The first month of the Fantasy Baseball season is now in the books, and it has been filled with twists. Tonight we will break down several of the hottest hitters in MLB so far to try to find out if they are set to keep the progress rolling, or if you should want to swap them at the tops.
To get started each week of the season, I’ll reach out to Fantasy Baseball Today’s Scott White and Frank Stampfl to ask them some great questions that can hopefully help give advice. In this Q&A, we look back at the first month and play buy or sell on a number of the best hitters in Fantasy.
Buy or Sell: Ronald Acuna is the biggest asset in Fantasy Baseball?
- Scott: Sell. Strictly among hitters, it is a purchase. Fernando Tatis has us holding his breath at every follow-up. Juan Soto is beaten. Mike Trout has stopped running completely. Acuna is the only one of the first round bats to deliver everything and then some. I just think you can make a case for Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole and Shane Bieber in front of him, especially in a points league.
- Chris: Sell. He may be No. 1, but that is certainly not clear. Fernando Tatis is still making a solid case, but the real threat is Jacob deGrom, who seems to have reached a new level again. If I had deGrom and someone offered me Acuña, I would not accept; Nor can I say that I would accept the opposite.
- Sincere: Sell. I think Jacob deGrom is the best asset in Fantasy Baseball, by format. DeGrom is just such a clear step ahead of all other boxes in Fantasy. I would blame the Mets for not scoring for deGrom, but they do not score for any of their starting pitchers. If we’re just talking hitters, Acuña is the best in the game right now.
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2. Shohei Ohtani ends up as a top 20 Hitler overall?
- Scott: Sell, just because it’s such a high bar. The fact that Ohtani has started anything but a game as a hitter, including two of the ones he has put up, makes it at least feasible, and stealing bases in addition to power gives him a nice leg up. But in the course of half a year, the two-way game could take over. Maybe he ends up with several days outside of what it looks like right now, or at least he is more prone to injury. It just does not seem like a result to bet on.
- Chris: I do not think I will rank it that way, because he is still a very unstable player – the risk of injury from his pitching is still high, and his matches in 2020 are still great. But he’s in that discussion now.
- Sincere: I’m going to sell this just because of his injury history. Normally I do not want to hold it against anyone, but the fact that he also throws gives him another way for something to go wrong. However, I would not be surprised if Ohtani is so good per game, especially in category leagues because of his steals.
3. Ryan McMahon will finish as the final round in 2021?
- Scott: I do not know if calling him a “breakout hitter” is fair considering the many other candidates, some of whom have not even announced themselves yet, but if the core is that he has broken out, I think I am a purchase. It is not just the surface production that is different. He has apparently corrected his two biggest mistakes, by putting bat on the ball and the ball in the air often enough to get the most out of Coors Field. His outcome rate and average launch angle are both far from his best.
- Chris: I’m pretty much bought in, but depending on when you wrote, Ohtani may qualify himself. But Mitch Haniger and Jesse Winker went an average of one lap before McMahon, while Kolten Wong and Ty France went a little after that. It has been a pretty valuable selection so far.
- Sincere: I’m going to buy, although I think Jesse Winker is in this conversation as well. McMahon has made concrete changes as he strikes out less and hits the ball more than ever in the air. This is especially useful when calling Coors Field at home. As long as he keeps these things up, we can look at 30+ home runs with a strong stroke average from McMahon.
4. Kris Bryant is back and should be a list in all leagues?
- Scott: Purchase. Like so many other analysts, I became weaker for Bryant in draft, worried that his declining quality contact number combined with the recent extent of gnawing injuries had put him in premature decline. But he has already done enough to allay fears, and honestly they seem a little silly now that he hit .282 with 31 homers and a .903 OPS just two years ago.
- Chris: Strong buy. I was most excited that he from our group came into the season, and this start is no surprise to me. Bryant had a bad 34 games last season, and he will probably have a stretch of 34 games this season that will be comparable to that. But he had a .900 OPS the year before, and I did not think there was any reason to believe that the last 34 games mean more. A key for me: Many people cited his poor Statcast calculations as a reason to believe his regression was real, but Bryant had been a must-start guy with mediocre Statcast data before. Now he has several Statcast calculations. Why should I not believe?
- Sincere: Buy, unless someone throws the house at you. We know what Kris Bryant’s upside is when it’s healthy, an MVP candidate in four categories. He certainly looks like that right now, and admittedly this has been one of my worst conversations of the season. I was worried about his injuries, but you know what they say – saving money does not make money.
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5. Jared Walsh will finish as a top-10 1B?
- Scott: You know what? I will purchase. I know my rankings for the rest of the season do not have him in the top 10, but I’m going over my head here. Now it is clear to me that he is a much better contact hitter than he showed in minors, and the power was not really something to worry about. Freddie Freeman, Vladimir Guerrero, Cody Bellinger, DJ LeMahieu and Jose Abreu I think are given to finish in front of him, and only on pure power production, Pete Alonso and Matt Olson probably do too. Walsh is competing with about six others for the last three top 10 places. Absolutely feasible.
- Chris: Sell, but he may not be far away. I’m considering moving him into my top 30 outfielders as well. Although he counts his very poor 2019 audition, Walsh has a .893 OPS in the majors, and I think you can reasonably expect him to hold something around .850 going forward. He has been a wonderful value so far.
- Sincere: Sell, although I think it may end up being close. Walsh had a warm September last season backed by making more contact and hitting home runs. Well, he was picked up right where he left off. I just have to assume he’s going to slow down a bit at some point while Jose Abreu, Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo are back on track.