2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (NL)
Expert Consensus Ranking (57 of 57 Experts) -
|Rank||Player (Team, Position)||Overall||Notes|
|1||Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL - LF,CF,RF)||1||1.0||‐||
Acuna missed some time last year and batted a mere .250. And thus ends the negative things you can say about him. He walked at an absurd 18.8% clip, which led him to a .406 OBP despite the poor average. He was one of the league leaders in quality of contact, wOBA, and xWOBA, and we now know after the last two years that he will run often on the bases so long as he continues to bat leadoff, which he should. In other words, from a fantasy perspective, Acuna is an absolute monster. He's a top-three pick and will (deservedly) go first overall in many leagues, and there's still upside given that he just turned 23 years old.
|2||Mookie Betts (LAD - 2B,CF,RF)||2||3.0||+1.0||
Betts's first year with the Dodgers was basically exactly what fantasy managers expected - that is to say it was pretty much in line with what he did with the Red Sox. If you want to quibble, his walk rate dropped a few percentage points and he struck out at a career-worst 15.4% clip. But at this point, there are few safer players than Betts - you know he'll give you strong production in all five categories and he bats atop one of the best lineups in all of baseball. Betts should be a top-three pick and there's every reason to consider him number one overall. The downside is borderline non-existent.
|3||Juan Soto (WSH - LF,RF)||4||4.0||‐||
There aren't enough superlatives in the English language to describe what Soto has done in his career given his young age. Had he merely repeated his incredible 2019 numbers last season, fantasy managers would have been ecstatic. Instead, he upped his walk rate from an elite 16.4% to a truly remarkable 20.9%, cut his strikeout rate down to just 14.3%, and batted .351. Soto does not have the speed or baserunning chops to steal 30 bases in a season, which is the only thing keeping him from being considered worthy of drafting first overall. But given what he's accomplished through his age-21 season, it's truly scary to think of how high his ceiling may be. Draft him as a top-five pick and enjoy the ridiculous production.
|4||Christian Yelich (MIL - LF,RF)||7||7.0||‐||
Yelich's 2020 season was, in a word, bizarre. After batting .327 combined from 2018-2019, his batting average dropped to a meager .205 last year. Although he hit the ball as hard as ever, setting career highs in average exit velocity and hard hit percentage, his strikeout rate ballooned more than 10 points to 30.8%. At the same time, Yelich's walk rate jumped up to 18.6%. Unsurprisingly, the reason for the jump in both Yelich's strikeouts and walks was that he simply swung less - just 34.6% of the time after his mark hovered above 44% the previous two seasons. If Yelich takes the same passive approach in 2021, then it's likely that his batting average will remain below what fantasy managers had come to expect. But considering that his season was so out of line with what he'd produced since coming to Milwaukee, fantasy managers should expect far more this season, and feel confident drafting him late in the first round.
|5||Bryce Harper (PHI - RF,DH)||8||12.0||+4.0||
In 157 games in Harper's first year with the Phillies, he batted .260 with 35 home runs, 98 runs, 114 RBI, and 15 steals. In 2020, his 157-game pace was .268 with 35 home runs, 111 runs, 89 RBI, and 21 steals. In other words, Harper provides an incredibly safe baseline now with Philadelphia, and fantasy managers can expect roughly 35 home runs, 15-20 steals, and 220 combined runs and RBI. There were some gains for Harper in 2020, as he walked more and struck out less than he ever had in his career, and hit the ball as hard as ever. But there's no reason to expect much growth in Harper's surface numbers at this point. Take the incredibly high floor in the second round and be happy with it.
|6||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.
|7||Marcell Ozuna (ATL - LF,DH)||20||22.0||+2.0||
Ozuna had a career year with the Braves last year, slashing .338/.431/.636, a career best in each category. His 18 home runs and 56 RBI led the National League, while his barrel rate, average exit velocity, and hard hit rate were all among the best in baseball. Given that he had shoulder surgery before the 2018 season, it's fair to assume that he needed two full years to recover. And although perhaps we can't expect him to again lead the league in power categories, you should expect roughly a 35-homer, 100-RBI season with a plus batting average. That makes him capable of being your first outfielder in mixed leagues and an asset to any fantasy team.
