Most head-to-head leagues will be finishing up their fifth matchup out of twenty matchup periods for the year, which means we have officially finished the first quarter of the fantasy baseball regular season. It feels like things just started and there is still plenty to go. Let’s reflect on Q1 and look ahead to week six.
Q1 Hitter Co-MVPs:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani
I think the breakout for Vladdy is here. If you put the last couple of years behind you and drafted Vlad at his fourth-round ADP, he’s paying dividends right now. He currently has the fourth-most fantasy points amongst hitters and is hitting .347 with a 1.106 OPS with seven home runs, 22 RBI, and even a stolen base. Let’s hope he sustains this for the rest of the year.
I made Ohtani the co-hitter MVP because even though he is pitching quite well, posting a .241 ERA with a 14.5 K/9 in four starts, his bat is really what is showing out in 2021 making him arguably the best player in fantasy so far this year, depending on how your league treats him. He’s basically hitting every day and is hitting .264, but with a .938 OPS and nine home runs. If he continues at this pace in both pitching and hitting it might be a season unlike we’ve ever seen in baseball before.
Q1 Pitcher MVP:
Sure, his no-hitter boosts his numbers a bit, but if you look at the top of the pitching leaderboards for fantasy you’ll see all the usual suspects, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, Shane Bieber, but at the top sits John Means and the difference there is unlike the other guys, Means was going in the 18th round! He’s returning insane value right now.
Enough of the past, let’s dive into week six and look forward to the future.
Waiver Wire Adds
Isiah Kiner-Falefa C*, 3B, SS Tex
If you’re in a categories league Kiner-Falefa is almost a must-add. If you happen to play in a league on Yahoo, he is 100% an immediate must add because he’s catcher-eligible there (for whatever reason, I don’t make the rules). That’s a fantasy cheat code. He’s already secured six stolen bases and hit five home runs and it appears the Rangers are letting their guys run so I’d expect him to be a potential 20/20 threat.
Andrew Benintendi OF KC
Maybe Benintendi just needed a change in scenery as his last couple of years in Boston brought disappointing fantasy value. The Royals have been playing surprisingly well as a team and Benintendi is no exception, hitting well and more importantly stealing bases. With outfield being a bit disappointing this year in general and with some injuries out there, I’d say Benintendi should be rostered in all categories leagues.
Willie Calhoun DH Tex
Calhoun is DH-only for now, but he should pick up OF eligibility soon enough as he already has three appearances in the outfield. Calhoun has been an exciting prospect in the Rangers organisation for a few years but has yet to play consistently at the major league level, mostly due to some bad injury luck, including taking a pitch off the face. In 63 plate appearances in 2021, he’s hitting .316 with three home runs. I’d add him now, especially in deeper leagues, and try to get ahead of him gaining OF eligibility.
Daulton Varsho C, OF Ari
Varsho is a top prospect in the Diamondbacks organisation who just got called up in late April. He is yet to solidify a spot as a sure thing, everyday starter on the team, but there are promising aspects. For one he actually got called up, but he’s also made an appearance in all but one game since being called up and is hitting .400 in his first 10 plate appearances. He also has catcher eligibility which could be huge, despite him projecting to play mostly in the outfield. If you’re in a deep league and can afford to keep him on your bench for a couple of weeks I’d add him.
Injured Rookies But I’d Still Add
The header says it all. Alex Kirilloff and Nico Hoerner are recent call-ups who came in hot but are now on the IL with (hopefully) minor injuries. Now might be a good time to add them.
Alex Wood SF
He survived his start in Colorado this week and his sub-two ERA remains intact. Wood is still available in 30% of leagues and I think his ownership should easily be at 80-85% rather than 70%. His 33.3% called strike plus whiff rate is what entices me the most.
Huascar Ynoa Atl
Mike Soroka was transferred to the 60-day IL last week which means Ynoa’s rotation spot is safe until at least mid-June. It’s hard to find something not to like about what Ynoa has shown thus far. Plus, he hits bombs.
