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2021 Fantasy Baseball Values, Part 2: Infielders

Regardless of what type of league you play in, we’re always searching for fantasy baseball values in each and every draft. Finding these values and scooping up players that are being slept on or that can outperform their ADP is a big part of crushing your draft and getting you one step closer to taking home that ship. Coming off a crazy 2020 season where we only had 60 games, the amount of values I’m seeing in 2021 drafts has been off the charts.

There are so many values this season, I couldn’t list them all in one article. After going over some good outfield values previously, I’m jumping into the infield dirt today where there are plenty of values as well, especially at the hot corner.

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2021 Fantasy Baseball Values – Corner Infielders

*All ADPs are from NFBC since January 1st

The Entire 2nd Tier of 3rd Basemen (Devers, Arenado, Bregman, Rendon)

NFBC ADP: 38.7 (Arenado), 40.9 (Rendon), 41.2 (Devers), 43.0 (Bregman)

How is it possible that an entire tier of extremely talented hitters are values? That’s what happens in the first season following a 60-game shortened season. Some of these prices I like a bit more than others, but in every since draft I’ve been in thus far, at least one of this quartet has fallen outside of pick 50 and some outside pick 60. On the same damn day, I was able to get Alex Bregman at pick 68 in one draft followed by Rafael Devers at 74 in a different draft a couple of hours later. And the one I’ve seen fall the most is Nolan Arenado because everyone and their mother is worried about what his production will look like outside of Coors Field.

This is the tier I’ve been living in this draft season due to these values. These types of hitters are not the ones I’m worried about following “disappointing” 2020 seasons. All four of these guys were studs in 2019 and have the potential to be studs once again in 2021. Just look at what they did in 2019.

What if the move to St. Louis rejuvenates Arenado? Losing Coors Field does hurt, but I don’t believe it’s going to be as big of a dropoff as many think. If Arenado falls past pick 50 as I’ve seen happen many times, scoop up that rock-solid four-category production. It’s hard to guarantee anything in drafts, but from all the drafts (including mocks) than I’ve been in, at least one of these guys have fallen 10+ picks after their ADPs, sometimes multiple of them. If that happens in your draft, I’d capitalize and lock up your 3B spot with a discounted stud.

Gleyber Torres (SS – New York Yankees)

NFBC ADP: 67.7

Oddly enough, most of the New York Yankees hitters serve as draft day values this season. Never thought you’d head that did you? Coming off a .278/96/38/93 showing in 2019, expectations were sky-high for Torres in 2020. I’m not sure a .243 average and 11-homer pace were what those that rostered him had in mind for an encore. But while the surface stats made Torres one of the biggest fantasy busts of the 2020 season, there were some positives to take away from his disappointing campaign.

First and foremost, Torres’ plate discipline improved. After sitting around an 8-9% walk rate in his first two seasons, Torres’ walk rate jumped to 13.8% in 2020 while his strikeout rate dipped for the 2nd straight season down to a career-best 17.5%. On top of that, Torres cut his O-Swing rate from 35.1% to 25.6% and his SwStr% from 13.2% to 10.6%. In his short three-year career, last season was the best we’ve seen Torres when it comes to plate discipline. Yes, it was only a 60-game season, but these are tangible improvements and not just minor changes.

On top of all of that, Torres put himself behind the 8-ball heading into Spring Training 2.0. Per Yankees GM Brian Cashman, “(Torres) wasn’t in the best shape to start the second spring training.” Torres didn’t look right at the plate at all until he returned from his IL stint in early September. From 9/5 on, Torres posted the 6th highest wOBA among shortstops along with the 7th highest exit velocity (90.1 mph) and 6th highest wRC+.

We’ve seen the raw power that Torres possesses and he’s still slated to hit somewhere in the middle of a potent New York lineup, likely 5th or 6th behind Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and maybe Luke Voit. A return to 30-plus homers in Yankee Stadium is well within reach and Torres could flirt with 200+ R+RBI as well, especially if the contact skills tick back up and his plate discipline improvements stick. Listen, it makes me feel dirty to defend a Yankees hitter like this so you know I must feel strongly about a Torres bounceback in 2021.

Eugenio Suarez (3B – Cincinnati Reds)

NFBC ADP: 78.4

When comparing Eugenio Suarez’s 2019 season to his 2020 one, there wasn’t a major difference in the underlying metrics. You might not believe me as he only hit .202 but it’s true.

See? Suarez’s exit velocity and launch angle were nearly identical and he even barreled a bit more and raised his walk rate 2.4% in the process. Furthermore, Suarez’s hard-hit rate jumped to 44.7%, the second-best mark of his career. And when you dig into his plate discipline metrics, they’re all within your standard season-to-season deviations. Long story short, there is nothing concerning to me about Suarez’s 2020 season that makes me believe the struggles will continue in 2021.

