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Eric Cross’ 2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

It feels like the 2020 season just ended, but here we are in the heart of 2021 draft season. Whether you look at others or make your own, 2021 fantasy baseball rankings are something that everyone looks at. I mean, who doesn’t go into a draft with rankings to go off of? Personally, I’ve been making my own rankings for a while now and used other industry rankings before I became an analyst/writer and started making my own. And for me, I like to break mine down positionally as I’m usually looking to target a certain position with each draft pick, especially after the first few rounds.

These have been and will continue to be tweaked and updated throughout the offseason and all the way up until opening day. Hopefully, these can help you dominate your 2021 drafts, whenever those may be held.

This is version 3.0 of my 2021 rankings. I have updated my rankings at every position below and added pertinent notes as well. Enjoy!


If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. New to the dynasty format or just love rankings? Then check out Eric Cross’ recently updated Top-500 Dynasty Rankings, Top-250 Dynasty Prospects, and Top-100 FYPD Rankings.

Also, make sure to check out the Five Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast and Fantrax Prospect Toolshed Weekly for more redraft, prospect, and dynasty talk.


2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings – Positional

LAST UPDATED: 2/6/2021

I tried to have this as close to Fantrax eligibility as possible. It’s also possible that I missed a name or two. If I did, feel free to reach out to me.

Catcher

RankPlayerTeamTier
1J.T. RealmutoPHI1
2Salvador PerezKC2
3Will SmithLAD2
4Willson ContrerasCHC2
5Yasmani GrandalMIL2
6Daulton VarshoARI2
7Travis d'ArnaudATL2
8Sean MurphyOAK3
9Gary SanchezNYY3
10Christian VazquezBOS3
11James McCannNYM3
12Austin NolaSD3
13Mitch GarverMIN3
14Jorge AlfaroMIA4
15Max StassiLAA3
16Pedro SeverinoBAL4
17Alejandro KirkTOR3
18Wilson RamosNYM4
19Buster PoseySF4
20Yadier MolinaFA4
21Carson KellyARI4
22Omar NarvaezMIL5
23Danny JansenTOR5
24Tyler StephensonCIN4
25Ryan JeffersMIN4
26Sam HuffTEX4
27Joey BartSF4
28Tom MurphySEA5
29Jacob StallingsPIT5
30Jose TrevinoTEX5

Late-Round Targets: Mitch Garver (MIN), Sean Murphy (OAK), Jorge Alfaro, Buster Posey

This ugly position got even uglier in 2020.

U-G-L-Y, none of these guys (except J.T. Realmuto) should be drafted high (Not at his ADP though), they ugly. Yeah, yeah, they ugly (for fantasy). Okay, that was rough, but so is this position as a whole. Remember when we were debating who was the top dog between JT Realmuto and Gary Sanchez? Ha! That was funny. After a disastrous season at the plate, Sanchez isn’t even a top-5 option for 2021. My ranking of 9th might even be a tad generous as Sanchez has consistently shown that he cannot hit for a respectable average without BABIP luck.

Overall, I’m going to wait to take my catcher(s) in 2021 unless one of the top-5 falls to be at a reasonable price, which appears to be highly unlikely from what I’ve been seeing in early-2021 mocks. Everyone is worried about missing out on getting one of the few good options so those guys are getting taken a bit higher than they probably should. I’d recommend waiting on this position and maybe grabbing one of the youngsters with upside late. Backstops like Alejandro Kirk, Daulton Varsho, and Sean Murphy will only cost a mid to late-round pick and could easily return top-10 value at this offensively-deprived position.

Last but not least, let me address the elephant in the room with my exclusion of Adley Rutschman. There’s no question that Rutschman is the top catching prospect in the game and an advanced bat, but I don’t see him playing a ton of games with Baltimore in 2021. If we had a normal minor league season or any minor league season at all in 2020, he’d likely be up fairly early in the 2021 season. At this point, he’s more of a late-2021/early-2022 ETA for me.

12/18 Update: While I still like Bart as a late-round flier in deeper leagues and 2C formats, it looks like Buster Posey will be the starting catcher to start 2021 with Bart perhaps in Triple-A.

2/6 Update: Alejandro Kirk is falling a bit as his playing time is much cloudier following recent acquisitions by Toronto.

