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10 Burning Questions: Kris Bryant, Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Travis Cain
May 4, 2021

Hold on to Kris Bryant, for now.

We are officially into May of the MLB season, and things are starting to heat up. At this point, your fantasy team is either looking for help via trade and free agency, or you’re at the top just chilling and letting everyone else freak out about their (lack of) fantasy production, or maybe you’re in the middle of the road and looking for that one blockbuster trade to take your team to the next level.

Either way, at this point in the season, most players are either producing, or they aren’t. By now, we should have a good grip on who will continue to produce at a high level throughout the 2021 MLB season.

Now, let’s take a look at 10 burning questions that I had from the previous week!

Before we begin, you can find my previous article here!

As always, these rankings and statistics are up to date as of May 3rd via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.

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1. Who will lead the league in strikeouts?

So far into the 2021 season, it has been an incredible race for the strikeout lead. 17 pitchers have at least 40 strikeouts, and Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Bieber all have at least 59 strikeouts. Glasnow is the only one with 7 starts. The rest of the starters have 6 or fewer. It’s an incredible year for pitching so far, and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. Gerrit Cole has become almost underrated at this point, with Jacob deGrom taking most of the shine in New York. If I had to put money on it, I would think deGrom comes away with the strikeout title. Also, if you drafted any of these pitchers, congratulate yourself. They make fantasy baseball a ton easier. And make sure to send some offers for these strikeout machines, as fantasy baseball managers may be desperate to get some help on their rosters.

2. Should you keep, sell or hold Kris Bryant?

Kris Bryant is a very interesting player. As everyone knows, he came into the majors with an enormous amount of hype. Since then, he’s had a rollercoaster of a career. He’s posted an OPS ranging anywhere from .946 to .644. Now, he’s slugging a career-best .708 and looks to be completely locked in at the plate. It is a contract year for Bryant, so he could be forth an MVP-type season. In all honesty, if I had any shares of Bryant, it would be hard for me to trade him, and I advise fantasy baseball managers to do the same. Hold on to him, for now.

3. What can we make of Shohei Ohtani’s 2021 season?

One of the biggest questions coming into the season was whether Shohei Ohtani would be fully unleashed. Well, so far, he has looked like one of the game’s best hitters. He has some of the highest exit velocities in the league, and his ability to turn on every pitch has been a treat to watch. Ohtani looks like the real deal at the plate. However, he has only made 3 starts but has posted respectable numbers. He has yet to go further than 5 innings but does have 23 strikeouts in 13.2 innings. If you drafted Ohtani as a pitcher, it has to be a little disappointing to see only 3 starts, but Ohtani, the hitter, has been nothing short of amazing.

4. Is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. underrated now?

Much like the aforementioned Kris Bryant, “Vladdy” came in with astronomical hype. Now, it seems as though he’s putting it all together at the plate and finding his groove, but it isn’t getting talked about that much. It’s interesting to ask, but Vladdy really could be the game’s most underrated hitter right now. He is coming off a recent 3 HR game, where he singlehandedly dismantled the Washington Nationals. He has the 4th highest OPS in all of baseball, and fantasy managers everywhere have to be loving what they see from the young phenom.

5. Is Byron Buxton the second-best CF in baseball?

The CF from Anaheim clearly gets the top spot here, but the former top prospect, Byron Buxton, in the spot right after him? It may not be as crazy as you think, but Buxton truly might be the second-best CF in all of baseball. He currently has the second-highest OPS to go along with 4 stolen bases. And yes, he is the best defensive CF in the league right now. If Buxton can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. If you’re looking to move him, make sure you are getting a great return back as his hitting will not cool down any time soon.

6. Should you be looking to make a significant trade right now?

To answer this question, I would initially say no because we are only a few weeks into the season. However, if you are 0-4 or 1-3, then yes, it may be time to make some significant changes. If you’re a struggling team with one of the best hitters in the game or a top ace, feel free to shop around to see what you can get. You never know. You may be able to round out your team and start getting those wins at the end of the week. Don’t hesitate to gauge the trade market. Fantasy baseball is all about staying on your toes and being alert.

7. Did Madison Bumgarner find his groove?

For the first 3 starts of the season, the former World Series MVP looked like an utter shell of himself. Now, Madison Bumgarner is starting to look like a formidable pitcher. His last 3 starts have been tremendous, as he has given up only 2 runs in 17 innings. He even blanked the Atlanta Braves in what I believe was a perfect game. The odds are, Bumgarner was undrafted in your league. Make sure to scoop him up if he’s still available because it appears he has some still left in the tank.

8. When will Lucas Giolito become a true ace?

I’ll be honest, Lucas Giolito was a pitcher I was targeting in all of my leagues. Coming off a stellar 2020 season, Giolito should be entering his prime as he is just 26 years of age. But, Giolito has been wildly inconsistent to start the season. Outside of 7 shutout innings versus Cleveland, Giolito has given up at least 2 runs, and some of his struggles have come from underachieving offenses. It’s frustrating to see, but Giolito has yet to put it all together this season. He has the stuff to do it, so hopefully, we can start to see some ace material from the Windy City pitcher sometime soon.

9. Should you start buying low on struggling hitters?

As a fantasy baseball manager, you always want to try and buy low. Some hitters who are struggling are Eugenio Suarez, Matt Chapman, Brandon Lowe, Jose Abreu, Keston Hiura, and Cavan Biggio. Although there can be certain trends to analyze to see if these players will break out of their slumps, it’s just so tough to tell this early in the season. In a couple of my leagues, a few of these players were even dropped because fantasy baseball managers are so fed up with their lack of production. That being said, never hesitate to try and buy low on hitters. As the weather begins to heat up, hitters tend to find their groove and get going. Don’t give up too much, but feel free to test the waters and see if you can get one of the aforementioned hitters for a little less than you could on draft night.

10. Can the San Francisco Giants’ pitching staff continue its high level of play?

Overall, the San Francisco Giants have been a surprising bunch so far in 2021. Their starting rotation with Kevin Gausman, Alex Wood, and Anthony DeSclafani has been incredibly strong to begin the season. Both Wood and DeSclafani have shown an ability to pitch well, but both of these pitchers were more than likely free-agent pickups in your league. Unfortunately, they’re bound to get lit up eventually, but enjoy the strong outings as they come. It wouldn’t be surprising to see all 3 pitchers get traded to contenders, so their fantasy value could take a hit. It may not be a bad idea to include them in a package for a big-name player.

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All statistics were taken from FanGraphsMLB.com, and Baseball-Reference.

Travis Cain is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Travis, check out his archive and follow him @TravisCain_.