Welcome to a new running series that will highlight burning topics regarding fantasy baseball preparation heading into the 2021 MLB season. Reading through all the rhetoric to discern how a player may be affected by a change in lineup spot, playing time or contract control provides an edge in upcoming snake or salary-cap (formerly known as 'auctions'). Be sure to bookmark this page since updates will aggregate often. 

The hitting content can be found below. Click here to get to the Fantasy Baseball Pitchers blog.

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With teams honing in on Opening Day lineups and rosters, it's time for players to step forward. A position battle update in Texas, some intriguing prospects to stash and an underrated first baseman in the desert highlight today's spring hitters update. 

Updated 3/31/2021

Welcome to the last installment of the spring training hitter updates. Without further ado, the delayed posting comes with some bad news for those with Adalberto Mondesi on their fantasy roster: 

 

Savvy drafters hopefully stashed Bobby Witt Jr. as a reserve with Mondesi due to his injury laden past. There's no reason for Kansas City starting Witt Jr.'s service clock prior to the Super 2 date, so it may take a little patience weathering this early season storm. For now, it depends on league size and roster construction finding a replacement. 

Going over the names available in 50 percent or more of CBS leagues at shortstop, these jump out for the short term: 

  • Jazz Chisolm, Miami - 41 at-bats, eight runs, six RBI, four stolen bases; .268/.333/.488

  • Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh - 33 at-bats, 11 runs, five RBI, two stolen bases; .606/.641/.788

  • Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers -  45 at-bats, 10 runs, five home runs, 14 RBI; .311/.392/.756

If mining steals upside, target Chisolm. Newman's one year removed from 12 home runs with 16 steals in 2019 in 130 contests and Taylor's racked up 11 stolen bases since the start of 2019 spanning over 600 plate appearances. Adjust and advance, do not dwell on the lost draft capital. 

Now for the updates from the last seven games of spring. Remember, one more sleep until games which matter on Opening Day!

Milwaukee 

Not only will this second baseman hit leadoff: 

 

Kolten Wong remains hot all spring finishing with four home runs, a .306 average and 1.097 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with three walks versus four strikeouts. Many forget about the upside Luis Urias owned entering last year before an injury derailed his season. Those in need of a shortstop replacement in deep formats could do worse than kicking the tires on a Brewers shortstop projected for the majority share of at-bats in April. 

Chicago White Sox

Service manipulation be darned may be this team's credo putting Andrew Vaughn on the Opening Day roster. They also added Zack Collins as the second catcher and he may grab some at-bats as the designated hitter. Before the season ensues, Luis Robert finishes with an odd spring. He only hit one home run but stole six bases. However, his 18 strikeouts against three walks should not be overlooked. He's dripping with potential for fantasy but his batting average and production may be of the streaky ilk. 

Colorado

Could C.J. Cron lead the National League in home runs playing in Coors at the end of 2021? Absolutely, he launched his fifth of the spring finishing with a robust .354 average and a 1.186 OPS. Best part, he walked five times versus nine strikeouts. 

 

Atlanta

Back to second in the lineup and working with Chipper Jones all preseason may return Ozzie Albies into the player we hoped for in 2020. He launched this home run from the right side of the plate in his last spring contest: 

 

Scoring 11 runs in 42 at-bats with three home runs and two stolen bases. Yes please. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

After hitting zero home runs all spring, Mookie Betts finished spring with a bang on Tuesday night: 

 

Cody Bellinger added his third home run driving in two homering in back-to-back contests. Guess this offense will support National League candidate Corey Seager just fine. 

Prospect Roundup

Ke'Bryan Hayes cracked his second spring home run and finished with a .431/.463/.745 slash over 51 at-bats with three stolen bases to boot. Not too shabby. 

It may take a month or two, but those needing speed do not forget about Jarren Duran of Boston. He went 2-for-2 in his last spring outing including his third home run. Through 47 at-bats he slashed .340/.367/.702 with two stolen bases. His 19 strikeouts against two walks should not be ignored, hopefully this improves with a little seasoning. 

Thanks for all the support this spring, it's time to focus on the regular season. Stay safe and be well.

Updated 3/30/2021

Spring training games with starters leaving after one or two at-bats begin with Opening Day two sleeps away. With roster setting across the majors, lineups settle in and any last minute drafters or waiver wire users should glean the information carefully. Here's the latest hitter update for the Fantasy Alarm family. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Save some home runs for the regular season Corey Seager , spoken as someone who paid full price in a salary cap league in Tout Wars head-to-head points format. He launched his eighth spring dinger last night in two plate appearances along with drawing a walk pushing his average to .347 with a robust 1.245 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). 

Will Smith (two), Cody Bellinger (two) and Chris Taylor (five) also homered in a rout over the Angels. 

Boston Red Sox

Feeling the crunch due to early injury issues? Look to the Red Sox for a quick fix. Enrique (Kiké) Hernandez can be used at second base or the outfield in most formats and leads off on Opening Day. He hit his third spring home run moving his average to .340 over 47 at-bats. Marwin Gonzalez also can be deployed all over a fantasy roster added his third home run during a 3-for-3 afternoon with two RBI. He's hitting .300 and could start strong if this carries over. Last, Franchy Cordero made the roster: 

Philadelphia Phillies

No matter how one feels about Bryce Harper , he's raking this spring:

He ends spring hitting .343 with a 1.249 OPS, four home runs and nine walks against 11 strikeouts. 

Tampa Bay Rays

While everyone muses about how soon Wander Franco may join the Rays roster, Willy Adames continues to produce as spring training winds down. He launched two home runs on Monday: 

He's homered four times over his last five games moving his spring slash to .375/.444/.577 and does not turn 26 until September. Even if they trade him (Cincinnati) later this year, he's a terrific late dart at shortstop or middle infield. 

Post-hype Breakout Roundup

Colorado: Garrett Hampson - takes over a full-time playing role, could steal 30 bases and be available after pick 200 in most drafts. He went 2-for-2 on Monday with three runs, his first spring home run and drove in three. Rockies play 15 of their first 21 games at home, cash in. 

Kansas City: Hunter Dozier - launched his fifth spring home run raising his RBI total to 13 with a .289 average and 1.106 OPS. Eligible at corner infield or outfield in most formats. Many remain averse to him, stash away. 

Seattle: Evan White - sneaky pop at corner infield, basically free in drafts. Hit safely in four of his last five games including 2-for-2 yesterday with a stolen base. 20 home run and six-to-eight steals in 15-team formats comes with inherent value. 

Minnesota: Willians Astudillo - going to back-up first base, third base and even outfield while being the third catcher on the roster. Slashing .385/.415/.821 this spring with nine of 15 hits going for extra-bases (five doubles, four home runs) and two walks against three strikeouts during 39 at-bats. Deep league second catcher with upside if playing time emerges. 

Baltimore: Austin Hays - everyone chases power with speed potential but overlooks Hays? He hit his fourth home run on Monday, owns a .392 batting average with a 1.192 OPS and swiped three bases. Yes please. Playing time will sort itself out if he stays hot. 

Last, but not least. Here's the list of the hitters with the most barrels with an exit velocity of 97 MPH or better courtesy of Statcast: 

Statistical Credits: 

MLB.com - spring statistics

BaseballSavant.com

Updated 3/29/2021

As more rosters take shape, today's focus shifts to recent results and potential impact entering the 2021 season. Three more sleeps until Opening Day people, it's happening. 

Kansas City

Although the team may not win the division, there's excitement teeming for fantasy players on this roster. He's hit third in three of the last five spring lineups and returns there later this afternoon. Yesterday, he recorded a combo meal (home run and stolen base in the same game). This marks his second spring home run and his second steal with a .343/.364/.645 slash line. That's good, right. Yes, it's only spring but not sure the fantasy community knows how to project a healthy Mondesi. If intrigued, check out his player profile in our draft guide. He's one of 211 profiles to read for any last minute advice. And for the visual crowd, his home run: 

 

Also of interest, Kyle Isbel went 1-for-3 and hit .341 this spring with two home runs and two stolen bases over 41 at-bats. He may break camp with the team. 

Washington

As colleague Colby Conway mused on Twitter yesterday, it may be #RoblesSZN. Victor Robles went 3-for-5 on Sunday scoring two runs, hit a double and stole his fifth base of spring. At a reduced price point in most drafts and the need for speed prevalent in leagues, the post-hype outfielder may be on the precipice of a breakout season. Which seems silly since he's already crafted a 17 home run and 28 stolen base campaign during his Age-22 season in 2019. 

Atlanta

Slow springs by star players need to be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, Freddie Freeman went 2-for-3 with a double and home run raising his spring average to .206 through 34 at-bats. Just take in his sweet swing on this opposite field double off of a southpaw: 

 

Target with confidence, it's a marathon, not a sprint based on spring results. 

Colorado

When taking chances on Rockies hitters, it's important to note they play 15 of their first 21 contests at home, weather permitting. If someone starts hot, sell high. For instance, deeper league players looking for batting average insulation may look in the direction of Josh Fuentes . He went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI on Sunday raising his average to .333 with an on-base rate of 35.6 percent driving in 11 runs. He does not hit for much power, but: 

 

Home Run Roundup

Joc Pederson launched his eighth Cactus League home run, he may never want to leave Arizona. He presently owns a .372 average with a robust 1.429 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). 

Corey Seager crushed his seventh home run which traveled 441 feet according to Statcast. Pretty, pretty good. Teammate Max Muncy cranked out two home runs driving in three. 

Joey Gallo went 2-for-2 including his sixth home run and drove in three runs. Bounce back season? Or #GalloReboundSZN. 

A healthy Matt Olson continues to mash this spring with a .319 average, a 1.127 OPS and hit his sixth spring dinger on Sunday. 

Combo meal number two on Sunday went to Avisaíl García of Milwaukee. His fourth home run and first steal of spring. 

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

Updated 3/28/2021 at 10:50am ET

Four more sleeps until Opening Day! If you enjoy these free updates, check out all the great work on Fantasy Alarm for half price:

As for today's updates, at least one prospect will break camp with his team, notable performances from Saturday's contests along with injury alerts to monitor in any last minute drafts. 

Seattle

For anyone who thinks players do not appreciate making the majors: 

Taylor Trammell celebrated in style going 2-for-2 including his third home run and driving in four of the Mariners five runs in a win over the Giants. He's slashing .302/.388/.628 through 43 at-bats this spring plus stolen two bases. 

