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2021 Early Two-Round Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Nov 9, 2020

It’s never too early to start prepping for a fantasy baseball draft. Luckily, the fine folks of FantasyPros recently ran a two-round 2021 mock draft to help us get an idea of who the top 20 or so picks might be come next spring. As the offseason moves along we’ll continue releasing content to address the deeper rounds of drafts as well as whose value is rising and falling based on injury news, free agency, and trades. Be sure to stay glued to the MLB News Desk to keep up with everything going on.

*Note that this draft is for a traditional 5×5 rotisserie league. Stats included are wins, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, saves, homers, RBI, stolen bases, runs, and batting average.

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Pick 1.01 – Mike Trout (OF – LAA)

The days of Mike Trout as the consensus No. 1 overall pick may be over, but that won’t stop me from signing up for his consistent production here without hesitation. Trout hit 45 home runs in 134 games in 2019 while essentially batting in a lineup by himself, and he set a new career-high in FB%, only to top that number again in a shortened 2020 season. While his days of stealing 30 bases are over, Trout is still somehow getting better in some areas, and he should have more talent around him in 2021.

-Mike Maher (@MikeMaher)

Pick 1.02 – Mookie Betts (OF – LAD)

Imagine trading away Mookie Betts in his prime. Now imagine not taking Betts with one of the first two picks in redraft leagues. He doesn’t just contribute in all five categories, but he excels in all of them. In a loaded Dodgers lineup, Betts is arguably the safest pick you can make in the first round. Don’t overthink it.

-Michael Waterloo (@MichaelWaterloo)

Pick 1.03 – Ronald Acuña (OF – ATL)

This was a rather easy decision after Trout and Betts were taken with the first two picks. Acuña will be just 23 years old at the start of the 2021 season and should be fully healed coming off of an injury-shortened 2020 campaign. He was bothered by wrist, foot, and hamstring issues that caused him to miss 16 games but he still managed to put up a .987 OPS to go along with 14 home runs, 29 RBI, and eight stolen bases (160 at-bats) as Atlanta’s primary leadoff hitter. I placed more emphasis on his breakout 2019 All-Star season in which he led the NL with 37 stolen bases, slugged 41 home runs, and had 101 RBI with a .280 batting average (626 AB’s). In a full season, he has legitimate 40/40 upside, and given his age and the stellar lineup around him, feels like he’s just scratching the surface.

-Jon Mathisen (@eazymath)

Pick 1.04 – Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD)

Tatis had a terrific 2020 campaign, slashing .277/.366/.571 with 17 home runs, 45 RBI, 50 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases over 59 games. The young phenom has an impressive combination of speed and power, and he’s a legitimate 30-30 threat. I almost went Trevor Story or Juan Soto with the fourth pick, but decided to take Tatis. The 21-year-old is a five-category star and considered to be the best fantasy player in baseball. With the upside and numbers to back it up, Tatis is expected to go top-5 in the majority of fantasy drafts in 2021.

-Brad Camara (@Beerad30)

Pick 1.05 – Trevor Story (SS – COL)

It’s early days, but I have Story as my third overall player. That may surprise some, but I have him down for a .289 average with 35 bombs, 29 steals, 94 runs, and 98 RBIs. Those counting stats may be even a bit low. I’m looking to grab power and steals in the first round, and with Betts, Acuña, and Tatis off the board, Story was an easy choice.

-Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Pick 1.06 – Juan Soto (OF – WAS)

2020 was Soto’s age 21 season and the young superstar continued to dazzle us in his brief, 47-game sample. In fact, on a game-by-game basis, Soto might’ve been the very best baseball had to offer this summer. He missed some games at the beginning of the year due to a positive COVID-19 test and then had a minor elbow injury in September. Setbacks aside, Soto hit a jaw-dropping .351/.490/.695 en route to his first silver slugger award. Soto’s on-base skills are reminiscent of a young Ted Williams. The 2019 World Series champ even had six steals this year, and if he can total double-digits next season, then there’s a case to be made for him as a top-three fantasy asset.

-Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

Pick 1.07 – Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)

I approach almost every first-round selection in all sports with the same mentality: which player can lead a position while also not crippling my team via failure? Basically, I want the highest floor and a high, even if unreachable, ceiling. Enter Jacob deGrom. He just finished his third consecutive season in the top-three for xFIP, where only one other pitcher — Max Scherzer — appeared more than once. Even if someone else slides in and pushes deGrom down a few spots, he remains consistently elite. Every fantasy baseball roster could use that, especially after the first few picks in the draft.

-Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Pick 1.08 – Jose Ramirez (3B – CLE)

I like to grab guys with 5-category potential early in the draft to build a solid foundation and, generally, avoid outfielders because I have a good track record finding sleepers later in drafts and on the wire. Ramirez will provide surplus value in every category except batting average where he ranges from ‘won’t hurt you too bad’ to ‘plus producer.’ He’s a bit streaky but when he doesn’t hit he still steals bases. Also, he led MLB in WAR this season so he’s got a legit shot at becoming the 2020 AL MVP and was second in Yahoo’s player rater among batters on a per-game basis (behind Mookie Betts). He’s got top-five upside with round 3-4 downside. You can’t go wrong with Jose Ramirez. I also considered Trea Turner, Gerrit Cole, and Christian Yelich.

-Lucas Babits-Feinerman

Pick 1.09 – Shane Bieber (SP – CLE)

We’re likely to hear a heated debate over whether it should be Bieber or deGrom drafted first in 2021, and my hat is firmly in the Bieber ring. He was outstanding in the shortened 2020 season, registering eight wins, 122 strikeouts, a 1.62 ERA, and a 0.86 WHIP in 77.2 innings. As the likely 2020 American League Cy Young award winner, Bieber proved that his impressive 2019 campaign was no fluke. In 2020 he outperformed deGrom in most pitching statistics, namely K/9 and xFIP. Perhaps what sets him apart most is his unmatched ability to work deep into games, allowing him to preserve his own wins. This is in stark contrast to the Mets’ track record of failing to secure wins for deGrom; this gives Bieber an edge in a key statistic.

-Connor Rooney (@c_rooney_)

Pick 1.10 – Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)

We’re barely into the offseason and already the fantasy community is discussing how heavily we should weigh the 2020 season when it comes to player analysis. There may no better example of the weight one puts into 2020 than the valuation of one Christian Yelich. The 28-year-old former MVP was an unequivocal bust this summer, hitting .205 with 12 homers and a .756 OPS in 58 games. That’s a far cry from the .329/.429/.671 batting line he registered just one year ago. In 2020 Yelich actually produced a higher average exit velocity, a stronger hard-hit rate, and a better walk rate than he did in both 2018 and 2019. His issue was a 30.8% strikeout rate, up 10% from his previous career-high. I’d expect that to even out over the course of a normal season, which 2020 was anything but.

-Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

Pick 2.01 – Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)

Gerrit Cole wasn’t very special in his first season with the Bronx Bombers. None of his meaningful advanced metrics ranked within the 90th percentile on Baseball Savant. In fact, his hard-hit rate checked in at a career-high 44.6%, which was good for the bottom 7th percentile of Major League Baseball. Still, he finished with a 2.84 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts in 73 innings. He was really, really good, even if it got overshadowed by Shane Bieber and Jacob deGrom. A closer look at Cole’s season hints that he might’ve had some bad homer luck early on. He gave up a dinger in each of his first eight starts (12 total) while posting a 3.91 ERA and a 4.89 FIP. Over his last four starts, he allowed just two long balls, registering a 1.00 ERA with a 2.19 FIP.

-Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

Pick 2.02 – Trea Turner (SS – WAS)

After a sluggish start to 2020, Turner proved why he’s been such a valuable commodity in rotisserie leagues. He finished the year with a .334 batting average, 12 homers, 46 runs, 41 RBI, and 12 steals. An improved strikeout rate allowed Turner to develop into a five-category contributor in 2020, though it’s unlikely we see a batting average that high in a full season. Nay-sayers may point to the small sample size of Turner’s stats in 2020, but it’s hard to argue against the batted-ball profile we saw from the 27-year-old. The early second round of Roto drafts seems like a comfortable place to take a player who will be a primary contributor in steals and has a decent likelihood of delivering great numbers across categories.

-Connor Rooney (@c_rooney_)

Pick 2.03 – Francisco Lindor (SS – CLE)

Shortstop is pretty deep but Lindor was the only one left in Tier One so I decided to pull the trigger. He’s another five-tool guy and a threat to lead the league in runs scored every season. I already had his teammate Jose Ramirez and I like the synergy – when Ramirez knocks in Lindor I get both a run and a RBI. Lindor is a free agent at the end of the season so he’s playing for a big contract. Between him and Ramirez, I expect 60 home runs and 40 stolen bases – not bad for my first two picks. I also considered Cody Bellinger, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer, and Freddie Freeman.

