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2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (NL)

Expert Consensus Ranking (57 of 57 Experts) -

Rank Player (Team, Position) Overall Notes
1 Cody Bellinger (LAD - 1B,CF,RF) 9 9.0
Bellinger was unable to replicate the magic of his 2019 breakout during last year's shortened season. His average dipped to .239, the worst mark of his career, his power dropped significantly, and he didn't make the same quality of contact. But although he slid backwards in his walk and strikeout rates, his regression there was minimal, and his expected batting average was .284. In other words, Bellinger got worse in 2020, but it wasn't quite as bad as the surface numbers suggest. He did have offseason shoulder surgery after getting injured during a post-season celebration, and that's always a bit worrisome for a hitter. But given that a "down" year for Bellinger at this point is a 30-15 season, he warrants being selected early in the second round.
2 Pete Alonso (NYM - 1B,DH) 25 24.0 -1.0
Alonso didn't quite follow up his incredible 2019 season last year, but he certainly wasn't terrible. The vast majority of his underlying statcast data and metrics looked similar, and he mostly just didn't make quite as consistently hard contact as he did the previous year. Alonso is never going to help you in batting average, but you should expect 40 home runs and 100 RBI this year and for the foreseeable future. With such a high floor, Alonso makes a more than adequate starting first baseman in mixed leagues.
3 Paul Goldschmidt (STL - 1B) 29 33.0 +4.0
Goldschmidt had an interesting 2020 season, during which he brought his batting average back up to .304 and his walk rate to 16%, while simultaneously dropping his strikeout rate to a career best 18.6%. After swinging more than he ever had in his first season with the Cardinals, Goldschmidt returned to the patient approach he had developed throughout his career, swinging at just 40.5% of pitches (after a 46.4% swinging strike rate the year before). But while his average went up, his power waned, as he hit just six home runs and had a career-worst .466 slugging percentage. Nolan Arenado batting behind him this year should help, and he had bone chips removed from his elbow this offseason. There could be another big-time power season left in Goldschmidt's bat, but the more likely scenario is that he will put up solid but unspectacular production at the first base position.
4 Max Muncy (LAD - 1B,2B,3B) 42 43.0 +1.0
Muncy's batting average dropped to a ridiculously low .192 last year, and there were two culprits. The first is that his line drive rate plummeted from 23.5% to just 13.8%, leading to far more ground balls. The second was that he simply didn't hit the ball as hard. His hard hit rate and average exit velocity fell, and his HR/FB rate dropped seven points. Muncy dealt with finger and elbow injuries, so those may account for his poor season, but even then he was on pace to reach the 30-homer plateau for a third straight year. Muncy has position eligibility galore, and at the weak second base position, so continue to draft him in the middle rounds as a cheap source of power who adds value thanks to his ability to play all around the infield for your fantasy team.
5 Mike Moustakas (CIN - 1B,2B,3B) 48 53.0 +5.0
Because Moustakas was a hitter who played for the Reds, he had a poor 2020 season (seriously, look at their collective numbers). He walked more, struck out more, and lost some points on his batting average, but overall, there was little different in Moustakas's profile. He continued to hit for power and make quality contact. He may not score many runs given his lack of speed and surrounding cast, and the batting average isn't going to help you. But he's got plenty of power for a second-base eligible player, and there's no sign that his production is ready to fall off a cliff.
6 J.T. Realmuto (PHI - 1B,C) 26 25.0 -1.0
Realmuto fractured the thumb on his throwing hand in mid-February, and is iffy for Opening Day. He is in a tier to himself among catchers when healthy, putting up consistently excellent numbers in what is the thinnest of positions. He had the highest barrel rate and hard hit percentage of his career in 2020, and also walked at a career-best pace. Realmuto is in his age-30 season, so that's getting near the point where catchers begin to decline. But given that he's shown no real slippage in his skills to this point, his numbers shouldn't fall off much in 2021, assuming he has no setbacks and returns on or around Opening Day. Back with Philadelphia now and for several years after signing a five-year contract, Realmuto is the only catcher worth drafting before the sixth or seventh round.
7 Josh Bell (WSH - 1B,DH,LF) 55 63.0 +8.0
Bell looked like a superstar in the making in the first half of 2019, but struggled for much of the second half of the season and then fell off a cliff in 2020. He slashed a mere .226/.305/.364 and hit only eight home runs. His strikeout and ground ball rates took massive jumps, while his walk rate and launch angle plummeted. Bell blamed his struggles on his swing getting long, and you could tell by how often he changed his stance and swing last year that he simply could not figure things out. Now with the Nationals, the 29-year-old Bell will have a chance to revive his career. We've seen the upside, so he's certainly worth drafting at a discount, but he's much more of a borderline corner infielder than a starting-caliber first baseman.
8 Alec Bohm (PHI - 1B,3B) 46 51.0 +5.0
Bohm's major league debut was a success, in that he batted a robust .338 with an .881 OPS. But despite hitting the ball hard consistently (his 10.3% barrel rate and 46.8% hard hit percentage was well above the major league average), he hit just four home runs, and his xBA was just .286. The problem is he simply pounded the ball into the ground, putting up a 53.2% ground ball rate and just 4.8 degrees of launch angle. Bohm never showed a ton of power in the minors, but he's just entering his age-25 season, so there's always room for growth. But for redraft leagues, buy him as a high-average bat with unexceptional power.
9 Wil Myers (SD - 1B,LF,CF,RF) 49 57.0 +8.0