Cincinnati

For a second straight game, Jesse Winker led off with a home run. After a slow start this spring, he's heating up with hits in three of his last four contests and four RBI in them. Jonathan India launched his third home run this spring and carries a .333/.455/.644 slash through 20 games. He's on track to start at second base on Opening Day. And for those taking Eugenio Suárez in drafts for power, it appears he adds positional eligibility to his appeal in 2021: 

St. Louis

Moving up to second in the lineup could enhance counting statistics for Paul Goldschmidt and his power may be underrated for 2021 after playing through injuries last year: 

 

Once again, post-hype breakout candidate Tyler O'Neill tallied two more hits in five at-bats driving in two runs. He's hitting .372 through 43 at-bats with two home runs, 10 RBI and three stolen bases. 

Texas

Roster updates with a surprise twist in the race for first base: 

Within the thread, Ronald Guzmán will back up Joey Gallo , David Dahl and Nate Lowe while accruing at-bats as the designated hitter until Willie Calhoun or Khris Davis return. 

Houston

Staying in Texas, an encouraging sign from Saturday's game: 

This marks the first home run for Yordan Alvarez in spring contests and hopefully signals him heating up with the regular season fast approaching. Alex Bregman keeps drifting in drafts but hitting .294 with a 1.074 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) through 17 at-bats with two home runs. 

Miami

Top prospect J.J. Bleday continues to impress in camp: 

Bleday went 2-for-3 with a triple, his second home run and two RBI. Garrett Cooper continues to rake below the fantasy radar going 3-for-3 with a run on Saturday. He's hitting .432 with a 1.191 OPS over 37 at-bats this spring. No universal designated hitter affects his value but in deeper formats, his power and average upside play. 

Injury Roundup

Partly paving the way for Trammell's promotion, an injury to Kyle Lewis ()">Kyle Lewis may affect his Opening Day status: 

It's tough to trust Nick Senzel based on past injury issues, but his 20/20 potential draws us in. Still: 

Yoán Moncada left his last spring contest after he launched a home run but fouled a ball off his leg prior to it. Good news?

Boston's Franchy Cordero could be on track for Opening Day:

Prospect Updates

Top catching prospect Adley Rutschman hit a double and drove in a run over five at-bats on Saturday. He's hit safely in three straight spring games but likely remains in the minors for 2021, Baltimore's in no rush to start his service time clock. 

Kyle Isbel remains in the hunt for a roster spot with the Royals. He hit lead-off on Saturday going 2-for-3 with a run, two RBI and a walk. He's hitting .342 with .975 OPS, two home runs, five RBI and two stolen bases through 35 at-bats. 

Updated 3/27/2021

Five more sleeps until Opening Day. It's happening. Speaking of which, roster updates populate the news cycle in the MLB, a highlight on young catchers worth tracking, sad trombone for prospects demoted and surging hitters of note in today's hitter update.

Detroit

It appears the Tigers will enter the regular season without a permanent first baseman: 

Cutting Renato Núñez may provide a fluid infield as today's lineup displays: 

Jonathan Schoop at first base, he's also played third and owns second base eligibility. Niko Goodrum gets more playing time since he can move all over the infield and they seem committed to Jeimer Candelario

Cleveland

Not too many surprises unless targeting Bobby Bradley due to his strong spring with this final roster: 

Could they kick the tires on Núñez at first base? In case they do, here's his line drives and fly balls from the last three years with Cleveland as the overlay: 

Last, but not least, remember about Robbie Grossman later in drafts, especially in on-base percentage (OBP) formats. He went 1-for-2 with two runs, his third home run and a walk. Hitting safely in four of his last five contests along with a home run in consecutive starts. Wait, there's more, congratulations to Akil Baddoo (four home runs and four stolen bases in 35 at-bats) on making the roster as a Rule 5 selection.

Chicago Cubs

Good news before the bad news. Joc Pederson launched two home runs Friday moving into a tie with Bobby Dalbec for the spring lead: 

Pederson's hitting .366 with a robust 1.377 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) this spring. Players should be mic’d up more as well, wake up MLB. Speaking of which, manipulating player control through archaic benefits to ownership needs altering. Nico Hoerner received his walking papers, getting demoted despite playing second base well and producing at the plate. This tidbit hints at how long he may need to be off the Cubs major league roster: 

San Diego

Stay hot Wil Myers

He went 3-for-3 on Friday including his fifth home run raising his spring average to .415 with a 1.247 OPS through 41 at-bats. 

Roundup

Josh Bell crushed his sixth spring home run and owns a .419 average with Washington this spring. 

Keston Hiura launched his third home run in as many games: 

A Vladito (Vlad Guerrero Jr.) bomb: 

And a side of a sweet Yoán Moncada swing: 

Catcher remains the most frustrating position to fill, especially in leagues with two catcher formats. However, here's some young names to either stash or roster if possible depending on league and bench size: 

  • 12 Team Mixed: Alejandro Kirk, Blue Jays (22 at-bats, two home runs, .318/.360/.636 slash), Zack Collins , White Sox (39 at-bats, three home runs, .333/.422/.590), Omar Narváez , Brewers (28 at-bats, three home runs, .321/.457/.750)

  • 15 Team Leagues, only formats, keeper leagues: William Contreras, Braves (17 at-bats, home runs, .353/.500/.647), Luis Camusano, Padres (37 at-bats, five doubles, .324/.419/.469), Willians Astudillo , Twins (34 at-bats, three home runs, .353/.389/.735)

Until next time, stay safe and be well. 

3/26/2021

Six more sleeps until Opening Day. Please keep players in bubble wrap with spring training winding down. A different approach today with eyes on stolen bases in the roundup. 

Colorado

There's no bargain anymore targeting C.J. Cron with the Rockies but he's still worth the risk. On Thursday, he went 3-for-3 with his third double and fourth home run over 43 at-bats raising his average to .372 with a 1.180 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Including his spring batted ball data including all fly balls and line drive with his last three years, his spray in Coors looks as such: 

And his Statcast data from yesterday on the leaderboards:

Kansas City

Again, last year's small sample seems to depress some players in average draft position results heading into the last draft weekend. However, do not forget about this Royal playing for a contract this off-season:

Jorge Soler launched his fifth spring home run yesterday and carries a .942 OPS through 50 spring at-bats. Adalberto Mondesi hit his first home run as well:

If the shoulder's healthy, he may just turn in a season worth taking the chance on.

Last, but not least, our own prospect guru Matt Selz (@theselzman) placed my focus on Kyle Isbel as an outfielder with upside this year for fantasy purposes. He's still in the mix to make the Opening Day roster:

So far this spring, he's produced two home runs and two stolen bases with a .314 average. There's a nice blend of speed with a little bit of pop if he breaks through. 

Washington

Remember the warm fuzzies felt seeing Victor Robles lead-off most of spring training, the rug may be pulled out from below: 

So many counting statistics get lost moving from first to ninth in the lineup due to plate appearances. Pay close attention to this. 

Baltimore

This may be a terrible team in the standings, but runs will be scored. Check out how some of the young players in the outfield mix fared on Thursday: 

-    Austin Hays - 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, a triple and a home run, three RBI, hitting .409 with three home runs plus two stolen bases this spring

-    Ryan Mountcastle - 2-for-3 with two runs, his fourth home run, three RBI, and a walk. He's batting .286 with 13 RBI

Add in a rebound season for Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins hitting lead-off, hopefully there's enough at-bats for this core four. 

Feel the need, the need for speed? 

Today's highlights start in Miami, no pastels necessary to enjoy the smooth Jazz: 

After this contest, Chisolm's hitting .273 with three home runs and four stolen bases. His average may fluctuate throughout the season but in deeper formats looking for category fillers, do not forget about him. 

Tough night for Yu Darvish facing his old franchise. Texas stole SEVEN bases against him in three innings. Charlie Culberson stole a hat trick as did Jose Trevino stole a base, he's the catcher, and Brock Holt also swiped one. This may be more about teams getting aggressive versus the Padres starter but the Rangers will need to manufacture runs. By the way, both Eli White and Leody Taveras made the roster for Opening Day. 

While the Phillies decide between Roman Quinn and Odúbel Herrera , keep prospect Johan Rojas on your radar: 

He stole two bases along with driving in the walk-off RBI in a win over the Yankees. 

Injury News

Thursday proved to be a tough day to own Eloy Jiménez :

With this timeline, at least owners do not need to be concerned about keeping him in redraft leagues. It's time to move on. It appears the White Sox do not learn from past mistakes either. Tony La Russa said Andrew Vaughn will start in left field tomorrow and “you’ll see him out there as much as possible” over final week. Be safe Andrew.

Two things to monitor but reports suggest the injury issues project as minor ones. 

First from Washington:

Then the collective sigh of relief from fantasy players across the world: 

Lastly, from Minnesota:

Until next time, good vibes keeping players healthy, stay safe and be well.

3/25/2021

One week everyone until Opening Day. No more consternation about where a player may hit in the lineup or roster battle updates. Games will matter and hopefully prospects get a chance to ply their wares in the majors. With the season on the horizon, here's the latest spring training hitter updates of interest. 

Milwaukee

Following up on Christian Yelich , it feels like he can be targeted with confidence with the depressed price in the first round this year, especially with pitchers getting pushed up draft boards: 

 

Within Adam McAlvy's game notes on MLB.com, Yelich left the game with a robust .450/.542/1.000 slash line. He's homered in each of his last two games, drove in a run in three consecutive contests and hit safely in his last four. And for those still sleeping on Kolten Wong :

 

His three home runs occurred against Jon Gray , Clayton Kershaw and Caleb Smith , two southpaws for those scoring at home. Giddy up. 

Chicago White Sox

Hopefully fantasy players do not need the sad trombone but this injury could impact the 2021 season for Eloy Jiménez

While we hold our collective breaths, keep tabs on news which may follow later today:

For the good news, Andrew Vaughn should break camp with the team.

Can he play left field? 

Atlanta

It's been a weird spring for Austin Riley but he’s heating up at the right time:

He finished 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI, but played in right field? 

Colorado

While it remains to be seen if the franchise actually provides Garrett Hampson full-time at-bats, but he's ready to rack up precious stolen bases in a scarce market per Thomas Harding's game notes on MLB.com: 

During Wednesday's game, he finished 1-for-3 with two runs, a walk and two stolen bases moving his spring total to four. Teammate Raimel Tapia went 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and stole his second base of spring as well. Could this be the go-go Rox? 

Cleveland

From the life imitates art segment of the column, any fan of Major League should understand the terrific irony of this play from Wednesday: 

Also of interest from this contest, Franmil Reyes hit a triple but no video as of yet. He's hitting .324 through 34 at-bats with four home runs, a stolen base and a 1.145 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Josh Naylor snapped out of a slump with a combo meal going 2-for-3 including his first home run and second stolen base of spring. 

Roundup

Adam Frazier of the PIrates hit his second spring home run and carries a .563 average through 32 at-bats while hitting leadoff. That's good right?

