2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (AL)
Expert Consensus Ranking (56 of 56 Experts) -
|Rank||Player (Team, Position)||Overall||Notes|
|1||Jose Abreu (CWS - 1B,DH)||10||13.0||+3.0||
For most players, fantasy managers need to consider whether to discount a highly out-of-character dip in their numbers given the shortened season. For Abreu, it's the opposite - whether fantasy managers should give credence to an outstanding MVP season, during which Abreu vastly outperformed his numbers from every other season of his career. Everything was good for Abreu in 2020, everything. He hit the ball harder than ever and consistently. He got on base more. He had career-high paces in every category. Abreu will be entering his age-34 season, so there's no way you should expect a repeat performance, but it's worth noting that he has increased his average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage in each of the last five seasons. Abreu's cost doesn't match his numbers last year, of course, but you'll still have to pay a hefty price in drafts. Given his safety and and his newly-discovered upside, however, it's worth it.
|2||DJ LeMahieu (NYY - 1B,2B,3B)||12||7.0||-5.0||
LeMahieu will return to the Yankees on a six-year deal, and that is great news for fantasy managers. Since he's been New York, he's provided elite all-around production, most notably in batting average, where he has batted .336. He's blossomed into a 25-home run hitter with plenty of runs and RBI, and a handful of steals that chip in with the category. Add to that LeMahieu's multi-position eligibility and he is a huge asset to every fantasy team. With nothing in his profile to suggest a skills decline, he should be drafted before the third round is out in every fantasy league.
|3||Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR - 1B,3B,DH)||21||22.0||+1.0||
Guerrero Jr. comes into 2021 with fantasy managers asking the same question they asked the year before: can he stop hitting the ball on the ground so much? A 49.6% ground-ball rate was bad in 2019, but a 54.6% ground ball rate in 2020 was downright egregious. Guerrero Jr. hits the ball really, really hard. He was in the top seven percent of MLB in average exit velocity (92.5 MPH) and hard hit rate (50.8%). But until he learns to stop pounding the ball into the dirt, his power upside will be limited. There will be some fantasy manager in your league willing to bet on the upside, so if you want Guerrero Jr., you're going to have to draft him before his numbers say you should. This may indeed be the year that everything clicks. But you'll have to pay to find out.
|4||Anthony Rizzo (NYY - 1B)||34||44.0||+10.0||
Rizzo's average dropped to just .222 last year and his counting stats waned, though the latter failing was much more due to the lack of production from the rest of the Cubs lineup. His walk and strikeout rates, however, stayed mostly in line, and his BABIP was an artificially low .218 (career mark of .289), which is partly why there was such a gap between his xBA of .266 and his actual batting average. With that said, Rizzo didn't hit the ball nearly as hard last year, as he saw career worsts in average exit velocity and hard hit rate. He likely won't ever be the player he was at his peak, but there's still plenty in his bat that can help fantasy managers, including the handful of steals he will throw in each year. He's a starting-caliber first baseman still, without question, and he'll go at a discount because of last year's numbers.
|5||Matt Olson (OAK - 1B)||37||37.0||‐||
Olson again hit for a ton of power last year, and ranked in the top nine percent of the league in average exit velocity for the third straight season. But he struck out 31.4% of the time, which contributed to a massive average drop to just .195. Olson had a bit of bad luck, as his xBA was .224, but still, it was by far his worst career mark. Although he'll never be a high average hitter, it's a good bet that he'll return something this year closer to his .245 career mark. Combine that with his likely near-40 home run season, and he'll make a fine mid-round selection and starting first baseman for any fantasy team.
|6||Brandon Lowe (TB - 1B,2B,LF,RF)||38||30.0||-8.0||
Lowe actually lost a point on his batting average from 2019 (.269 from .270), but his profile looked far better in 2020. He cut his strikeout rate from 34.6% to 25.9%, and his swinging strike rate from 19.1% to 15.4%. Despite barreling the ball a whopping 17.5% of the time (top 2 percent in baseball), his average dropped a point because, well, he just didn't have an outrageously lucky BABIP like he did in 2019 (.377). Lowe improved his ISO and HR/FB rate, and was generally the best version of himself in 2020. Even mashing together his 2019 and 2020 seasons, Lowe has hit 31 homers and stole eight bases over 138 games. Batting near the top of a strong lineup, he should deliver another solid season at the thin second base position.
|7||Luke Voit (NYY - 1B) IL10||59||32.0||-27.0||
Voit suffered a partial meniscus tear in his knee this spring and is going to be precluded from participating in baseball activity for at least three weeks after surgery. It's almost certainly going to take Voit at least a couple of weeks after returning to baseball activity to return to game action, meaning you should bank on him being out until May 15th or so. When healthy, he's going to produce, however. He has always had a ton of power but last year he left the yard at a ridiculous pace last year, with a 34.9% HR/FB rate, third best in the league. The thing is, nothing about his profile really changed all that much. Indeed, his hard hit rate, barrel percentage, and average exit velocity actually were career lows. The biggest difference was that Voit simply swung more than ever, 52.1% of the time, and correspondingly made more contact, at a 73.8% rate, and actually struck out less than ever before. If Voit keeps the same approach, there's every reason to expect him to put up massive power numbers when he's healthy. That's always been his bugaboo, of course, and since he is already dealing with a significant injury, you can't draft him as a starting first baseman in mixed leagues at this point.
