The hype surrounding Nick Castellanos was enormous when he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020. He was expected to benefit from playing in Great American Ballpark. Some predicted he would have the kind of a season that would make him a contender for National League MVP. He had been on fire in his last 51 games following a trade to the Cubs, finishing 2019 with a 1.002 OPS.
The 2020 season started exactly as everyone hoped for Castellanos, as he began the season on a 12 game hitting streak. During that span, he slashed .366/.447/.878 with six home runs, ten runs scored, and 13 RBI. But after the 12 game hit streak ended on August 6, things went downhill. Over his final 48 games, Nick Castellanos slashed a disappointing .192/.262/.395 with eight home runs.
The weak finish has clearly depressed his appeal heading into 2021, with his ADP sitting around 100. Considering 2020 was a bad year for many good players, this could provide a buying opportunity. Castellanos hit for plenty of power last season with the Reds, but his strikeout rate jumped to 28.5%, while his batting average cratered to a career-low .225. Why do I think he’ll rebound?
If you look at his Statcast numbers, Castellanos was a victim of bad luck. He had an expected batting average of .273 and a strong 46.7% hard-hit rate. With a full year in Great American Ballpark, Castellanos should be the player the analysts expected to see last year. Hitting in the heart of a strong Reds lineup, you can draft him with confidence in the eighth or ninth round.
Rafael Devers – The Red Sox third baseman is only 24. Is a year of normalcy the glide path to superstardom? He hit .263 with 32 runs, 11 home run, 43 RBI but no stolen base last year with natural regression from Devers’ breakout 2019 season. He’s worth a fourth-round pick.
Tommy Edman – I’ll take a chance on Edman, who will be hitting at the top of a Cardinals lineup that just became lethal with the addition of Nolan Arenado. Edman, is a buy-low prospect after his 2020 season fell short of 2019. If you can get him in the 15th or 16th round, he’ll return value.
David Fletcher – Fletcher has been a steady presence at the top of the lineup for the Angels and is a fantasy contributor in runs and batting average with multi-positional eligibility. He has a career .292 batting average. In spite of that, he is being ignored. Pick him up in the late rounds.
Freddie Freeman – The 31-year-old seems to be getting better with age. He bounced from COVID to play all 60 games and batted .341 with a 1.102 OPS in 2020. Freeman has been one of the league’s best hitters since his first full season in 2011. Take him late in the first or in the second round.
Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. – Another player who has gotten better in each of three seasons, Gurriel is a player I was pleased to have on my team in 2020 as he continued his ascendance in fantasy circles. In 2020. the hard-hit percentage was in the 91st percentile. Take him in the eighth round.
Bryce Harper – He was the Phillies’ best player last year and has earned his contract so far. He’s had 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI his last two full seasons. His batting average has dipped the last three years, but he has a lifetime .900 OPS. Take him late in the second or early in the third round.
Teoscar Hernandez – He was one of the standout batters of the 2020 season, with his 16 home runs tied for seventh in the majors. He batted a career-high .289 and even chipped in six steals over 50 games. A Statcast darling, he does strike out a lot. Take him if he slips to the seventh round.
Eloy Jimenez – After a good start in his rookie year, he built on that in 2020, with a 14 home runs, a .296 batting average and .891 OPS in 55 games. A lot of power, but he hits the ball on the ground too much, doesn’t walk enough, and won’t steal. Take him if he slips to the fourth round.
Aaron Judge – When he’s healthy, he’s a beast, but he hasn’t been healthy much of his career, and many key stats are trending down. He does have a lifetime .948 OPS and .272 batting average. There are enough flags not to overpay, but he’s worth drafting if he slips to the seventh round.
D.J. LeMahieu – A career .305 hitter, he hit .364 with a 1.011 OPS last year. His hitting metrics, including hard-hit rate, overall exit velocity, contact rate and strikeout rate, all point to a repeat in 2021, but he doesn’t steal bases or hit with power. Draft him late in the fourth round if he’s available.
Kyle Lewis – The Mariner outfielder and reigning AL rookie of the year was a waiver wire addition for me last year. With a small sample size, I’m cautious. He could be a five-category player, but advanced metrics don’t support it, so don’t take him any earlier than the 11th or 12th round.
Francisco Lindor – Like many, Lindor had a down year in 2020, but I expect him to bounce back in his first season with the Mets and be a five-category player. His ADP indicates I won’t be able to get him late in the second round where he should be drafted. You can take him in the second round.
Brandon Lowe – I won’t go overboard with Lowe since he still hasn’t played a full season in the MLB. He started 2020 season well but ran out of gas at the end of the season. He’s been emerging as a power hitter, with improving overall skills, and he’s a value if he slips to the seventh round.