Bounce back candidate Justin Upton also turned in a combo meal launching his fourth home run and stealing his second base. He's hitting a cool .394 with 10 RBI and a 1.293 OPS over 33 at-bats. 

Stay hot Ketel Marte . He scored three runs, hit his third spring home run and carries a robust .353/.450/.765 slash during his 34 spring at-bats to this point. #ReboundSZN

Last but not least, keep tabs on Taylor Trammel, he may steal the job in left field until Jarred Kelenic's ready (cough, his Super 2 lapses, cough): 

3/24/2021

Only eight more sleeps until Opening Day. A very busy Tuesday on the injury front along with eyes on some player position battles taking shape. And this time, J.T. Realmuto being listed in the lineup did not result in a tease. 

Philadelphia

Starting with the good news before delving into the bad, Realmuto made the most of his first spring at-bat:

 

Appears the power may not be an issue going forward. Within Todd Zolecki's game notes following the game on MLB.com, a new leader for the center field job may be emerging: 

 

Those searching for late speed options in drafts should keep Roman Quinn in the queue: 

He's only hit .213 in each of the last two seasons but stole 12 bases last year with only 116 plate appearances. 

San Diego

Although it's trending towards a non-issue, when a star walks off with a trainer during a spring game, pay close attention. 

 

Monitor this situation closely. While the article references Ha-Seong Kim or Jake Cronenworth could play shortstop along with Manny Machado , the Padres can ill afford an injury of this type if the shoulder issue persists for Fernando Tatis Jr.  

Milwaukee

While the strikeouts continue piling up, Keston Hiura may be getting his timing down with Opening Day on the horizon: 

 

He struggled with elevated fastballs last year so his front foot timing and willingness to drive the ball to the opposite field could propel a return closer to the 2019 iteration of Hiura rather than last year's depressed production with a low slash line. 

Also of note from this contest, Omar Narváez may be a terrific buy low option in two catcher formats: 

 

He's homered in each of his last two starts pushing his on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) to 1.276 through 26 at-bats this spring. Speaking of OPS, Yelich's is up to 1.464 this Spring!

Buying low on Christian Yelich causes some trepidation with those burned last year, but he's a worthy target at his present price point. 

New York Mets

It's hard to fade Francisco Lindor right now, he appears to be locked in: 

 

He went 3-for-4 on Tuesday hitting his fourth home run in his last five contests. Presently hitting a robust .342 over 38 at-bats with a 1.074 OPS, it remains to be seen how he adjusts playing in the National League in a contract year. So far, so good. 

St. Louis

How the playing time gets parceled out in the Cardinals outfield may determine the fantasy ceilings for a bevy of players. For instance:

 

If Dylan Carlson can handle repetitions in centerfield, it allows the team to deploy Justin Williams or others in a corner outfield spot. Carlson's hitting .270 this spring but heating up of late with two home runs in his last three contests. Tyler O’Neill remains hot carrying a .400 batting average over 35 at-bats with a 1.090 OPS, two home run, eight RBI and two stolen bases. Post-hype alert. 

Roundup

Nico Hoerner and David Bote remain in a hotly contested battle for second base with Opening Day fast approaching for the Cubs. Here's the breakdown entering game action on Wednesday: 

-    Hoerner: 31 at-bats, five rus, home run, five RBI, 3 stolen bases, 3:1 K:BB; .355/.412/.613

-    Bote: 32 at-bats, seven runs, three home runs, eight RBI, 3:7 K:BB; .344/.417/.781

On the same day Starlin Castro makes the list as a player to watch: 

 

Baltimore should not promote Adley Rutschman this year but he's going to one of the good ones:

 

Given enough plate appearances, he's a top-10 catcher in fantasy:

 

Yes, you heard me. Kirk's hitting .318 this spring over 22 at-bats with a .996 OPS with two home runs and six RBI.  

Until next time, stay safe and be well

3/23/2021

Only nine more sleeps until Opening Day. Roster updates continue to evolve including one of interest in our nation's capital. More home runs, an injury to track and more in today's focus on hitters. 

Washington

Not able to stake his claim to third base so far in camp, Carter Kieboom faces the reality of potentially starting the season at the alternate site. Especially when viewing the lineup for Tuesday's spring game versus St. Louis: 

 

This comes on the heels of a tweet suggesting manager Dave Martinez may be evaluating using Starlin Castro at third base at the onset of the season:

 

It's easy to forget he's a fantasy free space in drafts at second base and potentially adding third base to his eligibility means using him at four infield spots in most leagues (adding middle and corner infield to the equation). In 2019, Castro hit .270 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI. 

 

Boston

While Christian Arroyo and Michael Chavis battle for the last spot on the roster, each homered on Monday, it feels like the power upside of Bobby Dalbec flies below the radar. He launched his sixth home run this spring, over 36 at-bats (one in every six) and boasts a 1.317 on-base plus slugging percentage. Here's his spray chart so far: 

 

 

There's a chance he hits 30-plus home runs in 2021 with a strikeout rate over 30 percent, so pair him up late with Nick Madrigal for a fantasy Frankenstein. It balances his average and gives one the potential for two 20/10 hitters. 

Texas

Nick Solak cranked out his fourth home run of spring. Could this translate into a power breakout in 2021? It remains to be seen, especially when viewing where his home runs travel:

Maybe he's trying to morph into a poor man's D.J. LeMahieu since power breakouts usually occur when batters pull the ball. However, this comp may not be too far off when viewing the projections:

Do not be surprised if Solak moves his average closer to the .275-to-.280 range with the ATC home runs and stolen base totals in play. 

Seattle

As previously noted in these updates, the Mariners could be a sneakily productive team for fantasy purposes. Including lighting up Trevor Bauer in the fifth inning last night: 

 

Mitch Haniger currently owns a .314 average and launched his third home run of spring. Evan White also crushed his third home run. Steady Kyle Seager recorded two doubles driving in two runs and owns a .429 average thus far in spring contests. 

Colorado

Everyone likes targeting Rockies bats, especially at home. However, Ryan McMahon seems to slip in draffs.  He hit his third home run yesterday and may rebound coser the 2019 version of production. C.J. Cron continues to rake basting his third home run as well. 

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

3/22/2021

It's moving week for players trying to secure roster spots with spring contests dwindling and Opening Day on the horizon. Here's the latest from around the majors in today's hitter updates. 

Detroit

Rule 5 selection Akil Baddoo continues to impress the Tigers front office. He went 1-for-3 on Sunday hitting leadoff recording a combo meal (home run plus stolen base). As for the home run: 

 

Currently hitting .357 with a 1.352 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), he's launched four home runs while stealing two bases thus far in camp. There's no clear picture regarding playing time in the outfield except for Robbie Grossman , so keep close tabs on Baddoo, especially for rosters needing stolen base upside which can afford a batting average in the .240's. 

Cleveland

Staying in the division, Cleveland optioned Oscar Mercardo to their alternate site, so he's out of the running for center field. Bradley Zimmer (remember him) may steal this job on Opening Day with Harold Ramirez and Amed Rosario still in the running. 

Remember when everyone wanted Franmil (The Franimal) Reyes on their roster last year as a less expensive alternative to Giancarlo Stanton ? Although his nine home runs disappointed fantasy owners, Reyes improved his average to .275 and his on-base percentage to 34.4 percent in 2020. He still hits baseballs a very far distance and only turns 26 in July: 

 

He's one season removed from 37 home runs over a full season entering his power peak. 

Minnesota

Yes, there's other divisions other than the American League Central, but one cannot change the news cycle. Another post-hype candidate may be emerging with the Twins. Willians Astudillo went 2-for-5 on Sunday hitting his second home run. He's hitting .360 this spring through 25 at-bats with six RBI and a robust 1.127 OPS. Getting a catcher eligible player in deep formats who may get at-bats at first base and even the outfield with his team in a National League park on Opening Day presents a terrific opportunity for a player with a career 92.7 Z-Contact (in the strike zone) percentage. 

Pittsburgh

This team will not compete for a divisional title. However, it's players often get overlooked in fantasy drafts. Adam Frazier went 2-for-4 on Sunday, which lowered his average to .577 this spring over 26 at-bats. He boasts a 1.477 OPS with five RBI and a stolen base. 

Bryan Reynolds cratered in batting average last year hitting a paltry .189/.275/.357. Between 2016-through-2019, he never hit below .300 at any level in the minors. During his rookie season with Pittsburgh he slashed .314/.377/.503 with 16 home runs in 134 contests. He launched his third home run of spring on Sunday and carries a .290 average with a .984 OPS during 31 spring at-bats. Batting average upside gets scarce late in drafts, do not forget about Reynolds. 

San Francisco

Strong Sunday from the Giants led by Mike Yastrzemski going 2-for-4 with a triple, his second spring tater driving in four runs. He's hitting a cool .308 this spring with no signs of slowing down after his breakout campaign. Evan Longoria hit very well below the radar last year and launched his fourth home run in this contest. However, he's still not ready to play third base putting his Opening Day status in question. 

No extra-base hits yet in camp for fantasy Swiss army knife (multiple eligibility) Marco Dubon. But, he went 1-for-2 with two runs, a walk and two stolen bases. He's hitting .292 with a .486 on-base percentage plus four steals so far in spring training. Speed chasers unite. 

Roundup

It makes sense, but sad trombone for this alert: 

 

But, you're saying there's a chance for the future? 

 

Took him as my first pick in the Tout Wars reserve round, I still believe. 

By the way, save some for the regular season Corey Seager , put him in bubble wrap: 

 

Stay safe and be well until next time

3/21/2021

It's moving time for hitters trying to nail down spots on the roster, their swing or where they hit in the lineup. Fantasy players need to discern the tangible information with drafts in full effect and playing time about to be decided. Here's the latest from around spring training regarding hitters. 

Philadelphia

Look who's back, back again:

Arriving to game action way ahead of schedule, J.T. Realmuto makes his spring debut as the designated hitter returning from a thumb injury. Key on his exit velocities if possible but this appears to be a positive sign for his upcoming season. 

Update: Unfortunately, Realmuto has been scratched from today's lineup... The wait continues...

 

Oakland

Maintaining his groove all spring, Matt Olson would prefer the season to start tomorrow. He went 3-for-4 on Saturday including a double and his fifth spring home run: 

He's hitting .406 through 32 at-bats with a robust 1.424 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Teammate Elvis Andrus chipped in with three hits in four at-bats as well scoring two runs, hitting a double and driving in two while batting second with Ramón Laureano still sidelined with an oblique tweak. 

Seattle

Just as hot as Olson above, Ty France also launched his fifth home run last night moving his OPS to 1.470 this spring: 

Not to be ignored, Mitch Haniger batting leadoff and producing makes the Mariners a much improved and deeper lineup. Just wait until Jarred Kelenic arrives. Sleeper team. 

