TDG 2022 RISERS AND FALLERS: OUTFIELD
Every year in the preseason we in the fantasy world try to identify players who are risers and who are fallers. Now predicting the future is tough because we don’t know, and never will know what a player went through to get to where they are, nor do we know how they are going to respond, let alone if they are going to avoid injury. But the signs are there and rest assured we are all looking for that advantage. As such I have identified two players who I think fit the bill: one as a riser, and one as a faller. Now I am using two factors in considering my choices. One: The player was someone I felt fit the description based on my observations during the 2021 season. Did they rise to the moment? Did they let the moment pass them by? Two: Our experts here at TDG were also up/down on them. They had either fallen or risen significantly in our ranks between 2021 to 2022. I am no fortune teller, in fact I consider myself more of a “Nostradumbass” when it comes to predictions. But this upcoming season here are my two players I will either be buying everywhere, or avoiding at all costs. My riser? Akil Baddoo. My faller? Cody Bellinger.
RISER: AKIL BADDOO, DETROIT TIGERS (AGE: 23, RANK: 48, PREVIOUS RANK: 181)
Akil Baddoo came out of relative obscurity to have a very solid 2021 with the Tigers. After being drafted by the Twins and starting professional ball at the ripe old age of 17 in 2016, he spent 4 years in their minors system. At the end of the 2020 season, Akil was claimed in the Rule 5 waiver draft by the Detroit Tigers on Dec 10th. A tooled up prospect with questions about his hit tool and defense he started the season slow but with pop (.222 avg with 4 home runs), and he then started hitting and running. If you ignore his August 2021 numbers when he got placed on the 7 day IL with a concussion, he hit .222 in April, .256 in May, .348 in June, .250 in July, .256 in September with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases total. Now playing in Detroit will suppress the power, but Akil can take a walk (10% walk rate) and run like the wind (91st percentile sprint speed). If he continues to fill out and get playing time, Akil could easily become a 15-20 homer with 30-40 steals guy that doesn’t hurt you in batting average, and plays in an up and coming Tigers lineup so he should score runs and might even knock in a few. I see him peaking as an OF 2-3 in 15 team leagues. He isn’t elite, but after coming out of nowhere, Akil is here to stay. (Sam Wirsching)
FALLER: CODY BELLINGER, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 26, RANK: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 5)
Cody Bellinger has been the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and NL MVP in 2019. Let me be clear that I understand he has the talent and plays for an organization that gives him plenty of opportunity to contribute. And if you only look at his statcast page from 2019 and before it is ludicrous to think he would be here. But after his atrocious 2020 season (which he played 56/60 games but hit .239/.333/.455 with 12 home runs) he was even worse in 2021 hitting a paltry .165/.240/.302 with 10 homeruns in 95 games. A lot of people will point to his injuries as the reason his performance suffered. And I agree a fracture in your leg and hamstring issues in the same leg would throw things off. But I wonder what drives his value in the first place. When you look month by month in 2019 you see that while the power is stable month over month, his April and May were outliers. In fact they are outliers for his career. I think Cody has value but is no longer an elite talent for fantasy purposes. Trade him away if someone still thinks he will return first round value. His value (for me) is similar to Akil’s with a slightly higher ceiling and far lower floor. I would bet he finishes 2021 under Mr. Baddoo. (Sam Wirsching)
RISER: BRYAN REYNOLDS, PITTSBURGH PIRATES (AGE: 27, RANK: 16, PREVIOUS RANK: 86)
Reynolds returned to form in 2021. Scratch that. He played even better in 2021 than he did 2019! Not only did he hit 24 bombs, 35 doubles with 90 runs batted in, but he also walked 75 times. Reynolds finished eleventh in the National League Most Valuable Player Voting and you have to think that part of the reason why he was so low in the rankings is because he is a member of the lowly Pirates franchise. When you look at the sabermetrics, it just shows how elite Reynolds was. He doesn’t chase so he doesn’t strike out a lot. He puts the barrel to the ball among the best in the league. His expected batting average is elite. He gets on base with great efficiency. The only thing Reynolds has against him is the team he plays for. Don’t let that be the reason why you don’t have him in Dynasty.
I also wrote on Bryan Reynolds for our overall rankings at the outfielder position. There is so much to be excited about with Reynolds. Before the short COVID season that didn’t go well for Reynolds, he had a very impressive 2019 season. (Brett Cook)
FALLER: TRENT GRISHAM, SAN DIEGO PADRES (AGE: 25, RANK: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 16)
Whereas Reynolds dominated last season, the same cannot be said for Grisham. This was the first full season for Grisham. You are probably thinking something around the lines of, “Didn’t he play in 59 out of 60 games in 2020?” Yes, but that wasn’t a full season. Sorry!
And what did we do with Grisham in our rankings following that success in a shortened season? We ranked him at 16! Did he live up to that? No. No, he didn’t.
Let me be clear, though. Grisham wasn’t bad in 2021. He just wasn’t great. In Grisham’s first full length MLB season he didn’t produce among the best of them.
His sabermetrics tell the same story as Grisham declined in all the following areas: average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard hit percentage, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, barrel percentage, and walk percentage. I could go on a little further but you get the point.
This is not to say that you should avoid Grisham. Just letting you know the potential risk involved if you view him higher than you should. His ranking in the low 30’s at the outfielder position feels like a safe place to draft him. (Brett Cook)