1st Base

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Freddie FreemanATL1
2Cody BellingerLAD1
3DJ LeMahieuNYY1
4Jose AbreuCHW2
5Keston HiuraMIL2
6Pete AlonsoNYM2
7Vladimir Guerrero Jr.TOR2
8Luke VoitNYY2
9Matt OlsonOAK2
10Dominic SmithNYM2
11Paul GoldschmidtSTL2
12Anthony RizzoCHC2
13Alec BohmPHI2
14Max MuncyLAD2
15Mike MoustakasCIN3
16Ryan MountcastleBAL3
17Rhys HoskinsPHI3
18Miguel SanoMIN3
19Josh BellWAS3
20Eric HosmerSD3
21Christian WalkerARI3
22Jared WalshLAA3
23Trey ManciniBAL3
24Jake CronenworthSD3
25Nate LoweTEX3
26Hunter DozierKC3
27Bobby DalbecBOS4
28Evan WhiteSEA4
29Andrew VaughnCHW4
30Jeimer CandelarioDET4
31Ryan McMahonCOL4
32Carlos SantanaKC4
33Joey VottoCIN4
34Brandon BeltSF4
35Rowdy TellezTOR4
36Tommy La StellaSF4
37Yuli GurrielHOU4
38Renato NunezFA5
39Jesus AguilarMIA5
40C.J. CronDET5
41Garrett CooperMIA5
42Josh FuentesCOL5
43Colin MoranPIT5
44Mike BrosseauTB5
45Wilmer FloresSF5
46Lewin DiazMIA5
47Pavin SmithARI5
48Miguel CabreraDET5
49Mitch MorelandFA5
50Ji-Man ChoiTB5

Late-Round Targets: Evan White (SEA), Garrett Cooper (MIA), Brandon Belt (SF)

At first glance, this position might look top-heavy and boring after the first tier or two. But there’s actually some intriguing value in the mid to late rounds with solid ROI potential. Those top two tiers are all players I’d feel comfortable drafting within the first 100 picks or so. Most are stable veterans with longer track records of production, especially recently. Within these tiers, you’ll find an annual potential batting champ in DJ LeMahieu, the 2020 HR king in Luke Voit, and the former gold standard at the position in Paul Goldschmidt, among others.

After the top two tiers, that’s when the questions set in. Tiers three and four are filled with talented, yet unproven youngsters like Alec Bohm, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Ryan Mountcastle, along with talent hitters like Josh Bell coming off underwhelming performances in 2020. It might shock many for me to say this, but I’m actually avoiding Guerrero in 2021 drafts. I’m still holding in dynasty formats, or even buying-low if that window opened, but for 2021 redrafts, he’s likely going to go too high for my liking. Right now, his early 2021 ADP in mocks has been in the 60-80 range, but until he proves to me he can cut down on the groundballs and tap into his immense raw power more in games.

If I miss out on getting my starting first baseman from one of the top two tiers, Bohm, Mountcastle, and Dominic Smith are likely going to find themselves on multiple teams of mine. Bohm is a hitter I’m all-in on as I wrote here, and both Smith and Mountcastle are legit bats capable of hitting for both a solid average and 25 home runs or so as well. Both Bohm and Smith will cost you a top-140 pick or so, but Mountcastle should only cost you a pick in the 175-200 range, so he appears to be the best value pick of the three.

For a late-round flier, give Evan White a look. The Mariners rookie disappointed after signing his contract extension last offseason but produced high quality of contact metrics with an 88th percentile exit velocity, 95th percentile hard-hit rate, and 90th percentile barrel rate. Not to mention an 85th percentile sprint speed. The tools are here for a nice bounceback campaign if he can cut down that atrocious 41.6% strikeout rate.

12/18 Update: Nate Lowe has been freed! It’s about damn time. With Lowe now in Texas, I’ve bumped him up into my top-25 at this position for reasons I explained in my article about him.

2/6 Update: Keston Hiura joins this position! While it will take him a week or two to obtain 1B eligibility depending on your league settings, I’ve included him here as a top-5 option. Also, Josh Bell gets a boost after his trade from the offensively deprived Pirates to his cushy new spot protecting Juan Goato Soto.

2nd Base

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Ozzie AlbiesATL1
2DJ LeMahieuNYY1
3Whit MerrifieldKC1
4Keston HiuraMIL2
5Brandon LoweTB2
6Cavan BiggioTOR2
7Ketel MarteARI2
8Max MuncyLAD2
9Jeff McNeilNYM2
10Jose AltuveHOU2
11Mike MoustakasCIN3
12Jonathan VillarTOR3
13Dylan MooreSEA3
14Tommy EdmanSTL3
15Nick SolakTEX3
16Andres GimenezNYM3
17Jake CronenworthSD3
18Nick MadrigalCHW3
19David FletcherLAA3
20Chris TaylorLAD3
21Jean SeguraPHI3
22Tommy La StellaSF4
23Garrett HampsonCOL4
24Gavin LuxLAD4
25Ty FranceSEA4
26Jon BertiMIA4
27Ryan McMahonCOL4
28Jurickson ProfarSD4
29Jonathan SchoopDET4
30Joey WendleTB4
31Wilmer FloresSF4
32Cesar HernandezCLE4
33Mauricio DubonSFG4
34Kolten WongMIL4
35Luis ArraezMIN5
36Scott KingeryPHI5
37Luis UriasMIL5
38Kiké HernándezBOS5
39Hanser AlbertoFA5
40Starlin CastroWAS5
41Donovan SolanoSF5
42Brendan RodgersCOL5
43Niko GoodrumDET5
44Jeter DownsBOS5
45Jazz ChisholmMIA5
46Rougned OdorTEX5
47Luis GarciaWAS5
48Nico HoernerCHC5
49Mike BrosseauTB5
50Kevin NewmanPIT5