Houston

After flirting with Myles Straw at leadoff, Dusty Baker may be shifting his focus to Jose Altuve atop the lineup. Covered by Brian McTaggart of MLB.com in his game notes including this tidbit:

Included in the article, Altuve appeared as the lead-off hitter in 380 contests. 

Texas

Nate Lowe hopes the team does not decide to start the season with Ronald Guzmán at first base. Making this a race again, Lowe went 2-for-3 on Saturday with two runs, his first spring home run and three RBI: 

Stay tuned, this may go down to the wire next week. 

Roundup

While most focus on the talent of Bobby Witt Jr., and for good reason, Kyle Isbel reminded keeper league players he's on the precipice of the majors as well: 

Michael A. Taylor, went 2-for-3 in the same contest and batting .435 this spring through 23 at-bats with a swing change. He's a placeholder for Isbel but also underrated in deep formats. Kansas City also rates as a sleeper team in 2021. 

Welcome to the spring training home run party on Saturday, hitting his first of many: 

Check back tomorrow for more updates and be well!

3/20/2021

Toronto Blue Jays

Already highlighted in a past post, an update regarding Alejando Kirk breaking camp with the Blue Jays may be boosted by his connection with a starting pitcher hoping to bounce back within a game update by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com: 

As for his home run on Friday: 

 

Wheels up on Kirk as a catcher with upside if he makes this roster. 

Milwaukee Brewers

Encouraging days for the Brewers, especially for Christian Yelich and Kolten Wong . Yelich went 2-for-2 on Friday including a double. Reports suggest he's back on track for 2021: 

 

As for Wong: 

 

Assessing any Cardinals hitter based on the wonky season they endured due to COVID last year would be a mistake. Wong owns a .308/.373/.482 slash with 20 extra-base hits (12 doubles, two triples, six home runs) in 217 plate appearances in Milwaukee. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Combo meal (home run and a stolen base) for Christian Walker on Friday. He's launched four home runs through 27 at-bats this spring with a 1.004 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). 

 

Texas Rangers

When the team added Nate Lowe via trade this off-season, it appeared they moved on from Ronald Guzmán at first base. Fast forward, Guzmán's hitting a robust .346/.433/.769 and hit this home run off of Kenley Jansen on Friday:

 

Also the battle for center field continues between Leody Taveras and Eli White

Los Angeles Dodgers

It cannot all be good news, right? There's no denying the talent of Will Smith evidenced by his breakout campaign in 2019. However, my ranking need to adjust with this announcement: 

 

Volume separates the top catchers in fantasy, so this news presents a cap on Smith's counting statistics if it comes to fruition. 

Baltimore Orioles

Need a feel good story before delving into the prospect roundup. Trey Mancini not only overcame his battle with cancer thus far, he also removed the seal from his power output in camp: 

 

Even if he does not end up on any of my rosters, pulling for him to bounce back in 2021 for the Orioles. 

Roundup

Not only did Jarred Kelenic return to the lineup after suffering a setback with a minor knee tweak, he went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI: 

 

Looks healthy to my untrained eyes. There's no timetable when he arrives in Seattle but, could he be a underrated speed target in drafts: 

 

Giddy up. 

Speaking of speed, Jarren Duran will not start the year in Boston but he may finish it in center field: 

 

He went 4-for-5 with two runs, a double, three RBI and a stolen base on Friday. Definitely a name to stash late in drafts with eyes on the future. 

Willson Contreras moved to fifth in the lineup yesterday but hit his third spring home run and carries an impressive .346 average through 26 at-bats with a 1.259 OPS in them. That's good, right?

3/19/2021

More lineup focus moving to the forefront of beat writer reports which impacts a player's value for fantasy. Some hitters worth noting, especially one trending up in the Great Northwest and prospect tidbits as well. 

Toronto Blue Jays

It's been highlighted, but for a refresher, a potential Opening Day lineup for Toronto could appear as such: 

 

Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic took this one step further breaking down the potential fluid batting orders based on the opposing pitcher's handedness. First, versus right-handed pitching:

Key note here, if Reese McGuire makes the team. Presently, Alejandro Kirk projects to beat him out for the last spot on the roster and potentially could be a steal in fantasy drafts at a depressed cost. Now, versus southpaws: 

 

If this holds true, there's still fantasy goodness to be mined from Rowdy Tellez in two hitter friendly ballparks in home games (Dunedin and Buffalo) until the team gains clearance to host games in Canada. Also, many overlook the potential of Marcus Semien batting second in a robust offense. He's an underrated source of counting category statistics for 2021. 

Chicago White Sox

Consider this lineup a process rather than set in stone. James Fegan of The Athletic explored how Tony La Russa could construct the batting order in Chicago this season. Here's two iterations:

Main decision seems to lie on where to slot Yasmani Grandal versus Adam Eaton , then the rest falls into place. There's a big difference in runs and RBI for these two based on the lineup spot. It also warms one heart seeing Andrew Vaughn in both projected lineups:

Stay tuned and if Vaugn agrees to a contract, wheels up on his fantasy sleeper status at first base. 

Seattle Mariners

Although this tweet contains hyperbole, ignoring Ty France based on his recent results may be a mistake: 

 

He finished 2-for-4 with an RBI but owns a .433/.514/.933 slash through 30 at-bats this spring with three doubles and four home runs among his 13 hits fueling a robust 28 total bases total. More impressive, his 5:3 K:BB rate backing his improved approach. Also hot, Taylor Trammell trying to force his way onto this roster. He finished 2-for-3 with two runs, a double, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base (his second this spring). Armed with a .310 average and .980 on-base plus slugging percentage, if his name appears on the final roster, deep league players need to take note. 

St. Louis Cardinals

Returning to the lineup focus, things may get intriguing atop the Cardinals lineup:

 

Covered by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Dispatch, Mike Schildt may bat Paul Goldschmidt second in the lineup to guarantee him more plate appearances:

Speaking of second, but not in the lineup, Nolan Gorman continues practicing at second base at spring training with eyes on a promotion as the season progresses. Last night, Gorman replaced Goldschmidt in the game and went 2-for-2 including:

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

During his second spring contest, it appears the swing adjustment made by Cody Bellinger may help him remain productive: 

 

He finished 2-for-4 including the solo shot. Gavin Lux continues to rake in spring going 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. He's hitting .393 over 28 at-bats this spring with an .898 OPS (whispers post-hype prospect target). 

Roundup

Following up on yesterday's highlight of Evan White changing his swing, covered by Daniel Kramer of MLB.com.

If there's a late bargaining agreement putting the universal designated hitter back on the table, do not forget about this slugger in Milwaukee: 

 

While Cincinnati ruminates who to keep on the roster and where they play, Jonathan India keeps on hitting this spring. He launched a home run last night and carries a .370/.500/704 slash line with two home runs and stolen base through 27 at-bats this spring:

3/18/2021

Wednesday revealed potential Opening Day lineups across spring contests which reveal some intriguing ripple effects. I’ve covered three such instances along with some top performers in our latest spring training hitter update. Thanks for all the support so far with this running blog and if you enjoy the breakdowns, be sure to get our living Fantasy Alarm MLB Draft Guide for last minute prep before upcoming drafts and auctions. 

Chicago Cubs

First, the lineup which may mirror what happens in two weeks when the Cubs face the Pirates at home:

 

Two main takeaways from this potential lineup, Willson Contreras hitting second along with Javier Báez down to sixth. Every counting statistic matters so Contreras receives a big bump batting second while Báez loses some runs and RBI in this alignment If Wednesday's game indicates anything for a consensus top-five catcher, this may move him into the top-three in terms of production:

 

He went 3-for-4 with a triple, home run and five RBI raising his spring average to .348 with a robust 1.203 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). 

Boston 

With Eduardo Rodríguez firing on all cylinders, the Red Sox also provided a potential sneak preview of Opening Day with their lineup construction: 

Not happy seeing Rafael Devers batting fifth and hope this changes but it needs to be accounted for. J.D. Martinez is currently batting .267 with three RBI over 30 spring at-bats with only one extra-base hit (a double) and three RBI. If he starts slow, Devers could be moving up sooner in this batting order rather than later. It's also shocking to see Bobby Dalbec batting last. He's launched five home runs this spring fueling a 1.345 OPS through 27 at-bats. There's huge swing and miss in his game but also huge power upside. 

Cincinnati

Last, but not least, the Reds also put forth their possible Opening Day lineup last night:

 

Nick Castellanos hitting second could fuel the bounce back season he's capable of. He's already heating up at the dish:

 

Over 23 at-bats, his average sits at .391 with a 1.199 OPs with two home runs and five RBI. As covered previously, Eugenio Suárez receives a boost in fantasy value if he's going to play shortstop and keeper league players need to keep eyes on Jonathan India breaking camp with Cincinnati. 

Seattle

Not much went right for Evan White during his rookie season in 2020. He tweaked his swing in order to capitalize on his burgeoning power and it may be paying off: 

 

After a slow start, he's 4-for-his-last-11 with two runs, seven RBI and the grand slam. Not high on the average draft position radar, as a late round flier at corner infield, White could pay off in deep formats. Beneath his struggles last year, he finished in the 90th percentile in barrel percentage, 95th percentile in hard hit rate, 85th percentile in speed and produced the same barrels per batted ball event as Matt Olson

Tampa Bay

Overcoming COVID and a slow start made assessing Austin Meadows 2020 season difficult. He cracked his fourth spring home run on Wednesday: 

 

It's not all rainbows for his spring results. Hitting .240 with the four home runs and a stolen base, nice. However, his eight strikeouts in 20 at-bats cannot be overlooked either. Currently his strikeout percentage (34.7) should be accounted for when predicting his average. Meadows hit .291 in 2019 with 33 home runs and a 22.2 strikeout rate. Last year his average cratered to .205 with a 32.9 strikeout percentage. Perhaps splitting it down the middle accounting for more swings and misses within his projections may be just right?

Check back tomorrow for more lineup assessments (Cardinals, teaser alert) and more from the hitter updates for spring training. Preparation never ceases.

3/17/2021

Another busy day in spring training contests. In two weeks and a day, games which matter in the MLB begin. Updates today include notes on players trying to learn a position on the fly, a lineup preview, and other performances of interest from Tuesday. 

Arizona

Healthy and producing, Ketel Marte went 1-for-2 with his third spring home run before being lifted as a precaution regarding ankle soreness. Prior to his departure though:

 

Seeing his exit velocity this high bodes well for a power bounce back in 2021. 

