Spring training is rolling and a complete 162-game MLB schedule is the expectation following a one-of-a-kind pandemic shortened campaign. Fantasy Baseball drafts are rapidly approaching, and it will be interesting to see how performances from 2020 carry over.
I’ll list my top-12 players at catcher and for starting pitchers, where each one was rated in fantasy at the end of last season, plus a sleeper pick. Let me know your rankings on Twitter @AndyMc81.
1. JT Realmuto, Phillies (2020 Ranking: 1)
2. Will Smith, Dodgers (7)
3. Salvador Perez, Royals (2)
4. Wilson Contreras, Cubs (4)
5. Travis d’Arnaud, Braves (3)
6. Yasmani Grandal, White Sox (9)
7. James McCann, Mets (10)
8. Gary Sanchez, Yankees (16)
9. Austin Nola, Padres (8)
10. Christian Vazquez, Red Sox (5)
11. Mitch Garver, Twins (63)
12. Sean Murphy, Athletics (14)
Sleeper Pick: Buster Posey
Returning to the Giants after opting out of the 2020 covid season, Buster Posey’s fantasy value intrigues me. Approaching 34, will the year off prove to revitalize the heavily worked backstop or be the continuation of his declining offence? I’m banking on a bounce-back now that he’s fully recovered from a hip injury that required surgery in 2019.
Posey’s current average draft position (ADP) is at 254.8 according to FantasyPro’s. If the veteran can hit .275 or better and approach 10-homers then he’ll be knocking on the door as a starting calibre fantasy catcher. As a reference, Posey had a .284-BA with 5-HRs and scored 47-runs in 2018 where he finished as a C-12.
1. Jacob deGrom, Mets (2020 Ranking: 7)
2. Shane Bieber, Cleveland (1)
3. Gerrit Cole, Yankees (5)
4. Aaron Nola, Phillies (15)
5. Trevor Bauer, Dodgers (2)
6. Yu Darvish, Padres (3)
7. Walker Buehler, Dodgers (74)
8. Jack Flaherty, Cardinals (81)
9. Max Scherzer, Nationals (38)
10. Luis Castillo, Reds (27)
11. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (8)
12. Lucas Giolito, White Sox (18)
Sleeper Pick: James Paxton
Blue Jays fans' interest in signing James Paxton may not have paid off, but grabbing him for your fantasy rotation just might. Returning to Seattle on a one-year prove-it deal, the oft injured Paxton’s success relies heavily on him staying healthy.
The British Columbia native’s velocity is reportedly up from his limited action this past season, and the forearm strain he was dealing with is under control for now. Paxton can stack up strikeouts, eat innings and keep the ERA under 4.00 when he’s rolling. The injury history will spook many fantasy managers away as his 228th ADP suggests.
The best ability is availability, and with the 32-year old that’s the gamble. I think he’s worth a shot as a later-round flyer with plenty of upside.