Late-Round Targets: Ty France (SEA), Garrett Hampson (COL), Andres Gimenez (CLE)

This has been my toughest position to draft so far in 2021 mocks. At every position, there is a group of locked in top options that you don’t usually have many, or any, concerns about. That group at second base is on the smaller side, to say the least. Outside of the top tier consisting of Ozzie Albies, DJ LeMahieu, and Whit Merrifield, the remainder of the options you’ll be considering as your starting 2nd baseman all have legit question marks for one reason or another.

That starts at #4 and #5 with Brandon Lowe and Keston Hiura. In 2019, Hiura was everyone’s darling at this position, posting a .303/.368/.570 line with 19 homers and nine steals in 84 games, but his suspect plate approach became even more suspect in 2020, to the point where his AVG cratered. The power remained, but can Hiura turn the AVG around and justify a top-100 pick? The same can be said for Lowe who had a 32nd percentile K% and 7th percentile whiff rate despite otherwise impressive statcast data. Beyond them, Biggio barely hit above the Mendoza line, Marte’s power disappeared, and the trio of Muncy, Altuve, and McNeil struggled.

This isn’t a position I’ve been excited to draft this season. If I can’t land one of my top-5, I’ve been waiting until later on and grabbing an upside play like Gavin Lux, Nick Solak, Nick Madrigal, or Jake Cronenworth. Don’t sleep on Ty France either who will likely get a chance to start next season for Seattle.

2/6 Update: Jake Cronenworth slides a bit due to the acquisition of Ha-Seong Kim creating uncertainty if he plays every day. On the flip side, Jonathan Villar has signed with Cincinnati to play short and move back up a few spots. Also, keep an eye on Colorado who just might finally give Garrett Hampson or Brendan Rodgers a shot at 2nd base now that Ryan McMahon might be moving over to the hot corner with Nolan Arenado’s departure.

3rd Base

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Jose RamirezCLE1
2Manny MachadoSD1
3DJ LeMahieuNYY1
4Rafael DeversBOS1
5Alex BregmanHOU1
6Nolan ArenadoSTL1
7Anthony RendonLAA1
8Yoan MoncadaCHW2
9Cavan BiggioTOR2
10Eugenio SuarezCIN2
11Alec BohmPHI2
12Max MuncyLAD2
13Matt ChapmanOAK2
14Jeff McNeilNYM2
15Kris BryantCHC2
16Gio UrshelaNYY3
17Tommy EdmanSTL3
18Ke'Bryan HayesPIT3
19Josh DonaldsonMIN2
20Andres GimenezCLE3
21David FletcherLAA3
22J.D. DavisNYM3
23Brian AndersonMIA3
24Jean SeguraPHI3
25Austin RileyATL3
26Kyle SeagerSEA3
27Edwin RiosLAD3
28Justin TurnerFA3
29Willi CastroDET4
30Jeimer CandelarioDET4
31Isiah Kiner-FalefaTEX4
32Ryan McMahonCOL4
33Ty FranceSEA4
34Joey WendleTB4
35Carter KieboomWAS4
36Eduardo EscobarARI4
37Luis UriasMIL4
38Yandy DiazTB4
39Maikel FrancoKC4
40Colin MoranPIT4
41Mike BrosseauTB4
42Evan LongoriaSF4
43Isaac ParedesDET4
44Brad MillerSTL5
45Rio RuizBAL5
46Yoshi TsutsugoTB5
47Matt CarpenterSTL5
48David BoteCHC5
49Josh JungTEX5
50Colton WelkerCOL5

Late-Round Targets: Carter Kieboom (WAS), Austin Riley (ATL), Edwin Rios,

This position is full of value plays, and if you play it right, you can hit a home run here in your drafts. Elite options like Rafael Devers, Alex Bregman, and Nolan Arenado have fallen out of the top-25 overall due to their 2020 performances and their current values have me foaming at the mouth. Before 2020, Arenado was arguably the most consistent source of elite offensive production in baseball. As long as his shoulder is okay and he’s still a Rockie, draft with confidence in the 3rd round.

