Mendy’s Cheap Power Targets for 2021 Fantasy Baseball Drafts
Welcome back to another article! You must be a happy reader going through this article because you got to ingest a few days of Spring Training Baseball. It’s so nice to see velocity bumps and new pitches thrown by our favorite arms. The new-look batting stances and places in the lineup for these hitters. The crack of the bat from Jazz Chisholm to give us our first Spring Training home run signified we are underway. That doesn’t mean you should forget about drafting! The draft season has reached the home stretch with less than a month to go before the regular season commences. Tons of information that we need to continue to process as players continue ironing out kinks and getting their feet wet in Spring Training.
As we prepare for one of the best days of the year (Opening Day), there are still many fantasy tasks at hand. The goal is for anyone reading all these great articles on Fantrax, to go out and win their league. For this article, we are looking at hitters you can draft late (anywhere from 300-500 ADP on NFBC) to help out if you’re lacking in power.
These players will provide cheap pop and with ample playing time and health permitting, should be a lock to give you 25+ home runs. I will be using ADP from the NFBC (National Fantasy Baseball Championships) since February 14th for this discussion. Let’s take a look at some late-round guys that can send some balls to souvenir city. Don’t forget to check out all the other great content over at FantraxHQ!
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2021 Cheap Power Targets
Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays
2021 NFBC ADP: 306.86
In the beginning of the offseason, it was hard to find one person that wasn’t trying to snag Rowdy Tellez as a late-round draft target. One might say he was a “Talented Tellez” ready for stardom. The Blue Jays’ lineup however received an incredible boost later this winter, adding George Springer and Marcus Semien. This created a crowd of quality hitters established at nearly every position except for say catcher. With those new hitters in the fold, there won’t be enough playing time for everyone, and Randal Grichuk and Rowdy Tellez were the two biggest losers from this.
Tellez is limited to first base defensively, but with Semien, Bichette, and Biggio locking down 2B-SS-3B, Vlad Jr. should be entrenched at first. That leaves strictly the DH position between Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, or whoever needs a day off in the field. Roster Resource has Tellez slotted as the everyday DH for now, so take that as you will. Tellez should ultimately get to hit a bunch as he is the only talented LHH on the Blue Jays roster.
Looking back at the limited sample that is the 2020 season, Tellez showed some signs that he turned the corner into becoming an everyday player. He slashed .283/.346/.540 with a .886 OPS and 133 wRC+. The bigger changes being he cut his strikeout rate from 28.4% in 2019 to 15.7% in 2020. He did this while upping his walk rate to a career-high 8.7% and was one of four hitters in the league to hit a ball over 117 mph.
Looking under the hood, there are some real changes in why these results were there. Tellez was surprisingly less aggressive inside the zone than league average his first two years in the league and 2020 was his first year getting that swing rate to above league average. He was able to do this while cutting his chase rate by 3%.
One of the other big changes is that Tellez cut down his swing and misses. His Z-Contact and O-Contact both jumped nearly 7% respectfully. O-Contact can be a harder thing to sustain year after year but he seemed to have better control of the zone in 2020. The previous two years of his career, he seemed to struggle to hit the fastball at the top of the zone and would consistently chase. In 2020, he seemed to lay off those pitches a lot more. Tellez became more selective looking for his pitches towards the middle of the zone and it seemed to work for him. Similarly, he had problems with breaking and off-speed pitches down and away his first two seasons, but in 2020 stopped chasing them.
Lastly, looking at Tellez’s power, that has been incredibly legit his whole time in the bigs. Tellez has always been able to have an amazing quality of contact. He kept up an above 90 mph exit velocity, upped his hard-hit rate nearly 4%, and his xSLG increased for a 3rd straight year. Tellez doesn’t hit many ground balls or pop-ups, so when Tellez makes contact, good things usually happen.
I think with the playing time that Tellez should get in the middle of this stacked lineup, plenty will be shocked if he doesn’t hit at least 30 bombs.
Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox
2021 NFBC ADP: 329.09
I think the hype train on Dalbec has already commenced if you’re tuned in to Fantasy Baseball Twitter. As of this article’s writing Dalbec has two home runs already against my Twins.
Bobby Dalbec's 2nd HR of the day.
109 mph off the bat (first was 103) pic.twitter.com/5d7dxS6wr2
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) March 3, 2021
This gives Bobby Dalbec 3 home runs already in the first few games of Spring Training. This continues a stretch that saw Dalbec hit 8 home runs in 23 games in 2020. Dalbec’s biggest problem is that he’s going to strike out a ton. In those 23 games last season, he struck out 39 times out of 80 at bats, a nearly 50% K percentage. Yikes. As Dalbec wraps up his 9th plate appearance, he already has three strikeouts this Spring.
