Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball: NL West Division Preview!
Baseball is in the air after that comatose of a Super Bowl we had to endure. Now it's time for us to eject football out of our brains and inject baseballs into our veins!
Let's start by diving into the teams of the NL West. You definitely need to pay attention to this division because most fantasy players' starting pitching will come out of this division.
This division features six pitchers out of the top 15 taken currently in Fantasy drafts, according to early NFBC ADP.
Not to mention, the West is going to have two of the best offenses in the Majors. So there will be plenty of bats from the West in starting lineups.
2021 Fantasy Baseball: NL West Division Preview
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Zac Gallen dropped his WHIP and maintained his strikeout rate, which made him a top 25 pitcher (in roto leagues) last season. This will be Gallen's first season pitching more than 100-plus innings (most projections have him pitching 160). The big question is will he be able to maintain his K/9 rate over a full season. Over the past two seasons, he's pitched 152 innings, and he had a 10.5 K/9, so it seems that Gallen will be great for the Diamondbacks and fantasy players.
Ketel Marte may have been a disappointment last season, but he is still the best hitter on the Diamondbacks. Marte's barrel percentage dropped a crazy amount last season, but fantasy owners should trust that he'll adjust his swing to get back to the power he had in the 2019 season. Don't hold the short season against Marte; he is only 27 years old, so the best has yet to come.
Arizona doesn't really have anyone being drafted high enough to be considered a bust. The closest player who could be viewed as a bust is Stefan Crichton, but that's because ADP hasn't adjusted since Joakim Soria's signing.
Is this finally the year that Christian Walker hits over 30 home runs and 100 runs? He had increased his batting average, walk rate, and decreased strikeout rate last season. Walker has the third-highest hard-hit percentage among first basemen over the past two seasons. It looks like the breakout is coming, and you don't have to spend a lot to get him; he is currently going in the 17th round in drafts.
Daulton Varsho will be a great cheat code this year since he'll qualify as a catcher on most platforms but will most likely play in the outfield every day.
According to most projections, Corbin Martin should start in 15 games, which would make him a tremendous late-season addition to rosters. He averaged a 12.3 K/9 in single-A, and he posted a 10.8 K/9 rate in Triple-A. So, definitely could be a late source of strikeouts.
Trevor Story is the lone star for the Rockies since they sent Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals. Story is a five-category contributor who has increased his walk rate for the past three seasons and has kept his strikeout rate about the same. He was on pace for 31 home runs and 42 stolen bases last season (if there was a full 162 game season).
He is almost always a top 10 hitter every year (making him one of the safest first-round picks). Now there might be a slight dip in Story's production with Arenado gone, but Story says he is committed to having a great season in a contract year, despite all the trade rumors surrounding himself and some of his teammates.
Charlie Blackmon's ISO dropped to a paltry. 145, and his hard-contact rate was average. Father Time is creeping in on Blackmon, and he took his speed with him. Maybe, he can fight it off a while like Nelson Cruz, but it's hard to imagine it when there's evidence of his power dwindling away.
He is currently going in the eighth round ahead of Austin Meadows and Dominic Smith. Go with the upside of the young sluggers than the old man with diminishing power.
German Marquez has one of the better swinging-strike rates and averages 95.9 MPH velocity on his fastball, which puts him in the top ten among pitchers over the past two seasons.
The only thing holding Marquez from being a top 25 pitcher is Coors Field, but he did decrease his home ERA last season from previous seasons. So, maybe this is the year he'll finally overcome Coors Field and ultimately become a full-time pitcher rather than a road pitcher.
Ryan Rolison was a first-round pick in 2018, who has progressed rapidly through the minors and should make his major league debut this year. Especially if anyone is injured or if the recently-acquired Austin Gomber struggles for an extended period. Rolison is a name to store away in the brain for later in the season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers roster is riddled with stars. Mookie Betts adjusted to the National League just fine; he hit 16 home runs and swiped 10 stolen bases in the shortened season. He was on pace to have 48 home runs, 115 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases for a 162 game season, which would have given him career highs in most hitting categories. There are no signs of regression coming for the former MVP.
Cody Bellinger posted the lowest batting average of his career and slightly increased his strikeout rate, but his strikeout rate is better than his first two seasons. He is still one of the best power and speed combos in the Majors.