So why did Suarez only hit .202? Easy. A 98-point drop in his BABIP is the culprit caught red-handed with its hands in the cookie jar. In each of Suarez’s six seasons entering 2020, his BABIP consistently sat in the .304-.341 range before dropping to .214 in 2020. And when it comes to power, Suarez was on pace for 43 home runs last season and only Pete Alonso has more home runs than Suarez over the last two seasons. Suarez also has the 14th-most RBI since the start of 2019 as well.

He’s once again slated to hit in the middle of a good Cincinnati lineup in a very-hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. This is a top-50 caliber player you can get close to pick 80 on average.

Yoan Moncada (3B – Chicago White Sox)

NFBC ADP: 85.3

One of my top targets in the back-end of the top-100 this draft season has been Yoan Moncada. Entering 2020 draft season, Moncada was taken inside the top-50 basically universally. He was coming off a .315/83/25/79/10 line in 2019 and there was hope for more due to the speed he showed in the minor leagues. But unfortunately, the 2020 sequel wasn’t as rosy as a pre-season bout with COVID hampered Moncada all season. Moncada went on record saying he never felt 100% and that’s major when it comes to performing at a high level in the Major Leagues.

That’s 100% what this 2021 draft discount is all about. Moncada didn’t struggle due to any decrease in skills, it was because of that COVID battle. For me, I’m throwing 2020 out the window. Instead, I’m focusing on what he did in 2019 when deciding whether to draft Moncada or not. In 2019, outside of the stat line I mentioned above, Moncada posted a 98th percentile exit velocity, 91st percentile hard-hit rate, and was 80th percentile or better in xBA, xwOBA, xSLG, and barrel rate with a 69th percentile sprint speed as well.

The gaudy stolen base numbers he put up in the minors are likely forever in the rearview mirror, but Moncada is a prime bounce-back candidate that can contribute good numbers across the board hitting in the middle of a loaded White Sox lineup.

Nick Madrigal (2B –  Chicago White Sox)

NFBC ADP: 191.9

For what Nick Madrigal can bring to the table, I’m really liking his value after pick 175. We all know the story with Nick Madrigal: High contact, plus speed, minimal power. That last part has been what has turned some people off, but not me. When drafting Madrigal, you need to fully understand what type of player you’re getting. Roster construction plays a big part as well. If you’re getting into the middle rounds of your fantasy drafts and need some speed, Madrigal is a great target at a position that tends to get thin in a hurry.

When you combine Madrigal’s minor league numbers with what he did in college, the overall picture is an absolute masterpiece. In a combined 314 games and 1712 plate appearances, Madrigal hit .335 with 82 steals (75.9% conversion rate) and a minuscule 4.1% strikeout rate. He’s already established himself as one of the top contact hitters in the Majors during his rookie season as well, ranking 5th in Z-Contact%, 1st in O-Contact%, and 2nd in Contact% among hitters with 100+ PA while also having the 3rd lowest SwStr%. Madrigal also posted a 77th percentile sprint speed. If I can wait on my 2nd baseman and grab Madrigal’s .300/25SB upside near pick 200, I’ll do that every damn day of the week.

Gavin Lux (2B – Los Angeles Dodgers)

NFBC ADP: 246.3

A former top-5 overall prospect with .300/30/15+ upside going around pick 250? Excuse me while I wipe up the puddle of drool below me. Yes, the 2020 season didn’t go as we had hoped for uber-prospect Gavin Lux, but it’s not like his robust tools have just vanished. Quite the opposite. Lux established himself as one of the top hitting prospects in the minors with a plus hit tool, plus power, and above-average speed, all of which he consistently showed as he inched his way closer to the Dodgers. Now, that 2020 performance, along with playing time concerns, has caused Lux’s ADP to drop well outside the top-200. That’s a fricken beautiful thing and is a price I’ve been gobbling up early and often in my 2021 drafts.

Let’s talk about that playing time for a second. So far this spring, Lux has made six starts at 2nd base and one at shortstop while his main competition at the keystone, Chris Taylor, has made starts at three different spots. It’s still early, but this signals to me that the Dodgers want to utilize Taylor’s defensive versatility in a super-utility role rather than at one set position. As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday with my “hot/bold” take, I think there’s a real chance that Lux finishes 2021 as a top-5 fantasy 2nd baseman.

Andrew Vaughn (1B – Chicago White Sox)

NFBC ADP: 286.6

Over the years, I’ve tried to cut back on how many prospects I draft in standard redraft leagues. As we know, prospects always bring an element of risk, but there are a few I’ve been targeting heavily this draft season. Andrew Vaughn is one of them. Over the last few years, the White Sox have shown that they’re not afraid to give a giant middle finger to service time and promote when they deem the prospect ready, usually after signing them to a long-term contract. They did that last season with Luis Robert and could do the same with Vaughn this season. Even if that doesn’t happen, Vaughn will be up sometime in April and is the type of prospect I try to target as their skillset makes the transition to the Major Leagues a bit easier.

