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2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (AL)

Expert Consensus Ranking (56 of 56 Experts) -

Rank Player (Team, Position) Overall Notes
1 Liam Hendriks (CWS - RP) 29 24.0 -5.0
Hendriks showed last year that his 2019 breakout season was not a fluke, as he improved on just about all of his numbers. Not only did he put up 14 saves in the shortened season, but he dropped his ERA to 1.78, his WHIP to 0.67, and his walk rate to just 3.3%. In short, there's nothing negative you can possibly take away from his 2020 season. Despite moving to a worse park with the White Sox, Hendriks is, without question one of the top closers in fantasy, and should be either the first or second (behind only Josh Hader) relief pitcher drafted.
2 Aroldis Chapman (NYY - RP) 33 30.0 -3.0
Chapman missed time last year because he was diagnosed with COVID-19, but he was largely the same pitcher as always when he was on the mount. He struck out 22 batters in his 11 2/3 innings pitched and allowed just six hits. His velocity may be slightly below what it was at its peak, but it's still elite, and he appears to have plenty left in the tank heading into his age-33 season. He'll again close for one of the best teams in baseball, and although he's never had a 40-save season, he should easily surpass 30 and be one of the top closers drafted in fantasy.
3 Raisel Iglesias (LAA - RP) 45 44.0 -1.0
Iglesias bounced back from a sub-par 2019 to post an excellent 2020 season, with a 2.74 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, and the lowest walk rate of his career. He'll now move to the Angels where he'll keep his role as a closer. Iglesias's numbers should be solid as usual, and his precise value should hinge on whether the Angels use him in more of a multi-inning role like the Reds historically did (which limited Iglesias's save totals), or deploy him as a more traditional ninth-inning option. Either way, Iglesias will be the Angels' stopper, and hence, should be drafted as a strong top-10 RP option.
4 Kenta Maeda (MIN - SP,RP) 24 19.0 -5.0
Fantasy managers rejoiced when Maeda was traded from the Dodgers to the Twins, but he surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. In the short season, Maeda went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP, and a 32.3% strikeout rate. In addition to simply being let loose with his innings, Maeda made a tangible change to his pitch mix, throwing far fewer fastball and more sliders and changeups (though his fastball was as effective as it had ever been last year, too). Maeda surely won't be able to repeat his numbers from 2020, as he allowed just a .208 BABIP, had an 80.2% LOB rate, and benefited from being able to feast on solely the NL and AL Central lineups. But even with some regression, he should still be a rock solid SP2, and should be drafted as such.
5 Ryan Pressly (HOU - RP) 54 49.0 -5.0
Pressly had his usual solid season, but got the benefit of closing for the Astros after Roberto Osuna's injury. His numbers fell off a bit from the previous two years (his 1.33 WHIP was particularly out of character), but he will almost certainly rebound from the .365 BABIP he allowed. He's slated to again be the Astros' closer, and as such, should provide plenty of saves while giving fantasy managers positive value in ratios. That makes him one of the few reliable closers worth drafting at more than a late-round price.
6 James Karinchak (CLE - RP) 62 48.0 -14.0
Karinchak is expected to be Cleveland's closer after Brad Hand moved on to the Nationals, though it's not a sure thing yet. Yes, he walks too many batters (5.33 per nine innings), but you can get away with it when you strike out nearly half the batters you face and hitters bat .151 against you overall. Karinchak has two absolutely devastating pitches: a mid-90's fastball (.184 batting average against, .151 xBA) and a power curveball (.140 batting average against, .114 xBA). Cleveland may not have a ton of success this year and hence save opportunities may be limited, but Karinchak can be a dominant fantasy reliever if he gets the job. Monitor reports out of the spring to see when and if Terry Francona formerly anoints him as the closer. If he does, he should vault to being a top-6 or 7 reliever.
7 Trevor Rosenthal (OAK - RP) IL60 64 54.0 -10.0