Another former elite option that has fallen a ton is Kris Bryant. I’m less optimistic that he returns to a top-50 caliber player, but with an ADP around 120, he’s worth the risk if you’re still a believer. If you’re tired of the KB headaches like I am, I’d recommend going with Alec Bohm, who reminds me a ton of a younger Freddie Freeman. Bohm is going one round behind Bryant and has the hit/power combination to finish as a top-100 player and provide solid ROI. Another rookie going several rounds later to consider is Ke’Bryan Hayes. I’m not quite as high on him as I am on Bohm, but Hayes is a solid value if his power gains from 2020 continue into 2021. He can also provide a bit of speed as well, something Bohm cannot.

Not only does this position have good values throughout the top-200 picks, but there are also plenty in the later rounds as well along with some prime bounce-back candidates and a few that are just flat out underrated. Case in point, David Fletcher. The Angels’ sparkplug often gets overlooked due to minimal power and speed contributions, but Fletcher has one of the best contact/swing profiles in baseball and is a near-lock to hit .300. Add in 10-15 homers, 10-15 steals, solid runs scored totals, and multi-positional eligibility and you have a nice MI or CI option for very cheap.

If you’re looking for some cheap breakout candidates here in the later rounds, I’d put a flier on Carter Kieboom or Austin Riley, former top prospects that struggled in 2020.

12/18 Update: Edwin Rios is becoming an intriguing late-round sleeper for his power. Keep an eye on Justin Turner and bump Rios up your board if Turner signs elsewhere.

2/6 Update: Nolan Arenado loses a little value outside of Colorado, but don’t knock him too much. He’s still a top-50 caliber asset in 2021.

Shortstop

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Fernando Tatis Jr.SD1
2Trea TurnerWAS1
3Trevor StoryCOL1
4Francisco LindorNYM1
5Bo BichetteTOR1
6Xander BogaertsBOS2
7Corey SeagerLAD2
8Tim AndersonCHW2
9Adalberto MondesiKC2
10Gleyber TorresNYY2
11Javier BaezCHC2
12Dansby SwansonATL2
13Carlos CorreaHOU2
14Jonathan VillarCIN3
15Didi GregoriusPHI3
16Marcus SemienTOR3
17Tommy EdmanSTL3
18Andres GimenezCLE3
19Paul DeJongSTL3
20Jake CronenworthSD3
21Ha-Seong KimSD3
22Jorge PolancoMIN3
23David FletcherLAA3
24Chris TaylorLAD3
25Willy AdamesTB3
26Amed RosarioCLE4
27Willi CastroDET4
28Isiah Kiner-FalefaTEX4
29Joey WendleTB4
30Mauricio DubonSF4
31Wander FrancoTB4
32Miguel RojasMIA4
33Nick AhmedARI4
34Niko GoodrumDET4
35Luis UriasMIL4
36Jose IglesiasLAA4
37Nico HoernerCHC4
38Andrelton SimmonsMIN4
39Elvis AndrusTEX4
40Jeter DownsBOS5
41J.P. CrawfordSEA5
42Anderson TejedaTEX5
43Jazz ChisholmMIA5
44Brandon CrawfordSF5
45Kevin NewmanPIT5
46Freddy GalvisBAL5
47Orlando ArciaMIL5
48Royce LewisMIN5
49Jose GarciaCIN5
50Chad PinderOAK5

Late-Round Targets: Willi Castro (DET), Andres Gimenez (CLE), Mauricio Dubon (SF), Elvis Andrus

Just when you thought this position couldn’t get any deeper and more talented, it does just that. There are seven players in my 1st tier, ranging from Fernando Tatis Jr to World Series MVP, Corey Seager. All seven of these studs are fine selections in the first two rounds of drafts, and you might even be able to get Seager or the always underrated Xander Bogaerts in the third round. One of my absolute favorite targets in 2021 drafts is in this tier as well. I’ve been calling Bo Bichette the next Mookie Betts for fantasy for a year or so now and he’s done nothing to make me back off that claim, posting a .307/.347/.549 slash line with a 105/35/95/17 162-game pace since debuting late in 2019.

Tim Anderson almost made that first tier as well. At this point, I’ve stopped doubting him due to the higher BABIPS and have accepted that he’s a fantasy star capable of posting a .300/20/20 season in 2021 with a ton of runs hitting leadoff in Chicago’s loaded lineup. After him, both Gleyber Torres and Javier Baez present great values after disappointing 2020 campaigns. If I don’t land one of the players from the top tier, I’m going to be targeting this duo aggressively in rounds 5-7 or so. As I mentioned before on the Five-Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast, I’m more willing to give these stars a pass if they struggled in a shortened and crazy 60-game slate.

Ideally, I’m going to leave every draft with one of my top 12-14 on my roster as my starting shortstop and hopefully another top-25 player in my middle utility spot. I’m much more excited about the later-round options here than at 2nd base, so this is likely where you’ll see me filling that middle infield spot, That will likely be with a bounce-back candidate since there are several I’m intrigued by in 2021, headlined by Jorge Polanco, Marcus Semien, and Amed Rosario. Then maybe for good measure, I’ll throw a late-round flier on talented youngsters like Jazz Chisholm or Jose Garcia if the league is deep enough.