|8||Starling Marte (NYM - CF)||22||26.0||+4.0||
Marte's getting a little old for a player to rely on for stolen bases, and although fantasy managers need to start lowering their expectations as he enters his age-32 season, there should be enough left in the tank for him to be productive. He ranked in the top 11% in sprint speed last year and was caught stealing just twice in 10 attempts. The quality of his contact declined fairly significantly, however, and considering he now plays in Miami, anything more than 15 home runs should be considered gravy. But he'll likely continue to chip in for all five rotisserie categories and be an asset in both stolen bases and batting average, two difficult categories to fill. Again, temper expectations a bit against his historical production, but fantasy managers can still draft him with confidence.
|9||Charlie Blackmon (COL - RF)||33||35.0||+2.0||
Blackmon hit just six home runs last year, and the quality of his contact was downright awful. His 86.9 MPH average exit velocity, 29.7% hard hit rate, and 4.9% barrel rate were all well below the MLB average and at or close to his career worst marks. And his sprint speed continued to decline to now what is essentially league average. The steals are likely gone for good, but even on his worst day, Blackmon will help you in batting average, runs, and RBI, and he was still on pace for 15 home runs last year. Blackmon may be on the downside of his career, but he won't cost you much and can still contribute solid or better numbers in four of five categories. With his draft price fairly modest, there's plenty of value there.
|10||Trent Grisham (SD - LF,CF,RF)||36||37.0||+1.0||
Grisham had an excellent debut season with San Diego, reaching double digits in both home runs and steals in his 59 games. He improved on his already strong walk rate from 2019, and improved his quality of contact significantly. Whether or not you buy the bat, we know he has plenty of speed to do damage on the basepaths, as he ranks in the 96th percentile in sprint speed. Slated to lead off again for a strong Padres lineup, Grisham should provide plenty of runs scored to go along with his potential for a 20-20 season. Monitor his hamstring strain he suffered in the spring, but unless he looks like he'll miss significant time, draft him with confidence.
|11||Ketel Marte (ARI - 2B,SS,CF)||32||32.0||‐||
Most fantasy managers expected regression from Marte after his breakout 2019 season, but few saw last year coming. Marte hit two homeruns in his 45 games, and contributed minimally elsewhere other than batting average. His walk rate dropped to a miniscule 3.6%, and although he struck out less than ever, the quality of his contact was overwhelmingly poor. Truth be told, both 2019 and 2020 are probably outliers for Marte, and the truth probably lies somewhere between his 2018 (.260/.332/.437) and 2019 (.329/.389/.592) seasons. Those numbers will play at second base, especially given Marte's draft cost, but give up dreams of him hitting 32 home runs ever again.
|12||Jeff McNeil (NYM - 2B,3B,LF,RF)||41||45.0||+4.0||
Much of McNeil's 2020 season looked similar to his year in 2019. He hit over .300, rarely struck out, and got on base plenty. But the power gains that we saw in 2019 vanished, as he hit just four home runs over 52 games. His barrel rate (2.5%) and hard-hit percentage (26.5%) were some of the worst in the league, and he didn't even offer the token stolen base that he had chipped in during previous seasons. This is a scenario where McNeil's value to any particular fantasy manager will depend on the weight he or she gives to the shortened 2020 season. Given that McNeil never hit the ball particularly hard anyway, though, a good bet is to assume he at least returns to the high teens in home runs, slightly below his 2019 pace. With his strong average and multi-position eligibility, that makes McNeil an asset in the middle rounds.
|13||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.
|14||Mike Yastrzemski (SF - LF,CF,RF)||52||52.0||‐||
Yastrzemski followed up his impressive 2019 season with an even better one last year, during which he slashed .297/.400/.568. His breakout has come extremely late - he'll be 31 years old by the end of the season - but he makes fairly solid contact and walks a ton. He's not going to hit .297 again - his xBA was just .254 and he had a .370 BABIP. But with the changes in Oracle Park leading to more power, he should be in line for at least a 20-homer season with decent counting stats. That's not sexy, but it's someone you can plug in as your fourth or fifth outfielder.
|15||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.
|16||Victor Robles (WSH - CF,RF)||62||69.0||+7.0||
There were plenty of warning signs with Robles' batted-ball data heading into 2020, and they're only greater now after an abysmal season during which he slashed .220/.293/.315. The MLB average in barrel rate and average exit velocity are 6.4% and 88.3 MPH, respectively. Robles clocked in at 4.8% and 83.3 MPH in 2019, and then fell to a ridiculous 1.7% and 82.2 MPH in 2020. His continously poor contact limits any upside, but it's worth noting that he still hit 17 homers and stole 28 bases in 2019 despite it all. Robles is still just entering his age-24 season, so massive long-term growth is still certainly on the table. But for now, it's impossible to justify drafting him as anything more than a fifth outfielder in mixed leagues.
