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Staff Post: Second basemen to avoid in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to consider fading at the keystone in 2021.

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Second base week is drawing to a close, though you can still read through all the propaganda at your leisure. The keystone is a top-heavy group, meaning there are a lot of “dart throwey” type of plays. But a few of us have done our part to tell you who we are avoiding in 2021.

Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 73.00

It’s admittedly hard to find a bust at second base. I’m not a fan of Jose Altuve, for instance, but his ADP is honestly a great value given his track record. I’ll go with Keston Hiura here. Hiura was dreadful in 2020. He hit just .212 with an OPS of .707. He led the NL with 85 strikeouts, just five shy of the league leader Miguel Sano at 90 strikeouts. His K-rate of 34.6% was up from his 2019 rate of 30.7%. His average exit velocity dropped from 91.4 MPH to 87.4 MPH. Lastly, the hard hit rate was 39.6% in 2020 after having a 50% rate in 2019. He hit grounders at a higher rate in 2020, and less fly balls. All trends were downward for Hiura in 2020, which make me hesitant to buy in on the Brewers youngster for 2021. I’m passing on him in drafts this season.

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres - Game Three Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 217.58

Cronenworth was an early draft season target for me, and I’ve got one share already on an early NFBC team. But now I think we have to pump the brakes on him. Roster Resource has Cronenworth in the everyday lineup, but Ha-seong Kim on the bench...and I just don’t see that happening with regularity. Outside of a few everyday fixtures in San Diego, I think you can’t really trust everyone. There are a lot of moving parts with some positional wiggle...that’s good for real life, but bad for fantasy baseball. I’d rather take Chris Taylor about a round later. It’s a similar setup as far as the Dodgers are concerned, but the absence of Kiké Hernandez (now with Boston) and the fact that they seem to love Chris Taylor out in L.A. tip the scales for me.

Andrés Chávez: Don’t get me wrong, I love Cronenworth. He hits the crap out of the ball, as evidenced by his batted ball data in 2020: he finished in the 95th percentile in expected wOBA, in the 98th percentile in xBA, 91st percentile in xSLG, 70th percentile in barrel percentage, and 68th percentile in hard hit rate. So why am I avoiding him? Playing time concerns. As simple as that. The Padres signed Ha-seong Kim to play second base, they have Eric Hosmer at first, Fernando Tatis at short, and Manny Machado at third. Cronenworth could find playing time in the outfield, but Tommy Pham, Wil Myers, Trent Grisham and Jurickson Profar are all lurking there. He will play, but probably not as much as I’d like, and with no DH in the National League so far, I prefer to look elsewhere.

Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 255.95

I am about as big of a fan as you will find, but the 2020 combination of a .330 BABIP and 32.6% strikeout rate...that’s a deadly combo. Do you need more red flags? He will be battling Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers for playing time as well.