After missing the 2018 season and most of the 2019 season, Rosenthal bounced back in a huge way last year. He stepped in as the Royals' closer, notching seven saves, and then was unhittable with the Padres after a mid-year trade. He parlayed his success into a one-year contract with the A's, where all signs point to him being the undisputed closer. Rosenthal was an outstanding reliever in his prime and once had back-to-back 45-save (or better) seasons. And his raw stuff looked excellent last year, as he totaled the best strikeout rate of his career. If he stays healthy, he has a shot at being a top-5 closer, but you can draft him a little later than that and likely make a profit.
8 Jesus Luzardo (OAK - SP,RP) MiLB 47 47.0
Luzardo's 2020 campaign wasn't terrible, but it certainly left fantasy managers wanting more. The strikeouts were there, but not quite at the level that was expected. He rarely went deep into games. And he was just more hittable than he ever was in the minors or in his brief time as a reliever in 2019. Luzardo throws four quality pitches and is working to improve his arsenal as we head into the 2021 season, so there's little reason to downgrade your opinion of him too much from where it was prior to the 2020 campaign because of one nine-start stretch. He's an incredibly high-upside pitcher who carries with him plenty of injury risk, and the combination leaves him as a solid SP3 for fantasy leagues.
9 Rafael Montero (SEA - RP) 91 80.0 -11.0
Montero wound up closing for the Rangers and totaling eight saves in 2020, but it wasn't a particularly special season. His hard-hit rate and walk-rate increased from his strong 2019 season, and he totaled a 4.08 ERA. Now with Seattle, Montero's best asset may be his lack of competition for the closer's role, as Seattle has struggled for several seasons to find a reliable ninth-inning option. Draft Montero as a mid-tier closer, who you're taking more for his job security than his spectacular numbers.
10 Jordan Romano (TOR - RP) 92 93.0 +1.0
Romano is poised to serve as the Blue Jays' closer after Kirby Yates suffered an elbow injury which will cost him the season. Romano's stuff isn't special, but he had a very solid 2020 campaign, and should see plenty of save chances with Toronto, assuming he's officially named the closer. The relief pitcher landscape for fantasy gets cloudy quickly, so despite the lack of certainty, Romano makes a decent option for your second reliever. Bump him higher if he's officially named the closer before the season.
11 Alex Colome (MIN - RP) 98 75.0 -23.0
Colome has been a quality major league reliever for year, but last year, managed to drop his ERA down to a silly 0.81 and his WHIP below 1.00 for the first time in his career. His success was largely on the back of increased movement on his cutter (which induced a ton of weak contact, but which was also less of a strikeout pitch, leading to a drop in strikeouts), as well as Yasmani Grandal's pitch-framing skills. He'll now move to Minnesota where he'll likely form some sort of committee with Taylor Rogers. He's worth drafting, but only very late, and with the expectation that he won't pile on a ton of saves.
12 Taylor Rogers (MIN - RP) 106 100.0 -6.0
Rogers has been the reliever to roster in Minnesota for the past two seasons, but he's totaled just 39 saves over that span. Even with the shortened 2020 season, that's just not the total you want to see from a reliever if you're relying on him as an RP1, especially when the Twins as a team have totaled 92 saves over the last two years. Rogers's lack of saves is all about Rocco Baldelli's philosophy, rather than Rogers's lack of effectiveness (he's totaled a 2.80 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9 over the last three years). Unfortunately, Baldelli is unlikely to abandon his committee approach with the additions of Alex Colome and Hansel Robles. Rogers is still a fine RP2, but certainly don't expect him to get every save chance in Minnesota.
13 Matt Barnes (BOS - RP) 118 110.0 -8.0
Barnes may begin the year as the closer, but it's hardly a guarantee that he'll keep the role. His walk rate has been above 13% for each of the last two seasons, and his WHIP is 1.38 over that span. Adam Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Hirokazu Sawamura are in play to take over for Barnes if he struggles. For now, consider Barnes on the very tail end of draftable relievers in fantasy.
14 Diego Castillo (TB - SP,RP) 125 129.0 +4.0
 
