Our fantasy baseball analysts reveal their favorite draft target on each of the five American League East teams. This could be a perceived draft value, an emerging star they’re picking everywhere or anything in between.
Andy: If you see a must-roster player on the Orioles, please let me know. It’s probably OK to leave your draft without any O’s. I did enjoy the Ryan Mountcastle experience last season (.333/.386/.492 in 140 PAs), so I’m willing to run it back with him in 2021.
Dalton: Anthony Santander is coming off a quietly strong season that included a .286 xBA and .510 xSLG, and the switch-hitter is slated to hit in the middle of Baltimore’s lineup. He’ll be helped by Oriole Park, which has boosted homers an AL-high 18% over the last three seasons.
Scott: Austin Hays might settle in as Baltimore’s leadoff man, and he’s capable of being a double-digit guy for home runs and steals. Category juice will always play in a mixed league. Even bad offenses can usually give us a handful of useful fantasy bats.
Dalton: Bobby Dalbec’s high K rate makes him a real batting average risk, but few players are offering cheaper power. Even while striking out almost 43% of the time, Dalbec recorded a 152 wRC+ last season that would’ve ranked top-15 had he qualified (just ahead of Bryce Harper, Fernando Tatis and Mookie Betts). He looks locked in as Boston’s everyday first baseman and enters the year in the proverbial
Scott: Christian Vazquez’s 2019 breakout came as a surprise, and then he validated it with an improvement last year, for whatever two months means to you. I get it with the Red Sox — the pitching staff is a mess, and this is a big-market team floating in a strange no-man’s land. But this remains a lineup to trust, and a ballpark you want to be tied to. Long may you run, Fenway.
Andy: Whatever draft discount you want to give me on J.D. Martinez following his disappointing mid-pandemic mini-season, I will take it. At 33, I certainly don’t think he’s cooked; he was too consistent for too long. There’s a great chance he bounces back with a 90-30-100-.280 season.
New York Yankees
Andy: Gleyber Torres dealt with injuries during the 2020 mini-season and his power clearly suffered — he hit only three homers and slugged .368 in 160 plate appearances. Let’s just remember that he’s only 24 years old and already has a 38-homer season to his credit, plus he’ll do his hitting in a terrific lineup. Torres is eligible at both 2B and SS, which is no small thing.
Dalton: Aaron Hicks is a durability concern, but that’s why his ADP (244.3) remains so low for someone , between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. The switch-hitting Hicks should benefit from batting in a righty-heavy lineup as well as Yankee Stadium, so he’s a sneaky OF option with 30/15 upside.
Scott: Luke Voit was never a big prospect or a buzzy name, but all he’s done the last three years is mash. And first base isn’t as deep as it once was. Fifth round on a slugger in a lineup that could be baseball’s deepest? Yes, please. Get out the Whit Merrfield All-Stars list, it’s time for another entry. (You want a higher-ADP one? Go draft Christian Walker.)
Tampa Bay Rays
Andy: I seem to be higher on Brandon Lowe than most, but the man has hit 31 home runs and stolen eight bags over the past two MLB seasons, in just 551 plate appearances. No one at Lowe’s position last year.
Dalton: I get the innings concern with Tyler Glasnow, but I’m all in on him pitching like a true ace when on the mound this season, and the Rays field arguably the game’s best defense. I’ve been more than happy to “reach” for Glasnow in the third round of fantasy drafts, as his first name might as well be Cyler.
Scott: Pete Fairbanks is as likely as anyone to lead this team in saves — granted, they’ll spread those handshakes around — and the ADP ask (239.6) is reasonable. I also like Joey Wendle as one of those late-round versatility guys, though you also have to do regular monitoring of the Tampa Bay lineup, which can be annoying at times. But Mr. Wendle is no bum.
Toronto Blue Jays
Andy: Teoscar Hernandez has well-established power and speed enough to steal 15-plus bags. Entering his age-28 season, he definitely has a shot at reaching 40-45 homers-plus-steals. I’ll make no guarantees about his average, but you’ll enjoy everything else.
Dalton: I’m mostly drafting pitchers and SBs (“aces and bases”) early in drafts, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (and Yordan Alvarez) might be the exception. , Vladdy Jr. is a natural born hitter who’s going to win the first of many batting titles this season, and he’s a launch angle tweak away from being a big help in power too. Wherever the Blue Jays play in 2021, it figures .
Scott: Cavan Biggio gets panned in some fantasy circles because he wasn’t a touted prospect, but that doesn’t matter to me. I see a productive player — 24 homers, 20 steals (in 20 attempts) over 159 big-league games. The .240 average is worrisome, but given his .368 OBP, I’m not concerned about him losing his job. Heck, zone judgement that sharp suggests batting average upside. Biggio also covers three positions, including the troublesome 2B spot. I’ve been drafting him proactively the last month or so.