Myers talked openly about making a swing change last year, and it paid off in a big way. He raised his average by nearly 50 points over the previous year while cutting his strikeout rate, and ranked in the top seven percent in barrel rate. Myers didn't run as much as previous years in the shortened season, but he still ranked in the top 85% of the league in sprint speed. His average will likely come down to closer to its career .254 mark. But he has earned a bit of a leash at least with his strong 2020 campaign, and should be a fine power-speed combination who will put up solid overall counting numbers.
10 Rhys Hoskins (PHI - 1B) 56 66.0 +10.0
Hoskins' stock was down heading into the 2020 season, after he batted just .229 and continued his three-year trend of declining in almost every noticeable category. But he was slashing .241/.381/.485 before he was hit by a pitch on his hand and struggled to finish the year. Last year, Hoskins slashed .245/.384/.503 and was on a 40-homer, 100-RBI pace, similar numbers to those he put up prior to his 2019 injury. Unfortunately, an elbow injury ended Hoskins' 2020 season early, and he had surgery in early October with a 4-6 month recovery timeframe. Everything looks good for Hoskins as of now, and assuming he has no setbacks as spring training ramps up, he should make a fine starting first baseman in mixed leagues.
11 Dominic Smith (NYM - 1B,LF) 57 58.0 +1.0
Smith showed he had the bat to hit in the majors in 2019, but he took an extra step forward in last year's shortened season. His .316/.377/.616 slash line effectively forced the Mets to find a way to get his bat into the lineup, even if his defense tried to prevent it. His Statcast data was excellent, as he put up a barrel percentage of 13.3% and a hard hit percentage of 46.7%, all with a .405 wOBA, which was in the top four percent of the league. The issue for Smith is his fielding and with the National League surprisingly not adopting the designated hitter, that means he'll need to play out in left field most days. Although the Mets can surely live with the tradeoff, Smith will likely lose plenty of at-bats late in games as he gets switched out for defensive purposes. He'll still have plenty of value, but without the DH, be cautious with your projections for his counting stats.
12 Eric Hosmer (SD - 1B) 63 70.0 +7.0
Hosmer made no secret of his effort to attempt to (finally) stop pounding the ball into the ground so much last year, and it worked to perfection. His ground ball rate fell from roughly 57% the previous three seasons to just 46.2%, and his flyball rate rose from about 21% in the same span to 34.2%. The result was an impressive nine home runs in just 38 games in an injury-shortened season. Hosmer still hits the ball hard and if he can maintain the changes to his profile into 2021, he'll make an incredibly cheap corner infielder who can chip in pretty much everywhere.
13 Christian Walker (ARI - 1B,DH) 78 94.0 +16.0
Walker's power waned last season and his barrel rate dropped precipitously, but there were still plenty of things to like about his 2020 campaign. Notably, he cut his strikeout rate to a career-best 20.6% while raising his average to a strong .271. Walker is not, and is probably never going to be, a superstar fantasy asset. But he is a quiet producer who should help in four of the five rotisserie categories and is often overlooked. He's an ideal corner infielder for a team that needs steady production.
14 C.J. Cron (COL - 1B) 81 97.0 +16.0
Cron fits the Rockies' narrative perfectly, as he's a veteran hitter on a short-term deal who will block a younger player from playing. Nevertheless, Cron offers plenty of fantasy goodness if he does indeed win the first base job for Colorado as expected. He missed almost all of last year with a knee injury, but he had a 15% barrel rate and a .544 expected slugging percentage in 2019. He's practically free in drafts and could easily hit 30 home runs with a plus average. Draft him late everywhere you can.
15 Travis d'Arnaud (ATL - C,1B) 74 67.0 -7.0
It took a long time but d'Arnaud has finally developed into one of the best hitting catchers in the game, as he was projected to be. It's difficult to quite buy what we saw last year, considering d'Arnaud's batting average (.321) and slugging percentage (.533) were miles ahead of his career marks, and even the numbers that he had put up in recent seasons. With that said, he'll bat in the middle of a strong Braves lineup and be presented with plenty of RBI opportunities, so 15 home runs with 55 RBI should be considered the floor for a healthy d'Arnaud. Those numbers aren't just passable, they're extremely strong for a catcher in fantasy, and he should be drafted as a relatively strong first catcher in mixed leagues.
16 Jake Cronenworth (SD - 1B,2B,SS) 95 87.0 -8.0
Cronenworth wound up being one of the best waiver pickups of the 2020 season. He provided a great batting average (.285) with multi-position eligibility. The counting stats - mainly the four homers and three steals - left a lot to be desired, however. Cronenworth ultimately profiles as a better "real life" player than he does as a fantasy option. Still, in deeper roto leagues that use batting average, his contact skills and defensive versatility give him a fantastic floor. I just don't expect him to be a fantasy difference-maker in most 10-12 team leagues.
17 Mark Canha (NYM - 1B,LF,CF,RF,DH) 100 107.0 +7.0
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.
18 Joey Votto (CIN - 1B) 108 136.0 +28.0
A quick look at Votto's surface stats shows a player in decline. For the first half of 2020 hit was true, as the former MVP hit just three homers with a .647 OPS in his first 25 games. By late-August Votto was benched for a few days to clear his head and wound up posting a .941 OPS with eight homers over his final 29 games. The change? Votto stood taller in the box and became less obsessed with controlling the strike zone, which meant he was more willing to sell out for power. I'm willing to invest a late-round pick in Votto, particularly in points/OBP leagues, to see if this new approach carries over to 2021.
19 Austin Nola (SD - C,1B,2B) 112 99.0 -13.0
Nola has proven to be a quality bat for a catcher over the last two seasons, batting .271 with 17 home runs in 127 games over that span. He's in a great situation with the Padres, even if he will be batting at the bottom of the lineup, but a fractured finger will likely lead him to begin the season on the IL. Depending on how much time he'll miss, that could create a buying opportunity, as his ADP should drop a bit. As long he isn't projected to miss more than a couple of weeks, take the discount and enjoy premium production from the catcher position for the rest of the season.
20 Jesus Aguilar (MIA - 1B,DH) 122 176.0 +54.0
 
