10 Burning Questions: Matt Olson, Juan Soto, Willy Adames (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
What an All-Star week it was in Colorado! The Home Run Derby was entertaining as ever as Pete Alonso made history with becoming a back-to-back Home Run Derby champion. Shohei Ohtani was the definition of entertainment and is singlehandedly bringing in new fans to the game of baseball every day.
By now, many fantasy baseball leagues are close to 3/4ths of the way done, and the finish line is within reach. These next few weeks of baseball could be the most crucial stretch of the season for fantasy baseball managers.
These 10 burning questions I had will hopefully help you make smart decisions in your leagues. And, as always, you can find my last article here.
Also, these rankings and statistics are up to date as of July 19th via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.
1. Will Matt Olson finish the season as the highest-rated first baseman?
As always, Oakland Athletics’ players always fly under the radar. Olson is no exception. There are only two players in the American League who currently have a higher OPS than Olson. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani. I’d say that’s some pretty good company. Olson’s ADP was around the 6th-7th round, and he is delivering stellar numbers for fantasy managers. There’s reason to think he will never come that cheap again, but Oakland players never get their proper respect, so you never know. Olson should continue to produce stellar numbers and should be in the AL MVP conversation moving forward.
2. Should Juan Soto be discussed as much as some of the other young star players in the league?
The answer is yes. While Soto may not be as good on the defensive side, he more than makes up for it on the offensive end. Soto has one of the most impressive swings in recent memory. He has started the post-All-Star break on an absolute tear and shows no signs of slowing down. When it comes to the best players in the league, he needs to be near the top of the discussion. I look forward to seeing what Soto can do for the remainder of the year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended the season as the number one rated outfielder in all of fantasy baseball.
3. Is Cedric Mullins the most improved player of the season?
It’s ok to admit when you’re wrong. And wow, was I wrong on Mullins. I wrote a piece on the Orioles’ outfielder about a month ago and said feel free to shop him because regression was imminent. Well, instead, Mullins has continued to produce night in and night out. He is putting together a career season and shows zero signs of regression. Hold onto him tightly as he was more than likely a late-round pick or waiver wire addition. Mullins is looking like he’ll finish the season with an OPS around .900 and, given his chance at the plate (only batting left-handed), should be the unanimous decision for the most improved player of the season.
4. Can Willy Adames be a viable fantasy asset?
Many paid little to no attention to a trade between the Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays. However, that trade sent Willy Adames to the Brewers, where he immediately found himself in a full-time role. While I initially found the trade fair for both sides, Adames has been nothing short of fantastic for the Brewers. Adames is slashing .314/.398/.578 in 51 games for the Brewers. That’ll get the job done. Adames is more than a viable fantasy asset. He should be rostered in all formats and could be a valuable addition for fantasy baseball managers who need infield help.
5. Which big-name players are most likely to be moved at the trade deadline?
When it comes to the 2021 MLB trade deadline, the four most common names I have seen are Eduardo Escobar, Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, and Joey Gallo. Escobar and Gallo appear to be foregone conclusions to be moved at the deadline. Escobar’s run production is impressive, but it could take a hit on a new team, interestingly enough. Gallo to the Yankees would be a dream come true for Yankee fans and fantasy baseball managers alike. His incredible power mixed in with the short left-field porch of Yankee Stadium would be quite the sight to see. As far as Berrios and Cruz – they seem unlikely to be moved, but I’ve seen crazier things happen before. It will be intriguing to see how the deadline unfolds.
6. Can Tim Anderson come away with AL Player of the Month honors?
The White Sox’s shortstop has been blisteringly hot. Anderson is slugging over .800 in his last 7 games and has raised his season OPS to over .800. He appears to be rounding into the form we are accustomed to. Anderson cost an early-round pick this season, and I strayed away at such a steep ADP. But he’s once again putting up stellar numbers and appears to be gunning for the AL Player of the Month. Let’s see if he finishes the rest of the month on a high note.
7. Do the White Sox have the best rotation in baseball?
Speaking of the White Sox, I wanted to take a second to discuss just how fantastic their rotation has been. One through five, the White Sox may have the best rotation in all of baseball. Lucas Giolito came into the season with the most hype on the team, but the All-Stars were Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon. Not to mention Dylan Cease pitching at a high level. All while a former Cy Young award winner in Dallas Keuchel rounds out your rotation. I’d say that’s a pretty formidable bunch and one that fantasy baseball managers will want a piece of. The White Sox will remain in World Series contention for the remainder of the season, and a large part is because of this strong rotation.
8. Is Kwang-Hyun Kim a must-own player?
Kwang-Hyun Kim has only started 23 games in the MLB. However, he has a career 2.45 ERA and a .221 opponent batting average. Kim has quietly been impressive for the entirety of his MLB career. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but many thought Kim’s 2020 success was a fluke. He’s making it seem like it is the norm. Kim should be rostered in all formats as he’s been a strong and reliable starter for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. He doesn’t strike out the most batters in the league, but he gets the job done. Make sure to pick him up if he’s still available in your league.
9. Can Gleyber Torres catch fire?
One of the biggest mysteries of the season is Gleyber Torres’ continued struggles. Someone with as much raw talent and as smooth of swing shouldn’t be struggling to the degree he is. However, Torres looks more like the former top prospect that we know as he has home runs in back-to-back games. I admittedly thought Torres was a great bounce-back candidate on draft day, but his OPS currently sits below .700. The Yankees’ shortstop has looked better recently. Let’s see how he does in the second half of the season. He may be a great buy-low candidate for fantasy baseball managers.
10. Will Joc Pederson be a valuable fantasy asset now?
Last week I wrote about what the effect might be of Ronald Acuna Jr.’s injury. Well, it appears the Atlanta Braves acted swiftly to try and replace his production. The front office quickly acquired Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs. I love this move for them, and Joc should find himself in an immediate full-time role with the team. Obviously, it’s impossible to replace Acuna’s production with just one player, but Joc should provide a much-needed boost in the offensive department for the Braves, and fantasy baseball managers will want to keep a close eye on the slugging lefty as he already has two multiple-hit games for his new ballclub. Feel free to take a chance on him if your roster has the room – he could provide some strong numbers in the second half of the season.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.