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2021 Draft Recap: Round Three (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Jan 19, 2022
2021 Draft Recap: Round Three

Welcome back to our review of the first five rounds of the 2021 fantasy draft. Today we’ll cover Round 3 (picks 21-30). If you missed the first two rounds, check out Round 1 here and Round 2 here.

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3.01:  Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)

Buehler earned his early selection in 2021 and then some. He won 16 games over 200 innings with a .247 ERA, a .97 WHIP, and a 9.2 K/9 rate. His season was strong enough to make him an NL Cy Young finalist and one of the top starters in fantasy baseball. If you want to nitpick, his K-rate was the lowest of his career. But overall, if you were lucky enough to have him on your team last season, you had to be pleased.

Heading into 2022, the only thing to be concerned about with Buehler is his heavy workload from 2021. After tossing 61 innings between the shortened regular season and playoffs in 2020, he jumped to 226 innings combined last year. This concern isn’t enough to drop him down draft boards but is something to consider come draft day.

3.02:  Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)

Nola’s 2021 wasn’t as smooth as Buehlers. He struggled to a 4.63 ERA with only nine wins. On a positive note, his 1.13 WHIP and 11.1 K’s per nine weren’t too bad, and he did manage to stay relatively healthy. Nola was bit by the long ball and a high BABIP, which inflated his ERA. His FIP/xFIP/xERA/SIERA metrics were all in line with his career norm, which is a good sign for next season.

Even with last season’s struggles, Nola’s current ADP is still 39, and he is trending towards being selected as a high-end SP2. Given his strong rebound potential, this feels about right.

3.03:  Max Scherzer (SP – WAS)

After a sub-par 2020 season by his standards, many wondered if Scherzer was starting to feel the effects of father time. As a result, he slipped in drafts to the ninth SP taken. However, Mad Max proved the doubters wrong as he put together another Cy Young caliber season in 2021. His final line included a .246 ERA, .86 WHIP, 11.8 K’s per nine, and 15 wins for two different franchises. Despite his age, he had one of the best fantasy years in all of MLB.

Scherzer didn’t get any younger in the off-season and signed a 3-year megadeal with the New York Mets. Once again, he’s being drafted as an SP1 this year. Even though he’s getting a bit long in the tooth, it’s hard to bet against him.

3.04:  Bo Bichette (SS – TOR)

Bichette was another 3rd round selection from last year who exceeded expectations. His multi-category excellence was up there with the best players in the league. Bichette hit .298 on the year with 29 HRs, 25 SBs, 121 runs, and 102 RBIs. He was a cornerstone player for fantasy managers who were fortunate enough to draft him.

There’s no reason to doubt Bichette heading into 2022 drafts. However, this year, it will cost you a first-round pick to get him. Even so, he may be well worth it, considering how well he delivers across multiple categories.

3.05:  DJ LeMahieu (1B, 2B, 3B – NYY)

After putting up incredible numbers in his first two seasons as a Yankee, LeMahieu fell back to Earth in 2021. He posted his lowest BA since 2014, and his power disappeared. In 2019 LeMahieu hit 26 HRs with an ISO (Isolated Power) of .191. Last year, those numbers dipped to 10 and .094.

LeMahieu probably won’t be drafted inside the Top 100 this season, but there’s reason to expect he’ll bounce back to a certain extent. His Expected BA, SLG, and wOBA last year all exceeded his actuals, indicating he may have encountered a bit of bad luck. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever duplicate his 2019 and 2020 again, but he’s still worth drafting as a multi-position eligible bench piece given his upside.

3.06:  Corey Seager (SS – LAD)

Corey Seager’s 2020 season was magical. After a resurgent regular season and award-winning post-season, much was expected of him in 2021. Unfortunately, in mid-May, a fastball fractured his right hand and shortened his season to 95 games. When he played, he performed as expected, slashing a .306 BA with 16 HRs, 54 runs, and 57 RBIs in 409 plate appearances. But that was of little solace to fantasy managers who grabbed him in the third round.

