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10 Burning Questions: Kyle Tucker, Tyler Rogers, Shohei Ohtani (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Travis Cain
May 18, 2021

Week six didn’t quite have the fireworks as previous weeks, but nevertheless, was an exciting week of baseball, yet again. I know teams in my fantasy baseball leagues are getting desperate to make moves or to simply stay put if they feel they are in a good position to win. At this point, it’s now or never for a lot of fantasy baseball leagues. Fantasy baseball managers need to start gutting out wins as every week is important.

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

You can find my previous article here.

As always, these rankings and statistics are up to date as of May 17th via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.

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1. Will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lead the league in home runs?

I’ve written about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. a number of times this season, and I still don’t believe he’s getting the credit he deserves. There are currently eight players with at least 11 home runs or more. Out of those eight, Vladdy has the highest OPS. He is in the 80th percentile or higher in all the major advanced metrics and is in the 97th and 98th percentile in both Average Exit Velocity and Max Exit Velocity. Vladdy is having an unbelievable season, and I wouldn’t bet against him leading the league in home runs.

2. Is Aaron Judge back?

In my article last week, I wrote about Judge’s struggles and how you may never get a better opportunity to buy low on him. Now, it appears that the window has closed and Judge is all but back to his powerful hitting ways. In his last seven games, Judge is hitting an absurd .571 to go along with five home runs and only one strikeout. Those are pretty good numbers, to say the least. If a desperate fantasy baseball manager was dangling him out on the trade block, I hope you took advantage.

3. Will Shohei Ohtani ever cool down?

As great as the two aforementioned superstars have been, it’s been Shohei Ohtani who is putting together an even better season. Right now, Ohtani has to be the frontrunner for AL MVP. I think most baseball fans knew Ohtani could be a strong hitter, but I believe he’s been even better than advertised. His exit velocities are among the highest in the league and he already has 12 home runs to his name. Not to mention his pitching has been very strong, as well. The combination of stellar hitting and pitching can not be overlooked. His contributions to his team are unmatched and if he keeps this up – he has to be the AL MVP. If you drafted him, never consider trading him.

4. Is Kyle Tucker finally living up to his ADP?

Coming into the season, Kyle Tucker had a fairly high ADP. Fantasy baseball managers had to invest either a 3rd or 4th rounder on the young outfielder. I was all in on Tucker having a great season, but his ADP made me stay away. Tucker began the 2021 season with a bit of unfortunate luck. His metrics were always favorable and it appeared he was getting very unlucky. Now, his luck has appeared to turn around. Tucker is slugging .800 over his last seven games and looks completely locked in at the plate. Much like Judge, the buy-low window appears to have closed. Let’s hope Tucker can continue to put together strong at-bats as he inches closer to a .800 OPS.

5. Is Tyler Rogers the San Francisco Giants relief pitcher to own?

Known for his unorthodox delivery, Rogers is putting together an all-star caliber season out of the Giants’ bullpen. While he doesn’t strike out many hitters, Rogers is getting outs and performing at a high level. In 23 appears, Rogers has a 0.76 ERA and has only walked four batters. He gets some of the weakest contact in baseball and keeps hitters off-balance. Jake McGee started the season strong but could be a prime candidate to move at the trade deadline. If that’s the case, Rogers could be in for primary closer duties – this would only bolster his fantasy value.

6. Has Liam Hendriks bounced back from his slow start?

Hendriks came into the season with high expectations. He was presumably going to a Chicago White Sox team that could give him ample amount of save opportunities. Leading the league in saves was never out of the question for Hendriks and his current situation. However, he started the season very shaky. He was giving up runs at a high rate and wasn’t converting his save opportunities as we’re used to. Now, over his last 15 games or so, Hendriks has looked more like he did in his Oakland days. In 15 innings, Hendriks has 24 strikeouts and has only given up three earned runs. He’s also converted seven saves. He appears to be back to his dominant ways. If your league values saves, be sure to try and send some offers for the White Sox’s closer.

7. Can Alex Reyes continue his dominance for the entire season?

There were plenty of question marks surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen coming into the season. Jordan Hicks was the assumed closer, but his struggles, to go along with an injury, opened the door for the former top prospect, Alex Reyes, to get a chance to save games. Since then, Reyes has run away with the job and almost appears to be a workhorse out of the pen for the Cardinals. Reyes already has 21 innings pitched and has a tremendous 0.43 ERA. The metrics don’t favor him too much, so some rocky outings could be coming soon, but Reyes looks like an absolute steal off the waiver wire, so far. Continue riding the hot hand, but if a strong offer comes your way, don’t hesitate to consider it.

8. Will Mitch Haniger be on the move for the Seattle Mariners and fantasy baseball managers?

Jarred Kelenic may have stolen a lot of the headlines from Mitch Haniger (and rightfully so), but let’s not overlook the season Haniger is having so far. Haniger ranks among the elite in Barrel % and xSLG. His numbers are no fluke. He hit a rough patch not too long ago but has since bounced back – slugging over .800 in his last seven games. Injuries have unfortunately played a role in his overall value, but Haniger now looks as healthy as he’s ever been. That being said, the Mariners could be looking to deal him at the deadline if they were to receive a strong offer. The projected outfield of Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis, and Julio Rodriguez is almost here, and Haniger appears to be the odd man out. Don’t hesitate to package the former all-star in a deal for a more proven and certain hitter. Haniger is having an incredible season, but the question marks will continue to lurk in the shadows for the foreseeable future.

9. Has Max Fried found his groove?

The de facto ace for the Atlanta Braves came into the season with a lot of question marks. Would he be able to repeat his unsustainable strong season from last year? So far, the answer is no. The combination of a rocky start and IL stint has left fantasy baseball managers with a sour taste in their mouths. However, Fried has looked much better in his last two starts. He’s pitched 11 innings and only given up two runs. He usually won’t strike out a ton of batters, but he should be in for much stronger starts in the near future. It appears as though he’s finding his groove. Fantasy baseball managers would be wise to buy relatively low right now on the young pitcher.

Editor’s Note: Max Fried left Monday’s game with cramping in his pitching hand.

10. Can Mark Melancon finish the season as a top-three closer?

For all the love I’ve given Liam Hendriks and Aroldis Chapman this season, it’s Melancon who leads the league in saves at 14. And it’s not as though he’s doing it in an unsustainable way. He’s keeping hitters guessing with a strong mix of cutters and curveballs. He has only given up two runs and walked three batters, as well. We knew the Padres’ closer role would be juicy for whoever came out with the job, and Melancon has appeared to grab the job by its horns. He came at a very low cost on draft day and fantasy baseball managers have to be proud of their selection. A top-three finish is not out of the question.

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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_.