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:

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.

 
  1. Jreasy says:
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    No mention of will Myers after first chart and gains in AVE in 2020. Any 2021 thoughts?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I am a tentative believer in Wil Myers. Steamer clearly disagrees but he made a noticeable change in his approach at the plate last year being much more patient waiting for his pitch. He has high marks across the profile for exit velocity, barrels and more. It has always been his plate discipline holding him back. If that truly has changed, he will be a sneaky value. I will have a few shares.

      • Harley Earl says:
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        BTW, I have Wil Myers in three different leagues. I got laughed at, mocked and made fun of by Grey and others on this website over and over last year. Guess who had the last laugh?

        Grey was so jealous of my intellect, he started touting Myers for League MVP (sarcastically) as a way to deflect his embarrassment for being so wrong on him. Dude has power, speed, a great lineup to hit in and most importantly, a manager willing to believe in him and let him relax and just play ball unlike Andy Green. Of course the adjustments helped but getting Greene out of there was the best thing that ever happened for Myers.

        If you compare his 2019 numbers to Hosmer’s 2019 numbers, across the board they were the same player except Myers equaled Homser’s production in about 200 less at-bats. Yet Greene was benching Myers and playing Hosmer. They got rid of Greene, and Myers suddenly hits again. Coincidence? I don’t think so at all.

        You’re right. Myers will continue to have sneaky value as idiots still don’t believe he’s for real. You and I both know he is.

        • Jeremy Brewer

          Jeremy Brewer says:
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          Myers made a real shift in Spring Training last year. He was basically free and that is exactly the type of lottery ticket worth buying. I am hopeful the price stays reasonable as I expect some San Diego inflation thanks to their offseason hype machine.

        • batflix says:
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          no one is jealous of your intellect

  2. Garrett Hampson, Khalil Lee, Oscar Mercado, Jake Bauers, Alejandro Kirk, Raimel Tapia, Rhys Hoskins, Gavin Lux, Victor Reyes, Ty France. To name a fews.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Great list. A number of those guys are going different directions heading into 2021 and are on the shortlist for profiles! Thanks for name dropping!

  3. Harley Earl says:
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    You fail to acknowledge that Muncy played with practically a broken finger all last season. Or maybe you didn’t notice that during their preseason. I think it was fractured, if not broken. Maybe he’s not ever going to hit better than .250 but his power, the lineup he plays in, and his versatility on the infield make him a pretty valuable asset. I wouldn’t draft him really high, but if he’s available as the #85 hitter off the board then I’m taking him. The reward of a good season outweighs the risk at a certain point for Muncy as well others on this chart.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      You do make a valid point that many of these players will have the risk outweighing the reward at a certain point. I do admit that taking a hard stance is as much about getting the discussion going as it is about the players themselves.

      A guy like Muncy is really only contributing in 3 categories and those types of players litter the Draft landscape. I am not saint, and I guarantee one or two of these end up on my teams when they slip. The key is to be aware of the trade-off when that does happen.

      We both will agree that Muncy should easily hit above the mendoza line in 2021 when healthy and not dragged down by poor luck.

      • Harley Earl says:
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        Yeah, you’re right about Muncy being a three category player, which should drag his draft position down. Unless you play in an on-base pct. league which most leagues use now. Average is really for newbie leagues and greenhorns that don’t follow more advanced stats.

        My league is an OBP league, and although a .331 OBP isn’t much, Muncy’s career .359 OBP is excellent and a better barometer of what to expect than a 60-game sample. In that case, Muncy becomes a 4-category player and a hell of a value when you say he’s in the bottom 10 of the top 100 hitters. His only weakness is steals in an OBP league. Might want to consider writing for OBP leagues, too, as many of us around here play in them.

        Still, you make some good points, and anybody who doesn’t carry a high OBP should be drafted with caution. Overall, nice work.