15 Greg Holland (KC - RP) 127 106.0 -21.0
Holland re-signed with the Royals after an outstanding season, during which he put up an ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP below 1.00 for the first time since 2014. He'll almost certainly begin the year as the closer, but he's unlikely to stay in the role for the entire season. Even if he's not dealt to a contender by the trade deadline, his walk rate is surely to be closer to the 5.3/9 innings that he put up his previous four seasons, rather than the 2.22 he managed last year. Draft Holland late as someone who can chip in saves early, but be prepared to hit the waiver wire later in the year.
16 Ryan Yarbrough (TB - SP,RP) 119 128.0 +9.0
Yarbrough doesn't get a ton of respect in the fantasy community because he doesn't strike out a ton of batters, but he's quietly put together an excellent career. He's practically a wizard at limiting hard contact (he has allowed an average exit velocity of 84.8 MPH and an average hard hit rate of 26.3%, both remarkably low numbers), and he rarely issues free passes or home runs. In other words, it's really difficult to string together big innings against Yarbrough, especially as he's continued to use his excellent changeup more and more. The Rays will probably let him go a little more this year with their rotation, but even if they keep his usage the same, he'll be an excellent addition to the back end of a fantasy staff.
17 Nathan Eovaldi (BOS - SP,RP) 123 125.0 +2.0
Similar to John Means, Eovaldi is another starter who finished the season on a roll. Eovaldi upped his cutter usage as the expense of his four-seam fastball, and he posted a 25:2 K:BB ratio over his final four starts (while allowing just two earned runs). If you take out his worst start of the season, Eovaldi's ERA drops from 3.72 to 2.51. He has never shown any kind of consistency at the major league level, but fantasy managers could do worse when searching for a late-round lottery ticket.
18 Pete Fairbanks (TB - RP) 134 156.0 +22.0
 
19 Framber Valdez (HOU - SP,RP) 120 94.0 -26.0
Valdez was shaping up to be a fine sleeper this year, after he had a highly successful stint in the Astros rotation last year. But he fractured his finger early in spring training and the expectation is that he'll miss significant time, though recent reports are far more optimistic than the initial season-ending variety. Drop him down a ton from where you initially had him ranked, but draft him toward the back end of your rotation where the risk/reward balance should equalize.
20 Adam Ottavino (BOS - RP) 170 165.0 -5.0
 
21 Nick Wittgren (CLE - RP) 155 194.0 +39.0
 
22 Tanner Scott (BAL - RP) 174 190.0 +16.0
 
23 Nick Anderson (TB - RP) IL60 137 99.0 -38.0
Anderson has a partial tear of his elbow ligament and, although he won't need surgery, he is likely out until after the All-Star Break. Although he can be dominant when healthy, there's no reason to draft and stash him at this point, given that he won't even be the sole closer for the Rays if and when he returns.
24 Jake Diekman (OAK - RP) 185 152.0 -33.0
 
25 A.J. Puk (OAK - RP) IL10 218 199.0 -19.0
 
26 Ian Kennedy (TEX - RP) 190 204.0 +14.0
 
27 Aaron Bummer (CWS - RP) 183 195.0 +12.0
 
28 Chad Green (NYY - SP,RP) 175 173.0 -2.0
 
29 Gregory Soto (DET - SP,RP) 189 187.0 -2.0
 
30 Jose Quintana (LAA - SP,RP) 191 201.0 +10.0
 
31 Emmanuel Clase (CLE - RP) 193 263.0 +70.0
 
32 Rafael Dolis (TOR - RP) IL10 229 217.0 -12.0
 
33 Bryan Garcia (DET - RP) 241 231.0 -10.0
Garcia is the favorite for the closer's role in Detroit, but don't be fooled by his 1.66 ERA last year, as it came with a 5.74 xFIP and a 4.98 K/9 mark. His minor league career has been fairly stellar (2.50 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11.5 K/9), and he has extensive experience as a closer from both college and the minors. If you're drafting a Tigers reliever, it should be Garcia, but only at a bargain-basement price.
34 Josh Staumont (KC - RP) 188 221.0 +33.0
 