21 Rowdy Tellez (MIL - 1B,DH) 121 151.0 +30.0
 
22 Brandon Belt (SF - 1B,LF) 127 177.0 +50.0
 
23 Ryan McMahon (COL - 1B,2B,3B) 123 106.0 -17.0
 
24 Tommy La Stella (SF - 1B,2B,3B) 136 131.0 -5.0
 
25 Wilmer Flores (SF - 1B,2B,3B,DH) 154 164.0 +10.0
 
26 Garrett Cooper (MIA - 1B,RF,DH) 180 199.0 +19.0
 
27 Austin Slater (SF - 1B,CF,DH,LF,RF) 195 174.0 -21.0
 
28 Victor Caratini (SD - C,1B,DH) 226 215.0 -11.0
 
29 Edwin Rios (LAD - 1B,3B) 201 186.0 -15.0
 
30 Michael Chavis (PIT - 1B,2B,LF) 243 220.0 -23.0
 
31 Matt Beaty (LAD - 1B,3B,LF,RF) 294    
 
32 Lewin Diaz (MIA - 1B) 277 277.0
 
33 Mike Brosseau (MIL - 1B,2B,3B) 254 189.0 -65.0
 
34 Pavin Smith (ARI - 1B,CF,LF,RF) 310 245.0 -65.0
 
35 Todd Frazier (PIT - 1B,3B) MiLB 324 206.0 -118.0
 
36 Seth Beer (ARI - 1B,LF)   289.0  
 
37 Kyle Farmer (CIN - C,1B,2B,3B,SS) 337 280.0 -57.0
 
38 Logan Forsythe (MIL - 1B,2B,3B,SS) MiLB 360    
 
39 John Nogowski (SF - 1B) MiLB 374 241.0 -133.0