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Where to find corner infield bargains

The corner infield has gone through some dramatic changes over the past few seasons, from a fantasy baseball perspective. Both first and third base were so rich with power-hitting talent, fantasy owners had little need to prioritize either position in their drafts and could focus on scarcer spots like the middle infield or starting pitching.

In recent seasons, however, the talent has thinned out to the point at which, according to average draft position, if you don’t draft one within the first 100 picks, you could be left out in the cold. Fortunately, a poor 2020 season and some recency bias have left us with a few bargains, all of whom will warrant consideration as Comeback Player of the Year.

There is really no story in MLB right now better than the return of Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini. Diagnosed with colon cancer in the spring of 2020, Mancini sat out the entire season to receive treatment and is now 100 percent healthy. He is a career .276 hitter with 25-home run power and a .335 on-base percentage — numbers relatively equivalent to those of Anthony Rizzo, who sits on the cusp of the top-10 at the position — but Mancini’s 180 ADP pushes him down to the 15th round in 12-team mixed leagues. That 80-pick discount will do wonders for the rest of your team.

With third base a little deeper than first, you can look at a few players who seem primed for bounce-back campaigns in 2021. The White Sox’s Yoan Moncada stands out the most. He contracted COVID-19 last spring, struggled mightily to recover his strength and stamina, and posted numbers well below expectations. As a result, he is falling out of the top 10 at the position in some drafts, presenting you with quite the ninth-round bargain when his upward trajectory from 2019 starts back up.

You can even go a little deeper at third, as Josh Donaldson’s 190 ADP basically turns the Twin into a free pick. Yes, he comes with an injury risk, but this veteran is a pure hitter and is still capable of mashing 30 homers. Slot him in as your corner infielder and you’re set.

Power is what you need on the corner, and plenty of it can be found late in your drafts. Don’t panic if you miss out on some of the elite names. Fantasy leagues are won in the middle-to-late rounds, and picks like Mancini, Moncada and Donaldson will help make it happen.


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