|17||Ian Happ (CHC - 2B,3B,CF,LF,RF)||68||71.0||+3.0||
Happ has always made consistently hard contact, but his strikeout rate was simply untenable, hovering around 34% in his first two seasons. But he has cut that down to a more manageable 26% over the last two years, and he's batted .260 with 23 home runs and 58 RBI over 115 games in that span. Happ has some speed even if he hasn't shown it recently, and he'll likely bat leadoff for the Cubs, who may need to manufacture runs more than in previous years. The average probably won't help you much, but he should contribute in four categories at a relatively inexpensive price.
|18||Tommy Edman (STL - 2B,3B,SS,LF,RF)||72||68.0||-4.0||
After a highly successful 2019 season in which he hit 11 home runs and stole 15 bases in 92 games, Edman's numbers regressed in nearly every meaningful way last year. His batting average slipped from .304 to just .250, he hit just five home runs, and he went 2-for-6 in stolen base attempts. Edman was a bit unlucky last year, as his xBA and xSLG outperformed his actual numbers. And despite his down year on the basepaths, he was in the 95th percentile in sprint speed. He's likely to lead off for the Cardinals this year, and should be good for double digits in both home runs and steals, with plenty of runs scored. Considering he has multi-position eligibility, he should be drafted before the double-digit rounds.
|19||Dylan Carlson (STL - LF,CF,RF)||73||74.0||+1.0||
Carlson caught major buzz heading into the season last year as he looked likely to earn an everyday role in the outfield, but he sputtered for much of the season even when he did play, slashing just .200/.252/.364 with three home runs in 119 plate appearances. But he had a successful, albeit brief, post-season, and now again looks ready to claim a starting outfield spot for the Cardinals. Carlson is just 22 years old and has a strong minor-league track record. If he can hold down his spot, he has 25-15 potential, and should hit for a solid average. Given his age and his poor 2020 season, there's some obvious risk, but the draft capital necessary to get him on your team is not prohibitive, and his upside should make him a target in all formats.
|20||AJ Pollock (LAD - LF,CF,DH)||75||80.0||+5.0||
Pollock's production when healthy is rarely in doubt. In 141 games over the last two seasons, he's hit 31 home runs, scored 79 runs, drove in 81, and stolen seven bases while batting .270. But it's the "when healthy" part that is the key to Pollock's value, as he hasn't topped 113 games played since 2015. He's a better pick in shallow leagues where you can replace him if and when he misses time due to injury. But the performance is that of a solid OF3 or OF4 when he's in the lineup.
|21||Clint Frazier (CHC - LF,RF)||84||77.0||-7.0||
There's little reason to doubt Frazier's ability to contribute from a fantasy perspective at this point. Over the last two seasons, he has a 162-game pace of a .267 average, 30 home runs, 83 runs scored, 96 RBI, and 6 steals. He upped his walk rate significantly in 2020 (15.6%, top seven percent in the league) and hits the ball hard consistently. The only issue for Frazier is his playing time with Giancarlo Stanton healthy and Brett Gardner back in the fold. But Frazier has done enough to hold the left field job and, regardless, Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks are not the product of health. Draft Frazier as a starting outfielder and don't worry about the playing time.
|22||Jesse Winker (CIN - LF,CF,RF,DH)||87||101.0||+14.0||
Winker had a quietly strong 2020 season, getting on base at a .388 clip and hitting 12 home runs in 54 games. He hit the ball hard consistently and walked an impressive 15.3% of the time, which help to offset his rise in strikeout rate (25.1%, well above his career mark). He'll likely bat leadoff for the Reds, and should be an asset in both home runs and runs scored. That's not a profile that blows you away, but it's enough for you to use as a fifth outfielder.
