Over the last few weeks, we have walked through the Top 100 Hitters for the 2021 Fantasy Baseball season. In the early rounds, it is much easier to make a pick that might cost you the season than a pick that will win the season. The middle rounds are often about rounding out your roster and making sure you have some category balance. But when the late rounds come around and it is time thin the herd. This is the time that we conjure our inner Billy Beane searching for the late round values that might be a little rough around the edges, but might just win the league.
In today’s article we will walk through a number of players I have been watching closely in Spring Training and I believe can jump into the top 100 during the season. Each of these players has a dark side, but it is the upside that we will chase.
Justin Turner is 36 years old and coming off a world series championship, however I continue to find myself drafting him as one of the last reliable bats at a corner infield position. Over the past four seasons he has hit .300 or better three times while driving 20 or more balls over the fence twice. Did you know he has hovered around a 50% hard hit rate for the past two seasons? Clearly the Dodgers believe he still has a few years left in the tank thanks to a two-year $34 million dollar contract. For a guy with an ADP over 200, you can do much worse.
Mitch Haniger last played an injury riddled season in 2019 and unsurprisingly has an ADP over 250 in NFC leagues. Trusting a player that hit just .220 two years ago is really a ballsy move. However, that .220 in 2019 was driven by poor luck and when healthy he has shown 25-30 homer power with solid batting average upside.
Haniger is projected to hit atop a lineup that could be surprisingly productive in 2021. He has also looked fully locked in this spring hitting .275 with three long balls. I do expect the Mariners to handle Mitch with kid gloves as he appears to be made of glass, but at his draft price there is not much better upside to be found.
Staying in the Seattle outfield picture, we take a look at Jarred Kelenic and realize there is upside abound in the northwest. There should be no mystery that he is one of the top prospects that will debut early in 2021. While he was slowed by an adductor strain during spring training, he is now back in action and just keeps hitting like he has done at every stop in the minors. His profile reminds me of another young outfield from the AL West in Kyle Tucker. While Tucker spent much more time in the minors thanks to the Astros dragging their feet (insert trash can reference), I expect less competition to keep Kelenic from seeing the field. An AL Rookie of the Year and 15/15 season is the floor in my book.
Victor Robles is only 23 years old, yet this will be his 5th season with major league experience. While Robles struggled mightily in 2020, his 2019 season was much more productive than many may remember. In his last full season, he delivered 85 runs, 17 dingers and 28 thefts. For a guy going off the draft board near the 150 mark, there is a lot of profit potential here.
The risk we must watch with Robles is where he will be in the lineup. If he continues to hit at the top of the order like we have seen much of this spring this is a legitimate 100/15/30 bat coming at a significant discount. I personally wish I had more shares as I watch him run and hit for power this spring.
I could spend another 1,000 words on guys that I like at the end of the draft or even available on the waiver wire, but we are now less than a week away from opening day and our Hitter Profiles for 2021 Fantasy Baseball will cease as we enter the season. Throughout the year, I will be bringing you an update to the Top 100 Hitters for the rest of the season every few weeks. If you have read this spring, thank you for stopping in and I will leave you with the honorable mention of the ‘watch list’: