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Staff Post: Shortstops to target in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you which shortstops to pay up for in 2021.

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Five Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s that exciting time of the week where we lay out our favorite targets at the position. There are no restrictions given, simply each writer offering up the guy who gets him most excited at the current time.

Be sure to circle back around later today for who to avoid. For now, let’s get to the good stuff...

Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (Andrés Chávez and Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 36.57

If you are looking for a shortstop with a safe floor and some upside in four categories, Seager is your man. He hit like a Hall-of-Famer in 2020, slashing .307/.358/.585 with a 152 wRC+ and 15 homers in 52 games. But as good as he was—he finished with a .387 wOBA—he could have been even better with a bit more luck, as he had a .410 expected wOBA. Batting in the heart of the mighty Dodgers lineup, Seager figures to score and drive in plenty of runs, and as his expected batting average of .330 suggests, he could anchor your team in the category. Invest. (Andrés Chávez)

Corey Seager is going to be a first round pick in 2022 and you can grab him in the late third or early fourth round this season. Seager was a four category monster in 2020, hitting .307 with 15 home runs, 41 RBI, and 38 runs over 52 games. That’s a full season pace of roughly 45 HR, 120 RBI, and 110 runs. Seems like first round production to me. His final finish for 2020 was the 13th best hitter in standard roto leagues and the 14th best hitter in points leagues. I’m pretty sure I’ve convinced you, but let me blow you away with his Statcast numbers. His 93.2 MPH average exit velocity was 7th in baseball. His 55.9% hard hit rate was 4th in the league. His 12.1% barrels per plate appearance was seconnd only to Fernando Tatis Jr. Get this, Seager’s xStats actually say he underperformed! He had an xBA of .330 and an xSLG of .653, both fourth among qualified hitters. His xwOBA of .410 was 5th in the league, comparable to Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., and Mike Trout. Seager is already performing like a first rounder. Grab him in 2021 at an absolute bargain ADP outside the top 30. (Garrett Atkins)

Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 69.19

After a significant down year in batting average, I’m all in on Baez. He will have a high K rate so beware in any league (points) where you get punished. I think he was nursing the thumb injury and expect a rebound year from him. His ADP is sitting outside the top 50 and I think he’s a solid bet to be a top 30 player. I wouldn’t gamble a top 2 rounds pick on him but rounds 3 and 4 he would be a solid pickup. (Mark Abell)

Editor’s addition from this week’s State of the (shortstop) Position:

“As for Baez, due to his free-swinging approach and low walk rates, his luck on balls in play is always a threat to make him suffer highs and lows with batting average. In the short season, his .262 BABIP was the lowest since his rookie season, and it resulted in a .203 batting average. But over the course of a full season (or close to it) I expect the 28-year-old stud in Baez to rebound, and to have better luck on balls in play.”

Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 198.92

I see DeJong settling into either the two-hole—to give Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado more RBI chances—or into the five-hole if Dylan Carlson bumps up to one of the top two spots in the Cardinals lineup alongside Tommy Edman. Point is, he’ll get tons of volume based on his prowess on defense—and the Cardinals lineup isn’t half bad with the addition of Arenado. DeJong only managed three homers and one steal during the short season, but prior to that he’s given us some solid power output, with home run totals of 25, 19, and 30. And as recently as 2019 he managed the 30 homers as well as nine steals. He’s a career .251 hitter who managed a .250 batting average in 2021. His career xBA is .245, and he managed a .240 xBA in 2020. It’s not a super-exciting line, but a .245 average with 25-homer potential as a middle infielder is nice. After DeJong’s ADP of 200, I think we really get into some major question marks at the shortstop position. He’s the last of a tier, in my opinion.