|23||Nick Senzel (CIN - 2B,CF)||93||102.0||+9.0|
|24||Austin Riley (ATL - 1B,3B,LF)||90||95.0||+5.0||
Riley made some notable gains last year after he looked like he might fall out of fantasy-relevance entirely with the way he closed his 2019 season. He essentially traded off some power for contact, as his swing percentage dropped, his contact rate increased, and he improved on both his walk and strikeout rates. Although there was some question as to whether the Braves would add another third baseman in free agency, it appears they're content to roll with Riley to begin the year. That should make him a cheap source of power for fantasy, one whose batting average (.262 xBA last year) won't hurt you too badly.
|25||Raimel Tapia (COL - LF,CF,DH)||99||98.0||-1.0||
Tapia doesn't make a ton of hard contact, but he slashed .321/.369/.402 last year and led off for the Rockies for the majority of the season. He's slated to do so again this year, which means he should be a cheap source of runs, batting average, and steals. Tapia's been around for awhile and never held a starting job all season, but he's in an excellent position this year and can be drafted late in all mixed leagues as a fifth outfielder or bench player.
|26||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.
|27||J.D. Davis (NYM - 3B,LF,DH)||101||117.0||+16.0|
|28||Chris Taylor (LAD - 2B,3B,CF,LF,RF,SS)||109||92.0||-17.0|
|29||Brian Anderson (MIA - 3B,RF)||104||115.0||+11.0|
|30||Brandon Nimmo (NYM - LF,CF,RF)||116||109.0||-7.0||
Nimmo has a career .390 OBP and will be batting atop the Mets lineup this year, and that's really all you need to know for his fantasy value. He'll likely be a steady contributor in the runs scored category, while chipping in some homers and steals with a batting average that won't hurt you much. He might see a bit of a platoon against left-handers, but he's a player who will cost you nothing in drafts and who can fill in for your team if you need him. He's worth a bench spot in all 10-team or deeper leagues.
|31||Lorenzo Cain (MIL - CF)||110||123.0||+13.0||
Cain opted out of the season last year after just five games, but he'll play and bat near the top of the Brewers' lineup this year. His steals total dropped to just 18 in 2019, and his sprint speed has been declining in recent years. But he talked openly about wanting to try to steal more bases before he opted out last year, and he's still a safe bet for batting average and double-digit homers. He's been forgotten a bit in drafts this year, but he's a fine fifth outfielder in mixed leagues.
|32||David Peralta (ARI - LF)||113||122.0||+9.0||
Peralta is entering his age-34 season and coming off a season during which he hit just five home runs, but he still makes a fairly reliable late-round selection. His career batting average is .291 (and he hit .300 last year), and his 162-game pace is roughly 20 home runs and 160 combined runs and RBI. Even if his steals are gone, there's still plenty of production left in the bat for someone who will be drafted well beyond the top 200 picks, and who had shoulder surgery prior to the 2020 season which likely affected his production. The upside isn't there anymore, but safe and boring can sometimes be the right move.
|33||Garrett Hampson (COL - 2B,SS,LF,CF)||117||121.0||+4.0|
|34||Bryan Reynolds (PIT - LF,CF,RF)||118||141.0||+23.0|
|35||David Dahl (MIL - CF,DH,LF,RF) NRI||129||154.0||+25.0|
|36||Jon Berti (MIA - 2B,3B,CF,RF,SS)||145||139.0||-6.0|
|37||Hunter Renfroe (MIL - CF,LF,RF)||134||163.0||+29.0|
|38||Brandon Belt (SF - 1B,LF)||127||177.0||+50.0|
|39||Jurickson Profar (SD - 1B,2B,CF,LF,RF)||141||146.0||+5.0|
|40||Sam Hilliard (COL - 3B,CF,LF,RF)||140||159.0||+19.0|
|41||Daulton Varsho (ARI - C,CF,LF,RF)||130||104.0||-26.0||
Varsho was optioned to Triple-A, which was mildly surprising, though not entirely unexpected. He saw plenty of action between catcher and the outfield last year for the Diamondbacks, and although he batted just .188, he hit three home runs and stole three bases. That may not sound like much but for a catcher-eligible player in 37 games, it's plenty. Varsho was optioned less because of his talent level and more because the Diamondbacks' roster is pretty full, especially with the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera,. There's a ton of potential for Varsho, given that he was a high-average hitter during his minor-league career, but fantasy managers will need to wait a bit longer for him to become someone to start in fantasy leagues.
