Fantasy Baseball 2021: Three Stars Not To Be Forgotten
Stars are the biggest part of fantasy drafts for any sport. It’s always exciting to see which managers get which stars and how well those stars end up performing in the season ahead. It’s reassuring to be at the top of the draft and seeing the names of Mike Trout, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Mookie Betts all sitting there waiting to be drafted. Some may read the title and question the intent of this article. Since stars are so great it’s virtually impossible for them to be forgotten. Although they may not be completely forgotten, it’s possible for them to fall into another manager’s hands because of an ignorance to draft them based on a small sample size. The 2020 season being only 60 games didn’t allow for many players to break out of their early season slumps as they usually would. Three stars in particular had tough seasons, but it’s important to not forget about them in 2021 fantasy baseball.
Between 2018 and 2019 there was no debate as to who was the best hitting outfielder; Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. His dominance was felt throughout the whole league, and it almost seemed impossible to get him out. Between those two seasons Yelich averaged a .327 batting average, a 1.046 OPS, 40 home runs and 104 RBI, all while swiping a 52 stolen bases. It shouldn’t be hard to believe that he placed second in MVP in 2019 and won an MVP in 2018. Going into 2020, it seemed as though Yelich would continue on his upward trajectory and be as dominant as ever. But that was not the case. In 58 games, he mustered a .205 average and only hit 12 home runs. Although those numbers aren’t great, he should still be one of any manager’s early draft targets.
Nolan Arenado, now of the St. Louis Cardinals, was easily the most dominant third baseman in the last decade. Even through the most advanced, park adjusted stats, Nolan still prevails as the best at what he does. His stats resemble those of Yelich almost identically. From 2015 to 2019, Nolan averages 40 home runs, a .300 average, 124 RBI and a .937 OPS. Those stats are far ahead of any other third baseman in the league. Like Yelich, Nolan’s 2020 didn’t go as planned. In 2020 Arenado only hit .253 at the plate and went deep and horrible for his standards eight times. Eight home runs in 2020 would only equate to approximately 21 home runs in a regular season. With the league’s current surplus of great third baseman, Nolan fell in many 2020 rankings. Arenado did struggle in 2020 but he is still at the top of his position.
The MLB is arguably at its highest point of shortstop talent ever. Almost every team has a solid shortstop that has at least three of the five major tools. Even today’s most defensive shortstops can hit with the best hitters in the league. In a 2021 fantasy baseball draft, it may be tough to choose just one shortstop to man the six-spot on the roster. Chicago Cub Javier Baez didn’t play much shortstop until his 2019 season. He then showed that he is as much of a star at shortstop as he can be at second base. Between 2018 and 2019, Javier Baez hit .286 and accumulated 63 home runs. Baez may not be the best hitting shortstop, but his numbers are definitely impressive. His 2020 was very shaky. In 2020 he, like Arenado, only hit eight home runs. His average was not much better at .203. Baez has shown glimpses of greatness but is still a valid early round pick in a fantasy draft.
The safest bet in any draft is to always pick players who have had a very consistent last couple of seasons. However sometimes it may be best to gamble on a player who recently had a tough season. For example, anyone who drafted Manny Machado in 2020 after a little bit of a shaky 2019 feel super satisfied with his overall production last season. It’s important to not forget about these stars in any 2021 fantasy baseball league. It won’t be known until October, but any of these players could have career seasons.
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