semien, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, and Adolis Garcia). On the pitching side, several hurlers have excelled. The question is, who is most likely to keep their pace up as the season goes along? I’d be most interested in Kevin Gausman, Brandon Woodruff, Carlos Rodon, Corbin Burnes, and Tyler Glasnow.

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