|42||Tyler O'Neill (STL - LF)||153||170.0||+17.0|
|43||Adam Duvall (ATL - CF,LF,RF)||160||169.0||+9.0|
|44||Avisail Garcia (MIA - CF,RF)||139||172.0||+33.0|
|45||Jason Heyward (CHC - CF,RF)||156||134.0||-22.0|
|46||Josh Rojas (ARI - 2B,3B,LF,RF,SS)||170||188.0||+18.0|
|47||Cristian Pache (ATL - CF,LF)||178||150.0||-28.0|
|48||Mauricio Dubon (SF - 2B,3B,CF,SS)||159||140.0||-19.0|
|49||Garrett Cooper (MIA - 1B,RF,DH)||180||199.0||+19.0|
|50||Austin Slater (SF - 1B,CF,DH,LF,RF)||195||174.0||-21.0|
|51||Scott Kingery (PHI - 2B,3B,CF,LF,RF,SS) MiLB||199||195.0||-4.0|
|52||Harrison Bader (STL - CF)||157||224.0||+67.0|
|53||Shogo Akiyama (CIN - LF,CF)||222||227.0||+5.0|
|54||Yoshi Tsutsugo (PIT - 1B,3B,DH,LF,RF)||238||234.0||-4.0|
|55||Aristides Aquino (CIN - CF,LF,RF)||236||262.0||+26.0|
|56||Jordan Luplow (ARI - 1B,CF,LF,RF)||239||316.0||+77.0|
|57||Adam Haseley (PHI - LF,CF,RF)||311||271.0||-40.0|
|58||Monte Harrison (MIA - CF,RF)||307||273.0||-34.0|
|59||Lane Thomas (WSH - CF,LF,RF)||249||275.0||+26.0|
|60||Michael Chavis (PIT - 1B,2B,LF)||243||220.0||-23.0|
|61||JJ Bleday (MIA - RF) MiLB||268.0|
|62||Cole Tucker (PIT - 2B,CF,RF,SS)||267||279.0||+12.0|
|63||Darin Ruf (SF - 1B,LF)||269||295.0||+26.0|
|64||Johan Camargo (PHI - 2B,3B,SS,LF,RF)||288||217.0||-71.0|
|65||Anthony Alford (PIT - LF,CF)||312||255.0||-57.0|
|66||Matt Beaty (LAD - 1B,3B,LF,RF)||294|
|67||Jared Oliva (PIT - LF,RF)||271||251.0||-20.0|
|68||Heliot Ramos (SF - CF)||319||301.0||-18.0|
|69||Andrew Stevenson (WSH - CF,LF,RF)||279||252.0||-27.0|
|70||Jesus Sanchez (MIA - LF,RF)||231.0|
|71||Ben Gamel (PIT - LF,CF,RF)||346||321.0||-25.0|
|72||Harold Ramirez (CHC - LF,CF,RF)||287|
|73||Garrett Mitchell (MIL - LF,CF) MiLB|
|74||Drew Waters (ATL - LF,CF)||336||210.0||-126.0|
|75||Yonathan Daza (COL - CF,LF,RF)||354||320.0||-34.0|
|76||Brennen Davis (CHC - LF,CF) MiLB||328.0|
|77||Jaylin Davis (SF - LF,RF)||315|
|78||Seth Beer (ARI - 1B,LF)||289.0|
|79||Greg Allen (PIT - LF,CF,RF)||352|
|80||Mark Mathias (MIL - RF) MiLB||323|
|81||Yadiel Hernandez (WSH - DH,LF,RF)||344|
|82||Tyler Naquin (CIN - CF,LF,RF)||345||305.0||-40.0|
|83||Austin Dean (SF - LF,RF)||359|
|84||Ka'ai Tom (SF - CF,LF,RF) MiLB||357||312.0||-45.0|
|85||Khalil Lee (NYM - CF,RF)||310.0|
|86||Steven Duggar (SF - LF,CF,RF)||351|
|87||Mickey Moniak (PHI - CF,LF)||361||247.0||-114.0|
|88||Scott Heineman (CIN - CF) MiLB||365|
|89||Phillip Ervin (ATL - LF,CF,RF) MiLB||353|
|90||Travis Demeritte (ATL - RF)||355|
|91||Jonathan Davis (MIL - CF,RF) NRI||373|
|92||Jace Peterson (MIL - 1B,2B,3B,LF,RF)||368|
|93||Michael Reed (SF - LF,RF) MiLB||369|
|94||Stuart Fairchild (ARI - LF,CF)||371|