Dalbec has leaned up and is down 10 lb going into this season. He has also come out and said his approach is to be more aggressive early in the counts but letting the ball get to him when he does swing. Dalbec is expected to slot in at first base and in the middle of the Red Sox order and should provide easy 30 home run power for your squad.
Ty France, Seattle Mariners
2021 NFBC ADP: 365.58
In Class AAA in 2019, France hit .399 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. That’s not a misprint. We’ve been waiting for him to be able to showcase these skills at the big league level. Thanks to last year’s trade, he should have a chance to play every day in Seattle.
The 26-year-old France has MLB experience going back to 2019, but he’s never played in more than 69 games in a season. He played 69 games in 2019 and 43 between the Padres and Mariners in 2020. He’s expected to get more playing time than ever between 2B, 3B, and DH in his first full year.
Let’s take a look at France’s numbers between both stops. In the first half of the shortened 2020 season with San Diego: He slashed .309/.377/.491 with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI in 20 games. In the second half with Seattle: He slashed .302/.362/.453 with five doubles, a triple, two home runs, and 13 RBI in 23 games.
While France’s hard-hit rate went down nearly 13% and his exit velocity down to to bottom 8% in the league, there is still reason to be excited. He was able to lower his K rate, up his walk rate, and still barrel the ball at a hefty percentage at nearly 9%. France’s ability to keep the barrel of his bat on plane in the strike zone for long stretches, along with his swing decisions are qualities that set France apart at the plate.
It may be safer to project 25+ round-trippers for France but should be a great late-round add.
Nate Lowe, Texas Rangers
2021 NFBC ADP: 375.85
I’ve written about Lowe in a 1B sleeper article that you can also check out at FantraxHQ. He’s got all the tools there to provide plenty of value at this near 400 ADP. In 2020, Lowe slashed .224/.316/.433 with 4 home runs, 11 RBI, and 1 steal in 76 plate appearances. While that’s not a ton of plate appearances, the path to everyday playing time is there with the Rangers.
Looking at the one negative in his profile: It has to be his incredibly high strikeout rate. In 169 at-bats in 2019, Lowe had a 30% strikeout rate. It got even worse in 76 at-bats in 2020, at 36%. There isn’t a strong chance of lasting in the big leagues long at a 36% strike-out rate (league average is 21.8%). I have hope for Lowe reducing that with getting consistent playing time.
When looking at his last 121 games of AAA, he showed major improvements. In 2018, Lowe went from a 24.5 K% and 7.7 BB% to in 2019 a 20.2% and 17.7% respectfully. This leads me to believe as he got more comfortable at that level, and show the type of growth he can have with everyday at-bats. One thing we never talk about enough is how hard it can be for a hitter to produce when they don’t see everyday playing time.
One of the big reasons I think Lowe will end up producing way more than where his ADP currently lays is his high contact rate. Lowe has a career contact rate right below league average while having a career strikeout rate of 31.8%. Now imagine how much higher that contact rate goes up and how many more balls that guy can barrel up when the strikeouts begin to come down. Lowe’s solid plate discipline, good contact skills, and barreling the ball the way he does indicates that this guy is going to figure it out, and he’s going to do so in a big way. The influx of plate appearances will provide enough counting stats at the bare minimum where it’s worth taking a gamble late in drafts on this guy. Another 30+ bombs could easily be obtained here.
Hunter Renfroe, Boston Red Sox
2021 NFBC ADP: 461.84
Two Red Sox players on this list? Either I’m a genius or a little crazy. Probably the latter but that’s okay.
Renfroe has hit at least 26 home runs from 2017-2019, while never reaching 500 plate appearances in any of those seasons. If you multiply Renfroe’s 8 home runs in 139 plate appearances by 3.5 (490 at-bats which is just under his 494 at-bats in 2019), you get 28 home runs. That would fit consistently with the 26,26, and 33 the previous three seasons.
While Renfroe will never give you any type of good batting average (career .228 hitter), he ranked in the top 61% in exit velocity and top 59% in barrel percentage. Not anything incredible but better than league average. He also upped his walk percentage for a 4th straight season and cut his strike outs back to under 30% in the limited 2020.
The biggest worry in Renfroe’s power profile is his z-swing percentage. It went down almost 8% in 2020 and was a career-low 57.1%. As a matter of fact, it’s been below league average since 2018. I would like to see Renfroe upping this with his swing percentage in general.
In a Red Sox lineup that doesn’t have many guarantees outside a handful of guys, Renfroe could have the best path to playing time he’s ever had. If he gets 500 plate appearances, you can lock him in for 30 easily.
Media/Link Credit: Baseball Savant; @AlexFast8 on Twitter
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