New York Mets

Following up on a past post about Pete Alonso , he remains locked in this spring going 3-for-3 with his third spring dinger along with drawing a walk. Check out his recent exit velocities: 

 

Of more importance, his 8:5 K:BB rate so far fueling a .533 on-base percentage. Teammate Dominic Smith joined the home run party as well on Tuesday: 

 

 

He did misplay a ball in left field struggling going back to the wall, perhaps moving him deeper in the outfield forcing him to run in rather than go back may be effective. Stay tuned. There's still a chance he departs late in games with a lead for defense (seventh inning on). 

Toronto

Happy Birthday Vladito! Vlad Guerrero Jr. celebrated in style going 4-for-4 with three RBI and a triple? 

 

He's looking spry and svelte. If the launch angles continue to rise, he may hit 30 home runs this season. As for the lineup, perhaps a sneak preview for Opening Day by the Blue Jays:

 

Marcus Semien hitting second makes him an underappreciated fantasy target at shortstop and Cavan Biggio supporters take a hit in terms of counting statistics if he hits seventh. 

Colorado

An injury to Brendan Rodgers paves the way for Garrett Hampson to play second and Sam Hilliard to stake his claim to center field. Remember who Wally Pipp was? Not sure this comes to fruition but Hampson went 2-for-3 with three runs, an RBI and a walk last night. Hilliard's hitting .267 through 30 at-bats with four stolen bases. Catcher Elias Díaz went 3-for-4 with two RBI as well in a win over the Reds. 

Cleveland

Forcing Amed Rosario into centerfield feels rushed. Good news, he went 2-for-3 with an RBI leading off on Tuesday. Bad news, he committed three errors in the outfield resulting in eight unearned runs against Shane Bieber . Not sure how this evolves but if Rosario can adapt to the outfield, the added eligibility enhances his fantasy appeal. However, there are only two weeks to figure this out. 

New York Yankees

Even though the team brought back Brett Gardner , it seems like it's time to find out the ceiling of Clint Frazier as an everyday player. He racked up three hits including his second spring home run on Tuesday. 

 

His average through 23 at-bats rose to .304 with an .899 on-base plus slugging percentage. Stay tuned. 

Updates, Injuries and News of Interest

It's apparent my love for Bobby Witt Jr. carried over into our show's interview with Dayton Moore yesterday, here's the soundbite making waves all over social media: 

 

Another Victor Robles highlight, he's ready to breakout:

 

If the Cardinals players at second base struggle at the onset of the season, a top prospect may be ready to take over if needed: 

 

Side issues usually mean obliques, and this would be horrible news if it lingers:

 

Monitor this closely. 

Meanwhile, it appears Jarred Kelenic wants to play, and soon:

 

Another day, another Shohei Ohtani bomb:

 

Using him gets tricky in fantasy, but he's on fire.

3/16/2021

Exactly two weeks from the last spring training tuneups, it's moving time for players. News of a potential position switch for a power hitter in Cincinnati creates ripple effects. Three hitters remain scorching hot and how teams handle prospects in the coming days with eyes on arrival times all covered in today's hitter update. 

Cincinnati Reds

Noting last year's effects on valuing hitters comes with less weight, Eugenio Suárez continues to be a top power source in the major leagues. He's one year removed from launching 49 home runs with a .271 average. If betting on which one repeats this year, it's the power. He's probably closer to a .255 hitter but here's the real news to monitor: 

 

Chalk this up to a spring experiment but it may not be crazy to think the Reds fill the need at shortstop in house. During a shift, Suarez mans shortstop often: 

 

As for the ripple effects, it starts with this:

 

Mike Moustakas returning to third base, where he's comfortable could enable a rebound season for him. Jonathan India at second base makes him a worthy flier in 15-team mixed leagues and on the periphery of 12-team formats if he starts strong. Through just under 700 plate appearances in the minors he owns an on-base rate of 37 percent with some power and speed. In spring contests, he's hitting .333 through 21 at-bats with a 1.053 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with a home run and a steal. 

Suarez potentially adding shortstop to his eligibility enhances his profile even if the batting average falls off and Moustakas could hit 35-plus home runs if comfortable on defense. Stay tuned. 

New York Yankees

What a difference a year makes for Giancarlo Stanton . Representing my must avoid last year, he's actually a terrific speculative target in 2021. A reduction in price point along with health could lead to a monstrous season, finally taking advantage of Yankee Stadium. Yesterday: 

 

If this were Dodgeball the movie, that would represent taser or laser or whatever one wishes to call a 120 MPH exit velocity line drive resulting in an out. According to Linsey Adler of The Athletic, Stanton projects hitting fourth in a deep and robust lineup: 

Check out the projection sets:
Talk down his health and pounce for profit, given a near full season of plate appearances.

Los Angeles Angels

As if the hype train needs more passengers:

 

Shohei Ohtani as a hitter this spring: 16 at-bats, six runs, three home runs, five RBI, 2:1 K:BB, .563/.556/1.125 slash line. Mercy. Know how your league handles his eligibility since he's most desirable in daily moves formats or best ball leagues but this could be the year many imagined for him in fantasy. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Following up on yesterday, as Britney Spears taught us, “Oops, I did it again…”

 

For those scoring at home, that's five home runs in six games for Corey Seager . LOCKED IN. He's hitting .478 (11-for-23) with 11 RBI and a ridiculous 1.130 slugging percentage. 

Atlanta 

Speaking of scorching hot: 

 

After stating the spring 1-for-14, Ronald Acuña Jr. launched his third home run in four contests. As for his upside in 2021, check out this tweet from David O'Brien of The Athletic:

 

Pretty, pretty good. 

Prospect Watch

Heliot Ramos , San Francisco

Over 23 at-bats this spring, he leads his team in home runs (3) while carrying a .435/.458/.870 slash line. It's unlikely he breaks camp with the Giants without being on the 40-man roster. However, in this camp report by Grant Brisbee of The Athletic: 

Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City

Making a splash once again at major league camp, Witt Jr.'s hitting .333/.374/.667 with three home runs and two stolen bases over 27 at-bats. Alec Lewis of The Athletic penned his thoughts about a promotion in 2021: 

C.J. Abrams, San Diego

Already chock full of players in the infield, if anything happens to Fernando Tatis Jr. , Jake Cronenworth or Manny Machado , another talented prospect in the Padres loaded system may be kicking down the door: 

 

Enjoy Tuesday's contests and keep track of how Suarez performs in the Reds infield.

3/15/2021

Players returning from injury issues, a potential signing in Baltimore and a prospect keeps raking. Stay up to day with the spring hitter updates on Fantasy Alarm by bookmarking the running live blog. 

Houston 

Although he only appeared as the designated hitter, Yordan Alvarez made his spring debut on Sunday. He hopes to play the field later this week though the team will handle him with caution: 

 

If he hits a couple of home runs, his average draft position (ADP) may soar by a round or two as draft season gets into full swing. Alex Bregman may return as soon as tomorrow:

 

Last, Jose Altuve entered the fray as a potential lead-off hitter with Carlos Correa hitting third on Sunday. Myles Straw counting statistic stock continues to trend down if this sort of alignment happens. Stay tuned. 

Minnesota

During his first at-bat returning from dental work, Byron Buxton left the yard: 

 

It'd really be nice to find out what a full season of his production looks like in 2021. Stay healthy, please. 

Baltimore

Reports from Sunday night suggest Maikel Franco headed to Baltimore gained traction: 

 

He's been a frustrating player from a fantasy standpoint, but check out his spray chart from the last three years of line drives and fly balls with his potential new home ballpark as the overlay: 

There's a chance for a 25 home run season if he's the full-time third baseman. 

Kansas City

Another day, another Bobby Witt Jr. highlight: 

 

There's no guarantee he plays for the Royals this season, but through 27 at-bats he's slashing a robust .333/.379/.656 with three home runs and seven RBI. If Kansas City challenges for a playoff spot, will they stay with Nicky Lopez and Hanser Alberto at second base? 

Los Angeles Dodgers

It's tough to believe Corey Seager only turns 27 in April. He's picked right up where he ended off during the postseason: 

 

Injury issues in the past and a litany of talented shortstops depress his price point in drafts. However, ignoring the huge gains in exit velocity and power last year would be a mistake: 

  • Exit Velocity - up 4.4 MPH in 2020 (97th percentile)

  • Hard Hit Percentage - 55.8 percent in 2020 (98th percentile)

  • Expected slugging percentage - .645 (99th percentile)

If trying to protect batting average during a team build along with adding elite counting statistics, if healthy, do not sleep on Seager entering his power prime in 2021. 

San Diego 

Tough news for the Padres on their projected starting catcher: 

 

For now, his owners should try to roster Luis Campusano as the backup. He made his major league debut last year going 1-for-3 with a home run and two strikeouts. But, during 110 games in High-A in 2019, he hit .325 with 15 home runs. 

Updates

Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic resumed workouts at camp: 

 

Do not fade Rafael Devers comeback season for Boston in 2021: 

 

3/14/2021

Inching closer to Opening Day, shooting for some upside plays in today's updates along with an underappreciated bounce back about to occur in Arizona. 

Boston

A "deadened” baseball could make power numbers a bit lighter in 2021 but Hunter Renfroe can hit a baseball out of any park. He's a volatile player in head-to-head formats due to his streakiness but when locked in, puts up home runs in bunches. His first home run of spring happened on Saturday: 

 

Since 2018, Renfroe's averaging a home run every 16 plate appearances (67 home runs in 1,074 PA) and his according spray chart of fly balls and line drives with Fenway as the backdrop: 

New York Yankees

In an effort to break up the right-handed dominant lineup, Aaron Hicks may hit third in one of the best offenses in the majors. He went 2-for-3 on Saturday with a double and an RBI. Plus, his average may rise if he keeps this up facing a shift: 

 

No, bunting does prove to be sexy, but taking what the defense provides with no one makes perfect sense. His last healthy season, Hicks slashed .248/.366/.467 with 27 home runs, 11 stolen bases and 169 runs plus RBI. This sort of production with an average at or above .250 equals fantasy goodness at his price point in drafts. 

Toronto 

A rollercoaster of average draft position (ADP) for Alejandro Kirk based on if he makes the Blue Jays exists: 

From the NFBC ADP database, he's moved up in recent drafts trending towards breaking camp with the team going as high as 206 in the last three days. Through ten spring at-bats, he boasts a 1.338 on-base plus slugging (OPS) going 2-for-3 on Saturday with a double:

 

Among catchers on Statcast, Kirk ranks second so far in maximum exit velocity (110.3 MPH). 

Arizona

Giving players a pass on 2020 makes sense given the nuances the shortened season provided. One prime example, Ketel Marte . He launched his first spring home run on Saturday:

 

During his 18 spring at-bats, he's toting a 1.439 OPS with four batted ball events of an exit velocity of 112 MPH or higher with a maximum of 113.6 MPH. 