Corey Seager added another healthy season after missing most of the 2018 season. He had a 15.8 barrel percentage, which puts him in the top ten among all hitters and second among shortstops. As long as Seager stays healthy, he has the potential to be a 35-plus home run hitter this season. Right now, this slugging gem is going in the fourth round.
Walker Buehler has the potential to be a bust for fantasy players this season. Buehler only started in eight games last season and only pitched over five innings in half of those starts. Dave Roberts continued that usage in the playoffs, and it is starting to feel that he will continue to limit Buehler's innings. It's reasonable to believe that the Dodgers will have a six-man rotation with Trevor Bauer's signing. The Dodgers have tremendous depth in the bullpen, so they have no reason to push their starting pitching to eat up innings.
If you want a pitcher similar to Buehler, then wait for 40 picks and take Carlos Carrasco. You'll get the same production for a lower price.
Max Muncy isn't a batting average hitter, but he is definitely better than the below .200 average he posted in 2020. He should go back to being. 250 AVG he was in previous seasons.
Muncy is a guaranteed 30 home run hitter with multiple position eligibility (second base is the key one). This substantial four-category contributor is going at the end of the eighth or early ninth round.
Michael Busch is the Dodgers' third-ranked prospect, according to Fangraphs. He has raw power at the plate, and if he can learn to play defense well enough, he should surpass Gavin Lux and become the second half of the second base platoon with Chris Taylor.
San Diego Padres
Here's the crazy thing about Fernando Tatis Jr.'s season, he had an average BABIP but had a 47 home run and 31 stolen base regular season pace. He decreased his strikeout rate and raised his walk rate and his ISO to .295. It may have been a short season, but they are plenty of reasons why fantasy players are taking Tatis Jr. number one overall.
Yu Darvish has an 11.38 K/9 rate over the past two seasons and has one of the best WHIP over the past two seasons. When you look over who led in pitching categories, you don't have to scroll down far to see Darvish. He should be money in the second round now that he is in a pitcher's park.
I'm concerned about the health of Dinelson Lamet(elbow). Apparently, the Padres have the same concerns: they acquired Joe Musgrove and every other free agent pitcher on the market. If healthy, Lamet could easily be the top-ten pitcher he was last season, but right now, it doesn't seem like he is worth the risk to take him in the seventh round.
Drew Pomeranz will be the first line for saves in the Padres' bullpen. Rightfully so, he racked up four saves last season while being in a closer committee. Pomeranz's only competition is Emilio Pagan, who had five blown saves last season.
Pomeranz is going in the late rounds of drafts and could be an excellent source for saves and possibly the National League's saves leader.
MacKenzie Gore is the Padres' number one prospect who was taken in the first round in 2017. He has excellent command to go along with a deadly fastball, and unlike his teammate Chris Paddack, he has more than two pitches in his arsenal, and they all are pretty nasty. Gore will have a chance to earn the fifth starting spot in Spring Training, but the Padres will likely wait to call him up in the middle of the season.
San Francisco Giants
Mike Yastrzemski has a batting average on par with Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, and George Springer, and just like those hitters, Yastrzemski has the potential to be a 30-plus home run hitter. He was a top 15 outfielder last season and should be able to repeat that finish since he increased his ISO, Slugging, OBP, AVG, BABIP, and barrel percentage last season. Not only will you get a bonafide star with Yastrzemski, but you'll get him at a value in the 12th round.
No Giant is being drafted high enough to be considered a bust.
Kevin Gausman is returning to the Giants on a one-year contract and should be a welcome addition to many championship fantasy teams this year. He has had one of the better K/9 rates over the past two seasons. In fact, he has a better K/9 rate than Aaron Nola, Jack Flaherty, and Stephen Strasburg. Gausman also has the ninth-best swinging-strike rate among starting pitchers over the previous two seasons. This strikeout pitching gem is currently going into the 12th round.
Joey Bart got his first big league action last season when Buster Posey opted out of the 2020 season, and he struggled at the plate but showed flashes of his power potential. He'll definitely be called up this season if Posey or Brandon Belt suffers an injury, but Bart is still probably a year away from being the Giant's full-time catcher.
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|2021 Fantasy Baseball Division Previews|
|AL East||AL Central||AL West|
|NL East||NL Central||NL West|