Before the lockout, Seager signed a massive deal to leave the Dodgers and join the Rangers. Switching leagues can sometimes affect a player, but not always. The most significant adjustment Seager will likely have to deal with will be the considerable drop-off in offensive talent around him in the lineup. Whereas the Dodgers have one of the deepest rosters in the league, the Rangers are a work in progress (although adding Marcus Semien (2B – TEX) helps). He may see fewer RBI opportunities and get pitched around more often, but even so, Seager remains one of the game’s premier hitters.

3.07:  Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)

Through May, Castillo was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball, sporting a 7.22 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP. He was so bad that many fantasy owners dropped him despite the early draft investment. Castillo rewarded those who held on to him, however, pitching well from June through September. Over the last four months of the season, he provided a 2.73 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, seven wins, and 9.6 K’s per nine. His final season stats were in the range of his career averages, though not what fantasy managers were hoping for when they selected him in the third round.

So what should we expect of Castillo for 2022? Bad luck contributed to his poor start, but something was still amiss. He’s currently ranked as a low-end SP2, and his early ADP is in the sixth round. He’s undoubtedly capable of out-producing his draft stock, but his inconsistency is troublesome.

3.08:  Anthony Rendon (3B – LAA)

Anthony Rendon played in only 58 games last season due to various ailments, culminating in an August hip surgery. He did not play after July 4th, and even when he did last year, he didn’t seem like himself. His final 2021 numbers included an unimpressive .240 batting average, six HRs, 24 runs, 34 RBIs, and zero stolen bases.

We all saw how good Rendon could be in 2019 when he helped carry the Nationals to the World Series title. However, he’s had his issues staying healthy throughout his career, having played over 150 games in a season only twice. Even if he’s past his injuries from 2021, his track record indicates a considerable amount of risk. That said, his current ADP is over 100, so he could end up a bargain if you can get him late in the draft.

3.09:  Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)

Mondesi played even less than Rendon in 2021, accumulating a total of 136 plate appearances over 35 games. Most of those appearances happened in September, so you’re forgiven if you didn’t notice that he stole 15 bases, hit six homers, scored 19 runs, and drove in 17 on the season (albeit with a .230 BA). Not bad for 35 games!

Even though he’s still young, we kind of know what to expect of Mondesi at this point of his career. He’s the best base stealer in the league who has a fair amount of pop but may drag down your BA as he strikes out way too much. Oh, and he gets hurt often – so buyer beware. Since he can single-handedly help you win the SB category, he’s worth drafting, but don’t overspend on him as he’s likely to miss some time due to injuries.

3.10:  Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)

Kershaw had the highest ERA since his rookie year in 2021 at 3.55. His FIP, xFIP, xERA, and SIERA all suggest it should have been closer to 3.00 though. He also sported ten wins, a 10.65 k/9 rate, and a 1.02 WHIP in his 22 starts. So yes, he’s still pretty good. He’s also very injury-prone at this stage of his career, as he made only four starts after July 3rd before being shut down before the playoffs.

As of now, Kershaw is a free agent who is still contemplating retirement. Should he return in 2022, odds are it will be with the Dodgers, though stranger things have happened. In any case, it’s doubtful Kershaw will ever be a workhorse starter again. Should he sign with someone by draft day, he’s worth selecting, but temper your expectations about how many innings you’ll get out of him.

Third Round Overview

The third round of the 2021 fantasy baseball draft provided mixed results. There were some great values (Buehler, Bichette, Scherzer), some disappointments (Nola, LeMahieu, Castillo), and a whole lot of injuries (Seager, Rendon, Mondesi, Kershaw). The first three rounds were pretty rough on the whole in terms of value last year. Did it get better in Round 4?

Next week: Round 4 (picks 31-40)

Need more advice? Check out our free fantasy baseball Draft Kit >>

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