35 Ross Stripling (TOR - SP,RP) 223 260.0 +37.0
 
36 Tyler Duffey (MIN - RP) 221 192.0 -29.0
 
37 Matt Bush (TEX - RP) IL60 242 298.0 +56.0
 
38 Garrett Crochet (CWS - RP) 206 183.0 -23.0
 
39 Scott Barlow (KC - RP) 231 306.0 +75.0
 
40 Mike Mayers (LAA - RP) 285 253.0 -32.0
 
41 Zack Britton (NYY - RP) 250 178.0 -72.0
 
42 Drew Rasmussen (TB - RP) MiLB 245 432.0 +187.0
 
43 Matt Wisler (TB - SP,RP) 254 294.0 +40.0
 
44 Joely Rodriguez (TEX - RP) 268 334.0 +66.0
 
45 Cal Quantrill (CLE - SP,RP) 304 250.0 -54.0
 
46 Luis Garcia (HOU - RP,SP) 308    
 
47 Brandon Workman (BOS - RP) 287 218.0 -69.0
 
48 Nick Pivetta (BOS - SP,RP) 255 275.0 +20.0
 
49 Yusmeiro Petit (OAK - RP) 226 189.0 -37.0
 
50 Luis Patino (TB - RP,SP) MiLB 280 215.0 -65.0
 
51 Taylor Hearn (TEX - RP) 204    
 
52 J.B. Wendelken (OAK - RP) IL10 251 214.0 -37.0
 
53 Cesar Valdez (BAL - RP) IL10 302 347.0 +45.0
 
54 Logan Allen (CLE - SP,RP) MiLB 248 312.0 +64.0
 
55 Kyle Gibson (TEX - SP,RP) 222 198.0 -24.0
 
56 Hunter Harvey (BAL - RP) 333 211.0 -122.0
Harvey strained his oblique in spring training and was placed on the 60-day IL, meaning he's unlikely to contribute as the Orioles' designated closer, which was unlikely anyway with Brandon Hyde as the manager. Harvey had a ton of buzz heading into last season, but a strained forearm ultimately limited him to just 8 2/3 innings. He's got a dominant fastball that can reach triple digits, but his injury history has been a roadblock to him becoming a regular and reliable reliever. Hyde likes to go by committee anyway, and Harvey's injury should give him the chance to do just that again. Perhaps spend a last-round pick on Harvey, but better yet, leave him undrafted.
57 Evan Marshall (CWS - RP) 300 391.0 +91.0
 
