What's Not In My Wallet: Players Pianow is fading in 2021 fantasy baseball drafts

Scott Pianowski
·6 min read

The time-worn wisdom is that you can say yes to almost any player at the right ADP, and walk away from almost any player at a bloated ADP. When we talk about targets and fades, you have to take your room’s ADP structure to heart.

My goal here was to assemble a list of name players I have yet to draft this year, with reasoning attached. You’ll see plenty of talent in this piece, and that’s the point. What purpose does it serve to pan a bunch of late-round long shots? The goal is to be actionable.

If you draft any of these players, no worries (heck, maybe later this month, I will, too). It’s a game of opinions.

I’m just giving you my side of the story.

Gerrit Cole, SP, Yankees (Yahoo ADP: 6.1)

This isn’t really a knock on Cole, it’s just a nod to Jacob deGrom as my clear No. 1 pitching preference. The National League is unlikely to have the DH this year, and the NL has more dead spots of offense, anyway. Yankee Stadium is always going to allow its share of cheap homers. If you take a pitcher in the first round, I want it to be deGrom.

J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies (ADP: 47)

I knew I was out before the busted thumb, but that cemented it for me. I’m not going to punt catcher, but I’ll let the market come to me. I don’t like the inevitable chase at pitcher or infield that’s likely to come after a proactive pick on Realmuto. I’d also like to mention Sal Perez has an ADP that’s 48 picks cheaper.

Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros (ADP: 42), Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays (ADP: 47)

I lump these players together because they represent the market’s willingness to price a buzzy young player in an area that he’s never produced before; in short, improvement is baked into the ADP. I try not to get overly worried about batting-order position with major talents, but Tucker slots seventh for the Astros at the moment.

I know Guerrero is capable of terrorizing AL pitching (especially at his trimmer weight), but I’d like to see it once, before I shop at the top of the range. The market can’t help doubling and tripling down on a pet player; any casino player knows the Martingale System is a rode to ruin. Guerrero also hit ground balls 54.6 percent of the time last year; those ground balls will never go over a fence.

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Scott Pianowski's message to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: "Show me the vast potential in real life." (Steve Nesius/The Canadian Press via AP)

Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers (ADP: 68)

He led the NL in strikeouts, and he’s lucky the Brewers didn’t lose patience off a .212/.297/.410 year. Okay, it was two months; we can excuse that for most slumps. He’s already moving on the defensive spectrum at age 24; it doesn’t matter so long as Milwaukee prioritizes him, but it’s a red flag for future value, I suppose. Pitchers have learned that they can easily get Hiura to chase, now it’s incumbent on him to make adjustments. He also had a high barrel rate, his exit velocity was mediocre and his hard-hit rate was average.

And there’s no exit velocity on a strikeout.

Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies (ADP: 82)

He’s shut down the running game, and he didn’t hit for much power last year. The lineup isn’t as deep as it once was. Blackmon’s swinging-strike rate has gotten worse for five straight years, and he turns 35 in July. It’s better to be a year early than a year late.

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros (ADP: 89)

His stolen bases have fallen off significantly for three straight years, and while last year’s partial season is your explanation, he also was a mere 2-for-5. He hasn’t played a full season in three straight years either, and how Altuve steps into his age-31 season is anyone's guess. I don’t know what to do with the fallout of the Astros scandal — it’s impossible to know just how much certain things helped or hurt players — but it’s entirely plausible that Altuve’s game won’t age well into his 30s. I haven’t come close to drafting him this season.

Devin Williams, SP, Brewers (ADP: 127)

Sure, Williams was unhittable last year, for whatever 27 innings means to you. Tell me everything you knew about Williams before last season. The goal for each fresh year is to find the new unheralded relief hero, not chase last year’s model — especially if a juicy ADP bump is baked in. Go find the next Trevor Williams.

[Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Walk and strikeout rates stabilize quickly in a fresh year, which means new relief heroes won’t be hard to find. A few weeks into the season, do a healthy audit of the K/BB rates of all relievers and note how many of the names you’re unfamiliar with. Try to stash a couple of them; they could easily wind up being fantasy staples for you.

Nick Anderson, RP, Rays (ADP: 141)

It’s basically the same case as Williams, and don’t forget Anderson was on fumes at the end of the playoffs. The Rays always have a ridiculously deep bullpen, and they’ll probably use Anderson more as a fireman (roving all around the game) as opposed to a ninth-inning, automatic save option. Think about Pete Fairbanks or Diego Castillo in the very late rounds.

Kyle Schwarber, OF, Nationals (ADP: 213)

Maybe his ADP is too bloated to fit into this list, but I occasionally see Schwarber command a juicy pick (his NFBC ADP peak is 150), so let's squeeze him in.

It sounds like the DH is off the board for the National League this year — it’s absurd that we don’t know this for sure yet — and it’s a shame for Schwarber, who should answer “batter” when they ask him what position he plays. For all the occasional hoopla over this guy, a .230/.336/.480 slash isn’t a story you’ll save for your grandchildren. He’s not quite the butcher in left that we expected, but he’s enough of a liability that he’ll probably play a lot of partial games. He’s a career .197 hitter against lefties, begging for a timeshare. I'd prefer someone with a path to more reliable playing time.