10 Burning Questions: Byron Buxton, Corbin Burnes, J.D. Martinez (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
This appears to be the season that keeps on giving. From walk-offs to no-hitters, this has been a season for the record books already! The trend appears to continue as this has been one of the most noteworthy seasons in recent memory.
Now, let’s take a look at 10 burning questions from the first two weeks of the MLB season.
These rankings and statistics are up to date as of April 11th via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.
1. Was Byron Buxton the most slept-on draft pick of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball draft?
The former 2nd overall pick of the 2012 MLB draft has always displayed incredible speed and defensive skills throughout his career. However, lately, Buxton has been on fire at the plate. And although it’s been less than 130 games, before 2021, Buxton has posted back-to-back seasons of an OPS above .820. Buxton is ranked 87th overall via FantasyPros ECR, but his ADP was an astonishing 128. Now, Buxton is crushing his ADP value. The Twins’ centerfielder is currently slashing .481/.548/1.185 and leads all of baseball with a 1.734 OPS. Even though it’s only been two weeks, Buxton looks incredible at the plate. I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.
2. When will Mike Trout get his proper respect?
Coming into the 2021 season, Trout’s ADP was 5th overall. Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, and Juan Soto were all ranked higher. None of them have a higher OPS than Trout. Yes, Tatis and Betts have dealt with injuries, and both Acuna and Soto have dealt with COVID-related issues, but none are putting together the season that Trout has. Every year we try and dethrone Trout as the game’s top fantasy baseball player, but he continues to deliver year in and year out. We may need to take a step back and appreciate Mike Trout’s game because we may not see someone as good as him for a very long time.
3. Was Joe Musgrove the San Diego Padres pitcher to draft?
Via FantasyPros, Yu Darvish‘s ADP was 17, Blake Snell‘s ADP was 43, Chris Paddack‘s ADP was 97, Dineslon Lamet’s ADP 106, and Joe Musgrove’s ADP was 130. So far, Musgrove has been the best pitcher on the San Diego Padres’ staff. What a tremendous story it was to see the San Diego native throw the first no-hitter in Padres’ history. Musgrove has been dominant through his first two starts. He has struck out at least eight batters and has yet to give up a single earned run. Even with the Padres’ stacked pitching staff, Musgrove may end up bringing back the most value on the team. Coming into the season, there was plenty of preseason hype on Musgrove, and he has lived up to every expectation thus far.
4. How great can Corbin Burnes be for the rest of the season?
Corbin Burnes once again came out and dominated another lineup. He blanked the St. Louis Cardinals in six strong innings while only giving up one hit and striking out nine batters. Burnes has all of his pitches rolling. His sinker can jam hitters for weak contact, his curveball is getting hitters out in front and having them whiff, and his cutter looks like the best pitch in all of baseball. Corbin Burnes has the potential to be the best pitcher in all of baseball. He is off to a dazzling start, and if you took the chance of taking him, be proud of yourself – you more than likely drafted a league-winner.
5. Are we taking Jacob deGrom for granted?
The Mets’ ace is starting to become the Mike Trout of pitchers. Jacob deGrom’s consistency and level of play are unmatched amongst his peers. Yes, deGrom is universally seen as the best pitcher in all of fantasy baseball. Still, there could be a strong argument for him being the second-best player in all of Major League Baseball, period. In two starts so far, deGrom has 21 strikeouts and has only given up one earned run via Jazz Chisholm getting a hold of a 100 MPH fastball. The incredible pitcher has displayed unhittable pitches and looks as tremendous as ever. It would be nice for fantasy baseball managers’ sake if the Mets could put up some runs during deGrom’s starts. That being said, it may be a while before we see this level of consistency again.
6. Which hitters should fantasy baseball managers be panicking about?
Keston Hiura, Gleyber Torres, Brandon Lowe, Giancarlo Stanton, Ian Happ, Yoan Moncada, Matt Chapman, and Michael Conforto are just a few big-name hitters who are struggling out the gate. Although most of these hitters have at least one home run, all of them are not quite living up to draft day expectations. The main issue for these hitters is their ability to put together good at-bats, as all of them have at least eight strikeouts on the season. If you have one of these hitters on your team, I wouldn’t panic quite yet, but feel free to explore your trading options.
Let’s start by saying both Akil Baddoo and Yermin Mercedes’ respective stories are tremendous and are exactly what makes baseball a great sport. The Detroit Tigers prospect, Akil Baddoo, is off to a start you could only see in the movie theaters. On the first pitch he saw, Baddoo went yard. On his second game, Baddoo hit a walk-off. It was unbelievable to see, and Baddoo has continued his stellar play by putting together a .813 slugging percentage to go along with an OPS of 1.165. In my last article, I discussed Yermin Mercedes as a potential league-winning free-agent pickup. Mercedes is continuing his hot hitting and his hit safely in over 50% of his at-bats. In 28 at-bats, Mercedes has 15 hits to go along with five extra-base hits. He has to slow down eventually, right? In any case, Baddoo and Mercedes are fascinating stories and pat yourself on the back if you were able to snag one of the hitters off of free agency.
8. Can Lance Lynn repeat his success from last year?
The first complete game of the season went to none other than Lance Lynn. The newly acquired pitcher from the Texas Rangers is off to a dazzling start for his new team. Lynn has yet to give up a run in 13.2 innings. Many thought Lynn would be unable to replicate his success in Texas, but he is proving his haters wrong thus far. He is notoriously known for being a one-pitch pitcher, but it makes Lynn nearly impossible to hit when his fastball has this much movement. It will be interesting to see if Lynn can continue his early success and help the Chicago White Sox reach their highest potential.
9. Will J.D. Martinez remain consistent throughout the season?
Admittedly, entering the 2021 season, I was very down on J.D. Martinez. He was coming off a sub .700 OPS season and struggled throughout Spring Training. But he is proving he has a lot left in the tank as he has posted one of the best OPS’s in all of baseball. There is a very high possibility that the 2020 season was an outlier for Martinez. According to FantasyPros, Martinez’s ADP was nearly 100. Many fantasy baseball managers were able to get the slugger at a discount, which may be the only time this may occur for the remainder of Martinez’s professional career.
10. When will Nelson Cruz fall off?
We have never seen anything like Nelson Cruz. The Minnesota Twins DH continues to hit the ball at an elite level. Through nine games, Cruz is slugging a robust .926 and showing no signs of slowing down. He continues to display elite bat speed and discipline at the plate. At this point, Cruz is an enigma that may never slow down before he retires. Cruz came into the season with an ADP of 85, and that seems very low now. Continue to enjoy the 40-year-old’s fireworks, as we may never see an offensive display at this age ever again.