Back in 2019, Tommy Edman erupted for fantasy owners, hitting .304 with 11 home runs, 59 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 92 games played. In 2020, when his BABIP dropped by 45 points, his average fell to .250, and he homered five times in 55 games. Now, what’s most interesting is after going 15-for-16 on stolen base attempts in 2019, he was an unimpressive two-for-six in 2020. After overperforming his xBA in 2019, he underperformed in 2020, as his xBA was .265.

His barrel rate dropped 1.5 percentage points and his average exit velocity dropped by nearly one mile per hour. However, as the year went on, his average exit velocity was returning closer to league average, and actually slightly above near the end of the year. Also, the end of 2020 was similar to the latter half of his 2019 season.

Furthermore, his strikeouts jumped a bit, due to the fact that he whiffed more on fastballs. His strikeout rate should drop below 20 percent in 2021, but the big key for Edman, on top of that, would be maintaining his walk rate. He did a better job of staying in the zone in 2020, and his zone contact mark eclipsed the 90 percent threshold we love to see. The rolling breakdown below shows that especially towards the latter part of the season, he did a great job of seeing ball four.

He has an opportunity to lead off this season and keeping a solid walk rate will help keep his on-base percentage high, just in case his batted ball profile underwhelms again.

Considering he doesn’t hit the ball overly hard, I’m not too concerned with his fly ball rate dropping over eight percentage points from 2019. However, it would be great if he would trade some ground balls (51% in 2020) for some line drives (22.9% in 2020). Per FanGraphs, his hard-hit rate was 41.1 percent in 2019, but that plummeted to 29.1 percent in 2020. What likely contributed to this is that the solid contact and barreled baseballs were traded in for weakly hit balls. Per Baseball Savant, Edman’s weak hit of 5.1 percent was more than double his 2019 mark (2.3%).

As I mentioned, Edman is going to be given every opportunity to hit leadoff over the course of Spring Training, or at least prove that he can do it. In 2019, he hit .257 with a .289 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot. In 2020, he hit .270 and an excellent 11.1 percent walk rate pushed his on-base percentage to .400. Last year, when he didn’t hit leadoff, he hit .246 with a 6.0 percent walk rate pushing his on-base percentage to .297. His power numbers aren’t as impressive when hitting leadoff, but everything else is vastly improved.

So, what is there to make of Edman for 2021? Through 147 big league games, he’s slashed .283/.337/.449 with 16 home runs, 88 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. He’s been pretty damn impressive. Furthermore, he offers excellent lineup versatility, considering you can put him at multiple positions, but my favorite thing to do is draft him with the expectation of being my second baseman.

He’s incredibly fast and should be much better on the bases in 2021. His fantasy value will be at its highest if he can hit at the top of the lineup, maintain a solid walk rate to drive up his on-base percentage, and use those wheels to pad his run totals, as well as the RBI numbers for Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado .

Edman’s current average draft position, per NFBC data, is coming in at pick 129, which places him in the middle of the ninth-round of 15-team setups. I love the price point for Edman. He potentially has a perfect storm brewing that would allow him to benefit fantasy owners in more ways than one.

  1. Can be slotted in as your second baseman, third baseman, shortstop or outfield
  2. Could serve as team’s primary leadoff hitter, hitting in front of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt
  3. Offers upside in fantasy baseball’s most fickle category
  4. Could be a good source of batting average, with a floor of about .260

His power production will be less than ideal, but he could hit anywhere from 10-15 home runs this year, and if he’s at the upper end of that range, fantasy owners would be ecstatic. Well, at least the ones who drafted him! I’m a fan of Edman, and his situation, but again, his fantasy value is at its highest if he can remain the leadoff hitter for the Cardinals.

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