TDG Roundtable: Early Round Players Who Won’t Be on Our Teams
Every week on Fridays, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week’s roundtable topic is players drafted early coming into the season who we likely won’t roster next season.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
It kills me to write this but Nolan Arenado is done with being a first-round draft pick, whether we are talking dynasty or re-draft. He just had surgery on his shoulder that cost him the remainder of the 2020 season, but even if that had not had happened, I still would have chosen him for this roundtable. Arenado has been Mr. Consistent. Since 2016, he has had 100+ runs and RBI with 35+ home runs. *chef kiss*
That being said, Arenado has always struggled on the road. Throughout his career, Arenado has a .322 AVG with 136 home runs and 148 doubles at Coors but only a .263 AVG with 99 home runs and 114 doubles. He also went from 461 RBI at home to 299 RBI on the road. I know you are probably saying “Uh, Shelly. You know that he is still going to be in Denver for a while after signing that deal.” Yeah. I did not forget that but, Arenado has looked really REALLY bad this year and now he will have to recover from shoulder surgery. Trevor Story is a free agent after the 2021 season and it appears he is heading to another team and taking a look at the Rockies roster after 2021…not great Bob. If I had him on my dynasty team, I would see who I could get for him via trade.
Vladimir Gurrero Jr, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Now, this isn’t to say Vladdy Gurrero Jr. isn’t a great player to roster in dynasty, but rather that maybe people are reaching. This opinion is based purely on two start-up leagues I did this year where Gurrero went before guys like Mookie, Trea Turner, Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Rafael Devers. The power is clearly there for Gurrero and it’s elite. His stat cast numbers for quality of contact are bonkers too, however, at the top of the draft, I’m looking for more than elite power. All of the guys mentioned who were going after Gurrero contribute in almost every category, and that’s the stuff you want at the top. I’d just feel much safer going with a guy like Story who’s going to hit bombs, steal a bunch of bags, and hit for average/OBP vs a guy with Vlad’s profile. If Vlad makes some changes and starts hitting for more average, then I’ll surely look like a fool. But I just feel better with a safer pick at the top of drafts.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Let me make this clear— Nolan Arenado has been one of the poster boys for consistently having elite seasons. From 2015-2019 alone, Arenado accumulated 196 home runs, 621 runs batted in, 519 runs scored, and a batting average hovering around the .300 mark every season. But this season has not been kind to Arenado thus far. Through 201 plate appearances, the Colorado third baseman owns an underwhelming .253/.303/.434 slash line with 8 home runs. According to Baseball Savant, Arenado ranks in the 35th percentile in exit velocity, 29th percentile in hard-hit %, and 31st percentile in barrel %.
One may assume that these struggles may be related to the COVID shortened season, not having an official preseason, the lack of video footage available in the dugout, or countless other reasons. These are all reasonable points to make to justify some of baseball’s brightest stars struggling throughout this season. When having to select a player to fade that should be a staple on a dynasty baseball team, I went with the 29-year-old superstar that may slowly be entering into the more difficult half of his illustrious career.
Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astos
For a guy who hit 41 home runs in 2019, Bregman sure didn’t hit the ball very hard. His Statcast metrics included a 4.8% barrel rate, 89.3 average exit velocity, and .465 expected slugging (xSLG), way off his actual SLG of .592. Those are not numbers that usually add up to 40 HR. So maybe it isn’t that shocking that Bregman has gone deep just four times in 38 games this season. His barrel rate has dropped to 3.7%, exit velocity to 88.1, and xSLG to .401. It’s a small sample size and he battled a hamstring injury, but it’s not encouraging. He also stole just one base in the second half of 2019 and hasn’t tried to steal this season. Seems his running days may be over.
There’s still a lot to like about Bregman. He’s only 26, and his elite plate discipline and strong glove make him an excellent real-life player. But with questionable power and fading speed in an aging Astros lineup due for an overhaul, I don’t love what he brings in the standard 5×5 roto categories enough to consider him a first-rounder.
Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
This one could look very silly a year from now, but I have always been a little suspect at the rapid improvement in his power, and his truly awful season thus far is an easy mark for this roundtable. The 28-year-old (29 in December) tore the cover off the ball consistently in his first two seasons in Milwaukee, prompting the Brewers to sign Yelich to a 9-year deal before the season.
Yelich’s 2020 season thus far has been rough, to put it mildly. His BABIP is well under his career average at .275 this season (stats through 9/24/20) versus .355 for his career which results in his terrible .210 batting average. A strikeout rate 11% higher (at 32%) than his career average of 21% just piles it on. A lot of stats to prove he has been bad, but there are silver linings (you can use as evidence for a potential trade), his walk rate is 6% higher than his career average of 11%, he has hit 11 home runs, and scored 37 times.
While Yelich should maintain second- to third-round production going forward, he has dropped behind some other emerging players at the outfield position. Heading into next season he is the seventh or eighth outfielder for me after some combination of Acuna Jr, Trout, Soto, Betts, Bellinger, Harper, and possibly Jimenez, depending on league set-up. The good news is that it is easy to write off this season for him, and many will do that, and thus the demand for his services could still be high. If your team is nearing (or in the middle of) a rebuild, now is the time to move him. I did try to trade him (unsuccessfully) before his second season in Milwaukee, so while that worked out well for me last season, I am prepared to offer him again this offseason.