What do I mean by that? Glad you asked. Prospects with a plus hit tool and sound plate approach usually are the ones that hit the ground running compared to the below-average hit tool types with poor plate discipline like Jazz Chisholm, Monte Harrison, and even Robert. Vaughn checks off all those boxes and consistently showed that in college and the minors, posting a .374/.495/.688 line in college with a 16.5% walk rate and 10.1% strikeout rate, followed by a .278/.384/.449 line in the minors back in 2019 with a 12.2% walk rate and 15.3% strikeout rate.

Vaughn has been helping his own case this spring as well, with eight hits in his first 26 at-bats with a home run and more walks (6) than strikeouts (5). As long as he’s up by mid-April, Vaughn could be a top-10 1st baseman the rest of the way that can hit around .280 with 20-plus homers and solid counting stats as well. Buy, buy, buy.

Bobby Dalbec (1B – Boston Red Sox)

NFBC ADP: 297.9

Call me a homer all you want, but Bobby Dalbec is going to do some serious damage this season. I’ve said it time and time again, Dalbec’s profile and swing fit Fenway Park exceptionally well. In his four minor league seasons spanning over 1600 plate appearances, Dalbec posted a 42.0% flyball rate and a 40.2% pull rate while consistently ranking highly when it came to estimated fly ball distance. Hmmm. Hitting the ball hard and in the air to your pull side as a right-handed batter in Fenway is a beautiful combination.

That tweet wasn’t meant as a joke or with any hidden meaning. I honestly believe 35-40 homers is within the realm of possibilities for Dalbec this season as the Red Sox starting first baseman. But with that massive power comes equally as massive approach issues. And by that, I mean his gaudy strikeout rate. While Dalbec hit for plenty of power in his debut, he also struck out at an alarming 42.4% clip after posting a 29.8% rate in the minors.

As someone that has seen Dalbec live dozens of times, the swing and miss issues are very real. But on the flip side, Dalbec walks a ton as well which keeps his OBP respectable. If you’re in OBP leagues, he could be a top-150 player this season. And even in AVG leagues, he could be a top-200 player if he hits around .240 with a .330+ OBP and 30-35 home runs with solid counting stats. Get ready for plenty of Dal-bombs this summer.

Evan White (1B – Seattle Mariners)

NFBC ADP: 459.1

If you’re looking for a corner infielder in the last round or two of your draft with some breakout potential, Evan White is your man. The former highly-rated prospect struggled mightily in his 2020 Major League debut (.176 in 202 PA), but some of the underlying metrics have me quite intrigued. Mainly, White’s hit hard-hit rate, exit velocity, and sprint speed. Despite his struggles in 2020, White still posted a 14.1% barrel rate (90th percentile), 52.5% hard-hit rate (95th), 91.7 mph average exit velocity (87th), and 85th percentile sprint speed. Only eight players posted an 80th percentile or better mark in these four metrics, and the list is incredibly impressive.

Now, there’s one slight problem with the above. Don’t get me wrong, these metrics are a big reason why I’m expecting a turnaround in 2021, but White struggled to make contact in 2020. Among the 142 qualified hitters in 2020, White had the 2nd highest strikeout rate (41.6%) and was in the bottom-12 in Contact%, O-Contact%, and Z-Contact% while having the 18th highest SwStr%. On top of that, his 38% whiff rate ranked in the bottom 4% in baseball.

White will need to turn this around, but after what he showed in the minor leagues, I’d confident he can, at least to some degree. There’s a path to a .270/20/8 type of season from White in 2021 which would make him much more valuable than his post-450 ADP.

Other Fantasy Baseball Values in the Infield

Anthony Rizzo (1B – CHC) – 103.4

Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL) – 105.4

Kris Bryant (3B – CHC) – 125.5

Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL) – 171.1 (Mentioned him in my outfield values article)

C.J. Cron (1B – COL) – 287.6

Yuli Gurriel (1B – HOU) – 293.5

Elvis Andrus (SS – OAK) – 392.6

Kiké Hernandez (2B/OF – BOS) – 427.7

Renato Nunez (1B – DET) – 483.1

Carter Kieboom (3B – WAS) – 483.4

Media Credit: Baseball Savant, Icon Sportswire, MLB Pipeline, White Sox Talk, YES Network

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  1. leonard rowantree says

    Thanks, good info. I note Gallo is trending up due to a few ST homers.I also note Dalbec has hit a few but still is about 40 – 50 picks later. Outside of position need fo u think they r comparable. Should Dalbec be drafted 140-160?
    Interested Fantrax player

    1. Eric Cross says

      Not that high. Maybe 200ish in OBP format. There’s not a big gap between their skillsets though. That’s why i’d rather target Dalbec later.

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