The 2020 season was an adventure for several reasons.  However, there were still breakouts and breakdowns across the circuits.  It is always much more fun to talk about the young upstart that represented a draft day gamble that paid off, while it is much more likely that identifying the early season pickups will win the day (or league).  We are not talking about predicting that Christian Yelich will rebound from a rough 2020 as a bounce back.  Anybody can make those calls.  The real winners find diamonds in the rough that have been cast off and left for dead.

A few weeks into the season is a great time to find waiver wire gems to plug the holes in your draft strategy or react to the injury bug.  In today’s hitter profiles column we will look at some names delivering early season value after abysmal 2020 seasons. and make the call on whether we should buy or sell them for the long haul.

 

Eduardo Escobar

2020 was a wasted year for Eduardo Escobar after slugging 35 home runs in 2019.  As of Thursday evening, Escobar had already surpassed his home run total from last year with his 5th long ball of 2021.  After starting the season 1 for his first 21 plate appearances, he certainly has shown glimpses of that power hitter that we hope he can be.  Should we invest?

Sell: Escobar’s exit velocity is down, his hard hit rates are down and furthermore the strikeouts are up.  Shall I continue?  While we are still very much in small sample size space, pitchers are also peppering Escobar with more breaking balls than ever.  There really isn’t much to see here, which is disappointing for a player that was a fantasy fixture just a few seasons ago.

 

Travis Shaw

After a disappointing exit from Milwaukee following a dreadful season in 2019, Shaw tried to revive his career north of the border.  A disappointing .239 average and 6 long balls across 50 games in 2020 did little to restore faith that Shaw would be an asset heading into the 2021 season.  Through only 11 games this season, Shaw has produced nearly half of the counting stats of the prior season along with a respectable .297 average.  So, do we buy or sell?

Buy: Shaw has seen his K rate drop noticeably in the early going from nearly 28% in 2020 to under 20% this year.  While still early, the plate discipline is closer to his early Brew Crew seasons.  I would not expect 30 home run power and 100 RBI, but a corner infield spot in the fantasy lineup is reasonable for Shaw during the 2021 campaign.  I have added a few shares and will be watching the plate discipline improvements closely.

Cedric Mullins

While it may be a stretch to say that Mullins had a down year in 2020, that has more to do with his lack of career fantasy irrelevance than an off-year.  Out the gate in 2021, Mullins is hitting a scorching .442 with a couple of steals atop the Baltimore lineup.  So what is the verdict on this Oriole?

Sell: While the start has been hot, he has amassed a whopping 2 runs batted in with a single homer.  It is quite unlikely (duh) that the .500+ BABIP stands up considering his max exit velocity is down in early 2021 and barrel rates remain at his career level.  While Mullins might be advancing as a major league hitter, he should remain on the waiver wire for the foreseeable future.

 
  1. Norman Ginsberg says:
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    How confident are you that Victor Robles will soon break become what was expected?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      That is an interesting question Norman. Is it odd that your name makes me think of Morgan Ensberg? You must get that a lot. Alas, I digress.

      This question needs reverse engineering to determine what expectations should have been. If we expectations were a top of the order .280 – 20 – 30 hitter than I doubt he meets those expectations which are unfair to begin with. If expectations are more around .250 – 10 -15 then I think he will be that hitter once he works his way out of the 9 hole in Washington. Ultimately, Robles is a speed plug for 5×5 with a dice roll for more. We are fooling ourselves if we ask for more…

      Thanks Morgan…err Norman!

      • Norman Ginsberg says:
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        You’re the 1st!

  2. Russ says:
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    Thoughts on a Joey Votto bounce back?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Despite his numbers, Votto has been absolutely crushing the ball so far this year. Do I think he is reborn? No. He is still a 37 year old hitter with a long season ahead. With improved lineup protection he has in CIN this year, I believe he could bounceback to some extent which warrants a platoon bat or even a Corner Infield placement at times.

  3. Jimmy says:
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    Albombso and Happ….big year or will they disappoint….

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I think Alonso will be a disappointment to many. He is going to bring the power, but little else. Will folks be upset if I say he is nothing more than a corner infield option?

      Happ on the other hand is intriguing, so I would be looking for a solid year, but short of a breakout. If he can keep up the improvements aim his plate discipline then he can continue to produces.

  4. Craig says:
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    Rowdy Tellez too! 0 for 21 and now 8 for 19 with a homer and a double and only 3ks. It will take a couple weeks before his numbers for the season straighten out and people look to pick him up.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I have no idea what to make of Tellez. He has been killing the ball, but strikes out too much, walks too little and is slow on the base paths. If he could just get the ball in the air some more to take advantage! Now that would be interesting.

  5. Joe Shmoe says:
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    Victor Reyes starting off slow or is he just overwhelmed?

    Thanks!

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Reyes is sitting in a platoon in Detroit and is really struggling. I personally see him overwhelmed and would be moving on at this point.

  6. LadyScorpio says:
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    Informative article! Thanks for posting! I have also invested shares in Shaw for 2021. I am hoping that you are correct on his return/bouncing back to fantasy relevance.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Thanks for stopping by, always hard to make calls this early In the season. He is a fun one to watch, so I hope so as wel!

  7. sauceman11 says:
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    I am going to respectfully disagree on your Sell assessment on Escobar. His strikeouts rate was 20% in his amazing 2019. 22% in 2018 and so far this year at 23%. Not far off and he has only 3 K’s in his last 24 AB’s. Things appear to normalizing for him after a brutal first 21 AB’s.

    If you are expecting him to mirror his 2019 numbers, than yes you will likely be disappointed. If you are realistic and expect a .266-.270 avg, 25-27 HR, 90 R, 90 RBI with a handful of steals and a 20-22% K rate then sign him up if he’s available. He will not lose AB’s in the desert, has 2B and 3B eligibility and btw he’s playing for a contract…

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Well at least you did it respectfully! He has been very much on fire lately. One of the biggest mistakes folks make in this game is waiting too long to make a decision. I still believe some of the underlying numbers are concerning, but you don make a great point on the contract year which oftentimes does seem to impact certain players.

      Looking forward to seeing how this one plays out. For the few shares I own, I hope you are correct!

      • sauceman11 says:
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        I agree, some people tend to sit and wait too long to make moves with their rosters. Escobar is a back up for me, but he may find himself in my lineup if BLowe continues to play like hot garbage.

        I’m a believer in Escobar’s abilities, and think he will have a bounce back in 2021.

  8. Cable says:
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    if you can…h/h points league ..which side

    I just picked Molina (FA)

    G Sanchez & A Meadows for A Judge

  9. Cable says:
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    which side h/h points

    Judge/Molina.
    Meadows/Sanchez

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Judge is by far the superior talent here which is important for h2h, but o personally can’t get over his injury history to create a gap at C. As much as I love Molina from a baseball perspective, we can’t count on much fantasy production this year.

  10. Chud says:
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    Great stuff!

    I currently have Escobar as my 2B but am staring @ Jazz on the ww. Our league does not have a bench so would u drop Escobar for Jazz?

    Thanks!

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I would be making the jump. Jazz is hot and provides strong speed as well. He will certainly have some growing pains, but I like what I am seeing from him. Just don’t expect it to last at this level.

      • Ray says:
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        You think A Vaughn will come around?

        • Jeremy Brewer

          Jeremy Brewer says:
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          I think Vaughn will certainly come around. Most likely in 2022…Look he will be a good hitter but his last minors stop was in A ball where he had 5 singers and a .250 average across 50 games. I wouldn’t expect miracles this year.

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