It is February! We are less than two weeks away from Pitchers and Catchers reporting across Florida and Arozarena. Sorry, does anybody else have nightmares of Randy dingers? Just me? So, as we turn the calendar and everyone is talking about the outlook for Nolan Arenado, I have decided to zig while the rest of the ‘normal’ writers zag. We kick-off the month with a heavyweight battle between Tempe’s sweetheart Mr. Anthony Rendon and the baby face of Fort Myers in Mr. Rafael Devers.
While 3B has become deeper over the past few years, there continues to be a jockeying for position near the top of the positional rankings. Looking at NFBC ADP since the beginning of the year Devers and Rendon are going back-to-back near the end of the fourth round. So how do these two profiles look for the 2021 fantasy baseball season?
Anthony Rendon (ADP 43)
2020 kicked off the first year for Anthony Rendon in Los Angeles. It would be no surprise if there were some growing pains… However, he was exactly the same player he has been for years. Short season, Long season, Washington, Los Angeles, Pandemic or not, Rendon is the model of consistency. The only thing I can complain about for Rendon in 2020 is that he didn’t play enough games, but that is only because of a 60 game season! He has been so consistent, he probably simulated the rest of the season in his backyard:
Rendon is entering 2021 in his age 30 season with no signs of slowing. It would be nice if the Angels would try to build a team around Mike Trout that would help Rendon as well, but alas that is just too much to ask. If we look at the projection systems for Rendon in 2021, they all seem to be reasonably on track outside of abnormally low average projections. Seriously, who in the world projects this man to hit in the .270s?
2021 Projection: 99/30/102/.301/3
Rafael Devers (ADP 44)
In 57 games during 2020 Devers had the highest exit velocity of his career sitting in the top 4% of all hitters. He paced for nearly 29 home runs and 113 RBIs. On the flip side, his average did slide to .263 and he did not swipe a single bag the whole season while striking out more than he ever has. Teams also shifted during almost half of at bats in 2020 which was a substantial change compared to 2019 as they adjusted after his breakout year. Can he adjust back?
The projection systems seem to love Raffy going into 2021. 30 Homers, 100 RBI and a .285 average! What isn’t there to like? Well, there is a lot to like about Devers this year. He is still only 24 years old and should hit behind J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts. However, there are some red flags the projections simply are writing off. Rafael has a K% below 23% exactly 1 time in the last 4 years, but all the projection systems see him around 20-21%. Yes, he is a good hitter and was an MVP candidate in 2019, but those numbers just do not add up. While 2020 had decent overall results, I am hesitant to fully buy in at current prices.
2021 Projection: 86/29/92/.268/4
Well, well, well…Despite the similar cost at the draft table this is just no match for the 2021 fantasy baseball season. Over 2017 – 2019, Anthony Rendon’s worst line for each category would give us a season of 88/24/92/.301/2 which was also impacted by missing over 20 games in 2018. On the other hand, Devers only has a single full season worth investing in. Maybe Devers is younger and has more room for growth, but the floor is remarkably high with Rendon and the price tag should be higher than it already is. Look at the profile again, and then draft with confidence.