There are several ways you can attack this position and still come out feeling good about your shortstop situation. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until the middle rounds and taking two from the 14-20 range either as this group often presents good ROI opportunities at their respective price tags.

If you were looking for me to rant about Adalberto Mondesi, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Y’all should know my thoughts on him by now. Draft at your own risk. Also, as I’m sure many are wondering, I didn’t rank Wander Franco too high as I don’t believe he makes a sizeable fantasy impact until the 2022 season. He’ll almost certainly be up, but likely not until mid-season.

12/18 Update: After being catcher eligible in 2020, Isiah Kiner-Falefa will be the Rangers starting shortstop in 2021. Crazy right? His stock has ticked up while nearly killing the stock of Elvis Andrus at the same time.

12/18 Addition: Korean standout shortstop Ha-Seong Kim has been posted and will be coming over to the Major Leagues for the 2021 season. He hasn’t signed yet, but his ability to hit for a solid average with some power and speed makes him an intriguing option later on in drafts.

2/6 Update: With the addition of Andrelton Simmons in Minnesota, the value of Jorge Polanco takes a hit. He should still be drafted, but his playing time is in question at the moment. Marcus Semien’s value ticks in Toronto as he’ll likely hit 2nd in a loaded Blue Jays lineup.

Outfield

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Juan SotoWAS1
2Ronald Acuna Jr.ATL1
3Mookie BettsLAD1
4Mike TroutLAA1
5Christian YelichMIL2
6Bryce HarperPHI2
7Cody BellingerLAD2
8Kyle TuckerHOU2
9Eloy JimenezCHW2
10Luis RobertCHW2
11Marcell OzunaATL2
12Whit MerrifieldKC2
13Yordan AlvarezHOU2
14Starling MarteMIA2
15George SpringerTOR2
16Trent GrishamSD2
17Aaron JudgeNYY3
18Teoscar HernandezTOR3
19Randy ArozarenaTB3
20Nelson CruzMIN3
21Brandon LoweTB3
22Michael ConfortoNYM3
23Cavan BiggioTOR3
24J.D. MartinezBOS3
25Nick CastellanosCIN3
26Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR3
27Austin MeadowsTB3
28Charlie BlackmonCOL3
29Dominic SmithNYM4
30Tommy PhamSD4
31Wil MyersSD4
32Jeff McNeilNYM4
33Eddie RosarioCLE4
34Franmil ReyesCLE4
35Michael BrantleyHOU4
36Mike YastrzemskiSF4
37Giancarlo StantonNYY4
38Kyle LewisSEA4
39Jorge SolerKC4
40Ian HappCHC4
41Alex VerdugoBOS4
42Byron BuxtonMIN4
43Ramon LaureanoOAK4
44Joey GalloTEX4
45Tommy EdmanSTL4
46Dylan MooreSEA5
47Ryan MountcastleBAL5
48Anthony SantanderBAL5
49AJ PollockLAD5
50Clint FrazierNYY5
51Victor RoblesWAS5
52Dylan CarlsonSTL5
53Andrew McCutchenPHI5
54Daulton VarshoARI5
55Victor ReyesDET5
56Jarred KelenicSEA5
57Raimel TapiaCOL5
58Nick SolakTEX5
59Jesse WinkerCIN5
60Kyle SchwarberWAS6
61Max KeplerMIN6
62Austin HaysBAL6
63Trey ManciniBAL6
64Brandon NimmoNYM6
65Mitch HanigerSEA6
66Kole CalhounARI6
67Hunter DozierKC6
68Leody TaverasTEX6
69Andrew BenintendiBOS6
70Mark CanhaOAK6
71Alex KirilloffMIN6
72J.D. DavisNYM6
73Chris TaylorLAD6
74Austin RileyATL6
75Lorenzo CainMIL6
76Aaron HicksNYY6
77David DahlTEX7
78Randal GrichukTOR7
79Yasiel PuigFA7
80Nick SenzelCIN7
81Mauricio DubonSF7
82Garrett HampsonCOL7
83Hunter RenfroeBOS7
84Alex DickersonSF7
85Franchy CorderoKC7
86Austin SlaterSF7
87Sam HilliardCOL7
88Jon BertiMIA7
89Manuel MargotTB7
90Scott KingeryPHI7
91Jurickson ProfarSD7
92David PeraltaARI7
93Adam DuvallFA7
94Josh NaylorCLE7
95Willie CalhounTEX7
96Jo AdellLAA7
97Cristian PacheATL7
98Robbie GrossmanDET7
99Bryan ReynoldsPIT7
100Joc PedersonCHC7

Late-Round Targets: Austin Hays (BAL), Victor Reyes (DET), Raimel Tapia (COL), Mitch Haniger (SEA), Alex Kirilloff (MIN), Josh Naylor (CLE), Myles Straw (HOU)

Out of all the offensive positions, the outfield is the one I’m attacking the most early and often. Why? Well, most of the middle-round targets don’t give me that warm and fuzzy feeling. There are certainly some I’ll be targeting like Andrew McCutchen, Jorge Soler, Clint Frazier, and others, but by the time I get to that range, I want at least two outfielders already on my roster. That means two of my first 10 picks or so, at the very least, will be outfielders. Now, I’m not saying that’s a concrete plan, but do you want McCutchen or Frazier as your OF2?

