Back in my playing days, coaches would always talk about playing to win.  If you are trying not to lose, then you have already lost the game as fear has let itself in.  They were right and maybe if I had listened, I would be dominating the little league circuit rather than writing this article.  Alas, here we are and playing not to lose is finally coming in handy!

There are three categories that can ensure a team does not win a championship at the draft table.  These categories are not sexy enough or simply forgotten in the draft before it gets too late.  For that reason, I take a specific yet simple strategy on these categories…Do Not Draft Player X!  Within the first 10 rounds of a draft, I will intentionally avoid certain players to ensure the floor of my team is where it needs to be going into the later rounds of the draft where I must fill out my roster.  I do not care how far a guy falls, he damages the overall picture I am trying to paint with my roster.  Here is the breakdown of those categories:

  • Average Killers – In 2020, the leaguewide BA was .245 which was the lowest since 1972. This trend is making it harder and harder to determine what players will hurt you at the draft.  Just remember you are not drafting against the league average, but the average fantasy starter.
  • WHIP’d – While not nearly as exciting as the run prevention stat of ERA, WHIP will count just the same in your 5×5 standings.
  • K-Lite – Just as averages are dropping, strikeouts are on the increase and league-wide broke the strikeout per inning barrier in 2020. Anybody under 9 K/9 is hurting rather than helping.

Seeing as I will be spending the next few months profiling key hitters and tracking our Top 100 hitters throughout the season, it is only right that we spend some time diving into the traps of the first category.  So, let us review the 2021 Steamer projections and the past two seasons’ results to find some key names that we need to avoid.  For ease, I will be using the top 100 hitters going off the board in NFBC drafts to narrow the focus.

2021 Steamer Projections

Player ADP Steamer Projection
Gallo, Joey 159 0.210
Moore, Dylan 118 0.222
Lewis, Kyle 124 0.231
Muncy, Max 95 0.234
Grandal, Yasmani 135 0.235
Smith, Will 102 0.236
Biggio, Cavan 59 0.237
Myers, Wil 126 0.239
Hernandez, Teoscar 67 0.240
Suarez, Eugenio 83 0.241

Looking at the bottom 10, a few guys jump out.  Max Muncy has been trending poorly for a few years and has not hit above .263 in the last three years, while Teoscar Hernandez had a decent 2020 fueled by a very generous .348 BABIP.  These guys will cost a top 100 pick while doing more harm than good as power hitters that hurt you in average and speed.  Hard pass for me.

On the flip side, Will Smith projects at .236, but has shown nothing in his two seasons to deserve that type of projection.  I will give a guy like Cavan Biggio a pass as a guy who will fill up the stat sheet and was showing growth between 2020 and 2019, but he is still somebody that I will only be drafting if my early round picks can support it.

2020 and 2019 Results

Player ADP 2020 AVG 2020 BABIP 2019 AVG 2019 BABIP
Gallo, Joey 159 0.181 0.240 0.253 0.368
Muncy, Max 95 0.192 0.203 0.251 0.283
Moore, Dylan 118 0.255 0.314 0.206 0.290
Olson, Matt 81 0.195 0.227 0.267 0.300
Suarez, Eugenio 83 0.202 0.214 0.271 0.312
Robles, Victor 135 0.220 0.298 0.255 0.310
Grandal, Yasmani 110 0.230 0.299 0.246 0.279
Chapman, Matt 62 0.232 0.291 0.249 0.270
Grisham, Trent 59 0.251 0.310 0.231 0.286
Biggio, Cavan 121 0.250 0.311 0.234 0.309
Moustakas, Mike 159 0.230 0.247 0.254 0.250

Here we chart the biggest offenders of the last two years.  Yes, I did take an average of averages to get to this chart, which is terrible math.  But hey…I hear the editor is out of town so I can do whatever I want.

There are only three hitters over the past three years that are going in the top 100 hitters off the board that have hit below .260 in each of the past three years.  Joey Gallo, Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal need to be kept away with a 10-foot pole.  On the slip side, Trent Grisham fits in the same mold as Cavan Biggio above, even going next to each other in early ADP.  He has a ton of potential in that Padres lineup; however, he will be doing no favors in the average category.

So, here we are with my ‘Do Not Draft’ list for hitters going into 2021 as Average Killers with the addition of Pete Alonso after just missing both lists above, yet going in the top 60 in early drafts:

  • Max Muncy
  • Matt Olson
  • Teoscar Hernandez
  • Joey Gallo
  • Dylan Moore
  • Matt Chapman
  • Trent Grisham
  • Eugenio Suarez
  • Mike Moustakas
  • Yasmani Grandal
  • Pete Alonso

As we ramp up to draft season, I will be profiling key hitters each week.  This will no doubt include key names like Christian Yelich and Gleyber Torres who were trending the wrong direction in 2020.  We will also spend time looking at names further down the draft board that showed potential such as Ian Happ and Anothny Santander.  Drop some names in the comments below and I will see who all we can pick up as we prepare for 2021.