2021 Post-Hype Breakout Players To Target For Fantasy Baseball Drafts: These are once-hyped fantasy baseball players who could finally pan out in 2021, and at the very least come close to the lofty expectations many people had for them. Here’s The Game Day’s report of MLB players that were once hyped up, have since faded but could pay dividends for fantasy baseball players in 2021.
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2021 Post-Hype Breakout Players To Target For Fantasy Baseball Drafts
Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
At one point, Victor Robles was viewed in the Nationals system as a better prospect than Juan Soto.
Now, Soto is a perennial MVP candidate and Robles looks like an average batter. Robles had a nice, but unspectacular 2019 season, hitting 17 home runs and stealing 28 bases while batting .255. The Nationals are planning to use him as a leadoff hitter in 2021, which could improve his value a bit.
He should get more of an opportunity to steal bases and score runs in a much-improved Washington lineup. He has to improve the strikeout rate and his on-base percentage, and he is already working on that in Spring Training.
If those things improve, Robles could be one of the top table-setting hitters in baseball — and there’s a slight chance he could at least sometimes lead off ahead of Trea Turner.
Nate Lowe, 1B, Texas Rangers
Nate Lowe should get the lion’s share of the innings at first base for the Texas Rangers, and when he is not playing there, he can be the designated hitter or even dabble at third base.
He’s only had 243 plate appearances in the majors, and if he is able to start a full season, he could double the numbers he’s produced in his two major league stints. His 11 percent walk rate and a solid OBP will keep him in the Rangers’ lineup. He also has shown that he can hit the ball hard and well. Last season he struggled to do so, but in 2019 he had a 41 percent hard contact rate, and nearly 60 percent of his hits were either line drives or fly balls.
Lowe has the makings to be a standout player, especially when considering his power, in 2021.
Lance McCullers, SP, Houston Astros
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers was once a 40th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, signifying that he had a lot of promise. Unfortunately for him, the Astros and fantasy baseball managers, McCullers had dealt with major injuries throughout his career. He’s never made more than 25 starts in a season.
He’s landed on the injured list in four of his five major league seasons, including 2019, when he missed the year with Tommy John surgery.
The positives are that McCullers has high strikeout upside, averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings for his career. He has a career 3.70 ERA but advanced ERA metrics like FIP and xFIP have him closer to a 3.20 career ERA. The upside is still there for McCullers, and if he can make all of his starts this season, he could finally pay off for the Astros and fantasy baseball managers as one of our biggest 2021 Post-Hype Players.
Clint Frazier, OF, New York Yankees
Clint Frazier was taken fifth overall by Cleveland in the 2013 MLB Amateur Player Draft, but was traded to the Yankees during the 2016 season. He is just shy of 600 plate appearances during his four partial seasons in the majors, which would equal a full season for most every day players. In that time, he hit 24 home runs, 80 runs, 82 RBI and stolen 5 bases, to go along with a .258 career batting average. Those are solid numbers, and that is about what most projections systems think he will do in 2021.
There are reasons to suspect a breakout is coming. He is a good fly-ball hitter, which plays well in Yankee Stadium. He has shown the ability to hit the ball hard, and has the launch angle to send balls out of the park. He has also improved his plate discipline numbers – reducing his chase rate and swinging-strike rate – and he walks a good amount. Those things could see him move up in the order, which would help his production. He is also starting 2021 in the major leagues, likely as the starting left fielder.
A crowded outfield and limited time have kept Frazier from fulfilling his potential as a once-hyped prospect, but he should get the job as the everyday left fielder for the Yankees, and this season could be his chance to show why he was selected number five overall.
Ryan McMahon, 2B, Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies fans have been waiting for Ryan McMahon to make an impact in the major leagues for years. The closest he has been to impactful was a 24 home run campaign in 2019, where he batted .250 and drove in 80 runs. He also struck out nearly 30 percent of the time that year. As a batter who hit .300 multiple times in the minors, fans likely are disappointed with how he has turned out in the major leagues (career .237 avg. in the MLB).
There are some positive signs that McMahon still has a bright future ahead of him. He’s increased his launch angle and barrel rate in each of his major league seasons, and his hard contact rate is exceptional. Some things he still needs to work on are improving his plate discipline and reducing his 50 percent ground ball rate. If he can start putting the ball in the air more often in Colorado, he could be the hitter everyone thought he would be.
Carter Kieboom, 2B, Washington Nationals
Carter Kieboom had a lot of hype as he worked his way through Washington’s minor league system, but he has faltered in his first 2 stints in the majors. In 165 plate appearances over two seasons, he’s struggled to the tune of a .181 batting average and only two home runs.
The Nationals and their fans expect more and 2021 should present him with an opportunity for improvement. Getting more at-bats, and hopefully gaining the confidence that comes with experience should lend itself to an improvement. Look at it this way: There’s only one direction for him to go.
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