  4. Hernan says:
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    with all due respect , i totally disagree in Grisham’s case, all his underlying indicators, Line Drive Rate, Hard Contact Rate, combined with his Elite Sprint Speed and Plate Discipline (20% Swinging Outside the Zone, SwStr% only at 8%) clearly says he’s nowhere near a .250 hitter, more like a .275/.280 guy with chance for more and dragging all his counting numbers( except RBI’s( hitting at top of lineup) to close to elite levels, a 25/25 season is easily within reach, with top 5 finish in Runs…, sure you can’t draft a handfull of these hitters and expect your BA to be ok…, Grandal’s ADP is also the effect of 15 Teams, 2 starting C/ high stakes leagues where 500 PAs from him are very enticing , all those counting stats…., Cheers, Good Luck in Your Leagues…

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I really appreciate a great alternative viewpoint. In full transparency I almost grouped Grisham with Biggio and gave him a clean pass knowing that he can at least contribute in all the other categories. I do believe he is more of a .250-.260 hitter than .270 with his track record. I personally would look elsewhere with a pick in the first 5 rounds, but I do see a really good argument for grabbing him if you have confidence in the floor you have built.

      Appreciate the comments!

  5. packers2018 says:
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    Good stuff, going to like it.

    Solack, Profar, Kingery all 2b, OF.

    Kelly, Murphy OAK, Murphy Seat., Jansen, Garver.

    Happ, Santander, Schwarber, W. Myers.

    Thanks.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      That is a fun list. I am sure we will work a few of those guys in as we try to see who to believe in! Thanks for reading!

  6. JKJ

    JKJ says:
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    Enjoyed this – good stuff.

    But.

    You keep on fading Tee-Offscar and I’ll happily scoop him up!! The whiffs are concerning, but his xBA still supported a strong BA. The power is real. His speed was 85th percentile and he swiped 6 bags in a short season. I’m in, baby.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I will be fading him at the current Draft price going in the 5/6. His last two seasons look too similar and I believe we saw his best 50 game stretch in a short season. But…when I am wrong I want a big I Told You So on the last article of the season!

  7. niceguybilly says:
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    Great stuff, interesting read.
    I have the same concerns about Teoscar, we saw best case scenario during a 50 game stretch, which is causing a dilemma with my keepers.
    Goldy
    Biggio
    Story
    Bryant
    Acuna
    JD Martinez
    Scherezer
    Nola
    Woodruff

    Due to some silly rules my commish installed for only this year, I can drop 1 keeper for someone I drafted which I’ve narrowed down to
    Teoscar
    Lamet
    Lewis

    Was originally going to drop Bryant (what the hell happened?) for Teoscar but now thinking Lamet (who has his own injury concerns but if he can play like he did last year on that Padres team). I am also thinking about flipping Nola for Areando.

    Are these good thoughts or bad ones? Thanks!

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I generally favor the hitter over the pitcher in a keeper league, but I am really worried about Bryant. I think Lamet is immensely talented but there is a decent health risk in my opinion. It a bad thought, but I probably lean holding Bryant and hoping he adjusts with a good offseason. I wouldn’t be investing in Teoscar or Lewis at this point and we will hit at least Lewis in the profiles.

      I would be thrilled with grabbing Arenado for Nola. I think Nola will have a big year, but I take Arenado everyday.

  8. Jose says:
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    I saw your comment there at the end about Ian Happ and would like to hear more about him.
    I picked him up early in the postseason to use in CF, but later on picked up Bellinger and will move him to RF. I would like to see your expectation and projections for him.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      We will make sure Happ is early in the preseason. He made some real gains last year. We will dive in!

  9. Shawnuel says:
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    Miguel Sano seems to be a guy tailor-made for this list. I have had him on many teams the past 2 seasons and love his power but OY-VEH, that average!

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      No kidding! I limited the view to the top 100 hitters by ADP and Sano was right outside that group. But we would have been right near the top in both lists! He is the kind of guy you can grab late if you follow this strategy. I personally still would avoid him…

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