58 Enoli Paredes (HOU - RP) IL10 257 300.0 +43.0
 
59 Andres Munoz (SEA - RP) IL60 336 376.0 +40.0
 
60 Pedro Baez (HOU - RP) IL60 305 373.0 +68.0
 
61 Kendall Graveman (SEA - RP) 330 344.0 +14.0
 
62 Jonathan Hernandez (TEX - RP) IL60 271 193.0 -78.0
 
63 Felix Pena (LAA - SP,RP) MiLB 243 399.0 +156.0
 
64 Lou Trivino (OAK - RP) 289 359.0 +70.0
 
65 Michael Wacha (TB - SP,RP) 331 225.0 -106.0
 
66 Darwinzon Hernandez (BOS - RP) 228 342.0 +114.0
 
67 Shane McClanahan (TB - SP,RP) 264 332.0 +68.0
 
68 Darren O'Day (NYY - RP) IL10 278 242.0 -36.0
 
69 Joe Smith (HOU - RP) IL10 261    
 
70 Chris Flexen (SEA - SP,RP) 281 291.0 +10.0
 
71 Collin McHugh (TB - SP,RP) 310 383.0 +73.0
 
72 Jorge Alcala (MIN - RP) 258    
 
73 Tony Watson (LAA - RP) 362 407.0 +45.0
 
74 Codi Heuer (CWS - RP) 279 375.0 +96.0
 
75 Joe Jimenez (DET - RP) 307 324.0 +17.0
 
76 Jonathan Loaisiga (NYY - SP,RP) 269 326.0 +57.0
 
77 Tyler Alexander (DET - SP,RP) 263    
 
78 Phil Maton (CLE - RP) 298 398.0 +100.0
 
79 Jesse Hahn (KC - RP) IL60 273 350.0 +77.0
 
80 Jaime Barria (LAA - SP,RP) MiLB 295 345.0 +50.0
 
81 Josh Sborz (TEX - RP) 430    
 
82 David Phelps (TOR - RP) IL60 322    
 
83 Sergio Romo (OAK - RP) 346 243.0 -103.0
 
84 Cole Sulser (BAL - RP) 303    
 
85 Hansel Robles (MIN - RP) 370 213.0 -157.0
 
86 Anthony Misiewicz (SEA - RP) 309 444.0 +135.0
 
87 Keynan Middleton (SEA - RP) MiLB 359    
 
88 Matt Foster (CWS - RP) 296 197.0 -99.0
 
89 Shawn Armstrong (BAL - RP) MiLB 347    
 
90 Cody Stashak (MIN - RP) MiLB 282    
 
91 Ryan Brasier (BOS - RP) IL60 299    
 
92 Adam Kolarek (OAK - RP) MiLB 315    
 
93 Michael King (NYY - SP,RP) 286    
 
94 Asa Lacy (KC - RP,SP) MiLB   421.0  
 
95 Clarke Schmidt (NYY - P,RP,SP) IL60 428 315.0 -113.0
 
96 Steve Cishek (LAA - RP) 341    
 
97 Daniel Norris (DET - SP,RP) 292 362.0 +70.0
 
98 Demarcus Evans (TEX - RP) 447 371.0 -76.0
 
99 Josh James (HOU - RP) IL60 397 389.0 -8.0
 
100 Cam Bedrosian (OAK - SP,RP) 357    
 
101 Blake Taylor (HOU - RP) 367    
 
102 Blake Parker (CLE - RP) 366    
 
103 Tyler Chatwood (TOR - SP,RP) 343 360.0 +17.0
 
104 Yohan Ramirez (SEA - SP,RP) 459 402.0 -57.0
 
105 Chaz Roe (TB - RP) IL60 413    
 
106 Jose Cisnero (DET - RP) 319 367.0 +48.0
 
107 Oliver Perez (CLE - RP) MiLB 361    
 
108 Carl Edwards Jr. (TOR - RP) IL60 378    
 
109 Justin Wilson (NYY - RP) IL10 358    
 
110 Ryan Thompson (TB - RP) 306    
 
111 Drew Steckenrider (SEA - RP)      
 
112 Matt Magill (SEA - RP) MiLB 390    
 
113 Richard Lovelady (KC - RP) MiLB 399    
 
114 Tyler Ivey (HOU - SP,RP) MiLB 384    
 
115 Nick Margevicius (SEA - SP,RP) IL60 448 381.0 -67.0
 
116 Hirokazu Sawamura (BOS - RP,SP) 442 395.0 -47.0
 
