2020 Underachiever Series Part Two: Cody Bellinger and Yordan Alvarez

by Mickey Bell

This is part two in a series where we examine players who struggled in the shortened 2020 season. We started with Gleyber Torres and you can check out that article here. Other underachievers 25 and younger discussed in future articles include: Austin Meadows, Keston Hiura, Victor Robles, and Yoan Moncada. Then we will move on to players in their “prime” age (Christian Yelich, Alex Bregman, Ketel Marte, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, Josh Bell, Gary Sanchez) and then players aged 30 or older (Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rizzo, JD Martinez) to wrap up the series.

Cody Bellinger – 1B/OF – Los Angeles Dodgers
Age:
25
2020 Yahoo preseason rank: 4
2020 final rank: 74
2021 ADP: 14

After being drafted in the top five last year, the 2019 NL MVP ended up as the 74th most valuable player according to Yahoo. His WAR dropped from 7.8 in 2019 to 1.2 in 2020’s 60-game season.

Bellinger’s counting stats were fine and he stole six bags, but his 0.239 batting average hurt his value. The good news is that after having a 0.372 OPS in July during his first eight games of the season, he had a 0.260 average and a 0.872 OPS the rest of the way. So those first eight games tanked his average 21 pts. Alas, these are the small sample size issues with a shortened season.

And Bellinger’s 2020 numbers after those disastrous first eight games are not too far away from his career averages (0.911 OPS). So maybe 2019 was a career year and the only place to go from that 1.035 OPS is down. Even with concerns about Bellinger seeing more and more breaking balls as well as struggling against lefties, Bellinger’s floor is a player with great counting stats including the scarce category of stolen bases in the middle of the Dodgers’ stellar lineup.

Conclusion

Steamer projections currently predict Bellinger will have 40 HR, 101 R, 113 RBI, 12 steals, and a 0.282 AVG. Based on z-scores, that would make him the 9th most valuable player overall. Currently going 14th in early NFBC drafts, Bellinger’s power, steals, and team situation actually make him a safe pick in the end of the 1st or beginning of the 2nd round in your roto fantasy drafts.

Yordan Alvarez – DH – Houston Astros
Age:
23
2020 Yahoo preseason rank: 38
2020 final rank: 1065 (2 games)
2021 ADP: 87

Alvarez played in just 2 games in 2020 due to injuries but managed to hit a homer and knock in four. Arthroscopic surgery to both knees in August officially ended his season and he has been recovering since. Recently, he posted a video of himself running the bases on Instagram and he should be relatively healthy to start spring training.

With the other player profiles, we are considering a down statistical year in 2020 and whether that player will rebound. For Alvarez, we only have his historical rookie season in 2019 followed by a lost season due to injuries.

Here is Alvarez’s tantalizing StatCast chart from 2019.

Conclusion

It all comes down to how worried you are about a 23 year old who already has knee issues that could not only affect his playing time but also his performance if they linger. While being Houston’s everyday DH helps Yordan from putting too much wear and tear on his knees, it also limits him to your UTIL spot in most formats. But injury and position concerns are somewhat baked into Alvarez’s current ADP of 87 considering his offensive potential. Convert Steamer’s 2021 projections for Alvarez into z-scores and you get the 39th most valuable player.

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