The shortstop position has players all over the spectrum, which makes it entertaining. It’s time for some bold shortstop predictions for 2021 fantasy baseball, everyone!
1. Fernando Tatis Jr. finishes OUTSIDE the top 10 shortstops this year!
I’m leading with a BOLD one. Last year I thought the .410 BABIP was unsustainable and saw some major regression. He regressed in batting average, but he became a more patient hitter—cutting down on his K% and increasing his BB%. I’m doubling down and saying he regresses a bit in Year 3 and here are my reasons. First, he just signed a massive contract and history has shown production pre-contract and post-contract can show a strong contrast among professional athletes. Second, he plays with such risk and speed that I wouldn’t be surprised if he get hurt at some point. Finally, I think this super team from San Diego will go cold for a 10-game stretch and there will be scrutiny about what’s going wrong.
2. Francisco Lindor has a batting average above .300 for the first time since 2016
He’s on a one-year contract looking for a big payday. He’s playing in a field that should yield open spaces for base hits, and he is part of a fairly beefed up roster where there are threats throughout. Sure these are all fairly similar to the Padres references above, and to be clear I think the Padres finish with more wins. I also think the Padres struggle mightily for a stint while the Mets have a more consistent ride throughout the season. One final note—I’m not sure how Lindor’s power looks in the new stadium but I think he finds his way on base a fair amount.
3.) Bo Bichette finishes as the top shortstop
I think this is his breakout year. He improved from his rookie year to his second year in: K%, stolen base success rate, RBI, triples, barrel rate, launch angle, spray chart and line drive rate. A few things would have to align but I could see Bo having an amazing year and really emerging as one of the best shortstops in MLB this year. My three main concerns are: two years with a BABIP above .350...for some hitters it’s just the way they are, but there could be regression. His walk rate is also scary low. Lastly, breaking balls are not his friend and he sees them about one third of the time.
4. Javier Baez hits 4X as many homers as he did last year
Among the shortstops I’m bullish on, Baez is right up there. Yes the ‘swing at everything’ Baez is in for a bounce-back campaign after his first career year with a BABIP below .300 in six years. Prior to last year, he landed in the 29-34 homer range (considerably up from the eight he had in 2020, granted on an abbreviated season) and I see more of that in 2021. In 2018 and 2019, he had a barrel rate among the top 20% in the league, and a hairline fracture in his thumb likely caused some issues last year (even if he insisted it didn’t). Bonus prognostication: I also see his batting average jumping above .270 after an abysmally low .203 last year.
5. Marcus Semien leads the league in hits
Semien did a fantastic job with hits from 2016-2019, when he averaged at least a hit per game. To put this in context, only 34 players had 162 hits in 2019 (same # of batters in 2018) and it dropped to 33 batters in 2017. Semien is now with Toronto and I see no reason at SS/2B that he can’t regain his 30%+ hard hit self. During 2017-2019 he exceeded the league average sweet spot rate by almost 10%. If he can regain that and stop swinging so much on the first pitch (up 25% last year), I think we see the old version of Marcus Semien.