Fantasy Baseball: Yay, Nay or Just Okay

You should consider buying, selling, or holding these players in fantasy.

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 08: Cedric Mullins #31 of the Baltimore Orioles runs to third base during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 8, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Each week throughout the season, I’ll be evaluating the fantasy stock of a trio of players and assigning them one of three tags: a “Yay” tag (a player you should target); a “Nay” tag (a player you should avoid – at least compared to the other two); or a “Just Okay” tag (a player somewhere in the middle of the other two). If you have a player you need help knowing whether to target (or not), put their name in the comment sections or reach out on social media.

This week, we’ll be looking at a trio of All-Star finalists who have put together positive strong starts to the 2021 season: Adam Frazier, Cedric Mullins, and Adolis Garcia.

YAY: Cedric Mullins – Baltimore Orioles

I’m out on all of these three in terms of repeating what they’ve done so far, but I think Mullins is the most to like through the rest of 2021.

Over the course of his minor league career, Mullins owned a .323 OBP… he’s at a .315 average this year. His .363 BABIP seems high, though it was .350 for last year, but what lends to regression isn’t just what he’s done in the past, it’s his xBA is .275 right now. He doesn’t destroy the ball – he’s about league average in walking and chase rate and he doesn’t have a high barrel rate. To compensate, the Bat X projects that for the rest of the season, he will hit .260/.326/.439 – solid numbers with everyday playing time, but a far cry from .315/.383/.537.

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A positive on Mullins is that he’s going to be getting continued lops of playing time in as good of a hitters park as you could ask for, in Camden Yards. While the .920 OPS he’s amassed isn’t sustainable, he’s clearly shown to be an improved player. Mullins has always done his best hitting fastballs, but in 2021 a light has clicked on breaking stuff (.220 last year vs. .313 in 2021). He also has consistently outperformed some of his expected numbers in terms of hitting (career .265 MLB average compared to career .234 XBA), so the projections above might need a tiny boost.

I’d still be open to selling high on Mullins, but if you don’t get a good offer don’t feel rushed into dealing him as he should still be around a top 50 hitter for the rest of the way.

NAY: Adam Frazier – Pittsburgh Pirates

Frazier is an All-Star finalist for 2B in the National League, and as far as I’m concerned, he should be the starter. He deserves every bit of recognition for his performance on a struggling Pirates team. Frazier is 2nd in the NL in average and is essentially the antithesis to Garcia (below) in how he’s got it done: high contact but with less pop and never striking out.

Here’s the issue: Frazier’s BABIP is very high at .366. In seasons which he played at least 100 games, his previous best was .306. More importantly to that number is the context, though. A lot of times, you can have a higher BABIP by beating out infield hits with speed or by just ripping the baseball. Frazier is about league average in terms of sprint speed and ranks in only the 6th percentile in average exit velocity, 4th in hard hit rate and is in the 1st (!) percentile in barrel percentage. Not ideal.

All of that is why the Bat X projects him the rest of the way for .266/.333/.376. He’s not someone who gives you power, and he’s only giving you a handful of steals. Maybe getting traded could help him score more runs, but at the end of the day, if the average falls off like it’s expected to, he becomes a lot tougher to play everyday. Sell now if you get the right trade.

JUST OKAY: Adolis Garcia – Texas Rangers

Garcia is so much fun to watch. He smashes the baseball (85th percentile in average exit velocity, 86th in max exit velocity, 79th in hard hit rate, 87th in xSLG and 92nd in barrel rate). His spray chart is awesome (ten home runs to left field, three homers to dead center, seven home runs to right), and he’s fast. Boobie Miles’ uncle from Friday Night Lights would like to tell you, ‘Oh, and he can pass’.

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The reason that Garcia isn’t on the ‘Yay’ list here is a strikeout issue. His 30% strikeout rate is worse than over 90% of the league. He doesn’t walk, worse than 90% of the league in that regard as well, and his whiff (11th percentile) and chase rate (8th percentile) aren’t any better. The Bat X still likes him to smack 15 home runs the rest of the way with some nice RBI totals and a handful of steals, but he’s also projected to hit just .229 with a .275 OBP. He’s closer to Randall Grichuk with speed than you might think.

A lot of times we see a fine divide of how players do pre and post All-Star break. That’s the vibe I’m getting here. I’m guessing teams adjust to Garcia more in the second half. He LOVES heaters (.341 average/.617 slugging) and has struggled against offspeed (.182 average/.273 slugging).

The power and speed should constantly be there for Adolis, which are useful. This somewhat comes down to what your team needs; if you’ve got a surplus of average around him, maybe hold, but be ready for the average to drop and a slump to come at some point. If you don’t need power, trade him now before that slump ensues.