Could Manny Machado be looking at an MVP season this year?
Spoiler alert for the fantasy baseball third base rankings for 2021. Because for the second year in a row, I like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. more than most. But unlike last year, I won't be targeting him. In fact, I will be targeting very few third basemen in the first nine or ten rounds period.
Only two or three at the hot corner are likely to go in the first 25 picks of your draft, and that might be too many. Even the top options make me a little nervous. Jose Ramirez helped me win a few shekels last year and I like him as the top third base option again this year. And yet... I wonder what the loss of Lindor will do to Ramirez's stats. I got the feeling we might see at least a dozen fewer ribbies this year if we project his numbers out for a full season.
And I like Manny Machado a ton this year and originally had him in the top spot. After a career-high 19.4 percent K rate in 2019, I was very happy to see Machado bring that down in 2020 to a more palatable 14.6 percent to go along with his career-high BB rate of 10.2 percent last year. Should Machado continue to improve his plate discipline, we could be looking at an MVP season. But that feels a little too optimistic.
And then the questions really start. Anthony Rendon's average dropped below .300 and his slugging percentage dropped below .500 last year for the first time in three years. Is it an aberration or the start of a trend? How will Nolan Arenado do without the benefit of the thin Colorado air? Alex Bregman looked very mortal last year. Rafael Devers suffered a career-high 27 percent K rate last year.
Questions abound. It might actually make sense to wait and just grab Vlad, as I am all aboard the Blue Jay train. But once bitten, twice shy, no?
Thoughts and Other Rankings Notes:
- We have to discuss Alec Bohm. I believe in the hype. I think this kid is going to be very good, very soon. Just not sure if 2021 is the year he puts up triple crown numbers. I will be reaching for him in keeper leagues. But in redraft leagues, I will be showing far more restraint. My advice however is to do your own research and form your own opinion. Something tells me whatever I tell you about Bohm is not going to change your opinion anyway.
- Of course, Bohm is not the player who gets my motor running the most. The player who my anticipation might be the highest for is Ke'Bryan Hayes. In his limited 95 plate appearances last year, Hayes had a 55 percent hard-hit rate, totaled 14 extra-base hits, and struck out just 20 times. He could be a potential four-category stud. I hope he has a quiet spring so I don't have to overpay for him, but he's begun making noise already.
- Meanwhile, the good news is you can ignore all the young stud hype and fill out the rest of your lineup. As others rush to pick up the 3B options in Chi-town, you can wait it out and grab Josh Donaldson. How quickly we forget he clubbed 37 home runs in 2019!
Check out my top 3B below for yourself. Let me know your thoughts!
ADP - Average Draft Position
— Rankings by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.