DYNASTY DIVORCES: VIDAL BRUJAN, BRENT HONEYWELL JR., ANDREW BENINTENDI AND SHOHEI OHTANI!
This year we are pulling out all the stops for Dynasty Divorces. We are not only talking about prospects but major leaguers. We never want you to get burned by someone in Dynasty Baseball. There are warning signs. It may be easier to spot those warning signs with the prospect in the minors, but we also know you can’t rule out warning signs that you could get burned by a seasoned veteran if you hold them too long. In each installment, Brett and Taylor will both highlight a prospect and a veteran. I guess you could say we are doubling down in Dynasty Divorces.
VIDAL BRUJAN, 2B, TBR (AGE: 23)
Analysis by Brett Cook
Taking a look at Brujan, the majority of websites we tracked decided to drop him on their lists. It seems that the websites that were the lowest on him in 2020 gave him a decent increase on the 2021 lists. These were the websites that had him in the 60 to 80 range and decided to move him up to the 50’s and 60’s. All the websites that had him in the 30’s and 40’s seemed to push him back to the 50’s. Either way you slice it, then, you find Brujan very close to 50 in the majority of lists.
What do we make of that? Were some lists super high on him because of his elite speed? Were dynasty rankers quick to forget that Brujan stole over 100 bases (103) in two minor league seasons across three levels when COVID prevented Brujan from racking up more in 2020? Potentially.
Many sites have Brujan graded at a future 60-grade hit tool, but the more realistic grade to me should be a 55. With every promotion since High-A in 2019, his average has dropped. From High-A in 2019 to High-A and Double-A in 2020, Brujan’s stats dropped in OBP, BABIP, SLG, OPS, and walk percentage. The 2020 season may have been unkind to Brujan, or it may have kept him on a list one more year. Players with Brujan’s profile are so hard to project, especially given these warning signs.
VERDICT: STAY THE COURSE
Swim close to this Ray. Watch his statistics closely and make a decision with this information paired with his success or lack of success this season. It may be worth the risk for the stolen base potential to keep him but you make that decision for yourself.
BRENT HONEYWELL, SP, TBR (AGE: 25)
Analysis by: Taylor Case
You know the story with Brent Honeywell, Jr. Oh, wait, you don’t? Well, Honeywell was drafted by the Rays in 2014, and soon after (and for years to come) was touted as a top-100 prospect. His deep arsenal of pitches (Fastball, Curve, Changeup, and Splitter) all came with above-average to plus scouting grades according to Fangraphs, and to say there were high hopes would be an understatement. Unfortunately, multiple arm surgeries have kept his toes off the rubber for a few years. However, I think the talent remains. Why else would Tampa Bay, an organization as accomplished as any in helping pitchers become studs, stick with him after all of these years?
Beyond the scouting grades, what always stuck out to me were the walks – or the lack thereof, I should say. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: I think MLB success starts with command and control, and it doesn’t hurt that the last time we saw him in a full season his K/9 was just north of 11. Hopefully, some of those K’s stuck around in his healthy arm.
VERDICT – GIVING IT ONE MORE SHOT
Honestly, this is a no-brainer in my mind. Whether you’ve been holding on, a fellow manager rosters Honeywell, or he’s available on waivers, Honeywell is worth taking a chance on to see how things shake out in 2021. If you’re looking for a low-stress flyer with upside for 2022 and beyond (albeit with bullpen risk), it’s well worth taking a shot on him now that he’s healthy. He’s only rostered on 42% of Fantrax teams, so you may even be able to pick him up off waivers.
ANDREW BENINTENDI, AGE: 26, POSITION: LF
Analysis by: Taylor Case
I really loved having Andrew Benintendi on my 2018 fantasy teams. The dude could just do it all. Even 2019 wasn’t so bad, all things considered, as he still contributed to all of the classic roto categories. So while I did not roster him anywhere in 2020 (that sounds like a drag), I have hope for a decent bounce-back now that he’s moved on to Kansas City. Not kicking him out of bed just yet.
2020 was still scary, though. As with many players I’ve written up lately, his walk and strikeout rates were way up from career norms. Now, if you’re an optimist (which I try to be), you might be willing to think that he was simply selling out for power a bit, or maybe being more selective to see a few more pitches in a year where players all of a sudden were not allowed to review plate appearances mid-game. If you’re a pessimist (which can be much easier than the former), it’s probably hard to take your eyes off the .104/.314/.128 slash and 44 wRC+.
Let me tell you, I fell prey to believing his 2020 woes – that stat line really is tough to look at. But it was 52 plate appearances and then he got hurt! And he wasn’t even that bad in 2019 either! Don’t forget that in the three seasons prior (2017-2019), his average line was .276/.354/.440 with 15 homers, 86 runs, 82 RBI, and 17 steals. I realize that his wRC+ declined in those three years and that he may not be as good as his 2018 self, but I can imagine a season where he gets 600 plate appearances out of the 2-hole, bats .265, goes 15/10, and compiles 150+ runs and RBI. And that’s anything but scary.
VERDICT – JUMPING BACK INTO BED-INTENDI AGAIN
Obviously, he’s not as bad as his 2020 stat line suggests. In fact, I think he’s worth acquiring now if his 208 ADP says anything about how people are valuing his skillset. Keep an eye on his contact percentage early in the year. If he’s anywhere near his 83.5% contact rate from 2018, it may be time to go get him from an unsuspecting manager (or, it may be too late!).
SHOHEI OHTANI, AGE: 26, POSITION: 1B/SP
Analysis by Brett Cook
Ohtani has been the talk of the town this Spring Training. What do we make of his 2021 success? Offensively he is having a Spring Training that is reminiscent of Erubiel Durazo’s 2002. Erubiel Durazo’s career might have been derailed by injuries, or maybe he just wasn’t that great. Fantasy owners don’t draft Spring Training studs unless those players are also fantasy baseball studs. Maybe that is too harsh on Ohtani, but, at the same time, this isn’t the player that owners who drafted him 1.1 were hoping for.
We are finally getting to see him pitch regularly, so this year will be interesting for those who bank on his value in the pitching department. When Ohtani was drafted in 2017 he was projected to be a better pitcher than a hitter. We haven’t seen much pitching out of him in three years. From the looks of Spring Training, it seems as though he has slightly turned a corner in pitching. I say slightly because his current ERA is 7.88 in 8 innings of work. The other bad news is that his WHIP is currently a 2.00. The good news for Ohtani is that he is striking out hitters at a very high clip.
Here is the question that you have to answer. What happens if Ohtani never pans out as a starting pitcher? Then you can rule out pitching altogether. Even if Ohtani could be successful in high-leverage situations as a reliever, will this ever happen? It doesn’t make any sense when the Angels are committed to him pitching once a week with four days hitting in the lineup. If he can’t start, at that point you just put an X in the pitching aspect of his game and focus on hitting.
VERDICT – IT COULD HAPPEN
We have all more than likely watched Angels in the Outfield. One of the most quotable lines of that movie is when J.P. says, “It could happen.” For Ohtani, it could happen. He could be a successful two-way player. At the same time don’t get too excited, because all too often “it could happen” fantasy baseball stories become “it didn’t happen” fantasy baseball stories.