-Lucas Babits-Feinerman

Pick 2.04 – Cody Bellinger (1B/OF – LAD)

I often write about how I view my fantasy drafts in pairs of picks, and that works especially well in this type of article where we are only selecting two players. Therefore, after targeting the highest floor possible in round one — for a given position — I want a second-round player who is falling too far in the rankings. Welcome to the team, Cody Bellinger. Bellinger was a consensus top-five fantasy option all drafts prior to 2020 — no matter how long the season was or when the drafts were being held — and he holds the first-round pedigree that I love in a second-round pick. His rank outside of the top-60 in Offensive WAR is obviously concerning, but it was largely weighed down by a sudden drop in batting average. It’s easy to chalk this up to the short season, but the reality is that we will all have to decide how to properly grade 2020, and I’m willing to lean on a strong history even after a ‘down year.’

-Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Pick 2.05 – Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL)

Freddie Freeman and Cody Bellinger will once again be discussed as the top-two first basemen come 2021. When being compared to each other it’s often Bellinger who is considered to have “more upside.” That might technically be true, but it would be a mistake to view Freeman as merely a “high floor” fantasy player. The 31-year-old might win National League MVP honors after toting a .341/.462/.640 triple slash and playing in all 60 games. Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies are tied to this offense for next year (and Marcell Ozuna could be back as well). Freeman’s incredible bat skills combined with a plus supporting cast make him a high floor, high upside fantasy selection.

-Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

Pick 2.06 – Lucas Giolito (SP – CWS)

This is where the decisions become tougher. My ideal draft spot is near the turn, and one of the top three SPs drops. I would draft that SP, and then one of the previous hitters who fell. Given that I was not put in that position, I want to make sure I grab an ace in the first two rounds. I could have picked from Giolito, Walker Buehler, or Yu Darvish (amongst others), but I think Giolito has a safer floor than either of those guys. It’s tough to win your league in the early rounds, but it’s very easy to lose it. My early projection for Giolito is 190 innings, 15 wins, 3.02 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 253 strikeouts.

-Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Pick 2.07 – Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)

Bryce Harper was productive once again in a shortened 2020 campaign, slashing .268/.420/.542 with 13 home runs, 33 RBI, 41 runs scored, and eight stolen bases over 244 plate appearances. At this point in the draft, I want to take players that do not have any question marks heading into the 2021 season. He is a safe investment. Barring injury, Harper will hit 30-plus home runs and steal 12-15 bags in a full season. Harper will produce like a top-20 fantasy player and is a rock-solid pick in the middle of the second round.

-Brad Camara (@Beerad30)

Pick 2.08 – Yu Darvish (SP – CHC)

Darvish a finalist for the 2020 NL Cy Young after his stellar season (2.01 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and a 93:14 K/BB ratio over 76 innings). Additionally, his numbers over his last 25 starts are elite: 2.39 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 211:33 K/BB ratio across 157 2/3 innings. He also notched 18 quality starts and earned 12 wins over that span and we know going more than six innings is becoming a rare feat for a starting pitcher these days. I considered Trevor Bauer at this spot but given the fact we don’t know where we’ll sign as of now, this pick felt safer. There are some slight concerns with Darvish’s age as he’ll be entering his age-34 season going into 2021. Alas, he appears to have finally found his groove in Chicago.

-Jon Mathisen (@eazymath)

Pick 2.09 – Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)

Let’s double up on Dodgers to start our draft, shall we? Buehler started slow out of the gate again, and if he does it again in 2021, that’s fine, as long as he picks up where he left off at the end of the year and in the postseason. After the big three are off the board, there’s an argument to take Buehler as the fourth starting pitcher with his elite strikeout rate and great ratios.

-Michael Waterloo (@MichaelWaterloo)

Pick 2.10 – Alex Bregman (3B – HOU)

Alex Bregman wasn’t all that good without the trash cans in 2020, but we’re talking about a player who batted .296 with 41 home runs in 2019. With the last pick in the second round, I’m sprinting to the podium to get Bregman for a bounce-back season. And with Trout and Bregman as my top two picks, I could very well be starting off my roster with 75+ home runs, 220+ RBI, 20+ stolen bases, 230+ runs scored, and great AVG, OBP, and OPS numbers.

-Mike Maher (@MikeMaher)

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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