Welcome back to “The Week That Was”, where take a journey back in time to the previous seven days and talk about the most important ongoings in the world of fantasy baseball. These past few days were the last week before we actually got to see players on the field for Spring Training baseball, so the news this week was more related to Pitchers and Catchers developments. Still, with it being drafting season, it’s these things that will get you prepared for when it’s time to put together a team. Let’s get right to it.
Just a reminder, unless noted, the ADP listed here is NFC-centric and taken from February 1, 2021 and all projections are via Steamer.
Vladimir Guerrero has lost 42 pounds this off season and feels better
Vlad Guerrero Jr. said on a Zoom today that he has lost 42 pounds.: “I feel a lot quicker on everything – defensively and offensively. Quicker in all aspects of my game.” #Bluejays
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) February 24, 2021
This has been a polarizing topic during the offseason, as many have said that him being out of shape was the main problem for him not living up to his potential. Fair point, and Vlad has since said that he arrived into Spring in the past out of shape and that the team knew his conditioning was poor. In a recent interview, here are some things that he had to say about his off season priorities and workouts:
“I worked very hard on my legs because I really wanted to trust my legs….before, I wasn’t getting to ground balls. Sometimes at the plate I couldn’t stay back enough on the ball. I feel quicker in all aspects of my game right now, running the bases I feel great. Before I would feel a lot of fatigue after taking ground balls. Now I can take 50, 60 ground balls and I’m feeling good.”
These are all fantastic things to say and are, ironically, the right things to say. Keep in mind, coming into Spring Training, there will be an abundance of positive things said by players and management towards other players and management. So, of course everything is going to look bright and sunny for Guerrero Jr. here. And while I am still on the Vlad hype train (I own him in all of my own leagues, and have owned him for years), there’s still a small part of me that can’t help but tell you to wait just a little bit longer to see how this physical renaissance translates to in-game production. On the one hand, the main problem for him was that he was out of shape, and for years, that was arguably his main downfall. Being out of shape causes fatigue, which might have led to swings that were out of whack, slower in speed and even short cuts. This way, losing 40+ pounds, it’s hopeful that he will be less fatigued and show more consistency in all facets of his game.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 24, 2021
There are two negatives here, which are potentially huge. The first problem is the question of whether or not he lost muscle. Losing a lot of weight like that is usually associated with cardio and better eating. And while he and the Blue Jays have access to some of the best medical professionals in the world, I’d venture to say that massive weight loss like that is probably associated with some muscle loss as well. I would really like to see him swing first (which I have not) before I make any opinion on that final. Secondly, after years and years of unhealthy eating, it can become easy to some to fall back to their old ways and habits. Losing the weight is one thing, but maintaining a new body is quite the other thing. It will be interesting to see how well he can maintain the gains (aka the losses) he’s made and how it transforms after weeks on the road, or after four consecutive games.
His current ADP is 53, with a minimum pick of 38 and a maximum pick of 72. It’s quite the high/low variance that one would expect with such a polarizing player. The unfortunate part is that we don’t yet know how he will handle being in games with his new body. His projections from all sources are massive, as they all give him 27+ home runs with a batting average close to .300 over 144+ games played.
Given all of that, his ADP price is one where you are paying for what’s expected. In essence, it’s like buying a stock at its projected price rather than its current worth. For that reason, I am fading Guerrero at his price point because of the depth available at first base and because I don’t necessarily see him with a batting average as high as projections state. That being said, if he somehow falls another round or so, and you’re around the 60th (or higher) pick, I might be inclined to take the plunge and believe in the hype. The talent is there, the body looks to be getting ready and the mindset looks right. If he does return his projected value, then he’s worth a third round pick, and he’s someone who could help you win your league. Finally, in all dynasty formats, he’s an obvious buy and may be so at a discount if owners have lost patience or if other prospects (aka shiny new toys) come into focus.
J.D. Martinez admits that he wasn’t prepared for his 2020 season
"I really wasn't prepared for last year…it was my fault, I didn't stay ready."
J.D. Martinez talks about what he's doing differently to get ready for this season pic.twitter.com/u0p2qaeem2
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) February 23, 2021
This was something that was said about him last year, and it’s nice to at least hear him admit its validity. I touched upon it last year when he was on a downward streak, as nothing seemed to be going his way. I’ll stand by that notion and looking at his Statcast batting stats profile, he has been nothing but a stalwart of consistency for years.
He’s been elite for years, making good contact, showing great patience and proving his value on the field. He’s been a steady and close to elite productivesource for years. Could last year have been the moment where age started to become a factor in how he performs going forward? His power numbers were significantly down and he didn’t look himself at all.
That’s right, I’m bringing back a 90’s catchphrase for this one. The fact remains that these athletes are human like you and I at the end of the day. They not only have feelings, they have aches, they have bad days, they have mental angst and more. J.D. Martinez was obviously not in the right frame of mind in 2020. How the pandemic would be handled was a bit of an unknown, and it got to him. His usual routine of video replay to make adjustments was inactive for the year, and as such, his entire flow of the game was completely off.
Does it fully justify a season where his production fell off a cliff? Probably not. There comes a point where age will become a concern for elite production, and there is still a chance that could happen. However, he’s going as the 63rd hitter off the board and with an ADP of 95. If you draft pitching early (as you probably should), and need a batter around the sixth or seventh round, you could do worse here. He’s someone who was an All-Star over his previous two seasons as a member of the Red Sox, and will be at the heart of a Boston lineup that I actually like up top. Furthermore, the strength of the American League East isn’t starting pitching, and he’ll probably be able to take advantage of the short field out in left and get a lot of extra base hits.
