TDG 2022 PLAYERS TO TARGET: OUTFIELD
The two major league players that are my targets both had bad 2020 seasons. Not to discount the Covid-shortened 2020…though that is exactly what I am doing, with good reason. 60 games are one-third a season, and if they played two-thirds more, would they have produced seasons like 2019 and 2021? I would like to think so. Use those who were out on them based on a bad 2020, and still skeptical after productive 2021 seasons, to your benefit.
Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 27, Rank: 16)
Even on a very weak Pirates team, Reynolds’ talent shone through. Acquired by the Pirates from the Giants back in 2018 for star Andrew McCutchen, Reynolds was a second-round pick of the Giants back in 2016; he only played 13 games at Triple-A before coming up during the 2019 season and producing. Let’s see improvements from 2019 to 2021:
2019: 546 plate appearances, 16 Home Runs, 151 Runs + RBI, .314/.377/.503 BA/OBP/SLG
2021: 646 plate appearances, 24 Home Runs, 183 Runs + RBI, .302/.390/.522 BA/OBP/SLG
My two favorite improvements come in the form of his improvements in strikeouts and walks. In 2019 he struck out 121 times and walked 46 times; in 100 more plate appearances in 2021 he struck out two times fewer and walked 29 times more. The only qualm with him is the lack of steals; he stole five last year and that was also his high in any of his minor league seasons. Reynolds was in the 88th percentile in sprint speed last season, and led the majors with nine triples, so, maybe there are more steals to be had.
The major injury of his professional career was a hamate bone injury back in early 2018; since then, he has shown no ill effects. Reynolds finished 11th in the MVP voting and made his first All-Star team in 2021; expect more All-Star game appearances and MVP contention in his future. In NFBC leagues he is the 26th outfielder off the board, at around pick 100; in a recent 14-team points Dynasty start-up I was able to snag him at pick 61 (shout-out to our own Kyle Brown for having me); if the manager in your league does not believe, do not hesitate to inquire about his availability.
Kyle Schwarber, Free Agent (Age: 29, Rank: 34)
Yes, he has been around since seemingly forever (2015), and should be 34 years old, but he isn’t. There is a lot to like in Schwarber’s bat, and since defense does not matter in fantasy baseball, let us concentrate on the offensive value he can bring to your team.
Schwarber had a pretty awful 2020, but his 2019 and 2021 were both great. If we remove the abbreviated 2020 season, he has improved his batting average each full professional season (2017-2021), while also maintaining a 13% walk rate and strikeout rate around 27%. Let us look at the two seasons, 2019 and 2021, statistics:
2019: 610 plate appearances, 38 Home Runs, 174 Runs + RBI, .250/.339/.531 BA/OBP/SLG
2021: 471 plate appearances, 32 Home Runs, 157 Runs + RBI, .266/.374/.554 BA/OBP/SLG
Those numbers play in all leagues. Now, his baseball savant 2021 and 2019 MLB Percentile Rankings:
Just look at all that Red; with that being said, we do already know he strikes out, and is not the fastest. If he signs with a AL team, Left Field, First Base, and Designated Hitter will all provide him with opportunities to get 550+ plate appearances, and let us hope the DH comes to the National League. We have seen what he can do with that many, and for a player that is in the midst of his prime, the ROI on adding Schwarber to your team is great.
He even showed improvement against Left-Handed Pitching; in 2021 his batting average against LHP was .268 compared to a career .214 average against them. I would send out feelers to see what his current manager might want in a trade; it probably will be lower than you think.
Gabriel Gonzalez, Seattle Mariners (Age: 18, Rank: 183)
Gonzalez will not see the major leagues for at least a few seasons, but should be on your deep Dynasty league radar. The Venezuelan was signed for $1.3 million by the Mariners and given 50-grade hit and power tools with 55-grade running by mlb.com, Gonzalez is also seen as an excellent athlete. He hit the ground running in his pro debut; In 54 games played in the Dominican Summer leagues, Gonzalez hit seven homers, stole nine bases with a slash line of .287/.371/.592, also adding 15 doubles and four triples. He is a target of mine in all Dynasty leagues and is not rostered in all of them (I will change that during the minor league drafts, unless a leaguemate reads this first and beats me to him, that is).