Fantasy Baseball: 4 Hitters Rising in Drafts
Baseball is back! And what a nutty year it's been -- we got a pseudo-truncated 2020 season that saw most teams play 60 games (some played fewer, and Starling Marte played 61 thanks to an in-season trade).
With Major League Baseball starting their season on April Fools' Day (I promise, it's for real!), draft season is officially in full swing. With that, we are going to use the NFBC's average draft position (ADP) date since March 1st to identify movers and shakers on the draft board.
Now, buyer beware -- this doesn't mean every player recommend is a buy or sell. It's simply some observations of players on the draft board who are moving. Your fellow drafters could be willing to pounce -- the question remains, are you?
Here are four hitters we are going to discuss in further detail.
Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
ADP: 21.21, Min Pick: 13
In rotisserie leagues, players are clearly paying up for Mondesi for his thievery. He swiped 43 bases in 2019 over just 443 plate appearances, and he nabbed 24 steals last season in only 233 plate appearances. Dude can fly.
But that's where the challenge lies. Mondesi has been selected as a fringy first-rounder in 12-team formats, and he's nearly a minus in all other categories besides speed. He possesses below league-average power, as evidenced by his isolated power mark (.164), and his 30.0% strikeout rate last season shows a propensity to swing and miss.
Now, make no doubt about it -- Mondesi can win you the steals category alone based on that quickness. But be prepared to pay a very hefty price for it.
Cavan Biggio, 2B/SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
ADP: 71.18, Min Pick: 57
Here's the fantasy goodness around the younger statesman Biggio: he popped a .355 wOBA in 266 plate appearances in 2020, and his eight home runs portend a 25-plus season could be in the works. He can flat-out rake.
Here's the problem -- Biggio could get stuck at the bottom of this baby-Jays lineup. While Springer's absence could push Biggio up, newly acquired Marcus Semien will almost certainly be in the mix at the top of the lineup, as well, along with Toronto's ability to mix-and-match with studs like Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Mike Kurland's wonderful lineup breakdown showed that with a healthy Springer, he was likely slotted at the bottom of the order. If Springer's absence is relatively short-term in nature, that's a major blow to Biggio's counting statistics, and he's a player you've got to invest fifth-to-seventh round equity in.
Austin Meadows, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
ADP: 81.55, Min Pick: 52
A month ago, outfielder Austin Meadows of the Tampa Bay Rays was an afterthought in drafts. The ADP shows Meadows, who struggled with COVID-19 and was a non-factor in the Rays' World Series run, was right around a top-100 pick.
But dude has been rising quickly, and for good reason -- but let's examine history. Meadows came over to Tampa as part of the Chris Archer for Tyler Glasnow trade package (I think the Rays certainly got the better of this one). And in 2019 over 591 plate appearances, Meadows was on the verge of becoming a super-duper star. He smacked 33 home runs and nabbed 12 bags en route to a wRC+ season of 143.
Now, he stunk last year, but many elite hitters also struggled, and he appears to be picking up where he left off. This spring, he's struggled from an average perspective, but he's knocked his way to an .865 OPS with four homers and a steal over 29 plate appearances. This later pick could return near first-round value.
C.J. Cron, 1B, Colorado Rockies
ADP: 181.03, Min Pick: 137
Signed to a minor league contract just a month ago, C.J. Cron was an ADP afterthought going after the 300 mark, but he has bashed his way to a big league roster spot. And how? Just by ripping off a 1.051 OPS and three homers in spring training.
Some of you may not be as familiar with Cron's exploits. The bopping first baseman has been stuck in relative obscurity, but he slammed 55 combined home runs in 2018-19 as part of the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. An early-season injury in 2020 limited him to just 52 plate appearances (and four homers), so it's no surprise Colorado signed him to the deal with relatively little to no risk.
And yet, he still seems undervalued. Fantasy players are well aware of the Coors Field effect, which leads the league in park factor thanks to its spacious alleyways. Combine that with Cron's mega pop in a premium spot in the lineup, and you could be getting a major discount on a league-winning corner infielder.