This week we spend time in the infield examining another group of fantasy MVPs from the 2021 baseball season. We will spend our time going up to the middle with the second basemen, shortstops, and the beer-league middle infielder position. Heading into the season, the shortstops dominated the draft board ripe with young talent and guys like Tatis and Bichette. Unfortunately, we saw plenty of duds with the Mondesi and LeMahieu hype trains derailing all too quickly. Down the board, there are always values to bring home the trophies, so let the debates begin with the 2021 Fantasy MVP Middle Infielders!
2B Marcus Semien (112-44-101-15-.267)
This might be one of the easiest calls of this MVP article. Going off the board as the 26th middle infielder and 15th amongst second basemen this spring, Marcus was clearly the number one option at season’s end for those at the keystone. A yo-yo player if there is one, Semien seems to go off every other year so maybe we should have seen this coming. Career high pull rates and HR/FB percentages give us a record power season for second basemen. Marcus definitely delivered in 2021.
SS Jorge Polanco (94-32-94-11-.271)
Polanco was the 43rd middle infielder off the board Sandwiched between Willi Castro and Garrett Hampson. Starting the season hitting .207 with a single dinger over the first month of the season appeared to confirm that draft position. However, as the summer heated up so did Polanco with a strong second half and four strong back-to-back months of solid production. Polanco wasn’t flashy, but for a draft cost of basically nothing he was more than a pleasant surprise.
MI Brandon Crawford (75-23-89-11-.301)
I do not believe anybody saw this season coming for Crawford and the Giants. A draft position of nearly 90 among middle infielders would confirm that this was an unexpected season for the long-time Giant. As the draft wound down, we were left looking at the likes of Pat Valaika, Orlando Arcia, Chad Pinder or Brandon Crawford. In hindsight, this is quite the easy choice. While he did improve his underlying power profile slightly, the batting average is much more of a mirage. I hope folks enjoyed the ride, but I would not expect it to play out in 2022 all over again.
These three are my key up-the-middle MVPs, but there are many more qualified players that will not fit into the starting lineup. Here are my honorable mention qualifiers for the 2021 fantasy season:
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Schoop, Ty France, Jazz Chisholm, Luis Urias, Ryan McMahon, Jonathan India
Had McMahon and India as well in places. McMahon really cooled off (like Crawford). India looks legit. India or Jazz heading into 2022?
While I still have plenty to do in order to evaluate for next year, I believe Jazz has a lot of risk in his profile so he will be volatile in his results. If you have a steady lineup then Jazz is a good gamble. India has a higher floor but a lower ceiling. All equal, I probably take Jazz but have them very close.
I grabbed Brandon Crawford fairly early. He helped offset the “loss” of Cody Belanger (and Eloy/Mondesi)…
What are your thoughts on Jazz heading into 2022?
So Jeremy, of these three, which are you most likely to target in next year’s drafts? Just to, you know, explore this issue of repeatability.
I definitely believe that Semein is the the best asset next year, but it will cost to acquire him. Solely based on value at draft day I would look at Polanco.