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5 hitters to target in 2021 fantasy baseball

I am mesmerized by the glow of Gio...

American League Division Series Game 4: New York Yankees v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Below are five hitters I think could return value based on their current draft positions, and I'm willing to reach on them a bit earlier than listed. ADP data is derived from NFBC drafts.

1B Josh Bell, PIT WAS (ADP 178)

Bell was just traded to the Nationals, which is about the best Christmas present anyone has given him in his entire life. This is obviously a great move for his value, as his supporting cast just dramatically improved.

Anyway, in a bizarre shortened season, Bell’s batting average dropped below .250 for the first time, all the way down to .226. That Josh Bell...that’s not the real Josh Bell. Bell historically struggles in the dog days of summer:

2019 June/July (.208/.218)
2020 July (.180)

And then he heats up in the spring and fall:

2019 March/April (.286/.390)
2019 Aug/Sept (.261/.250)
2020 Sept/Oct (.244)

Expect Bell to rebound during a full season. He is a streaky player, so you need to be willing to ride the ups and downs. Ultimately, it will average out to a top 10 first baseman. He was 87th percentile in exit velocity last season.

2B Garrett Hampson, COL (ADP 262)

Some prospects hit the ground running and others take some cultivating and growth. Hampson, in what might finally be a full season of him starting for the Rockies, will be the latter. He’s not likely to wow you with his batting average, although he did bat .275 in his rookie year across 24 games. However, he will be a plus in stolen bases (a hard category to come by) as he is in the 99th percentile for sprint speed. He will also get you plenty of runs, RBI, and enough homers (although he is single digits in hard hit rate). Overall he should be a valuable asset at second base, which is one of the infield positions more bereft of production.

3B Gio Urshela, NYY (ADP 153)

As long as he is a starter for the Yankees, he should be a top 10 third baseman. He went through surgery to remove a bone chip in his elbow that nagged him during the second half of last season. Still, he has back-to-back seasons with a batting average above .290, he is very patient with a sub 20% strikeout rate, and last season he was above 10% in walk rate. He was 86th percentile in exit velocity last season, too.

OF Mitch Haniger, SEA (ADP 280)

I am going to stick by his side come hell or high water. Remember in 2018 when he had 26 home runs, 90 runs, and 93 RBI to go along with eight steals and a batting average of .285? Then came the injuries. Ohh, the injuries. The back injury (and surgery for the herniated disc), the ruptured testicle after a foul ball at the plate...that’s just the surface. But all reports say he is healthy and ready to go. There is a chance you can nab a player who can get you 80-90 runs and 80-90 RBI, all while batting above .270—and outside of the top 150 hitters, which is not too shabby.

OF Giancarlo Stanton, NYY (ADP 118)

Sure, there is potential risk. He’s played just 51 TOTAL games over the last two seasons, but remember this—while there is a stigma that he’s ‘oft-injured,’ he played at least 115 games each of the previous three seasons, and he has played at least 100 games in eight of his 11 seasons. This is one of those where the draft spot needs to be right. He’s not a top 3 round draftee (as his current ADP shows) but I would be willing to reach and grab him in Round 4, and anything the fifth round onward is a bargain in my opinion. Remember when he was playing those full healthy seasons during 2016-2018 and he was inside the top 2% in barrel rate and exit velocity?