Dokken’s Dudes For 2021
It was just after 11 pm when he came knocking on my door. I was, as I had been for nearly a year; sipping vermouth and playing tiddlywinks by myself in my isolated New Hampshire cabin. I knew who it was before I even opened the door. Sure enough, standing there in his trademark red galoshes was Eric Cross. He didn’t say a word, but his eyes told me everything I needed to know. It was time to come back.
It’s been the better part of a year (and boy, what a year it’s been), but it feels great to be back at the HQ. What I return with is my annual Dokken’s Dudes & Don’ts. What is a Dude and what is a Don’t, you ask? Don’t think about it too hard, it’s just alternate terms for sleepers and busts since people are too picky for those words anymore.
This year will have abbreviated versions. I typically write a post for each position with several players, including deep league plays. With Opening Day right around the corner, however, I’m just doing a single Dude post and another Don’t post.
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To briefly preface – I choose my Dudes & Don’ts based solely on ADP compared to how I think they’ll perform. It doesn’t do you any good for me to tell you to draft Mike Trout. Instead, I look at players who are further down the ADP who I believe will far outperform their draft position for my Dudes. On the other side, my Don’ts are players who are being drafted early. I consider them to be overpriced and don’t expect them to earn their high ADP. NFBC ADP’s listed are post-March 1st.
Catcher – Yadier Molina
With a Fantrax ADP of 320 and the 18th catcher off the board, we have Old Man Yadi. He hasn’t hit below .261 since the Paleolithic Era (actually 2006) and will play more than a wide swath of backstops. He also inexplicably steals a handful of bases here and there. I assume it’s done by firing hot dogs at opposing catchers from a tee-shirt cannon to distract them. However he does it, those steals are more useful these days than ever. Maybe they evaporate (he didn’t attempt a steal in the brief 2020 season) but at his ADP, the other four categories should make him a profit by the end of the year regardless.
Projection: 450 PA’s, 50 R, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB, .260 AVG
First Base – Joey Votto
Initially, I had CJ Cron slated for this slot. However, since March 1st, his ADP has risen to 193 on NFBC with a min pick of 117. So, we pivot to a player who is dropping just as dramatically in Joey Votto. Absent from Spring Training due to a positive COVID diagnosis, Votto’s ADP has dropped nearly 100 spots to 384 on NFBC. That’s the 34th first baseman off the board! He is a particular steal in OBP leagues, of course, but his daily playing time makes him a bargain in standard roto as well. He made an adjustment late in 2020 which resulted in a power surge. If that carries over, he will be a huge steal as someone who is a pure late-round dart in deeper leagues.
Projection: 625 PA, 90 R, 22 HR, 90 RBI, .260 AVG
Second Base – Mike Moustakas
Apparently, I’ve caught Reds fever. It itches! It also makes me want to draft The Moose Taco. As the 11th second baseman off the board with an ADP of 116 on NFBC (120 on Fantrax) you’re getting yourself a potential 30 HR / 100 RBI threat outside of the top 100. To make things even better, it seems as though Moustakas will qualify at third base shortly into the season as the Reds move around their infield. If that does indeed happen, he’ll be 1B/2B/3B eligible, which is just dandy. He’ll be most useful at the keystone, which is ugly this year. If you do use him there, however, make sure to keep your overall roster construction in mind. You’ll have to get your steals elsewhere when you fill your second base hole with a flat-footer.
Projection: 625 PA, 85 R, 32 HR, 100 RBI, .250 AVG
Shortstop – Jorge Polanco
A perennial Dokken Dude, Polanco is the modern-day Rodney Dangerfield – he just can’t get any respect. This year is somewhat understandable, as he hit just .258 in 2020 with a .096 ISO. He was basically playing on one foot, however, requiring offseason ankle surgery to get him back to full health. Further depressing his value is non-guaranteed playing time, as he shifts over to second base with the addition of Andrelton Simmons’ glove. Whether it’s at second or short, however, he’ll play almost every day and hit towards the top of the lineup. He still isn’t likely to steal as much as we’d like. Still, he’ll chip in 5-10 and be plenty useful in all other categories. NFBC ADP 249 / SS 24.
