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Staff Post: Third basemen to target in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to target at the hot corner in 2021 fantasy baseball.

American League Division Series Game 4: New York Yankees v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It’s been a sizzling week of the hot corner so far, and it’s time to begin to wrap things up with our staff targets and avoids today. Each writer gives you one name, the one that he’s currently most excited about. Let’s hop into it...

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 10.12

This seems like a copout answer, but Jose Ramirez is my favorite target at the position. I see him as the clear #6 overall player in fantasy behind the big 4 outfielders and Fernando Tatis Jr. Ramirez has an ADP of 10.12. The 10th overall pick! I love that value. In some drafts, he’s likely to fall into the middle of the second round. His year-long slump from the second half of 2018 to the first half of 2019 is ancient history now. In 2020, he put up a .993 OPS with 17 home runs and 10 steals. He was the #2 hitter in points leagues and the #4 hitter in roto leagues. He’s also just one of four players projected for 30+ HR and 25+ SB by ATC projections. The others are Ronald Acuña Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Trevor Story. Don’t overthink it. Jose Ramirez is part of the super elite.

Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 43.59

The Red Sox third baseman hit a rather disappointing .263/.310/.483 for the 2020 season, but digging deeper, he got going in the second half (.298/.341/.556, 7 HR, 137 wRC+) after a horrid first (.222/.276/.398, 4 HR, 77 wRC+). Considering that MLB will “dejuice” the ball in 2021, it will take some serious power for it to leave the park. Thankfully, Devers has it: his 93 MPH average exit velocity ranked in the 96th percentile, and his average home run distance of 414 feet ranked second among qualified third basemen. Maybe he won’t quite replicate his otherwordly 2019 (.311 AVG, 32 HR, 129 R, 115 RBI), but he will be extremely productive either way. Don’t let his 2020 “first half” fool you.

Gio Urshela, New York Yankees (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 166.76

I’m coming around on Urshela after not properly valuing him early on in the draft season. He plays for an elite offense, one that will bat around with regularity—so his projected batting order slot of seventh or eighth isn’t a huge concern to me. He slugged .314/.355/.534 with 21 homers in 2019 (only 132 games). He followed that up by slashing .298/.368/.490 in the short season, with six homers and a steal. He nearly doubled his walk rate (5.3% to 10.3%) and cut his strikeout rate dramatically (18.3% to 14.4%). In fact, he was one of the top 10 “gainers” from 2019 to 2020 in swinging strike rate—meaning he lowered his swinging strike rate by 3.1%—from 11.5% to 8.4%. He transformed himself from a free-swinger in 2019 to a more patient guy in 2020. He made more contact and his chase rate PLUMMETED, from a ghastly 41.8% to an above-average 30.8% mark. Lastly, his .315 xBA from 2020 supports his strong batting average contributions, and he’ll obviously amass plenty of counting stats in New York. I’ll be drafting him as one of the last third basemen I really trust, or as a super-sturdy corner infield hitter. Quit sleeping on Urshela in 2021.

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Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 302.18

The more I am digging into the logistics here, the more I am liking what I see. He’s not your prototypical third baseman. He is lacking in power, but he makes up for that with good plate discipline, quick legs and steady contact on the ball. This isn’t going to be much more than 10-15 homers, max—but he will probably give you a batting average around .275, 25 stolen bases, close to 80 runs and a respectable on-base percentage. The Rangers as a team have been among the top five in stolen bases each of the last two years. Kiner-Falefa was caught five times last year, but he will get the green light to run as often as he wants. One other great aspect is he’s likely going to have shortstop AND third base eligibility. Oh, and the best part is his ADP is outside the top 250, so you can get him for cheap as a late flier.