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The Best Player in Each Round, Rounds 11-20

Heath picks his favorite player from each round, per recent NFBC ADP.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Part 1 of my favorite fantasy baseball players by round dropped yesterday, and can be found here. Today I’ll work my way through 20 rounds (300 picks) and follow the same flow. And in case you missed it, Andrés talked some draft strategy (punting categories) earlier this morning. Lastly, don’t forget about our comprehensive fantasy baseball draft guide for 2021. Good luck in your drafts this weekend and during the coming week, people!

Round 11, pick 153: Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

In the previous post, I chose Wil Myers and Ramon Laureano in Rounds 9 and 10. Despite that, Round 11 is still dedicated to the outfield. Happ is my top choice, but Dylan Carlson and Kyle Lewis are also being selected in this juncture. For most of draft season, I’ve been grabbing my second and/or third outfielder in these rounds. As for Happ, manager David Ross has confirmed that he will bat leadoff for Chicago this year. Happ has posted solid OBPs throughout his career, as well as decent power totals. He’s only 19-for-30 as a baserunner throughout his big league career, so that 63.3% success rate is pretty ghastly. But given the role, I could see him chipping in with 10 swipes over the course of a full year. Add in 25-homer potential and the counting stats that go along with his leadoff role, and I’m sold on him as an outfielder with upside in 2021. Honorable mentions go to Dylan Carlson and Kyle Lewis in this same round. This truly is the area where I am targeting outfield heavily.

Round 12, pick 169: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

It’s not crazy to say that Ohtani is the key to the Angels’ season...not Mike Trout. Sure, Trout is going to do his thing. But he’s been doing his thing forever and the Halos haven’t been able to give him enough help to push them over the top. But if Ohtani can continue this spring dominance into the season, he’ll be the reason the Angels—and our fantasy rosters—succeed. Of course, his usefulness depends on what site you play on and his eligibility. But this is a dangerous two-way player. Ohtani has already slugged five homers this spring, while slashing an absurd .571/.594/.1.107. He has three walks against three strikeouts, and even has a pair of stolen bases already. Add in the fact that he can log innings for you in a pinch, and I’m sold. I was lucky enough to draft him at pick 298 (Round 20) on my first and only Draft Champions roster, way back in December. Don’t knock early drafters, folks. Honorable mention in this round goes to Sean Murphy, if in need of a catcher.

Round 13, pick 192: Marcus Stroman, New York Mets

Call it a homer pick, if that’s even possible given that I’m a Braves fan. Homer because I just love Marcus Stroman, man. Though he is undersized for an MLB starter, he’s previously been a workhorse and his grittiness is appealing to me. In three of his last four seasons, he has thrown over 184 13 innings, and in two of those years he eclipsed the 200-inning mark. He has a career 3.76 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, and managed a 3.22 ERA during an All-Star performance in 2019 with the Blue Jays and Mets. He saw a spike in his strikeout rate during 2019, mostly due to increased usage of his slider and more of a focus on analytics. He’s a great mix of floor (due to his ground balls) and upside (due to the hope of a bit more strikeouts). From a real life perspective, the Mets will also be very dependent on him early on after Jacob deGrom—the injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are significant.

Round 14, pick 199: Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks

Walker is one of my favorite floor plays in 2021. He’s an ideal corner infield target given his ADP and his guaranteed playing time. He’s also shown us two faces—the ability to hit for power (29 HR in 2019) and the ability to hit for average (.271 BA and 20.6% K-rate in 2020). Any sort of blend of the two skill sets, coupled with his cozy spot as Arizona’s No. 3 or 4 hitter, should pay easy dividends given the draft day cost.

Round 15, pick 214: Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez will miss at least 5-6 months this year due to a ruptured pectoral tendon. Andrew Vaughn was probably already going to see at-bats for Chicago this year in the DH spot, but now he has the left field job open to him—a position he hasn’t played since he was a teenager. The top-ranked White Sox prospect seems unfazed by it all, however, and manager Tony La Russa has already stated his confidence in Vaughn manning left field on Opening Day. As for Vaughn’s stick, he projects as a future No. 3 type of hitter, a guy with above-average power and solid on-base skills. In the low minors he has posted double-digit walk rates and strikeout rates in the teens, for reference. Think .280+ hitter with 30-homer power. Will that happen as soon as this year? Maybe not. But even if he lands in the vicinity, he’ll be a draft day steal given likely 1B/OF eligibility and the still potent lineup around him.

Round 16, pick 237: Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox

Eovaldi was one of my favorite buys last year, and he’s done nothing to dissuade me from taking the plunge again in 2021. Sure, he had a rough start to Spring Training, but I’m not worried by small samples in spring—especially when the focus is building up pitch counts and refining pitches and whatnot. In Eovaldi’s most recent turn, he dazzled with 5 23 shutout innings against the Orioles (4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO). In the abbreviated 2020, Eovaldi hurled 48 13 innings with a 3.72 ERA (3.87 FIP, 3.32 xFIP). He had a STUPID 52:7 K:BB ratio, and enjoyed some success with his secondary offerings, namely the curveball and splitter. Add that to his blazing heater (97.4 MPH on average last year) and I’m sold on Eovaldi at the back-end of my fake rotations. There’s always innings risk here, but coming off of a shortened year, there’s innings risk EVERYWHERE. Now is the perfect guy to buy oft-injured veterans with legitimate skill sets. I’m looking at you too, James Paxton...

Round 17, pick 242: Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners

The 30-year-old outfielder is finally (mostly) healthy after suffering a ruptured testicle in June of 2019—an injury that resulted in three surgeries for core and back issues. Haniger missed all of last year, but he’s back in shape now and slated to hit leadoff for the Mariners. The leadoff role coupled with ANY sort of return to his former self is worth a draft choice at this juncture. If he’s relatively healthy this year, he could be a poor man’s Wil Myers...

Round 18, pick 258: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners

Back-to-back Mariners? What kind of world is this? I’ll tell you...the kind where boring veteran production isn’t appreciated. He’s a guaranteed 20 homers with chip-in speed (five steals in 60 games last year). He’s pretty much assured of a spot this year as he plays out the last year of his contract for Seattle. I don’t think Seattle fans will be disappointed, honestly. Last year’s 12.9% walk rate was the best mark of his career, as was the 13.3% strikeout rate. That strikeout rate landed Seager inside the top 6% of the league, for reference. Add that he’ll probably bat cleanup this year, and I’m taking the guaranteed at-bats this late in my drafts.

Round 19, pick 276: Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers

Maybe I’m a sucker for the shiny new toy. Maybe I don’t care. Peralta has been FILTHY this spring, and seems primed to be unleashed as a multi-inning weapon for the Brew Crew this year. If he’s the guy who follows the starter, we could be looking at tons of strikeouts with quality ratios and some cheap wins. I’m all over “Fastball Freddy” this year.

Round 20, pick 290: Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates

I told you, I like boring veterans. Reynolds is slated to bat third for Pittsburgh this year in the everyday lineup, after the underrated Adam Frazier and the up-and-comer, Ke’Bryan Hayes. He suffered from a .231 BABIP last year, but in 2019 we came to know him as a legitimate batting average asset with decent power and speed. So far this spring, he’s slashing .317/.404/.561 with three homers and a double. Set the world on fire? Probably not. But dependable production...probably so. Sign me up.

What say you, gamers? How boring am I? Do you have more exciting plays to consider inside the top 300 picks? I’ll finish with some fun names after 300 that I like, and then I’ll see you all in the comments...

304 Dylan Cease, CWS
305 Robbie Ray, TOR
307 Griffin Canning, LAA
316 Chris Martin, ATL
322 Dane Dunning, TEX
330 Adam Eaton, CWS
331 Omar Narvaez, MLW
347 Jordan Romano, TOR
354 Franchy Cordero, BOS
359 Pete Fairbanks, TAM
362 Tanner Scott, BAL
384 Garrett Richards, BOS
387 Anthony DeSclafani, SFG
390 Harrison Bader, STL
401 Michael Lorenzen, CIN

Apparently I like cheap pitching. Sue me.