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Buy or Sell – Early Hot & Cold Starts for 2021 Fantasy Baseball

It’s early in the fantasy baseball season, but it’s time for our first article where we buy or sell these early hot and cold starts of 2021. Are we buying or selling these players based on their recent or full-season production? What do we make of their fantasy production or struggles? Can we rely on them moving forward?

We plan to answer those questions after analyzing these players to buy or sell. In this first piece, we’re looking at a few younger guys that produced out of the gate in Kyle Isbel, Michael A. Taylor, Yermín Mercedes, Jazz Chisholm. We may also touch on players with cold streaks. With such a small sample, don’t overreact to these stats. That said, let’s dive into the first article for our buy or sell series of the 2021 fantasy baseball season. 

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Buy or Sell – Early Hot & Cold Starts for 2021 Fantasy Baseball

Kyle Isbel, OF, Kansas City Royals

With all these players mentioned, it’s a small sample so far in the 2021 season. Kyle Isbel made the Royals Opening Day roster after a hot Spring Training, where he recorded two home runs and two steals with a .333 batting average in 42 at-bats. Outside of dynasty and prospect circles, Isbel is likely a lesser-known guy. In 2019, at High-A, Isbel finished with five home runs, 26 runs, 23 RBI, and eight steals with a .216 batting average in 214 plate appearances.

Through four games in the majors, Kyle Isbel is hitting .294 with one steal, four runs, and three RBI in 18 plate appearances with a 50% hard-hit rate and 12.5% barrel rate. It’s a small sample, but Isbel displayed below-average game power with no season of more than five home runs in the minor leagues. If he continues to play every day and provides double-digit home runs and steals over a full season, then Isbel provides value in 15-teams or deeper.

For NBFC leagues, he’s rostered in 98% of leagues, meaning fantasy managers already scooped up the Isbel. The BAT X provides a reasonable rest of season projection – nine home runs and ten steals with a .234 batting average. Unfortunately, I’m not buying into Isbel as much as the next Royals outfielder on the buy or sell agenda. 

Michael A. Taylor, OF, Kansas City Royals

Do you remember this guy – Michael A. Taylor? In 2017, Taylor broke out for 19 home runs and 17 steals with a .271 batting average. Outside of that season, Taylor never logged a batting average above .250 in 2019 with only 97 plate appearances. Since then, Taylor has trended downwards but now landed on a new team in the Royals. He’s also crushing it with two home runs, four runs, and six RBI with a .400 batting average in 21 plate appearances. Another guy that’s straight-crushing with a 21.4% barrel rate and 50% hard-hit rate, but that’s not sustainable.

buy or sell
Michael A. Taylor’s 2021 Baseball Savant Data

In the offseason and previous seasons, Taylor adjusted his swing from having a leg kick and now little to no stride with the focus on making more contact. In an article in the Kansas City Star, Lynn Worthy notes the swing change for Taylor. Do I buy or sell Taylor’s hot start? I’m buying into the early season swing change narrative with the early season results, especially in 15-team leagues. In 10-12 team leagues, he’s worth adding in leagues that start five outfielders. 

Yermín Mercedes, UTIL, Chicago White Sox

What in the world – Yermín Mercedes setting records with eight consecutive hits. He’s the first player since 1900 to reach that feat. At 28 years old with minimal MLB experience, what do we make of his hot start? At Triple-A in 2019, Mercedes hit 17 home runs, 35 runs, and 62 RBI with a .310 batting average in 220 plate appearances. His prospect grades show him as having an above-average hit tool with plus raw power, but terrible fielding grades, meaning he’s better suited at DH.

In 24 plate appearances, Mercedes is hitting .565 with one home run, four runs, and six RBI. Mercedes hasn’t quite lit up the Baseball Savant data, but he crushed a few batted balls on Monday night with an exit velocity of 104.2 mph, 103.6 mph, and 112.2 mph. The one unfortunate piece with Mercedes, he’s a utility-only player in most formats. If you need a bat, he’s worth a shot while he’s smoking hot. I’m buying Mercedes more than Kyle Isbel, but prefer Michael A. Taylor out of the three. 

Jazz Chisholm, 2B/SS, Miami Marlins

We know the story with Jazz Chisholm – power/speed combo, but a below-average hit tool. The Diamondbacks traded Chisholm away in the Zac Gallen trade to the Marlins, and Chisholm finished with three home runs and three steals with a .284 batting average in 94 plate appearances at Double-A. Chisholm then made his brief major league debut with two home runs and two steals with a .161 batting average in 62 plate appearances.

In Spring Training, he showed off the power and speed with three home runs and four steals with a .268 batting average. In 15 plate appearances, Chisholm already flashed the power and speed with two steals and a 50% hard-hit rate. Even though Chisholm holds a .167 batting average, he isn’t chasing a ton with a career 26.1% O-Swing% and making above-average zone contact with a career 92.6% Z-Contact%.

As long as he continues to receive full-time playing time, fantasy managers should roster Chisholm in 10-12 team leagues. In 15-team leagues, Chisholm likely isn’t available, but regardless, he’s an exciting player to have on your team with the power/speed combo. Eric Cross mentioned Chisholm in his recent waiver wire article as a player to add. 

Gavin Lux, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

As Michael Scott says in The Office “okay, it’s happening!” Well, it seems that way for Dodgers’ top prospect in Gavin Lux. In 23 plate appearances, Lux boasts a .400 batting average with zero home runs, three runs, three RBI, and one steal. With Mookie Betts and Corey Seager receiving a day off early in the season, the Dodgers slotted in Lux at leadoff and at shortstop, meaning they’re prioritizing his bat in the lineup.

Many have said it, including me, but Lux needs playing time similar to the next guy in Kyle Tucker that finally produced in the shortened 2020 season. Do we buy or sell Lux’s hot start? It’s like the *NSYNC song with a different spelling, buy, buy, buy! Unfortunately, he’s likely unavailable in any sized leagues, but ride the wave and enjoy if he’s on your roster. 

Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

Through three games, Kyle Tucker struggled out of the gate with one home run, two runs, seven RBI, and zero steals with a .176 batting average. Since then, Tucker has hit a home run in three consecutive games to improve his season-long stats with three home runs, four runs, and nine RBI with a .192 batting average. Typically, Tucker provides power and speed with a solid batting average, and we can’t bench him at this point, meaning I’m selling this cold start. Expect Tucker to continue heating up and put up a 20+ home run and 20+ steal season with a decent .250-.260 batting average. Read a deep dive on Kyler Tucker here by fellow FantraxHQ writer Justin Johnson. 

It’s never too early to tweak your roster! Head on over and check out Eric Cross’s first Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire of the year and  David Mendelson’s Pitching Streamers!

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