117 Jose Urena (DET - SP,RP) 410 354.0 -56.0
 
118 Alex Claudio (LAA - RP) 395    
 
119 Caleb Thielbar (MIN - RP) 318    
 
120 Cody Reed (TB - RP) IL10 321    
 
121 Dillon Tate (BAL - RP) 351 420.0 +69.0
 
122 Junior Guerra (LAA - RP) 381    
 
123 Jace Fry (CWS - RP) IL60 323    
 
124 Ryne Stanek (HOU - SP,RP) 365    
 
125 Lewis Thorpe (MIN - RP,SP) MiLB 400    
 
126 Hunter Wood (TEX - RP) IL60 324    
 
127 Julian Merryweather (TOR - SP,RP) IL60 325 387.0 +62.0
 
128 Brett Martin (TEX - RP) 329    
 
129 Kyle Zimmer (KC - RP) 332    
 
130 Cole Irvin (OAK - SP,RP)   331.0  
 
131 Bryan Abreu (HOU - RP) IL10   418.0  
 
132 Hector Rondon (BOS - RP) MiLB 407    
 
133 Ryan Borucki (TOR - RP) IL10 368 447.0 +79.0
 
134 Adam Plutko (BAL - SP,RP) 417    
 
135 Wade Davis (KC - RP) 416 282.0 -134.0
 
136 Matt Andriese (BOS - RP) 339 408.0 +69.0
 
137 Nick Nelson (NYY - RP) MiLB 340 400.0 +60.0
 
138 Tom Hatch (TOR - RP) IL60 374 368.0 -6.0
 
139 Anthony Swarzak (KC - RP) 434    
 
140 Erik Swanson (SEA - SP,RP) IL10 438    
 
141 Heath Fillmyer (CLE - SP,RP) MiLB 435    
 
142 Marcus Walden (BOS - RP) MiLB 436    
 
143 Jacob Barnes (TOR - RP) MiLB 393    
 
144 Andrew Kittredge (TB - SP,RP) 423 355.0 -68.0
 
145 Devin Smeltzer (MIN - SP,RP) IL10 344 441.0 +97.0
 
146 Gerardo Reyes (LAA - RP) MiLB 445    
 
147 Brandon Brennan (BOS - RP) DFA 349    
 
148 J.P. Feyereisen (TB - RP) 383    
 
149 Buck Farmer (DET - RP) 350    
 
150 Josh Taylor (BOS - RP) 355    
 
151 Dennis Santana (TEX - RP) MiLB   415.0  
 
152 James Hoyt (LAA - RP) MiLB 425    
 
153 Luis Cessa (NYY - RP) 405    
 
154 Ryan Sherriff (TB - RP) MiLB 415    
 
155 Derek Holland (DET - SP,RP) IL10 363 293.0 -70.0
 
156 Wes Benjamin (TEX - RP) MiLB 452    
 
157 Jorge Lopez (BAL - SP,RP) 432 446.0 +14.0
 
158 Anthony Kay (TOR - RP,SP) 376 435.0 +59.0
 
159 Andre Scrubb (HOU - RP) MiLB 377    
 
160 Shaun Anderson (TEX - SP,RP) MiLB 387    
 
161 Casey Sadler (SEA - RP) IL60 379    
 
162 Mike Montgomery (NYY - SP,RP) MiLB 458    
 
163 Travis Bergen (TOR - RP) MiLB 382    
 
164 Burch Smith (OAK - RP) 386    
 
165 Aaron Slegers (LAA - RP) MiLB 388    
 
166 Wandy Peralta (NYY - RP) 411    
 
167 Cam Hill (CLE - RP) IL60 450    
 
168 Austin Brice (BOS - RP) MiLB 394    
 
169 Jeffrey Springs (TB - RP) 402    
 
170 Jake Newberry (KC - RP) MiLB 412    
 
171 Nik Turley (CWS - RP) MiLB      
 
172 Joe Palumbo (TEX - SP,RP) MiLB 467    
 
173 Phillips Valdez (BOS - RP) MiLB 480    
 
174 Colten Brewer (BOS - SP,RP) MiLB      
 
175 John King (TEX - RP) 477    
 
176 Travis Lakins Sr. (BAL - SP,RP) 489    
 
177 Evan Phillips (BAL - RP) MiLB 490