J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, Boston Red Sox
No doubt, this year has been tough. But it’s been especially rough on the Boston Red Sox. Their current Injured List lineup is a “who’s who” of players for whom we had high expectations at the start of the season. And that doesn’t even account for losing Mookie. Like I said…rough.
So maybe it was ill-advised for us to expect excellent numbers from J.D. Martinez headed into what was bound to be an odd year by itself. Nonetheless, it’s hard to ignore his significant drop in both actual and expected stats. Heading into Thursday’s games, he was slashing .215/.292/.390 with a wRC+ of 78. If the season ended today, those numbers would be his lowest since 2013. That just isn’t enough production from a player taken 22nd overall and as high as 9th in NFBC drafts. Is he pressing too hard, trying to put the team on his shoulders? Maybe. Could he just be having an off year like the rest of us? Yes, it’s possible. Either way, it’s enough for me to push him out of my top-50 for dynasty leagues moving into 2021.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
I had Lindor 16th overall in my personal dynasty ranks entering the season. Speed was an important reason why he had ranked so highly. This year, his stolen base attempts, a more reliable metric than stolen base success rate, are at 17 per 600 plate appearances, down from 25 last year and 28 in 2018 (all per 600 PA). Further, he has lost a foot of sprint speed since 2018, dropping from 82nd percentile to 63rd percentile. On the bright side, his xwOBA has bounced back to .358 this year (right at his career average), after a near career-worst .336 xwOBA in 2019. His plate discipline metrics, BB%, and K% are at career norms, as is his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. On the downside, his crazy 38 homers, 25 stolen bases, .382 xwOBA 2018 looks more and more like an outlier year. I do expect he’ll continue to be very good, pushing 30 homers and 20 stolen bases for a few more years, but given he’s another year removed from what looks like his peak, his ranking will be taking somewhat of a hit this off-season, maybe to the backend of the top 25 overall.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
I think there are a few names that can answer the question of who from the top 15 in 2020 ADP are we fading in 2021, but the one that really sticks out is Nolan Arenado. His 0.8 WAR in 2020 is a career-low mark driven down by his worst offensive statistical year. To stress how poor of an offensive year it has been, his Offensive WAR is -6.8 when it has been 20+ in each of the previous four years. Now I know that if there was ever a year not to overreact, it’s the shortened 2020 season, but some have hinted at a possible decline for Arenado previously. His Statcast data is down significantly across the board compared to previous years, and this follows a marked decrease in 2019 as well. Again, I don’t want to overreact to a very abnormal 2020, but two consecutive seasons does now make a downward trend for Arenado. Next year will be his age 30 season, so while not “old,” he looks like the elder statesmen compared to the obvious youth movement in the league who continue to climb the dynasty ranks for fantasy baseball. Maybe Arenado is sick and tired of the Rockies not helping to build a competitive team around him and the continuous trade rumors are weighing on him. Plus, the trade possibility is real and his numbers away from Coors Field are well-known. Call this recency bias, maybe, but still for all of these reasons I will skip on Arenado in the first round of 2021 drafts.
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
If I’m in a dynasty league, one player I’d start looking at moving is Trevor Story. He’s been a star, only 27 years old, and even has eleven home runs, and fourteen stolen bases in this abbreviated season. So why would I be selling? Story has one year remaining on his two-year contract, meaning there’s a significant risk he leaves Colorado after next season, and possibly sooner. Story has been helped by inflated BABIBs throughout his career, including .345 or higher the last three years. These are the three years he’s managed to hit .290 or higher. He’s also managed to put up impressive ISO numbers between .238 and .276 those years, but his ISO’s on the road is much closer to .200 and as low as .177. Just today Shelly Verougstraete tweeted Story’s road home runs… 11 a year from 2016 to 2019 and 6 in 2020. This doesn’t make me optimistic he’ll continue to be a superstar away from Coors Field. True a great deal of Story’s value also comes from the stolen bases he adds, but if he were to move to another team, there’s no guarantee in today’s game he’d get the green light. I’d always rather be a year early than a year late selling a player, and I feel most still perceive Story to be a big-time dynasty player. I’d just rather take advantage of that now, rather than roll the dice on his future home later.
Follow us on Twitter!
The Dynasty Guru: @DynastyGuru
Shelly Verougstreate: @ShellyV_643
Keaton O. DeRocher: @TheSpokenKeats
Bob Cyphers: @FZX_cyph21
Ken Balderston: @KenInToronto
Taylor Case: @TCasesLoaded
Andy Lewis: @DynastyLewis_
Jordan Rosenblum: @RosenJordanBlum
Phil Barrington: @Barrington_Phil
Ben Sanders: @HPBenSanders
And follow the podcasts on twitter @DynastysChild
Join The Dynasty Guru Facebook group!
Tons of posts, debates, and many replies from writers here at TDG!
If you love what we do here and want to help us keep making it, or if you want downloadable access to a whole ton of content, you can donate a minimum of $5 to receive exclusive downloadable access to the entirety of our ultra-deep dynasty rankings. That includes TDG’s Top 500 for standard leagues, TDG’s Top 500 for OBP leagues, TDG’s Top 150 prospects, and our entire rankings series in the downloadable form.