Tim Locastro returned to the lineup going 2-for-2 hitting second and deep league players need to monitor Trayce Thompson . He notched a combo meal on Saturday hitting his third home run and stealing his second base this spring. 

San Diego

Fernando Tatis Jr. missed a couple of games due to general soreness, welcome to getting old, right? In his two games since, Tatis Jr. homered during his first game on Friday and yesterday pulled one of my favorite feats from playing slow pitch softball, tagging from second on a shallow fly ball to the outfield: 

 

Baserunning instincts cannot be taught. This only enhances his power and speed profile. 

Updates

Keeping track of past hitters highlighted in the living blog, some notable performances from Saturday include: 

- Victor Robles , Washington: Went 2-for-3 raising his average to .316 along with four stolen bases through 19 at-bats. 

- Leody Taveras, Texas: Finally heating up? He went 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run and an RBI while swiping his first bag of spring. Eli White continues to push him for the centerfield job. 

3/13/2021

With Opening Day just over two weeks away, teams should start honing on their potential lineup spots as players log at-bats in preparation for the marathon 26 weeks which await fantasy players. Keep this in mind when going through the box scores. Where a batter hits in the lineup affects counting statistics and approach. Now for the top five tidbits from Friday's performances. 

Miami 

In three of the last four lineups, Starling Marte slotted in at lead-off with Corey Dickerson second. Marte's motivated by his pending free agency and one year removed from a 23 home run and 25 stolen base campaign. 

According to Statcast, Marte finished in the 89th percentile in speed last year and the 95th percentile in outs above average. If he bats lead-off, reduce his RBI but the runs category gets a boost along with his stolen base potential. His ability to adjust to the lineup spot should enhance his place in the market place in 2022. Could he hit 20 home runs with 30 stolen bases? Stay tuned. While many chase the upside of Trent Grisham, perhaps the less risky Marte makes sense in the fourth round for steals with a higher batting average. 

Kansas City

Spring updates need to be digested with a grain of salt. However, when a hitter consciously working on his plate discipline: 

Salvador Perez launched his third spring home run on Thursday, a grand slam and presently owns a .389 average with five strikeouts against two walks. From the article above, if he can reduce his free swinging ways, it may insulate his batting average in 2021: 

St. Louis

Another free swinging power hitter may be on the precipice of a post-hype breakout in 2021. Tyler O'Neill launched his second spring home run Friday night: 

 

With a clear path to playing time this year, it's put up or shut up for O'Neill truthers. Through 18 at-bats, he's hitting .389 with a robust 1.199 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with five strikeouts versus one walk. His power plays, can he hit .250 or better enhancing his fantasy status? 

Colorado

Whether or not the Rockies decide to trade Trevor Story remains a tangible question. So far this spring he's producing in terms of power: 

 

But, his three home runs represent all of his hits so far leading to a 1.154 OPS and a .231 average. Two potential late round fliers may be found at catcher as well: 

  • Elias Díaz : 14 at-bats, .500 average, home run, 1.462 OPS, two strikeouts, one walk

  •  

Playing half their games in Coors with some pocket power may enhance any roster punting catcher in leagues requiring two on the active roster. 

New York Mets

Most of the focus lies in how many at-bats Dom Smith accrues in left-field if he gets replaced defensively late in games. It sort of shrouds a batting average rebound for Pete Alonso in 2021. Spring results do not guarantee any carry over effects, but he's hitting .333 with a 1.312 OPS after Friday: 

In 2019, he hit .260 with 53 home runs in 161 games. Last year, his average fell to .231 with 16 home runs in 57 contests. There's no denying his power, so key on his four walks with eight strikeouts to this point as a positive development.

3/12/2021

Flexing its lineup depth, the Blue Jays racked up ten runs in only six innings of at-bats launching four home runs. While the fantasy community seems split on how to project Vladimir Guerrero Jr. , he went 3-for-3 including one of the home runs driving in four runs: 

 

Not only did he impress with the home run, here are the top exit velocities from the game courtesy of Statcast: 

While this appears terrific, how Charlie Montoyo structures the lineup throughout the season affects counting statistics. This topic gets explored within this article by Shi Davidi for Sportsnet including this tidbit: 

There's a chance Cavan Biggio hits seventh if Marcus Semien slots second in the lineup, though Bo Bichette could hit there or third. Then lining up the power bats behind them may squeeze out Rowdy Tellez . So many moving pieces for Toronto but it's a good problem from a team aspect. Not so much for fantasy.

Boston Red Sox

Taking into account it's spring results, Marwin Gonzalez turned in quite a day on Thursday: 

 

He also stole a base. During the broadcast, the announcers suggested he's adjusted his swing. His competition for playing time, Franchy Cordero , may not be ready by Opening Day. Gonzalez in Boston represents a fantasy free space as a last pick in drafts and if he struggles, cut him loose. But, his spray chart in Fenway may play:

Chicago Cubs

Those looking for late round thunder in the outfield need to take note of Joc Pederson . Two more home runs on Thursday pushing his total this spring to five so far and he's boasting a robust 2.071 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) through his first 17 at-bats. Plus: 

 

Cleveland

 

Noting the franchise's propensity to save money, Cleveland could send Andrés Giménez to the minors at the onset of the season. However, he's hitting .333 this spring with a 1.242 OPS and playing shortstop well. This affects not only Giménez, but teammate Amed Rosario as well. Could a path to playing time for both happen? 

 

 

 

Already underappreciated in fantasy drafts, Rosario potentially adding outfield to his eligibility could be a boon if he rebounds in 2021. Do not forget about him, especially with everyone trying to find cheap stolen bases: 

And wheels up on Giménez if he opens the year in Cleveland: 

San Diego

A downside to spring games, injuries. This may be a slight tweak but keep tabs on the Padres talented young outfielder: 

 

During this contest, both Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer homered for San Diego. It's Myers third and Hosmer's second this spring. There's whispers of a potential platoon later this year if Hosmer struggles against left-handed pitching as referenced in this inbox segment on The Athletic with beat writer Dennis Lim: 

Stay tuned...

3/11/2021

Power, an underrated second baseman and two players who may receive a boost in fantasy production if they move up in the lineup highlight our spring training recap

Kansas City Royals

Many forget Jorge Soler played through an oblique strain last year contributing to his low batting average. So far in spring, he appears to be at full health: 

In 2019, Soler launched 48 home runs with a .265/.354/.569 slash driving in 117 runs and gets a better supporting cast around him 2021. 

Washington Nationals

Many suggest second base gets shallow once the top options disappear. However, savvy fantasy players realize Starlin Castro can be targeted as a late round upside play for power with batting average insulation: 

Like Soler, Castro suffered an injury in 2020 (wrist) which depresses his current draft status: 

His last three spots in average draft position (ADP): 298/308/328 and his minimum pick in NFBC contests sits at only 226th overall. Take advantage of the misplaced perception. 

Oakland A's

Strong 2020 campaigns inflate Trent Grisham and Randy Arozarena draft capital. Ramón Laureano struggled last year which puts him well behind these two but with some intriguing upside without some of the risk. Especially given the different price points. Laureano recorded a combo meal yesterday hitting his second spring home run and stealing base going 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Let others sleep on him and target Laureano for a rebound season in 2021. 

Houston Astros

Just when it felt safe to count on Myles Straw getting a shot to hit atop the Astros lineup, Carlos Correa tossed his hat into the contest fueled by a 3-for-3 game batting first on Wednesday. All teams continue to move guys around the order but if Correa hits first and Straw drops to the bottom of the order, things shift in terms of counting statistics for both. Stay tuned. 

Detroit Tigers

Not only did Isaac Paredes hit a home run on Wednesday: 

He's also been taking ground balls at second base as a backup plan for the team. Although Paredes struggled a bit during his debut last season, he's capable of 12-to-15 home runs with some pocket stolen bases. Fringe mixed league guy but could be productive in 15-team leagues or deeper.

 

3/10/2021

Production in drafts can be provided from names who fly below the radar. Although, if Ty France keeps raking this spring, it will be tough to target him at his present price point in drafts. His 2-for-2 effort on Tuesday included a double, a walk and this:

 

It would be pretty ironic if he launches more home runs than former teammate Eric Hosmer this year at a steep discount: 

Note the recent spike up to 260th in the most recent NFBC draft result and plan accordingly if targeting him in your draft. Currently France's spring slash line of .615/.667/1.462 features one walk against zero strikeouts through 14 plate appearances. 

New York Yankees

Release the "Kraken” struck again on Tuesday: 

 

A healthy and motivated Gary Sánchez may hit 30 home runs if he accrues enough plate appearances this season. This marked his third of the spring in only 11 at-bats and he's sporting a robust 1.643 on-base plus slugging percentage. 

Atlanta Braves

Perhaps a sneak preview to the top seven hitters in the lineup this year? 

 

Fantasy players need to note Ozzie Albies trending towards hitting second which benefits his counting statistics (runs and RBI) for 2021. Travis d’Arnaud slotting in fifth in this lineup also gets overlooked when taking catchers in drafts. 

Cleveland Indians

Not only may the bullpen be fluid in Cleveland, the outfield may follow a similar path. Keep close tabs on Daniel Johnson for 2021 in terms of opportunity: 

 

Knowing how this franchise pinches every penny, Johnson likely starts the year at the alternate site. However, if the team needs to move Josh Naylor to first base, there's an avenue for Johnson to contribute when given the chance. Across two levels (Double-A, Triple-A) in 2019, he slashed .290/.361/.507 with 19 home runs and ten stolen bases. 

Baltimore Orioles

It's hard not to root for Trey Mancini , a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Baseball needs more clips like this allowing insight to personalities to form bonds with the next generation: 

 

Also news of a potential shift in the outfield in this report by Dan Connolly of The Athletic:

Stay tuned since Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins could be on the precipice of post-hype breakouts. 

STATCAST Alert

Knowing my propensity for batted ball data, it's exciting to see Statcast add spring exit velocities to the search engine: 

 

If interested, click on this link to peruse the names which aggregate on the list. Then start to believe in the Ketel Marte rebound season plus why the Rangers may start Ronald Guzmán at first base this year ahead of Nate Lowe . Think two streets ahead, my Fantasy Alarm nation. Until next time, stay safe and be well. 

3/9/2021

During the daily rush to accumulate the most poignant fantasy relevant hitter updates, neglected posting Cleveland putting two players into purgatory for breaking COVID protocol: 

Last year, the team voted to take action against Zach Plesac , so it will be intriguing to see the quotes upon these two if they return to camp today. This marks the second incident in two years for Reyes. Now for the topics of note from Monday. 