Projection: 625 PA, 90 R, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 7 SB, .290 AVG
Third Base – Gio Urshela
Let it be known that I also love Eugenio Suarez and Yoan Moncada at their ADPs. To dig a little deeper, though, this year’s Dude has to be everyone’s favorite sea witch, Gio Urshela. Urshela has used his numerous tentacles so effectively at third base that the Yankees are considering a move to shortstop, where he can ink unfortunate passersby and blind them as they try to advance to third base. Offensively, he is the complete package. Since he reworked his mechanics at the plate ahead of the 2019 season, he has hit for both power and average (.310/.358/.523 over 172 games).
If When the likes of Hicks/Judge/Stanton get injured, I expect he’ll move to the heart of the order and thrive, boosting his R+RBI. Or, he’ll get impaled with the splintered bow of a sunken ship and face an untimely demise. Who knows.
Projection: 625 PA, 90 R, 22 HR, 90 RBI, .310 AVG
Outfield – Ramon Laureano
I also love the values of Austin Meadows (tossing 2020 out due to his COVID struggles, just like with Moncada) and Jesse Winker. Winker is perhaps my favorite value in all reality, but I feel kinda weird having so many Reds on this list, so I’ll technically give Laureano the nod here. He hit .288 over his first 657 PA’s in 2018-19, but he hit .213 over 222 PA’s in 2020 and we leave him for dead at ADP 144 / OF 37? Hello failure, thy name is recency bias. I’d expect Laureano to bat first or second, racking up PA’s en route to Five Category Glory! His ADP has actually been dropping because the recently acquired Elvis Andrus has been batting second a lot in ST and Laureano has missed time with injury. I’ll take him all day at ADP 144 / OF 37.
Projection: 650 PA, 100 R, 25 HR, 75 R, 15 SB, .270 AVG
Starting Pitcher – Freddy Peralta
Is he even a starting pitcher? Who knows! Who cares! There are a ton of pitchers whose values I love this year: Marcus Stroman, Michael Pineda, Yusei Kikuchi, and almost the entire Marlins pitching staff to name a few. Even Josh Lindblom – who Freddy Peralta is competing with for the fifth starter gig in Milwaukee – I like quite a bit. Those guys are all starters. I’ll give the honor to Freddy though, who was a Dude for me last year as well but wound up as a long reliever. He debuted a new slider in 2020, which earned a 21% whiff rate and .188 BAA on 23% usage. With his FB/SL/CB combo along with a (supposedly) developing changeup, he should work as a starter for most of 2021. Even if he plays the long relief role again, he can scavenge plenty of wins and rack up the strikeouts (47 K’s in 29.1 IP in ’20). A deadened ball would help him continue to limit the long ball and pitch closer to his 2020 FIP of 2.41 than his (still amazing) 3.23 xFIP.
Projection: 120 IP, 8 W, 3.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 170 K
Closer – Nick Wittgren
The cat is a bit out of the bag after Terry Francona’s comments today, but someone I have been stashing the heck out of is Nick Wittgren. Francona has been “impressed” with Wittgren in ST, indicating that he is in the mix for saves to open the season. While James Karinchak is a strikeout lord (17.67 K/9 over 27 2020 IP), he has also struggled with his control. More importantly, he is just 25, and the strangely tight-pursed Cleveland front office has been shedding payroll as if there were some sort of salary cap. What does that mean for Karinchak? Well, saves pay in arbitration, so Cleveland might opt to limit his save opportunities to keep his arbitration cost down. The 29-year old Wittgren doesn’t carry that concern. He was solid enough himself in 2020 with a 10.65 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, and 3.42 ERA (3.29 SIERA). At the very least, I’m avoiding Karinchak at ADP 102 while Wittgren is completely free at ADP 556.
Projection: 65 IP, 20 SV, 3.85 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 70 K
I’ll be back soon and be a real Negative Nancy with my 2021 Dokken Don’ts!
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2021 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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