This is a great year to be targeting outfielders early too. Just look at all that talent in the first 3-4 tiers. You can play the draft several ways and be able to grab two guys in those first three tiers. The only thing that’s really out of your control is tier 1. You’re going to need a top-6 pick to get anyone in this tier. But after that, you can choose how you want to attack this position.

If you have a late-round pick in the 1st, I’d be all over Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger at their current ADPs outside the top-10 overall, especially Yelich. Bryce Harper is another in that range I’ve been targeting in early 2021 mocks thus far as well. For the most part, a late first-round draft slot means I have at least one of this trio on my team heading into rounds two and three. This is the range where you’ll see exciting young stars like Kyle Tucker, Eloy Jimenez, and Luis Robert being selected. If you want two from my top-2 tiers, that means two of your first three selections are going to need to be outfielders.

Assuming my draft has gone according to plan, my OF3 will likely be from tier four. This tier contains many breakouts I believe in and players I expect to bounceback. Players like Dominic Smith, Lourdes Gurriel, Ramon Laureano, Alex Verdugo, and Tommy Pham will be popular targets of mine in this range along with Jorge Soler or Victor Robles if I need a power or speed boost. One that I will not have any shares of in this tier is Randy Arozarena. The reason being that he’ll be taken a good 30-40 spots before I’m comfortable taking him.

Tier 5 is another area I’ll likely dip my toes into frequently. That could mean feasting on Jarred Kelenic’s surprisingly reasonable ADP near pick 200, banking on a bounceback from Andrew Benintendi or Victor Robles, or taking one of those middle round targets I mentioned in the first paragraph of this outfield section. As for late-rounders, Austin Hays, Nick Solak, and Victor Reyes are favorites of mine. And, of course, Garrett Hampson. If you need some category help late in your drafts, look no further than the outfield.

12/18 Addition: With it looking like he could start for Minnesota on opening day, Alex Kirilloff has worked his way into my top-100. The .300/25 upside makes him worth a flier late in drafts.

2/6 Update: Angels manager, Joe Maddon, basically came out and said that Jo Adell will start in Triple-A. He’s still in my top-100, but barely.