Dylan Cease ChW
The White Sox might have an excess of great starting pitching which is never a bad thing and Cease is a reason why. He has looked unreal in his last couple of starts, including 11 strikeouts in Cincinnati who are the second-best team in terms of wOBA this year.
The Rays’ recent call-up has looked nothing short of impressive in his first two starts. It appears he’s going to settle in as the number two behind Glasnow. Just don’t expect him to go very deep into his starts, it appears the Rays might “baby” him a bit and cut him off after four to five innings.
Ian Kennedy Tex
Kennedy is still widely available and has five saves in the last calendar week. His numbers look pretty solid as well.
Rafael Dolis Tor
Jordan Romano has been used in middle relief so Dolis’s closer spot appears secure.
Stefan Crichton Ari
Joakim Soria came back from the IL and got rocked in the seventh inning, so it appears the job is still Crichton’s for now.
It is not shaping up to be a great week for two-start pitchers, but regardless here they are.
Dylan Cease (Min, KC)
Luis Garcia (LAA, Tex)
Just keep an eye on Jake Odorizzi, I imagine once he comes back from the IL he’ll re-gain his rotation spot which will bump Garcia out.
Jon Gray (SD, Cin)
I’d only start him in points leagues as both his starts come at home in Coors against solid lineups.
Luke Weaver (Mia, Wsh)
Martin Perez (@ Bal, LAA)
Jeff Hoffman (@ Pit, @ Col)
Points leagues only here as well, one start in Coors field is playing with fire with Jeff Hoffman.
Mitch Keller (Cin, SF)
Desperation only here, Keller’s peripherals do not look good and the Reds are a tough matchup.
Gary Sanchez C NYY
This feels like a “sell low” because the power upside is so high especially for a catcher and maybe this is just an extended two-season slump. Unfortunately for Gary, he isn’t catching or playing at all for that matter. He’s only played three of the Yankees’ last nine games going a combined one for eight at the plate. He’s not exactly a good defensive catcher so if he also isn’t hitting well, it might be harder for Sanchez to find himself in the lineup. In a shallow league, especially a shallow categories league where he’s murdering your batting average, I’d be okay moving on.
Dominic Smith 1B, OF NYM
I’m not sure what’s in the water in Queens but it ain’t good. Everyone in the Mets’ lineup stinks. Smith is only playing in about two-thirds of games and none of his underlying numbers look good.
German Marquez SP Col
Marquez pitches half his games in Coors which, even though he’s managed to do decent thus far in his career, is never a great thing. I’m also starting to think he just might not be anything but an average pitcher. His high SIERA and lack of swings and misses have me looking to move on.
Chris Paddack SP SD
Paddack has been on a downward trend since his hot start his rookie year in 2019. Now he’s going on the IL and the Padres have no shortage of great starting pitchers to replace him.
Ty France 2B Sea
He’s mostly playing at DH for the Mariners and I think the Mariners as a team have played way above their level to start the season. I think France has as well and I’d expect his production to continue to decline.
Michael A. Taylor OF KC
I never got the Michael Taylor hype at the beginning of the season, he was one of the most added guys the first few weeks but his underlying numbers never looked strong. If you added him early on I think it’s time to move on.
Mike Minor SP KC
Minor is the definition of “meh” for me(h).
Triston McKenzie SP Cle
I was hopeful McKenzie could follow suit of Cleveland breeding amazing starting pitchers. Unfortunately that might not be the case. He is not going deep into games and is walking too many batters.
There is an excess of hitters to buy low on right now. I’d be shopping.
Positive Regression Candidates (buy low)
Negative Regression Candidates (sell high)
Photo by Jason Miller
Fantasy expert, Adam Gruttadaro, is a guest contributor for Bat Flips and Nerds. Check out his website and for more fantasy tips and follow him on Twitter.
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