|8||Ryan Mountcastle (BAL - 1B,DH,LF)||67||72.0||+5.0||
Mountcastle followed up a successful minor-league career with a strong 35-game stint in the majors last year. Not only did he bat .333 with an .878 OPS and a 139 wRC+, but he also walked 7.9% of the time, far above what he showed in the minors. The batting average is unsustainable - he was a .295 hitter in the minors and last year he relied on a .398 BABIP despite sub-par average exit velocity and a middling line drive rate. But playing in Camden Yards should certainly keep his production high, and batting in the middle of the Orioles lineup should lead to enough RBI chances to make him a rosterable, if not startable, fantasy option.
|9||Yasmani Grandal (CWS - C,1B) IL10||68||58.0||-10.0||
Grandal is getting up there in age for a catcher, and there were a few warning signs for the veteran. He struck out nearly 30% of the time last season, well above his typical rate, and his expected batting average, slugging percentage, and wOBA were some of the worst of his career. At the same time, he continued to walk at a near-elite clip, and again provided plenty of power from a position where pop is hard to find. The good news for Grandal is that both his large contract and his elite pitch framing skills should keep him in the lineup as often as possible, which will help to pad his counting stats, though his recovery from a knee injury may cause Chicago to take it easy with him at the outset. He's just a tad outside of the elite range at the position, but he's a locked in fantasy starter.
|10||Miguel Sano (MIN - 1B,3B,DH)||74||87.0||+13.0||
Sano has always had one of the worst strikeout rates in the majors, but his 43.9% mark in 2020 was awful even by his standards. That's always the risk with Sano - that his strikeout rate is going to bring his batting average down to close to .200, where he'll almost single-handedly tank you in that category. The upside of course is that he absolutely crushes the ball, as evident by the fact that he was no worse than second in baseball in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and barrel rate last year. Sano's contract with the Twins shows they're committed to him, so he should hopefully be beyond concerns of getting sent down to the minors if he struggles. That puts Sano in the high-power, low-average bucket of sluggers, but one who goes much later in drafts than others who will provide similar production.
|11||Trey Mancini (BAL - 1B,DH,LF,RF)||73||68.0||-5.0||
Mancini missed all of the 2020 season after being diagnosed with cancer, but appears to be healthy as we head into 2021. He had a breakout 2019 season during which he hit 35 home runs and slashed .291/.364/.535, and there's every reason to think that production is sustainable. Mancini had hit 24 home runs in each of the two previous seasons, and other than being a bit more selective at the plate, made few changes that suggest his 2019 production was fluky. Instead, it appeared to be the natural progression of a hitter improving on his already strong foundation. Batting in a great home park, Mancini should again be a four-category producer, and his ADP should rise if he shows he's fully healthy throughout the spring.
|12||Carlos Santana (KC - 1B,DH)||94||106.0||+12.0|
|13||Andrew Vaughn (CWS - 1B,LF)||106||109.0||+3.0||
Vaughn's minor league numbers from 2019 don't jump off the page, but make no mistake, he has the talent to become an instant quality hitter in the majors. He raked all throughout his college career, and not only carries plenty of thump in his bat, but also has an excellent approach that should keep his batting average and OBP well above the league average. He looks more and more likely to win the everyday DH job for the White Sox, in which case, he'd be an absolute steal if you can get him outside the top 160 or so, which you should be able to do everywhere.
|14||Christian Vazquez (BOS - C,1B)||90||79.0||-11.0||
Vazquez was a late bloomer, but he's developed into one of the more reliable catchers in the game. Not only does he provide 20-homer power, but he's one of the best assets at catcher in both batting average and stolen bases. Entering his age-31 season, there's certainly the possibility for a major decline in his numbers, but there is little in his underlying metrics to suggest it is imminent. Draft Vazquez as a strong starter in single-catcher formats, and you won't need to do so before the double-digit rounds.
|15||Hunter Dozier (KC - 1B,3B,LF,RF)||104||112.0||+8.0||
Dozier is almost entirely off the fantasy radar this year, but that feels like an overreaction to 2020. Yes, his poor performance last year makes his breakout 2019 performance seem like an outlier, but really, it seems like 2020, rather than 2019, should be discounted. Dozier's quality of contact was awful last year, but it was out of character for him over the previous two seasons, and was more likely the result of him having tested positive for COVID-19 rather than from a sudden loss of skills. The Royals' lineup is sneaky deep, and Dozier will start at third base this season, giving him eligibility at three positions. Considering he's free in drafts, there is every reason to scoop him up with a late-round pick.