Starting Pitcher

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Jacob deGromNYM1
2Shane BieberCLE1
3Gerrit ColeNYY1
4Yu DarvishSD2
5Aaron NolaPHI2
6Walker BuehlerLAD2
7Lucas GiolitoCHW2
8Trevor BauerLAD2
9Luis CastilloCIN2
10Max ScherzerWAS2
11Clayton KershawLAD2
12Zac GallenARI2
13Brandon WoodruffMIL2
14Jack FlahertySTL3
15Blake SnellSD3
16Corbin BurnesMIL3
17Max FriedATL3
18Kenta MaedaMIN3
19Lance LynnCHW3
20Sonny GrayCIN3
21Carlos CarrascoNYM3
22Tyler GlasnowTB3
23Zach PlesacCLE3
24Hyun jin RyuTOR3
25Kyle HendricksCHC3
26Stephen StrasburgWAS3
27Ian AndersonATL3
28Jose BerriosMIN3
29Jesus LuzardoOAK3
30Dinelson LametSD4
31Lance McCullers Jr.HOU4
32Sixto SanchezMIA4
33Zack WheelerPHI4
34Sandy AlcantaraMIA4
35Chris PaddackSD4
36Pablo LopezMIA4
37Dylan BundyLAA4
38Zack GreinkeHOU4
39Joe MusgroveSD4
40Julio UriasLAD4
41Framber ValdezHOU4
42Patrick CorbinWAS4
43Charlie MortonATL4
44Kevin GausmanSF4
45Aaron CivaleCLE4
46Frankie MontasOAK5
47Corey KluberNYY5
48Andrew HeaneyLAA5
49Tyler MahleCIN5
50Mike SorokaATL5
51Brady SingerKC5
52David PriceLAD5
53Marcus StromanNYM5
54Dallas KeuchelCHW5
55German MarquezCOL5
56Chris BassittOAK5
57Triston McKenzieCLE5
58Marco GonzalesSEA5
59John MeansBAL5
60Eduardo RodriguezBOS5
61Cristian JavierHOU5
62Nate PearsonTOR5
63James PaxtonFA5
64Dustin MayLAD5
65Dane DunningTEX5
66Zach DaviesCHC6
67Zach EflinPHI6
68Elieser HernandezMIA6
69Ryan YarbroughTB6
70Jose UrquidyHOU6
71Drew SmylyATL6
72Sean ManaeaOAK6
73Jameson TaillonPIT6
74Nathan EovaldiBOS6
75Griffin CanningLAA6
76Michael PinedaMIN7
77Luis SeverinoNYY7
78Tony GonsolinLAD7
79Chris SaleBOS7
80Tarik SkubalDET7
81Jordan MontgomeryNYY7
82Spencer HowardPHI7
83Matthew BoydDET7
84Mitch KellerPIT7
85Brad KellerKC7
86Caleb SmithARI7
87MacKenzie GoreSD7
88Noah SyndergaardNYM7
89Casey MizeDET7
90Shohei OhtaniLAA8
91Michael KopechCHW8
92Michael LorenzenCIN8
93Justus SheffieldSEA8
94Josh LindblomMIL8
95Kwang Hyun KimSTL8
96Robbie RayTOR8
97Spencer TurnbullDET8
98Dylan CeaseCHW8
99Taijuan WalkerTOR8
100Jake OdorizziFA
8
101Yusei KikuchiSEA8
102David PetersonNYM8
103Domingo GermanNYY8
104Garrett RichardsBOS8
105Justin DunnSEA8
106J.A. HappMIN8
107Cal QuantrillCLE8
108A.J. PukOAK8
109Anthony DeSclafaniSF8
110Matt ManningDET9
111Mike MinorKC9
112Adbert AlzolayCHC9
113Ross StriplingTOR9
114Seth LugoNYM9
115Deivi GarciaNYY9
116Madison BumgarnerARI9
117Luis PatinoTB9
118JT BrubakerPIT9
119Adrian HouserMIL9
120Adam WainwrightSTL9
121Luke WeaverARI9
122Carlos MartinezSTL9
123Miles MikolasSTL9
124Tanner HouckBOS9
125Kohei AriharaTEX9

Late-Round Targets: Drew Smyly, Tarik Skubal, Adbert Alzolay, Casey Mize, Spencer Howard, Garrett Richards, Michael Lorenzen

With each passing season, more emphasis seems to be put on building a strong pitching staff, especially early in drafts. While I will still never take a starter in the first round, I make it a point to have at least two pitchers anchoring my staff by round seven, maybe even a third depending on how the draft is going. That means at the very least, I want one arm from my tier one and one from tier two. Establishing a strong top of your rotation early allows you to be flexible throughout the rest of the draft.

Tiers two and three are the tiers I’m going to be hitting hard in 2021 drafts and hoping the arms I select don’t get hit hard themselves. Between breakouts like Sixto Sanchez, Ian Anderson, and Pablo Lopez, along with bounceback candidates like Chris Paddack and Patrick Corbin, there are plenty of enticing arms to plug into your rotation.

Two Dodgers from this range are going to find themselves in my queue often, but likely will go too high for my liking. Those being Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. Both showed their potential throughout the 2020 season, but this is the Dodgers we’re talking about. Los Angeles has a way of using talented arms in swing roles and will also have David Price returning in 2021. Along with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias, that’s six arms vying for five spots. Unfortunately, it looks like May and Gonsolin are 5th and 6th on that list.

Later on in the draft is where it really gets interesting. The 2020 season brought a plethora of exciting prospect debuts, but the majority of them didn’t exactly go as planned. That’s not overly surprising with rookie pitchers but what it has done is create plenty of intriguing values after pick 200 on talented arms that can vastly outperform their ADP. I’ve been targeting guys like Nate Pearson, Spencer Howard, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, etc, quite a bit.

12/18 Additions: In this update, I added Tomoyuki Sugano (Posted) and Michael Lorenzen along with several others. Both are worth a look as late-round fliers.

12/18 Subtraction: Mike Clevinger is now off the list as he will miss all of the 2021 season.

12/18 Update: There have been rumblings that David Price might sit out 2021 as well. Nothing concrete, but keep it in mind during your drafts.

2/6 Update: The Trevor Bauer signing pushes Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin further down the rankings., They’ll still get plenty of innings but like 20-30 less each now.

2/6 Subtractions: Tomoyuki Sugano didn’t end up signing with an MLB team and Masahiro Tanaka is now back in Japan.

Relief Pitcher

RankPlayerTeamTier
1Josh HaderMIL1
2Liam HendriksCHW1
3Edwin DiazNYM1
4Aroldis ChapmanNYY1
5Raisel IglesiasLAA1
6Ryan PresslyHOU1
7Kirby YatesTOR1
8Brad HandWAS1
9Kenley JansenLAD1
10James KarinchakCLE1
11Devin WilliamsMIL1
12Nick AndersonTB1
13Trevor RosenthalFA2
14Alex ColomeMIN2
15Rafael MonteroSEA2
16Craig KimbrelCHC2
17Drew PomeranzSD2
18Giovanny GallegosSTL2
19Diego CastilloTB2
20Richard RodriguezPIT2
21Amir GarrettCIN2
22Will SmithATL3
23Matt BarnesBOS3
24Mark MelanconFA3
25Hector NerisPHI3
26Stefan CrichtonARI3
27Taylor RogersMIN3
28Lucas SimsCIN3
29Jordan HicksSTL3
30Peter FairbanksTB3
31Jake DiekmanOAK3
32Archie BradleyPHI3
33Chris MartinATL3
34Yimi GarciaMIA4
35Greg HollandKC4
36Jose LeclercTEX4
37Anthony BassMIA4
38Hunter HarveyBAL4
39Daniel BardCOL4
40Josh StaumontKC4
41Jordan RomanoTOR4
42Tyler DuffeyMIN4
43Mike MayersLAA5
44Brusdar GraterolLAD5
45Aaron BummerCHW5
46Jonathan HernandezTEX5
47Trevor MayNYM5
48Bryan GarciaDET5
49Tanner RaineyWAS5
50Alex ReyesSTL5

Late-Round Targets: Daniel Bard (COL), Yimi Garcia (MIA), Peter Fairbanks (TB), Jake Diekman (OAK)

Without question, this was my hardest position to rank. I also feel like I say that same sentence every single season. For the most part, relievers in fantasy are a crapshoot due to the volatility and high turnover rate. You have the 8-10 names you can count on, but after that, good luck. This is why I never attack this position early. I’ll usually grab a couple of top-25 RPs in the middle rounds, but after that, I’m either waiting until late or playing the waiver wire early in the season.

This year, I’m going to be targeting relievers like James Karinchak and Ryan Pressly often in the middle rounds. Both, as of now, appear to be moving into closing roles in 2021 and offer substantial upside.

2/6 Update: The reliever market is always changing. In this update, I’ve included or bumped up Jake Diekman, Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Peter Fairbanks, and Yimi Garcia due to their increased chance of save opportunities.

Media/Link Credit: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire


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10 Comments
  1. Zachary says

    Yes this is a good ranking list but in the releif pitchers Devin Williams has 0.33 ERA and 0.630 WHIP
    and he is ranked 8th he should be ranked in the top 5 in my opion maybe not in yours
    PLS respond back to me if you see this

    1. Eric Cross says

      Since he doesn’t get many saves, which factors in, I couldn’t put him any higher.

  2. Green Mtn Boy says

    I’ve created my own rankings and projections for years based on the information I’ve gotten out of Baseball Forecaster. That said, yours are the most well thought out positional rankings I’ve seen anywhere, BF included. In other words, I agree with your choices and reasoning. I’ve come to believe most leagues are won or lost on draft day. I hate losing my league, but when I do, it’s inevitably because I didn’t put in the work into the draft I should have.

    My one quibble is I like to grab a reliable ace starting pitcher no later than round 2. They’re becoming so rare, you almost have to grab one or two early, especially in QS/WHIP/KvBB leagues like the one I’m in.

    I’ll be back to your site often now that I’ve found it. Great stuff!!!

    1. Eric Cross says

      Thank you so much John! Greatly appreciate the kind words.

  3. Edward Sorenson says

    This is going to be my 1st time in a dynasty league, but have played in many keeper leagues. What advice do you have, if you are able to give me some. Thank you.

    1. Eric Cross says

      Hey Edward. Check out this article that I wrote last year. Covers a lot of what you’ll need to get started. Good Luck!

      https://www.fantraxhq.com/fantasy-baseball-dynasty-league-strategy/

  4. Brendan Norton says

    Hey this list is amazing and I was wondering if you had anything that says what order to draft each position? Thanks so much!

    1. Eric Cross says

      Thank you Brendan! It’s hard to say as each draft is different, but I’d put weight on getting a few SP and OF early. 3B dries up quickly too.

  5. Michael says

    I don’t know where else to ask, so I am doing so here. For the fantasy baseball 2021 draft kit, some of the articles are about specific players such as Nate Lowe and Jazz Chisholm. I am interested in reading those articles, however, the links are to the Fantrax player profile and not the actual article. Could you please fix this, as this is an issue for all (or almost all) articles about specific players? This would help a lot and allow me to much more easily find those articles.

  6. John says

    Hey buddy, Ive been offered Pete Alonso , Devin williams, and tarik Skubal for Guerrero Jr and a minor leaguer to be named later. We play in a 12 team keeper league, where you can keep up to your entire 26 man roster if you wish, with minor league farm systems, h2h categories. what are your thoughts on this trade?

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