With pitchers and catchers already reporting across Major League Baseball and spring training games soon to begin, it is a great time to look some of the best rookie hitters to consider in fantasy baseball this season.
In last season’s 60-game sprint, we saw a couple of solid rookies emerge as competent hitters at the plate in Alec Bohm, Jake Cronenworth, and Kyle Lewis. Both finished second and third in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. Meanwhile, Lewis won the A.L. Rookie of Year award.
Below we will take a look some players, who were in the running for those awards but will still be considered rookies in the 2021 season. Keep in mind that some of these names may sound familiar. But under the MLB’s new rule as long as they did not accumulated more than 45 days on a major league roster last season or before, these players still have rookie status.
Catcher: Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants
Bart received much-needed at-bats and playing time behind the plate for a Giants team that did not have All-star catcher Buster Posey, who opted out. In 22 games, the rookie catcher only slashed .233/.288/.320 with seven RBI.
That might not be able to many fantasy baseball managers, however, he should be better this season as the backup catcher behind Posey. Baseball Reference projects Bart to hit .242/.317/.395 with nine home runs and 37 RBI this season.
First base: Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox
In limited playing time, Dalbec showcased his power at the plate last season for the Boston Red Sox. The 25-year-old first baseman slugged .263/.359/.600 with eight home runs and 16 RBI in 16 games.
The young first baseman also had 39 strikeouts, which is a concern, but its the risk worth taking with his kind of power at the plate. With the Red Sox having Rafael Devers at third base, Dalbec will likely slot in at first base this season. According to Baseball Reference, Dalbec is projected to hit .249/.336/.470 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI.
Second base: Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox
There is a lot of hype surrounding Madrigal this season, who is also ranked 36th in the MLB’s Top 100 best prospects. Last season for White Sox, the young second baseman slashed an impressive .340/.376/.369 with 11 home runs.
While his power and extra base hit numbers, leave a lot to be desired, the 23-year-old only had seven strikeouts in 109 plate appearances. That is good to see a player at this stage to already have solid plate discipline, especially when he can set the table for Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and etc.
Baseball Reference projects that Madrigal to take a leap offensively, slugging .281/.347/.415 with nine home runs and 41 RBI.
Third base: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates will likely not be very good this season. However, they do have one player to keep an eye out for and that third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Last season, Hayes only played in 24 games, but still managed to hit .376/.442/.682 with five home runs and 11 RBI.
It doesn’t matter what fantasy sports you are playing, we are always looking for that one player who is playing on a bad team and will get opportunities to play. Hayes is in that spot and will be looking to improve from finishing sixth in the N.L. Rookie of the Year vote. The 24-year-old is projected to slash .285/.363/.509 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI.
Shortstop: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Wander Franco enters this season as the top prospect in Major League Baseball. The 19-year-old shortstop did not get any at-bats last season with the Rays, but still found himself on the postseason roster.
According to his MLB.com prospect profile, Franco has the skills to be a generational switch-hitter. In his last season playing minor league ball in 2019, he slashed .327/.398/.487 with nine home runs and 53 RBI. Franco was invited to big-league camp with the Rays, but do not be surprised to see him possibly start the season in Triple-A.
Outfield: Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals
The 22-year-old outfielder did not have the best start last season for the Cardinals as he slugged .162/.215/.243. But Carlson ended the 2020 campaign, hitting .200/.252/.364 with three home runs and 16 RBI.
With St. Louis trading veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler, it should open up a starting spot for Carlson in right field and more opportunities at the plate. Baseball Reference projects Carlson to hit .235/.308/.412 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI.