10 Burning Questions (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
What a week one of baseball that was! So many great storylines, moments, and of course, home runs happened throughout the weekend. Let’s hope this trend continues as we could be in for one of the most exhilarating MLB seasons in years.
From Nick Castellanos getting ejected, to a pitcher batting second in the order in the American League, here are my 10 burning questions from week one of the 2021 MLB season.
These rankings and statistics are up to date as of April 5th via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.
1. Can Nick Castellanos keep it up….this time?
Here we go again with Castellanos. The slugging Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder is off to a blistering start once again. Just like last season, Castellanos is starting hot as he currently has a .545/.583/1.1364 slash line. What’s potentially even more impressive is that he has yet to walk or strike out this season, as well! The question remains, can he keep it up this year? The powerful Reds’ outfielder has always faired well in the Statcast realm of analytics. However, Castellanos drastically struggled after a strong start to the 2020 season, but hopefully, he can continue his success and put together a career season for 2021.
Editor’s Note: Nick Castellanos received a two-game suspension for his role in a benches-clearing incident against the St. Louis Cardinals that led to his ejection on Saturday, but he is currently appealing the decision.
2. Is Corbin Burnes a legitimate Cy Young candidate?
That was quite the pitcher’s duel in Milwaukee last week. Both Corbin Burnes and Jose Berrios were magnificent. Unfortunately, Burnes had to come up with the loss as the only hit he gave up in the game was a Byron Buxton solo shot to deep center field. That being said, Burnes did not walk a single batter and struck out 11 in what should be a potent Minnesota Twins lineup this year. Burnes has the stuff to dominate hitters night in and night out. It would not be surprising to see him compete for the NL Cy Young award all season long.
3. Can Jose Berrios remain consistent for the season?
It’s only right that Jose Berrios gets some of the shine in that pitcher’s duel in Milwaukee. Berrios looked absolutely unhittable. His curveball was looking as sharp as ever. However, Berrios tends to look like a top-five pitcher in the league to becoming barely serviceable the next game. It’s funny to say, but the Twins’ pitcher will be taking a perfect game into his next outing. Berrios went 6 innings without allowing a baserunner and struck out 12 batters. It would be great to see Berrios come out with another tremendous outing his next time out. The sky has always been the limit for the young right-hander. Let’s see if he can put it all together this year.
4. Is Yordan Alvarez the most under-appreciated hitter in the league?
I know in my leagues, Yordan Alvarez was going around pick 100. That just seems so low to me. Many fans and fantasy baseball managers forget just how good of a hitter Yordan is. The Houston Astros have one of the deepest lineups in all of baseball, and the slugging DH hits right in the middle of it. Although Yordan had less than 400 plate appearances coming into the 2021 season, he still posted a wRC+ of 178 in 2019. That is absurdly high for someone going around pick 100. If you drafted Yordan, pat yourself on the back, as you more than likely drafted the AL RBI leader this year.
5. Does Gary Sanchez finally break out of his slump?
I understand it’s very early to be asking these kinds of questions, but Gary Sanchez looks like a much different hitter than we saw him in 2018, 2019, and 2020. His bat speed looks much more fluid, and he’s actually taking pitches! He’s off to a great start this year, hammering two home runs, and he’s even been unlucky in the few at-bats he’s had as he currently holds a .125 BABIP. If you drafted Gary, congrats, and if he’s available in your leagues, go pick him up as soon as possible. He could be returning to his 2017 form.
6. How good can the Miami Marlins rotation be?
Much like the aforementioned pitcher’s duel in Milwaukee, there was also one in Miami. Sandy Alcantara and Tyler Glasnow dueled in what ended up being a 1-0 final score. Alcantara looked dominant and could be in line for a career-best season. Pablo Lopez also looked very strong in his first outing. Pablo was a sleeper for many fantasy baseball managers, and he turned in a solid start to begin the year. Elieser Hernandez took the mound for the third game but unfortunately struggled and had to be removed due to injury. Trevor Rodgers will take the mound for the Marlins next game. Sixto Sanchez has yet to be recalled to the Major League level, but he could form a quietly deep and very talented pitching staff when he does. All five of these pitchers are exciting to watch. If you drafted any of these pitchers, bravo. If you didn’t, feel free to send some offers for the young pitchers in Miami. The potential for this rotation is through the roof, and they should be a treat to watch all season long.
7. Is Yermin Mercedes a league winner?
Who saw this coming? I’m not sure many people had Yermin Mercedes getting eight hits on the season, let alone starting the season 8-for-8. By now, I’m sure he is off of free agency in your league, but if not, make sure to pick him up. As long as he continues to hit, Yermin should find playing time at DH with Eloy Jimenez unfortunately out for a large majority of the season. Now, is he a league winner? That is more than unlikely, but he could be the best free-agent pickup we get all season long. It’s a fantastic story to stardom for the journeyman, and I am sure he will put together more stellar hitting games throughout the year.
8. Is Tyler Glasnow unleashed?
Finally! Glasnow went relatively deep into a game early in the season! Fantasy managers and Rays fans everywhere rejoice! Glasnow looked like a bonafide ace against the Miami Marlins. His new slider looked magnificent and kept hitters off balance all night long. There’s a reason so many analysts are constantly high on the Rays’ ace, and everything was on display for his first start of 2021. Will the Rays continue to give Glasnow a longer leash now that Blake Snell is in San Diego? That remains to be seen, but if Glasnow can consistently work into the 6th and 7th innings of games, he should bring back tremendous value for fantasy baseball managers who selected him on draft day. Right now, you’re probably feeling good about yourself if you drafted Glasnow.
9. Will Corey Seager put together an even better season than last year?
Offensively, Corey Seager is off to another dazzling start. Seager has eight hits in 12 at-bats. He is barreling up everything thrown his way, and I’m not sure pitchers can get him out at this point. Last season, Seager posted a career-best .943 OPS. It would not be surprising to see him post an OPS above 1.000 this season. The Dodgers’ shortstop came at a discount last year, but fantasy baseball managers had to spend an early-round pick on him this year. So far, he’s looking like he’s worth every penny. It will be exciting to see just how great of a season Seager can put together this year. Enjoy the ride.
10. How great can Shohei Ohtani be?
Well, that was fun. Ohtani became the first player to both pitch and be in the starting lineup for an American League team since 1976. Ohtani was throwing triple digits the first inning, then came around to hit a mammoth 450-feet home run in the bottom half of the inning. Ohtani is looking as though he is finally playing with no restrictions. And although we saw it on display on Sunday, this ability to play two ways comes with injury risk. It was good to see Ohtani celebrate with his teammates, and it will be fascinating to watch him go from pitching to hitting all season long. We are all witnessing history in the making.
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Travis Cain is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For More from Travis, follow him @TravisCain_.