Kansas City Royals

Trying to figure out what to do with Bobby Witt Jr. may be a nice problem for the Royals. He crushed this home run with an exit velocity of 109 MPH: 

 

Hunter Dozier (vastly underrated this year for fantasy), Carlos Santana and Salvador Perez also homered in this contest. This may be a sneaky team for fantasy production. 

Chicago Cubs

Not much went right for Javier Báez last season. His slash line cratered to .203/.238/.360 with eight home runs and three stolen bases. He attributed some of his struggles to the lack of in-game video and a slump at the start of the year too tough to climb out of. So this may warm the hearts of Baéz truthers: 

Playing for a contract, Baéz should be motivated to produce in 2021. Overcoming his plate discipline and contact rates may decide how well he does in terms of fantasy going forward. 

Los Angeles Angels

Representing a fantasy free space late in drafts, a healthy Justin Upton could produce power in the upcoming season: 

 

A "deadened” baseball may suppress power across the league but a healthy Upton could come close to these projection sets: 

If he hits anywhere at or above .240, an Upton rebound season may be on tap. 

Miami Marlins

Many focus on power or speed when building a fantasy roster but stable veterans with a chance to support batting average get glossed over. A gentle reminder a healthy Corey Dickerson deserves late round consideration: 

 

Prior to last year's batting average decline to .258, Dickerson slash lines in the three previous seasons get overlooked:

- 2017 - .282/.325/.490

- 2018 - .300/.330/.474

- 2019 - .304/.341/.565

Keep him on your late round radar. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

An early injury to Kole Calhoun created an aftershock in how the team may handle its Opening Day roster. Due to his speed upside, Daulton Varsho could finish as a top-five catcher in fantasy but as Zach Buchanon of The Athletic explored, does Varsho benefit from more honing of his craft in the minors or log at-bats in the majors in the outfield? 

For the risk averse, taking him at a reduced price point in drafts makes sense. Just be sure to get an extra catcher on the roster in case Varsho starts the season at the alternate site. 

Following up on previous posts about the Texas Rangers, here's how Levi Weaver of The Athletic presently projects the lineup: 

Leody Taveras hitting seventh would harpoon his runs and stolen base upside. This needs to be accounted for in upcoming drafts. Also, Weaver also foresees Nate Lowe starting out at the alternate site with Ronald Guzmán at first base. Hold on, it may be a bumpy ride the next three weeks of spring training.

3/8/2021

Almost a full slate of contests on Sunday with some players making a second appearance in our spotlight and eyes on some health updates. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

It's yet to impact Cody Bellinger in terms of draft capital but he's yet to appear in a game for the Dodgers working his way from a shoulder injury. Here's the latest in his progress:

 

Fantasy players may prefer to see him play before targeting him in drafts so this remains fluid since there's no way to presently gauge his power production for 2021. 

Minnesota 

After another injury riddled season, Josh Donaldson continues to drift in average draft position (ADP). No one questions his power: 

 

However, how many plate appearances does Donaldson accrue this season? His projection sets reflect some dissonance along with the knowledge the Twins will not overwork him: 

New York Yankees

Speaking of risk, it may be time to consider Giancarlo Stanton as a worthy risk profile since he's going at a much more tolerable level in terms of ADP. Especially due to his ability to produce hard hits: 

 

Reports continually suggest Aaron Hicks may bat third in a robust offense, he's a steal right now in drafts. 

Oakland 

For a second straight day, Howard Bender's heart throbs, the "Matts” of the A's clobbered baseballs: 

 

A healthy and productive Matt Chapman presents a worthy target in upcoming drafts. Teammate Jake Diekman suggested the two sluggers used video to prepare them for the home runs: 

 

San Francisco

Without ignoring the prospects, a Giants outfield prospect with power upside flashed it on Sunday: 

 

Heliot Ramos enjoyed it so much, he launched a second home run as well. It's a crowded roster built for match-ups, so Ramos may not appear in the majors this year but if he gets a chance in the second half, he's an intriguing bat to monitor. 

Kansas City

With kudos to Matt Selz who identified Michael A. Taylor as a worthy late round flier, he may be on to something: 

It's easy to forget Taylor hit 19 home runs with 17 stolen bases in 2017. If he improves his discipline while refining the mechanics of his swing, Selz may be right. 

3/7/2021

Diverging paths to spots in the lineup emerged on Saturday despite rainouts in Florida. Could a Pirate be ready to bounce back in 2021, a first base position battle in Texas and may last year's runner-up for Rookie of the Year in the American League move up in the batting order? 

Chicago White Sox

On Friday, Luis Robert hit second with most of the starters playing in Cactus League action. Yesterday, he took over at lead-off going 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base. Noting where a player hits in the batting order affects counting statistics, if Robert hits at or near the top of the lineup for the White Sox, he should be taken over Kyle Tucker in drafts. 

 

Washington Nationals

Welching on my promise not to provide daily updates about Victor Robles , he hit first once again on Saturday going 0-for-2 but scored a run after drawing a walk and stealing his third base this spring. His results so far in terms of average and slugging percentage do not look appealing, but his .417 on-base percentage while being active on the bases may signal a run to a 30-plus stolen base campaign. Be patient with post-hype prospects. 

Texas Rangers

Part of the appeal of targeting Leody Taveras for fantasy? His blend of speed and power. However, he's off to a slow start: 

 

There's more to being a lead-off hitter than the ability to steal bases. Providing longer at-bats letting teammates see a pitcher's arsenal and being on base. Give Taveras some leash but monitor his approach closely. It's not about batting average in spring, focus on process, especially in walks versus strikeouts for young hitters. 

When Nate Lowe arrived in Texas, his fantasy supporters welcomed a clear path to playing time. However, Ronald Guzmán does not wish to give up first base without a fight: 

 

Stay tuned but bake this into Lowe's allure during a draft. 

Kansas City Royals

Reports speculate Adalberto Mondesi may be ready to play soon making progress from his foot injury. Presently, the Royals may platoon Nicky Lopez (career .556 on-base plus slugging percentage) and southpaw specialist Hanser Alberto at second base. 

Bobby Witt Jr. continues to rake in Major League camp and may force his way into the conversation later this year in Kansas City's infield equation: 

 

Do you feel the need, the need for speed? Check Witt Jr. out during an inside the park home run on Friday:

 

And if you just want to pull for a great kid to breakout in 2021:

 

If Mondesi or Witt Jr. start taking ground balls at second base, rush to the wire later this season for the talented prospect. By the way, Mondesi owns a checkered injury past. 

Pittsburgh Pirates

No one targets boring old veterans coming off two injury riddled seasons. It's also easy to forget Gregory Polanco enters his Age-29 season. All reports indicate he's in good health with eyes on a bounce back season in 2021. He's been hitting well so far in spring too:

 

A combo meal in spring should not make Polanco jump up draft boards, but hitting a home run and stealing a base in the same game should signal he's ready to contribute this year. Representing a fantasy free pass, why not take a chance on a player who may hit anywhere between third-to-fifth in the lineup.  

3/6/2021

Since these updates do not solely focus on player performance so two teams lineup impacts will be explored as well. 

 

Atlanta

 

Not only did Freddie Freeman make his spring debut on Friday, he hit third. Without the universal designated hitter in play for the National League as of this writing, Freeman’s RBI total could be reduced if he hits second like last year versus batting third. Why? With graphics courtesy of Alec Lewis of The Athletic. First, hitting third may result in fewer plate appearances for Freeman:

 

 

However, fantasy owners prefer him driving runs rather than scoring them. So returning to third with pitchers hitting makes sense as this illustrates:

 

Guessing those with Freeman on their fantasy roster prefer him hitting third in this scenario. Another thing to consider, if Freeman hits third, a healthy Ozzie Albies may bat second. Giddy up. 

 

Kansas City

 

While the news above may enhance both Freeman and Albies, this potential lineup proposed by Lewis in his column on The Athletic may concern Adalberto Mondesi fans in the fantasy community. Mondesi owns the stolen base upside to win leagues but his volatile hitting profile and low on-base rates may result in him hitting seventh: 

 

 

This translates into Mondesi potentially seeing 85 or more fewer plate appearances. Which means reducing his runs and RBI by about 13-to-15 percent if this happens. 

 

Lewis also mentioned Carlos Santana , Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez may be fluid in their spots in the order based on performance. If Mondesi hits seventh, dial back his runs and RBI production in all of his projection sets. 

 

Oakland

 

Now for some good news times two from the A's. First, Matt Olson may finally flex his power breakout over a full season: 

 

 

Olson has launched two home runs in seven spring at-bats boasting a robust 1.857 on-base plus slugging percentage so far. His teammate does not seem too worried about his off-season hip surgery either: 

 

Trusting your body after an invasive procedure like Chapman's suggests he's feeling great. Reach for him at his price point before it rises. 

 

Colorado

 

Will the Rockies move Trevor Story before the trade deadline? His team assures its fan base they do not intend to, but if they crater in the standings, it may be inevitable. For now, enjoy his spring debut: 

 

Story told a beat writer he's trying for a 30 home run and 30 stolen base season. Stay tuned. 

 

Arizona

 

While most try and figure out if the Kole Calhoun injury and Tim Locastro positive COVID test open the door for Daulton Varsho to break camp with the team, Josh Rojas continues to rake: 

 

On Friday, Rojas hit two more home runs upping his spring total to three over 15 at-bats. Can he continue this torrid pace, absolutely not. However, could Ketel Marte shift to center field and Rojas get the majority share of second base plate appearances? Time will tell. Rojas’ hit 23 home runs with 33 stolen bases across two levels of the minors (Double-A, Triple-A) in 2019.

 

3/5/2021

Washington Nationals

While promising not to hype up Victor Robles too much, he hit lead-off again on Thursday. Robles went 0-for-1 but drew two walks and stole two bases. This article speaks to his "Best Shape SZN” approach to 2021: 

 

With so many fantasy owners trying to procure stolen bases on the roster, Robles’ stock continues to rise with each stolen base in spring:

 

Plan on targeting him between picks 119-to-130 or sooner if hoping to nab him in NFBC drafts. 

Seattle Mariners

Upside leads drafters to reach on the helium plays who litter the landscape. It's difficult to trust Mitch Haniger , but he's basically free in most drafts. This view suggests he's feeling good: 

 

Haniger generated 26 home runs with eight stolen bases in 2018 with 183 runs plus RBI and a .285 average with a .859 on-base plus slugging percentage. His teammate also does not provide flashy numbers but almost always overlooked:

 

From the second half of 2019 through the end of last season, Seager's launched 26 home runs driving in 85 with a .253 average and even chipped in six stolen bases. He may hit third. Over the last seven days in NFBC drafts, Seager's the 31st third base eligible player taken on average. 

