Which MLB Player Will Bounce Back In 2021?
This is one of 10 burning questions comprising Baseball America's 2021 MLB Season Preview. To see the full preview, click here. Below, our staffers pick the player most likely to bounce back in 2021 and offer a brief explanation as to why.
Ben Badler — Christian Yelich, Brewers. This category feels a little like cheating this year coming off a season with such a small sample size. Yelich is still in his 20s and one of the best hitters in the game.
Alexis Brudnicki — Mike Soroka, Braves. It was heartbreaking (at least for every Canadian baseball fan) to see the young righthander go down with a torn Achilles in August. But Soroka has proven his ability to bounce back from injuries before, and is set to get back to the all-star he was in his first full-season campaign.
Mark Chiarelli — Yoan Moncada, White Sox. Moncada’s average exit velocity in 2020 dropped 5.3 miles per hour—the second-biggest decline in baseball—one year after finishing in the top 2% of all hitters. He dealt with lingering side effects of a positive Covid-19 test throughout much of the season. Now healthy, Moncada should return to his dynamic self for an electric White Sox lineup.
Carlos Collazo — Nolan Arenado, Cardinals. Arenado posted career lows last year in barrel rate, hard hit rate, average exit velocity, expected wOBA and wRC+. The shoulder issues he experienced are likely the biggest cause for that drop-off and, now fully healthy in 2021, he’ll bounce back. Leaving Coors Field could dampen his home run totals, but perhaps less stark home/road splits and not having to deal with the elevation issues will make up for that.
J.J. Cooper —Nolan Arenado, Cardinals. A healthy Arenado is going to make a big impact on the NL Central race.
Matt Eddy — Austin Meadows, Rays. The 25-year-old outfielder followed an all-star season in 2019 with a dud of a 2020 in which he hit .205/.296/.371. But there are caveats. Meadows tested positive for Covid-19 in July as summer camps got underway and never quite got up to speed. He came to camp in 2021 looking and feeling more athletic as he seeks redemption.
Kyle Glaser — Kris Bryant, Cubs. Bryant was one of many stars who never got into a rhythm in 2020. With a return to semi-normal in his final season before free agency, expect the slugging third baseman to be comfortable, motivated and back to his MVP-caliber form.
Josh Norris — Christian Yelich, Brewers. It seems unlikely that Yelich’s 2020 will prove to be anything other than an outlier now that the 2021 season will be far less stunted than the stop-and-start nature of the pandemic season.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle — Nolan Arenado, Cardinals. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals: Arenado struggled in the truncated 2020 campaign, but with a change of scenery and protection in the Cardinals’ lineup, he will get back to the form that saw him finish top eight in MVP voting five years in a row from 2015 to 2019.