Happy New Year, Readers! Yes, I know it’s February, but this is my first post of the year, and as far as I’m concerned, the year doesn’t really start until I can officially start thinking about fantasy baseball. To the surprise of no one who’s ever met me, it turns out I’ve been thinking about fantasy baseball a lot lately; I’m preparing for my third draft now, after having completed my annual Thanksgiving week draft in November and another the first week of January. As always, I’m excited to reconnect with the Razzball community and hope you and yours had as good an offseason as possible, and are healthy and ready to win a fantasy championship or two in 2021. I’m crossing all of my fingers and toes that spring training and the season start safely and on time, which means it’s never too early to start looking at some potential targets for those of us who play in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. Let’s kick it off with outfielders, as we take a look at a handful of players who currently have ADPs (according to the current NFBC rankings) outside the top 250 — but may have a sneaky something to offer, particularly in the deep league world.
Manuel Margot (NFBC ADP #261): Margot won’t start every day — the Rays outfield waters are looking plenty muddy what with the team’s normal tendency towards lots of lineup machinations, the lack of a trade market for Kevin Kiermaier, and the otherworldly emergence of Randy Arozarena. The whole “lack of a defined starting job” thing has understandably depressed Margot’s value, but you don’t always need to play every day to make a positive fantasy impact, especially when it comes to deep leagues. Margot, who was a pretty well-hyped prospect in San Diego a couple years ago, stole 12 bases in 47 games last year (37 games started) for the Rays… that’s enough to put him well on my radar this year when it comes to deep-league speed. I’m not sure what to make of the fact that Margot hit 5 homers in the post season after having only 1 during the regular “year,” but any power he provides would just be a little frosting on the stolen base cupcake that I’m hoping Margot will bake for me in 2021.
Raimel Tapia (#262): I’ve owned Tapia in an NL-only keeper league for a couple years, so I watched him pretty closely in 2020 wondering if he’d ever be able to bring anything to the fantasy table. Speed is about all I was hoping for, but after going a pitiful 2 for 13 in July without a single stolen base, I was pretty sure my relationship with Tapia was over for good. Something turned around for him in the final two months of the season, however, as he stole 8 bags in August/September and ended up hitting .321 on the mini-season. He’s never going to be mistaken for a power hitter even in Colorado, but I do think he has a shot to keep up his newfound success at the plate, which the number-crunchers will tell you was largely driven by a serious improvement in plate discipline. If he does, and plays pretty regularly at the top of the lineup, he could easily become a three-category player that will provide help with average/OBP, runs, and steals, which isn’t a bad deal at all given his current bargain price point.
Avisail Garcia (#332): I was intrigued by Garcia as a Brewer last year, but somehow didn’t draft him in a single league. Turns out that was just as well, since he had a miserable season, hitting just .238 with a measly 2 homers in 53 games. It’s hard to look at those numbers and give him a mulligan, but maybe we should given that he was with a new team during the weirdest and toughest year ever, and all. Garcia may never be relevant in a shallow league, but one only has to look back to the glory days of 2019 to remember that he was not only deep-league relevant that year, he actually was a five-category contributor (.282 average with 20 homers and 72 RBI, 61 runs and 10 steals in 125 games). Any kind of a bounceback would make him worth a pick this late in a 2021 draft.
Joc Pederson (#391): Will Pederson’s recent signing by the Cubs cause a bump up in his ADP? It may, if it looks like he’ll get a steadier stream of at bats in Chicago (as opposed to his 2020 for the Dodgers, during which he got only 9 total ABs against lefties). Pederson, after all, looked like he was destined to be an every day player in the majors after his triple A season where he was the PCL MVP, back in 2014. He put up impressive numbers versus left handers that year, with a 1.020 OPS vs. lefties and a 1.015 OPS vs. righties, and ultimately become the first player in the PCL to go 30/30 since 1938. Alas, those every day at bats were not to be with the Dodgers, and we’ll probably never know if his disappointing results in a small sample size of at bats vs. left handed pitching told the true story of who he would have been as a player who was penciled into the starting lineup every single day like he had been in triple A. Whether or not Pederson gets a better chance and is able to capitalize on it with the Cubs now remains to be seen, but one thing no one has ever doubted is his power — there aren’t a ton of guys with an ADP around 400 who have as good a shot at 30 plus homers.
Robbie Grossman (#405): I suspect that 2020 was an outlier for Grossman, and clearly the rest of the fantasy world agrees given his ADP outside the top 400. But guys with ADPs outside the top 400 who put up numbers that put them on pace for a 25/25 full season are the kinds of things that we deep leaguers must at least pay a wisp of attention to, and Grossman had 8 homers and 8 steals in 51 games last year. He’s a switch hitter who signed a two-year deal with the Tigers early in the off season, and I think we can safely assume that if nothing else he’ll get a steady diet of regular at bats in the short term as they wait for their younger hitting talent to develop.