Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, both new members of the New York Mets

Danny Abriano/Yahoo Money

Now that the Super Bowl has concluded, it's time to start looking towards Spring, which means baseball is right around the corner.

The hot corner to be exact.

The return of the MLB also means that it's time to start doing your research for your fantasy baseball league. We will get what should feel more like a normal baseball season in 2021 after the truncated 2020 campaign, which saw the L.A. Dodgers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. We saw some star players deal with some significant struggles in 2020, including recently traded third baseman, Nolan Arenado, who will hope to rebound in his new home of Saint Louis this year.


It is difficult, however. to hold any poor performances against any player considering the length of the season and the conditions they were playing under. As we know, baseball is a game of hot steaks and cold streaks and considering the MLB only played 60 regular season games last year, nearly two-thirds of the season wasn't played. Players can go through a cold streak of that length and then turn it around in the second half of the season.

We have seen perennial MVP candidate, Jose Ramirez do just that in 2019. In the first half of the 2019 season Ramirez hit for just .218, seven home runs, and 35 runs batted in over 85 games. After the all-star break Ramirez slashed .327, 16 home runs, and 48 runs batted in over 44 games.

As fantasy managers we know that talent always shines through, so there will certainly be some players to target in your upcoming fantasy baseball drafts that may slip farther than they should based on last year's stats. Don't be the one that loses out on a league winner because of one down year.

Let's look at three players looking to have big bounce back seasons in 2021 that should help you win your league this season.

J.D. Martinez Boston Red Sox DH

So this is the lowest hanging fruit here. Martinez had a flat out terrible 2020. J.D. hit just .217 with seven homers and 27 RBI over 54 games. The entire Red Sox organization felt off last year, and Martinez may have been the biggest example of that. Usually one of the most consistent power hitters in the game, and someone that was coming off draft boards in the first three rounds of drafts last year, was possibly the biggest fantasy disappointment in baseball in 2020.

In 2019 Martinez hit for .306, 34 HR, and 105 RBI. In 2018 he slashed a line of .330, 43 HR, and 130 RBI and finished fourth in the American League in MVP voting. Boston's roster isn't quite as good as it was during those years, but they do still have Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers to help provide some protection in the lineup for their DH. Considering Martinez is a power hitter that you can likely grab in rounds 6-8 this offseason, if you are lacking power after your first few picks J.D. Martinez will be worth adding in the mid rounds.

Joey Gallo Texas Rangers OF/1B

Gallo has always been a polarizing commodity when it comes to fantasy baseball. His power has always been undeniable, but his batting average has never topped .253 in a season. In 2020 Gallo still wasn't able to hit for average, but his power also betrayed him leaving him with a final line of .181, 10 HR, and 26 RBI in 57 games. This has caused Gallo to be all but forgotten about until the end of drafts heading into 2021.

But if you go back to the 2019 season, Gallo was having another fantastic power hitting season and was on pace to have his best statistical season before a wrist injury ended his season halfway through the season in July. Gallo had a .986 OPS, 22 HR and 49 RBI through 70 games before hitting the injured reserve list. Now you can't ever expect Gallo to become a .300 hitter, but at just 27 years old, you should expect Gallo to return to his home run hitting ways before this season is over.

Gallo is projected beyond the tenth round in most formats currently, and if you target him around there you can stack up on pitching or focus on filling out other stat categories with other players before snagging your power hitter in Gallo late.

Carlos Carrasco New York Mets SP

Carrasco will likely be drafted ahead of the other two players on this list, but depending on who's in your league and the depth of their baseball IQ, Carrasco could also fall a lot farther than he should be in this year's draft. If you remember, Carrasco dealt with battling leukemia in 2019 while he was with the Cleveland Indians. He returned in 2020 and started 12 games, going 3-4 with 82 Ks and a 2.91 ERA.

Now with the New York Mets, Carrasco will be behind Jacob deGrom and ahead of Marcus Stroman in the rotation. Last season we saw Carrasco pitch beyond the sixth inning in nine of his 12 starts, which is important as his stamina and effectiveness were in question once he returned.

He's always been a work horse pitcher that is expected to carry a big innings workload, so to see he was able to do that in short order after his return gave the Mets confidence to sign him, and it should give you confidence he will flourish in this new rotation.

Not only do the Mets have a formidable rotation, but they have a dangerous lineup and the addition of Carrasco's former teammate in Cleveland, Francisco Lindor, gives the Mets a middle of the lineup that includes Lindor, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso. The Padres, Dodgers, and Cardinals have all considerable improvements as well this offseason, and the NL will be hotly contested. But if you want to run away with your fantasy league, drafting Carrasco to be your first or second pitcher will help get you there.

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

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In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

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Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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