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Staff Post: Outfielders to target in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to target in the outfield in 2021.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Outfield week draws to a close with some players to consider targeting in 2021. As always, let us know in the comments why we are right or wrong...

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 65.45

Fantasy owners have grown scared of drafting and owning Aaron Judge because of his recent injury history. In fact, over the last three seasons, he has played 242 out of 384 possible games. However, he recently said that he will play “smarter,” which means less crashing into walls or making unnecessary dives for balls in the outfield. That should help somewhat. I don’t think it’s fair not to draft a guy that has a mammoth ceiling (see his 2017 season) because he has an “injury prone” label. I’m not saying you should go reach for him, but there is no way he is outside of the top-15 outfielders for me. Over a full season, he should be able to bat .260-.270 with at least 40 home runs and a boatload of runs and RBI.

Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 162.68

Happ is one of my favorite targets in the middle rounds, and I snagged him in Round 11 (pick 159) of TGFBI yesterday, for reference. I love his role, as he should almost certainly slot into the leadoff spot for the Cubs, ahead of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Happ has the skills to stick there, too. He’s never had a walk rate lower than 9.6% in the bigs, and never had an OBP below .328. Last year, he had a 13.0% walk rate and career-high .361 OBP. He’s also had a double-digit barrel rate in each of his MLB seasons, and last year set a career mark with a 91.1 MPH average exit velocity. Likewise, his 48.5% hard hit rate was a career-high. He does have some swing and miss to his game, with a 14.5% swinging strike rate and 27.3% strikeout rate last year. However, that’s kind of a feature in Chicago (see Baez, Javy) and I don’t see a better-looking candidate to keep the leadoff role. Over the course of a full year, I’d bank on 20-homer power and the ability to generate 10 bags...I think Happ has enough floor as is, and still think there’s room for growth given that he’s just 26 years old.

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 170.64

Gallo had a bad 2020. There’s no way around it. The silver lining to it is his 2021 draft day price is an absolute steal. Gallo was the same hitter he’s always been in 2020. He’s prone to hot and cold streaks. 2020 was so short, it was just one big cold streak. Gallo has been top tier in exit velocity, hard hit percentage, and barrel rate since 2018. In 2020, he saw a decline in all three. His average EV dropped three MPH. His hard hit percentage was around 10% lower than usual. And his barrel rate was down around 10% as well. Are we really believing he fell off at age 26? Those numbers will be back to elite in 2021. He’s one of the few locks for 40+ home runs assuming health. Gallo’s current ADP in outside the top 150.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 175.45

With a low risk ADP outside the top 150, Frazier won’t hurt you too much if the following items don’t happen. First, it sounds like he has FINALLY won a starting gig in the Yankees lineup this year. Second, he has experience—see Aaron Rodgers sitting as backup for years—watching the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and others play each year. Third, he was also getting just enough at-bats to work on his plate discipline (good), show off his power (good), and get on base regularly (good). Give all of this a full season of at-bats and you have top 50 potential with minimal risk in drafting.