10 Burning Questions: Ronald Acuna Jr., Shane Bieber, Jazz Chisholm (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
I know we keep saying it, but wow, what a bang the 2021 MLB season has started with. I personally can’t remember a season that started with so much excitement. There are so many storylines heading into week three, from the heated Dodgers and Padres rivalry to Ronald Acuna Jr.’s historic start and scary injury (at least for those that roster him).
Here are my 10 burning questions heading into week three of the 2021 MLB season.
As always, last week’s article can be found here.
These rankings and statistics are up to date as of April 19th via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.
1. Will Ronald Acuna Jr. continues his incredible start and be the number one overall rated player for the season?
It’s only right to begin this article by talking about the number one rated fantasy player in all of MLB. Acuna has been on an absolute tear. He leads the league in both slugging percentage and OPS, which you could say, is a pretty darn good start to the year. In my first 10 Burning Questions article that can be found here – I questioned whether or not Acuna would finish as the number one rated player this year. Acuna had been the number one rated player for two seasons now but came up short of high expectations last year. For now, it’s looking like fantasy managers were right to select him first overall. Let’s see if he can keep it up despite his abdominal injury.
2. What do we make of Shane Bieber’s historic start?
Cleveland’s ace, Shane Bieber, made history as one of two pitchers to strike out at least 48 batters in their first four starts of the season. The only other pitcher to do so is Nolan Ryan. You know you’re off to a hot start when you’re in a conversation with Nolan Ryan. So far, in 2021, Bieber is looking as dominant as ever. Many fantasy baseball analysts questioned if Bieber would be a one-hit-wonder, but so far, he is shutting those rumors up swiftly. The talent is there with Bieber, and if you selected him in the first round of your fantasy baseball drafts, be proud.
3. How fun are Jazz Chisholm and the Miami Marlins?
The most entertaining team in all of MLB may truly reside in southern Florida. Jazz Chisholm and the Miami Marlins are playing exciting baseball and have become must-watch TV. The pitching staff of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Trevor Rogers looks like they can compete with anyone. As for Chisholm, he is off to an incredible start slashing .325/.451/.675. Chisholm has the 9th highest OPS in baseball and looks like one of the best steals in fantasy baseball drafts, particularly at such a weak position. That being said, what’s caught my eye on Jazz’s start is his walk total. Jazz has 9 walks to 13 strikeouts. He’s shown incredible patience at such a young age. It will be interesting to see if Jazz can build off his successful start, and I’m sure the Marlins will have more entertaining games as the season unfolds.
4. Have we run out of words to describe Jacob deGrom’s greatness?
As good as the aforementioned Shane Bieber has been, Jacob deGrom may be off to an even better start this year. In 3 starts, deGrom has a 0.45 ERA, 35 strikeouts, and only three walks. The one problem with deGrom is, he never gets run support! Obviously, this is out of his control, so deGrom truly has no weakness in his game to begin this season. In fact, the only earned run he has given up this year was a solo shot to the previously mentioned Jazz Chisholm. I think it’s safe to say deGrom is in a class of his own, and the Mets’ ace could truly be in for a historic 2021 season.
5. Is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. having an underrated season?
It’s funny to ask this, but it may be the truth. Vladdy came up with astronomical expectations. However, he came up a bit flat and struggled for some time at the major league level. Now, Vladdy is looking like he’s finally putting the pieces all together. His 1.174 OPS ranks 5th among all qualified hitters, and he also has even stolen one base! The slugging Blue Jay has looked like a different hitter this season. He’s become much more patient at the plate, waiting for good pitches to hit and not expanding the zone. In all honesty, I don’t think he’s getting enough recognition for his strong start. Before the season, his ADP was 51, but that could be a steal if he continues to hit at such an elite level. Let’s give Vladdy more recognition because he deserves it so far this season.
6. Is Corbin Burnes officially a top-five pitcher in baseball?
I know, I keep writing about Corbin Burnes, but he has just been too good to gloss over. Since 1906, one pitcher in baseball has registered 30 strikeouts and zero walks in their first three starts to the season. That pitcher’s name is Corbin Burnes. This is how strong of a start Corbin Burnes is on. There could be a strong argument for Burnes being the third-best pitcher in all of baseball right now behind Bieber and deGrom. Burnes looks unhittable, and I don’t think his strong start will cool off any time soon.
7. Will Shohei Ohtani continue his strong start at the plate?
Before the season, there were plenty of rumors swirling around that Ohtani was finally “unleashed.” That appears to be partially true, as Ohtani has registered 51 at-bats in 13 games, but has started only one game, thus far. However, Ohtani looks like a force to be reckoned with at the plate. He has registered some of the highest exit velocities during the Statcast era and is barrelling up the baseball at an alarming rate. His slugging percentage is over .700, as he’s recorded nine extra-base hits so far this season. Hopefully, Ohtani can continue pitching again, but in the meantime, enjoy the fireworks at the plate.
8. Is this Tyler Glasnow’s full potential?
Much like Corbin Burnes, Tyler Glasnow has made his way into every article of mine so far this season. Glasnow has looked incredibly dominant so far. His added slider has appeared to accelerate him to the next level. In four starts, Glasnow has posted a 0.73 ERA, 36 strikeouts to only seven walks. Glasnow struggled a bit in his last start against the New York Yankees but still came away with a strong outing and victory. And yes, Glasnow has been incredible, but I still believe there is another gear to his game. It may be another year or two before we see peak Tyler Glasnow, but for now, enjoy his amazing start.
9. Has Steven Matz finally put it all together?
Maybe all Steven Matz needed was a change of scenery? The former New York Met looks like a completely new pitcher this year. After a disastrous 2020 season, Matz looks like a borderline ace so far. His 1.47 ERA ranks 9th among qualified pitchers, and he is holding opponents to a .148 batting average. His sinker looks better than ever, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he kept up a high level of play all year long. Mets fans would argue differently, but we’ll leave it at that.
Coming into the season, I was extremely high on Max Muncy. Given his metrics, I felt as though he had a historically unlucky season. So far, in 2021, Muncy is making his 2020 season look like an outlier. He has a 13:12 BB:K ratio and has the 16th highest OPS in all of baseball. Muncy’s ADP was 96, and right now, he appears to be a steal in most draft formats. The fourth highest OPS in all of baseball belongs to Justin Turner. Turner typically does not hit for a lot of power, but right now, he is slugging over .770 and has five home runs to his name already. Turner’s is always undervalued, and his ADP was nearly 200. So far, Muncy and Turner have been the Dodgers’ best hitters. I’m not sure this will keep up all season, but both Muncy and Turner are looking like draft day steals for fantasy baseball managers.