Giancarlo Stanton could see time in the outfield
Aaron Boone not ruling out playing Giancarlo Stanton some in the OF this year.
“I don’t want to completely be resigned to him being just a full-time DH.’’
By using him occasionally defensively, it “ultimately might actually be something that allows him to stay more healthy.’’
— Pete Caldera (@pcaldera) February 23, 2021
This one will be short and sweet. You don’t need me to remind you of how valuable Stanton can be in the game of fantasy baseball. The man has 312 career home runs, is only 31 years old, and has been a four-time All-Star. He’s great. The problem is that over his career, he’s missed 327 days due to injury, and there’s no guarantee that won’t continue. In fact, with only 41 games played since the end of the 2018 season, you could say that he poses a massive risk.
He’s another polarizing player in the news this week, but at least here, this time it comes with a more positive spin. By potentially playing in the outfield, he gains additional eligibility which essentially raises his value. If you already have him, that’s fantastic news. However, if you don’t, you can expect his ADP (currently 123) to rise, since many owners tend to shy away from having “UT-only” players on their teams. And while I like his additional eligibility here, the fact remains that he is too much of an injury risk for me at this price. I am fading him, even at his current price. He is too much of a risk to sit out and get injured, and at that point in most drafts, I’m looking to fill out roster spots. I’m not taking gambles on the health of someone who has burned many owners over the years.
Nick Senzel is being considered for the infield and also for everyday at bats
Two things Bell said on Senzel:
"We believe he's an everyday player in this league. Right now, he's our center fielder."
"If we ever did consider moving him to the infield, we'd be missing a lot in the outfield." #reds
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) February 25, 2021
Very interesting development here, because Senzel is another injury-bug plagued talent that seems poised and ready to blossom. There’s a lot to consider going forward with Senzel, because the Reds have a ton of offensive firepower to begin with. It was obvious in the offseason that Cincinnati wanted to upgrade their short stop position. They were in on Jonathan Villar, and almost brought him in as their everyday short stop. Instead, they find themselves with a gaping hole there as Kyle Farmer is slated to be their everyday player.
Rumours have been abound of a complete positional shuffle since there are moving pieces that make perfect sense. It goes like this: Eugenio Suarez to short stop, Mike Moustakas to third base and Nick Senzel to his original position of second base. While this is just a rumour, it makes sense in that these are all positions that the aforementioned players have a long enough history playing. This would also give Senzel some added eligibility that could propel him towards the middle of second base ranks, and give him a significant value bump. That said, nothing has yet happened, but it’s definitely something to monitor from afar and pounce upon if it does happen. Assuming nothing changes though, Senzel has fought the injury but quite a bit over his short career, but definitely has some fantasy value if he can stay healthy. In 2019, he hit 14 home runs and stole 12 bases over 414 plate appearances and was a nice cheap value for owners. In 2020, despite missing some time to an undisclosed injury, he still managed lower his strikeout rate and increase his walk rate.
In fact, prior to his injury in mid August, he had a .244 batting average with two home runs and eight runs batted in, while stealing two bases. He seemed ready to build upon his debut year, but being sidelined with that injury obviously didn’t help him as his September was disastrous. All in all, going forward, it looks as if he will get a shot to play pretty much everyday. He may be sharing time with Akiyama in the outfield, but his ability to play everywhere could land him additional time in the infield. With an ADP of 281, if you can get a player that late with double digit power and speed potential, you need to draft him whenever you can.
Ramon Laureano could bat leadoff and is learning about stealing bases from Elvis Andrus
Ramón Laureano said he’s been talking a lot with Elvis Andrus about stealing bases. Says the whole time is excited to learn from the veteran shortstop.
— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) February 26, 2021
This, combined with the news that Laureano is a candidate to bat leadoff for the Athletics is a major development from the past week. After a breakout in 2019 where he hit 24 home runs and stole 13 bases, the world was abuzz with Ramon Laureano for his ability to do almost anything. And while his highlights were usually with a glove in his hand, by the end of the year, he turned into a potential five category stud heading into 2020. Unfortunately for him, the world suffered from Covid and we got ourselves a shortened and delayed season. Even worse for Laureano owners, he is a slow starter.
Let’s take you back in time to the beginning of last season. Laureano had a nice home stand to start the year in July, but just afterwards, his batting average dropped over 100 points throughout August and into September, which for him, was a slow start like it was in 2019. Keep in mind that on May 7, 2019, Laureano was batting .216 with three home runs and two stolen bases. He turned hit on the rest of the year and we know how the end of that story went. Unfortunately, in 2020, there wasn’t enough time for a recovery of sorts, and thus, we are left with an unhappy ending.
What this all means is that we should expect something more aligned with his 2019 numbers with respect to him being on base more often than not. He is by no means a .213 hitter, as his major and minor league track records suggest much more. Back to the original point about Andrus, from the sounds of it, Laureano has looked to improve himself throughput the offseason, and this could be one of the ways. If he can learn from someone who has stolen 20+ bases in ten of his twelve seasons, how could that not be a good thing? Laureano’s sprint speed well above average (76th percentile) and if he can be more aggressive on the base paths, that really enhances his value. So essentially (and potentially), you’re telling me he’ll get a full season to recover following a possible slow start, he’ll bat lead off and he’ll be aggressive in stealing bases? Sign me up, but what’s the cost? Right now, he’s for a 145 ADP price tag, but for someone who I’ll project to get 25 home runs and 15 steals, that’s worth the investment.