|16||Mark Canha (OAK - 1B,LF,CF,RF,DH)||102||121.0||+19.0||
Fantasy managers seem to have declared Canha's 2019 season as a fluke after he hit just five home run last year, but much of his 2020 seems to suggest 2019 was fairly legitimate. Canha built on his massive gains in walk rate in 2019 (13.5%) and increased it to 15.2%, and his quality of contact largely remained the same. He's got 20-homer power still, and he'll likely lead off or bat second for the A's. You won't need to pay much for him and given his average draft position, there's a high probability of a profit.
|17||Ty France (SEA - 1B,2B,3B,DH)||134||128.0||-6.0|
|18||Jared Walsh (LAA - 1B,RF) IL10||113||108.0||-5.0|
|19||Yuli Gurriel (HOU - 1B,3B)||123||134.0||+11.0|
|20||Bobby Dalbec (BOS - 1B)||131||129.0||-2.0||
If you like Miguel Sano, you'll absolutely love Dalbec. He crushes the ball routinely (it was a small sample, but he had a 22%(!) barrel rate last year in 23 games), strikes out a ton (42.4% rate last year), and is equally likely to look like the best player in baseball at times as he is to look like the worst. He'll be the everyday first baseman for the Red Sox this year which means plenty of counting stats with perhaps 30 home runs if he stays healthy the whole year. Just have batting average help elsewhere if you draft him, as he'll almost certainly provide negative value in that category.
|21||Jeimer Candelario (DET - 1B,3B)||140||145.0||+5.0||
Candelario isn't going to wow you with his numbers, but he'll bat in the middle of the Tigers' order, has eligibility at first and third base, and improved his quality of contact greatly last year. You can try to write off his 2020 production as a product of the shortened season, but given his solid 2018 campaign, it looks more like 2019, and not 2020, was the outlier. Candelario probably tops out at 20 homers, but he should provide a decent average and be a fine bench player for most fantasy leagues.
|22||Evan White (SEA - 1B) IL60||160||227.0||+67.0|
|23||Renato Nunez (BAL - 1B,3B,DH)||181||231.0||+50.0|
|24||Nathaniel Lowe (TEX - 1B)||178||208.0||+30.0|
|25||Mitch Moreland (OAK - 1B,DH)||235||222.0||-13.0|
|26||Miguel Cabrera (DET - 1B,DH)||215||210.0||-5.0|
|27||Spencer Torkelson (DET - 1B,3B) MiLB||205||237.0||+32.0|
|28||Niko Goodrum (DET - 1B,2B,SS,LF,CF,RF) IL10||256||232.0||-24.0|
|29||Danny Santana (BOS - 1B,2B,3B,SS,LF,CF,RF) IL10||439||340.0||-99.0|
|30||Alex Kirilloff (MIN - 1B,LF,RF) IL10||149||142.0||-7.0||
Kirilloff's bat is probably major-league ready, but since he hasn't yet played above Double-A and his fielding is iffy at best, he's going to begin the year at the Twins' alternate site. But his .317/.365/.498 slash line in his minor league career suggests he'll hit upon his promotion, which will likely be in late-April once the Twins gain a year of control. Even though he won't begin the year with the big club, draft him for your bench. He'll be an expensive waiver wire pickup if you don't.
|31||Yandy Diaz (TB - 1B,3B,DH)||240||281.0||+41.0|
|32||Ronald Guzman (TEX - 1B) IL60||252||325.0||+73.0|
|33||Jake Lamb (CWS - 1B,3B,LF,RF) IL10||369||268.0||-101.0|
|34||Ji-Man Choi (TB - 1B)||253||230.0||-23.0|
|35||Aledmys Diaz (HOU - 1B,2B,3B,LF)||402||353.0||-49.0|
|36||Bobby Bradley (CLE - 1B,DH) BRV||440||359.0||-81.0|
|37||Pat Valaika (BAL - 1B,2B,SS)||409||301.0||-108.0|
|38||Jake Bauers (SEA - 1B,LF,RF)||315||319.0||+4.0|
|39||Marwin Gonzalez (BOS - 1B,2B,3B,LF,RF,SS) IL10||289||247.0||-42.0|
|40||Mike Brosseau (TB - 1B,2B,3B) MiLB||326||234.0||-92.0|
|41||Mike Ford (TB - 1B) MiLB||448||248.0||-200.0|
|42||Triston Casas (BOS - 1B,3B) MiLB||418.0|
|43||Willians Astudillo (MIN - C,1B,3B)||466||214.0||-252.0|
|44||Seth Brown (OAK - 1B,LF,RF)||464||385.0||-79.0|
|45||Sherten Apostel (TEX - 1B) MiLB||296.0|
|46||Ryan McBroom (KC - 1B,RF) MiLB||483||401.0||-82.0|
|47||Chris Davis (BAL - 1B) IL60||490||239.0||-251.0|
|48||Brock Holt (TEX - 1B,2B,3B,LF,RF)||506||278.0||-228.0|
|49||Ryan O'Hearn (KC - 1B,DH,RF)||456||413.0||-43.0|
|50||Charlie Culberson (TEX - 1B,3B,LF,RF,SS)||502|
|51||Phil Gosselin (LAA - 1B,3B,DH,LF,RF)||510|