Trusting what a player has done throughout his career should always take precedence over one bad season. Unfortunately, fantasy baseball owners react to what just happened and fail to look at the big picture. This allows us to find players being drafted later than they should, which goes a long way in helping shape a championship roster.
Last season, we spotlighted Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Charlie Morton after poor 2020 seasons and all three bounced back in a big way. Taking advantage of recency bias will always be one of the keys to winning in fantasy sports.
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielder Christian Yelich
The struggles by Yelich stretch throughout the last two seasons, which is definitely concerning. The two main issues from Yelich have been the batting average and the decrease in power. The 2020 season saw Yelich hit .205, but he still had a league average slugging percentage. However, the power completely disappeared last year as Yelich only hit nine home runs in 117 games. The 30-year-old won the National League MVP award in 2018 and finished second in the voting inn 2019, so he’s not far removed from being one of the best players in all of baseball.
Most of Yelich’s Statcast statistics were not far off from what he has done in the past, but he definitely hit the ball on the ground more than he has in recent seasons. This suggests to me that he still has the talent, he’s just struggling. If he can regain his launch angle and barrel up a few more balls, there’s no doubt he can become the player that he once was.
The good news surrounding Yelich is fantasy owners believe his days as being an elite fantasy option are over, as he has an average draft position of 89 according to FantasyPros.com. I’m willing to take the risk after Round 7 on a player that has proven for years that he can help fantasy owners in a big way.
Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielder/Infielder Cody Bellinger
We don’t have to drop too far in the average draft position to find Bellinger. The 26-year-old is currently being drafted in Rounds 7 or 8 depending on league size, so it’s not out of the question to have Yelich and Bellinger on the same roster. Bellinger struggled big time in 2020, as he hit .165 with 10 home runs and was constantly mentioned in our “Three Down” article.
However, Bellinger showed life in October, hitting .353 with seven RBIs and five stolen bases during the playoffs. It’s amazing to think that fantasy owners base their opinions on what just happened, yet the postseason success has not made Bellinger’s draft-day value rise.
Bellinger would have hit 25 home runs in 2020 if it was a full season and in 2019, he earned National League MVP honors. The Dodgers will once again have a strong lineup, and the recent addition of Freddie Freeman will only improve an already stacked batting order. Bellinger will be slotted in position to drive in runs.
I’m banking on the player we saw in October and have seen in recent years as the one we’ll get in 2022. I love Bellinger’s current MVP odds at +6000, but with so many stars, I can see votes being split among them all, which hurts his chances. In the end, he is a strong candidate to have a big year for fantasy owners.
Toronto Blue Jays Third Baseman Matt Chapman
Full disclosure, I was all-in on Chapman and then it was announced on March 16 that the third baseman was being traded from the Oakland A’s to the Blue Jays. As of now, Chapman is being drafted in Round 13, but I have a feeling that will change drastically throughout the month. Chapman went from a tough home hitter’s park to a strong offensive environment and a loaded lineup.
Chapman’s average dipped to .210 in 2021, but he still managed to hit 27 home runs with 72 RBIs and 75 runs scored. This is a player that will once again flirt with 30 home runs, but he’s currently an afterthought right now in drafts due to last year’s struggles. Given that Chapman is now with the Blue Jays, there’s no doubt that we could see the player that finished the 2019 season with 36 home runs and 91 RBIs once again.