Colorado Rockies

Post-hype prospect alert: 

 

Due to a litany of injuries, Brendan Rodgers does not enter 2021 with the buzz tied to similar players of his ilk. However, Rodgers produced 17 home runs with 12 steals across two levels (Double-A and Triple-A) spanning 474 plate appearances. Plus, Rodgers hopes to steal 20 bases according to Patrick Saunders of Denver Post. 

Milwaukee Brewers

Just when it felt safe t target Avisail Garia late in drafts, Milwaukee agreed to a contract with one of the only outfielders left on the market: 

 

This impacts anyone not named Christian Yelich . It appears two of Jackie Bradley Jr. , Garcia and Lorenzo Cain will play once the regular season resumes. As for Bradley Jr., Milwaukee's park plays friendly to left-handed hitters. Here's his spray chart of fly balls and line drives since 2018 with his new ballpark as the overlay: 

Boston Red Sox

With Bradley Jr. not coming home, this may accelerate the arrival of this prospect:

 

In deeper leagues, Duran makes for an intriguing walk-off pick. He stole 46 bases between two levels during the 2019 season and reworked his swing to produce more power. Stay tuned...

3/4/2021

A day full of home runs suggests the new "deadened” baseballs have not yet pervaded the environment. Fantasy owners hoping for a universal designated hitter (Dom Smith owners in particular) may not enjoy this update:

 

Now for the bevy of home runs and a spring training battle heating up. 

Tampa Bay Rays

Doing his best to make me look bad for the bust insinuation in January, Austin Meadows launched his second home run of the spring already:

 

 

He's one season removed from 33 home runs with 12 stolen bases, 172 runs plus RBI and a .291/.364/.558 slash. Meadows cratered last year after a bout with COVID and if this keeps up, his reduced price in terms of draft capital may evaporate rapidly. 

Knowing the Rays franchise craves lower priced players with upside, Willy Adames could be traded at some point clearing the way for top prospect Wander Franco

 

Adames enters arbitration in 2022 so with teams like Cincinnati in the market for a shortstop, Tampa Bay may be listening soon. Say around when the Super-2 date lapses to enact an extra year of control on the uber-talented Franco. 

 

Seattle Mariners

 

Speaking of talented prospects:

 

A lightning rod of controversy costing a Mariners executive his job after discussing keeping players like Jarred Kelenic in the minors for contract control, Kelenic vows to make the most of his opportunity when it's received:

 

Across three levels in 2019, Kelenic racked up 23 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He's going to make an impact soon. 

 

Los Angeles Angels

 

Before paying full retail for Shohei Ohtani , know your league's rules on how to handle him. If he can be used as a hitter and a pitcher, this may be the coronation of his talent. Ohtani hit 99 MPH during a bullpen session and also connected on this mammoth home run: 

 

In 2019, Ohtani produced 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 425 plate appearances. Pretty, pretty good.

One replaced the other and each homered on Wednesday in spring contests. Kyle Schwarber meet Joc Pederson :

 

In terms of price point, Schwarber owns the higher average draft position (ADP) according to Fantasy Pros (197.2) with the following projection sets courtesy of Fangraphs:

As for Pederson, he's slated to play full-time for the Cubs in a division with only five southpaw starters in it. Here's his dinger:

 

And projection sets with a Fantasy Pros ADP of 293: 

Baltimore Orioles

Entrenched in a battle for center field with Cedric Mullins , Austin Hays recorded a "combo meal”, a home run and stolen base on Wednesday for the Orioles. Through 74 career major league games Hays owns a .272/.320/.424 slash with nine home runs and four stolen bases. If Mullins and Hays thrive this spring, could the team deal Anthony Santander to save money? Stay tuned. 

Boston Red Sox

After spending the off-season improving his conditioning to handle first base, Bobby Dalbec brings easy power to the conversation for fantasy purposes: 

 

Dalbec launched two home runs on Wednesday bringing his total in spring games to three already. Tempering his upside, one cannot ignore Dalbec's 42.4 strikeout rate last season. If he can overcome contact issues (56.5 percent in 2020) and maximize his 22 percent barrel rate, 30 home runs could happen this season. Can he hit .220 or better? If he does, Dalbec could be a sneaky power source in deeper formats.

3/3/2021

Wednesday's five notes of interest include a lead-off hitter with stolen base upside, an injury update in Arizona and a rookie trying to make the White Sox as the designated hitter. 

Texas Rangers

During a spring training recap, Levi Weaver of The Athletic shared how manager Chris Woodward feels about Leody Taveras entering the season: "I think Taveras fits the (leadoff) mold the best. I trust his ability to control the strike zone, especially when he starts hitting. When he starts creating fear (in) the opposing team, that if they leave over over the middle of the plate, he’s gonna do some damage. There’s a ton of power there. When he taps into that power is when he’s probably going to truly be the Rickey Henderson-type.”

Taveras projects to lead-off for the Rangers and swiped eight bases while hitting four home runs in only 33 games spanning 134 plate appearances in 2020. It may take some time for his average to normalize in the majors, but if his team lets Taveras play all season in centerfield, 30-plus stolen bases could be possible. 

Remember when everyone tried to figure out how to draft a batter with a high average (D.J. LeMahieu) to cushion rostering power potential with a low average? 

 

It's only spring training but Gallo seems motivated to improve from hitting below the Mendoza line last year. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Switch gears if targeting Kole Calhoun for power late in drafts unless there's injured reserve spots in the league: 

 

Although a meniscus procedure proves less daunting than other knee injuries, Calhoun may miss a month or two depending on how his recovery progresses. Not sure this opens the door for Daulton Varsho to break camp with the Diamondbacks but it does not hurt. Stay tuned. 

Detroit Tigers

Speaking of two home runs so far in spring, Detroit's Willi Castro launched another home run on Tuesday: 

 

Eligible at shortstop or third base in most leagues, Castro slashed .349/.381/.550 over 140 plate appearances last year with six home runs. He's unlikely to maintain a .448 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), but if he hits second there's a chance Castro could be a nice late-round flier, especially if he starts stealing bases (stole 17 in 119 Triple-A games in 2019). 

Baltimore Orioles

Despite most being tantalized by Austin Hays , Cedric Mullins could win the center field job in Baltimore. Mullins gave up switch hitting and recorded this hit on Tuesday facing southpaw Jordan Montgomery :

 

For his career, Mullins splits appear as such: 

- Versus LHP: .147/.250/.189, one HR, 111 plate appearances

- Versus RHP: .251/.305/.394, 6 HR, 279 plate appearances

Not earth shattering but then last season the chasm grew even more: 

- 2020 against LHP: .171/.216/.286

- 2020 against RHP: .305/.348/.448

All told, Mullins hit three home runs in 2020 with seven stolen bases. He's basically free in most mixed league drafts. 

Chicago White Sox

Good news for fantasy players getting José Abreu back in camp. Better news for Andrew Vaughn truthers hoping he gets a long look as the designated hitter when the 2021 season begins:

Vaughn impressed those at the alternate site last year and with the minor league season delayed until May, if he does not make the White Sox, he may not be promoted until June making him a lottery ticket, so monitor the news about his service time closely.

3/2/2021

Washington Nationals

Within a camp update by Maria Torres of The Athletic, two very intriguing tidbits of information to monitor. First, as if this player needs any more hype regarding his talent: 

Entering only his Age-22 season, even if Soto increases his stolen base total to 15, it’s a huge boon to his already enticing skill set. A 35-plus home run season with 15 steals and an average over .300 puts him squarely in the top five picks in any draft. 

Teammate Victor Robles has stolen base appeal but his batting average and spot in the lineup caps his upside. Unless:

His projections reflect 20-plus stolen base potential but a spike in runs would ensue hitting atop the Nationals lineup ahead of Trea Turner and Soto. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Taking spring training results to heart can be a mistake. However, when a team’s beat writer suggests a player could win a position, it’s worth noting. Setting up as a post-hype prospect, Gavin Lux struggled in 2020 for playing time and his results. Back in camp with a renewed work ethic and potential path to starting for the defending champions makes him much more intriguing. Juan Toribio of MLB.com penned this update from Monday’s game: 

Across two levels in 2019 (Double-A and Triple-A), Lux appeared in 113 games with 523 plate appearances, 99 runs, 26 home runs, 76 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .347/.421/.602 slash line. 

Houston Astros

Early speculators on the Myles Straw bandwagon need to monitor how the lineup card by Dusty Baker evolves. Straw will get chances to hit lead-off in spring training but does this lineup put together by beat writer Jake Kaplan of The Athletic from a mailbag column project as the best Houston can do? 

Take one guess who sent this question in. Now, compare this to if Straw does not hit first: 

Key on the sentence above this lineup in regards to Straw getting the most plate appearances over the season. Straw owns a .327 on-base percentage in his major league career but an alluring .394 on-base mark during his time in the minors. He needs to be on base all spring to take over hitting first. Monitor closely. 

Also, Kyle Tucker owns home run and stolen base upside but he’s projected to hit seventh in both of these scenarios. He’s being taken in the third round in most formats. Counting statistics do matter. 

New York Yankees

There’s no denying Gary Sánchez or his power. He launched a bomb on Monday covered by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

Fantasy owners prefer a catcher who does not drain batting average. Drafting D.J. LeMahieu as a cushion makes Sanchez easier to target in drafts, no doubt. But, Sanchez last three seasons yields the following: 

  • 2018: 374 plate appearances, 18 HR, 12.3 BB%, 25.1 K%, .186 batting average

  • 2019: 446 plate appearances, 34 HR, 9 BB%, 28 K%, .232 batting average

  • 2020: 178 plate appearances, 10 HR, 10.1 BB%, 36 K%, .147 batting average

Aaron Hicks also mused he could hit 30 home runs if healthy. Definitely in the range of outcomes but his plate appearances by season since 2018 in order (581, 255, 211). He gets a pass for 2020 due to the truncated season and coming off surgery. However, Hicks has accrued more than 400 plate appearances in the majors once, in 2018. It feels like the Yankees finally seem committed to Clint Frazier in the outfield and at the price points, prefer him to Hicks for 2021. 

Milwaukee Brewers

Forced to play center field in 2020 after Lorenzo Cain opted out, Avisaíl García struggled at the plate and his stamina. One of the best shape season candidates for 2021, Garcia flies way below the radar in draft capital but could be a league winner this year: 

Garcia’s one season removed from 20 home runs with 10 stolen bases and a .282/.332/.464 slash line during his 2019 year with Tampa Bay. 

Be sure to check back when this updates throughout spring training. 

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty

ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen

Steamerprojections.com

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski

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