The Game Day asked some of its fantasy baseball writers to answer some of the biggest fantasy baseball questions ahead of the 2021 season. Here are our Fantasy Baseball Sleepers For 2021.
- Read our complete 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for draft tips, sleeper picks, busts to avoid, and more.
- See our full 2021 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers, Breakouts, & Undervalued Players list.
Who’s your favorite fantasy baseball sleeper for 2021?
TAYLOR TARTER: Joe Musgrove. In eight games in 2020, he looked excellent, getting his K/9 up to 12. The fact that his HR/FB ratio was higher than usual means that he probably could have done even better last year – he was just unlucky with how many fly balls turned into home runs. He induced more ground balls and more medium contact than in his previous 4 seasons, which definitely helped keep the ERA down. If he can do that again with a solid San Diego Padres defense behind him, he should be able to maintain a mid-high 3 ERA.
One other tangible thing he did that you can attribute the increase in strikeouts to in order to see that it’s a legit improvement is that he threw more than twice as many curveballs last season than in any of his previous seasons. That’s something he can replicate going into 2021 that can make him successful. I think Musgrove could be a huge sleeper going into 2021.
FRANK AMMIRANTE: Yusei Kikuchi is one of my favorite sleepers for 2021. This is a pitcher who came to the Seattle Mariners in 2019 and struggled to adapt to the big leagues. Last season, he showed improvements in his skills.
His average fastball velocity was up from 92.9 MPH to 95.2 MPH. He generated more swinging strikes, as his 8.8 SwStr% increased to 12.1 SwStr%. He also saw an 8 percent increase in groundball rate.
This Spring, his fastball has hit 96 MPH and his slider was at 91 MPH. This is a pitcher whose surface stats are not yet aligned with his peripherals, creating a buying opportunity. Kikuchi is available past pick 300 in National Fantasy Baseball Drafts.
JUAN CARLOS BLANCO: There’s always potential value in pouncing on a hitter that’s still young and is simply coming off a year where he burned quite a few fantasy players. As such, I like Josh Bell (136.2 ADP across six major platforms thus far) as a highly viable comeback candidate in 2021, when he’ll suit up for the Nationals after five seasons in Pittsburgh.
Bell slumped to a .226/.305/.364 line (223 plate appearances) in 2020, with an atypical rise in strikeout rate to 26.5 percent partly to blame. However, this is the same player who blasted 37 homers in 2019 and 26 in 2017, and that produced .357 and .367 OBPs in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Bell is also only 28 and had sub 20.0 percent strikeout rates in each of his first four MLB seasons prior to 2020.
KEV MAHSEREJIAN: My favorite “sleeper” in fantasy baseball is Tommy La Stella. He has become a new hitter since leaving the Chicago Cubs. The power gains in 2019 may have been due to the bouncy ball but his improved plate discipline is much more eye-opening.
La Stella’s walk rate was more than double his strikeout rate…this is usually the opposite for hitters.
With a batting eye like his and a .450 slugging percentage, you could get yourself a 20 HR, .300 hitter in the 300-pick range. His time over the past few seasons with Oakland and the Angels is screwy due to injury but that allows us to get a better price on draft day.
JOSH SHEPARDSON: I’m all in on Matt Moore. I’ve gushed about him as a 2021 sleeper, and now we have Spring Training info to further fuel my optimism.
The veteran lefty’s spun four scoreless innings with only one walk, no small feat for a pitcher with a 9.5 BB% in his career, per FanGraphs. MLB Gameday’s data credits him with throwing his four-seam fastball mostly in the 92-94 mph range, bottoming out at 90.2 mph and peaking at 94.9 mph. He can be effective in that velocity range.
I have him ranked just inside the top 60 starting pitchers, and my gut says he’ll climb into my top 50 before the end of the spring.
A lot of these 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Tips apply to in-season play, too. Use this insight to create the best daily fantasy baseball lineups and picks for the 2021 MLB season.
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