In 2019, fantasy owners who were looking for a leadoff hitter with a shot at 30 or more steals were handsomely rewarded if they drafted Austin Meadows, just not the way they thought. Meadows well-exceeded his draft value in basically every category except steals. He finished 2019 with just 12 steals, well below his minor league averages, and yet he managed to post a breakout year with his power numbers (33 HRs & 89 RBIs).
Meadows’ RBI rate (18) was more on par with that of a hitter batting in the middle of the order. He had strength in his AVH (1.922) and CTBA (.386). Meadows had hit .294 during his minor league careers with 46 HRs, 229 RBI and 66 SBs over 1,761 at-bats. He displayed an improved approach at the plate in the minor leagues (strikeout rate – 16.3 and walk rate – 8.6) than he did in the majors in 2019 (strikeout rate – 22.2 and walk rate – 9.1). Meadows enjoyed two great stretches (first 47 games – .346 with 12 HRs, 38 RBI, and eight SBs over 182 at-bats and his final 54 games – .297 with 18 HRs, 42 RBI, and three SBs over 212 at-bats), but he had a deep, long-lasting struggle in the middle of the season (.204 with three HRs and eight RBI over 137 at-bats).
Due to his successful 2019 season, Meadows is now the 11th OF being taken off the board. That low-end OF1 status is probably a bit too high given the Rays’ lack of a supporting cast of hitters. His ADP is in the 35 to 48 range. He finished 31st in SIscore rankings last season. He played well enough vs. lefties (.275 with nine HRs and 32 RBI over 167 at-bats) to be in the lineup every day so he is tempting for sure. Given that he does have some injury history, I’m fine drafting him in the back-half of his ADP range should the draft flow lead me to outfielders in that spot. Look for Meadows to continue to be .300 hitter with a very strong floor (90/30/90/15) and potential for more counting stats if he has follow-through.
READ MORE: 2020 Tampa Bay Rays Team Preview