Please see our player page for Jeter Downs to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

I’ve been watching Pirates SS Oneil Cruz for a long time, but the sensory shock of seeing him run the bases stays fresh. As does the thump of seeing him square up a baseball. On big league broadcasts, we get more angles from better cameras than we see in minor league games. Some minor league broadcasts show mostly just the hitter/pitcher interaction, so I’d almost forgotten what Cruz looks like tagging from third base on a shallow flyball, or throwing a laser across the diamond from shortstop. I would say it’s probably too late to trade for him now, but I did manage to acquire him that way in two dynasty leagues this season, so perhaps it’s not impossible. I paid a lot, to be fair, but I’m happy with it.

In the 15-team Razznasty League, I moved Shane Bieber, Anthony Rendon and Gabriel Moreno for Cruz back on May 12. Bieber had just gotten touched up by Toronto, and I was worried about his diminished velocity. He’s since rebounded, but I’m happy with that. Always good if your trade partner has positive trade remnants from you on the roster. This deal might be an overpay, but I have a constant need to clear roster spots in that format, especially on the big league side. 

We’re not going to get four RBI every night from Cruz. He’s definitely going to struggle at some point, but the talent here is first-round fantasy gold type stuff. Prospect writers aren’t always great at differentiating between who’s a good prospect because he’ll be a major league regular and who’s a good prospect because he can help carry your fantasy teams. Even if they can see the difference, it’s complicated to articulate. Becoming a solid major league regular is an incredible outcome for any prospect, but guys like Cruz belong in a slightly different bucket. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you’ve prayed to the House of Mustache, knelt before the King of Knows-A-Thing, drank from the Fantasy Master Lothario’s Kool-Aid, wept into the Cup of What Am I Doing With Jose Berrios, farted in the direction of everyone who drafts a starter early, then you did not enjoy Gerrit Cole (7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 hit, 3 walks, 12 Ks, ERA at 3.14) last night. No worries, we are here for each other during these difficult days. If one of you reading this had Cole go last night, I am screaming, “Infidel,” at you while spraying you with vape juice (it’s all I have handy). We must live together without the aces and die together without the aces. Y’all who are sneaking aces are cheating and you best sleep with your eyes open. If you really want to know how Cole’s doing (why?), he’s doing great. His peripherals look as great as they’ve been post-Spider Tack — 11.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 2.73 xFIP. The best ever he’s looked? Meh, not really. That was in Houston. The best he’s looked with the Yankees? Borderline acceptable to say that. Honestly, he’s great. Remember, it’s not about us missing out on Cole, it’s about the guys we’re able to get later in place of him. For unstints, his opponent last night: Shane McClanahan (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 8 Ks, ERA at 1.81). Imagine seeing both Cole and McClanahanananananananan’s numbers this year and being like, “That’s why you draft Cole in the 1st round!” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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In honor of the MLB lockout, I walked into a Starbucks, wearing a full baseball uniform, with stirrups, and ordered one of those 45-ingredient drinks that all the baristas hate to make, then said my name was Rob Manfred, and started screaming, “Don’t tell anyone the MLB Commissioner was in here! Do you hear me?! Don’t you dare tell anyone! Don’t call TMZ and send them the video you’re taking of me right now! Don’t you dare tell them Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, didn’t tip you either! That’s HIPA, so don’t you dare tell everyone any of that!” Then I stepped out of the store with my $37-dollar unicorn Frappuccino, took a big sip and realized they prolly spit in it. So, me and a bunch of Razzball commenters got together and took part in an NFBC Draft. I’m down to start another draft too, if there’s demand. Just ping the comments with a note that says something like, “Didn’t I see you in a Starbucks ordering a unicorn frappe?” I’ll make signups for the draft available on our Patreon first. For this draft, I used my 2022 fantasy baseball rankings (dur) and so did others, which screwed me real good, especially when someone drafted Steven Kwan like 150 picks before his ADP. You know who you are! This left me with a total shizzshow of an outfield, so that’s fun! Well, we’ll leave something for the recap, shall we? Yes, we shall! Anyway, here’s my NFBC draft recap; it’s a 15-team, two-catcher, draft and hold league that goes 50 rounds and has no waivers:

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It didn’t end the way they would’ve liked, but the Red Sox had a wonderful season, channeling some Tampa Bay ways with the help of Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and employing smart management on the field with the help of Alex Cora. When the club signed Enrique Hernandez, few would have predicted a 4 (3.9) WAR season punctuated by a monster playoff run (.408/.423/.837 with 5 HR), but I feel pretty confident this won’t be the last time the current Boston braintrust generates All-Star outcomes from mid tier free agents. The scary part is they don’t have to. With a big payroll and stocked system, the Sox appear poised for a long contention cycle. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I remember being really excited for my first crack at a public top 100 back in September of 2019. I actually started building it in early August because I had some time to simmer before my big debut at Razzball, and I wanted to come in hot with a ranking that reflected the way I see the game. 

Click here to see that Top 100 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

and/or click here to stretch to the Top 150 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

As the deadline approached, the true scale of the task came into view. 

In order to rank the top 100 minor league players for fantasy baseball purposes, you have to rank every single minor league player for fantasy baseball purposes. I suppose this is intuitive, but I didn’t realize as much on the front end, back in 2019. I also didn’t realize that’s a lie I was telling myself. It’s not that I have to rank every player, but I have to know generally where I would rank every player. 

Even that’s not true. Something I learned doing the team’s organizational rankings (FIND LINK TO TOP TENS) top ten lists the last two off-seasons was that I needed more processes for eliminating players than for finding them. It’s not altogether different from dynasty roster management in some senses, where your squad is like a bonsai tree: if you’re not pruning the dead and dying branches on the regular, your tree will not grow. Early on in that org ranking process, I figured I’d just make each list as long as the org was deep. Seems fine on the front end, I suppose, but I realized I wasn’t really making any difficult decisions. I could always just rank a guy 11th, or 18th, or whatever, so who really cares about the 10th ranked prospect? Just write the blurbs and cover the system. I didn’t have to grind out the work and make real choices like I do with just ten. The same played out with the 100. Now that I’ve set that limit, it helps me shed light on the Korry Howells and Alec Burlesons of the world, and it helps me push guys like Nick Pratto up to where they belong because I just have fewer branches on the tree. 

This year, for this list, I realized what I really needed was buckets into which I could put every player so I could really digest the task’s enormity. I tend to get lost in these spreadsheets. Make a tweak. Check some player pages. Find some video. Watch, think, drag and drop, rinse, repeat. I have no idea how many hours are in this spreadsheet, but it feels like most of them. Some days I know I can’t open it because I’ve got stuff to do, and time does not exist in that realm. Anyway, here’s how I broke it down. 

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Austin Nola was diagnosed with a fractured middle finger. The worst injury that’s ever befallen a truck driver. That’s how they speak! Honestly, it’s how I speak on the road too. Cut in front of me and I go from “One to road rage” in a half city block. Then again, I cut people off all the time too. Just a generally terrible driver, I am! My favorite is when I cut someone off, then can sense them giving me the evil eye or middle finger, and don’t give them the satisfaction of looking over. Stew on that! So, Austin Nola will undergo a couple of days of treatment before they announce a timetable. I’ve still adjusted him a bit in my top 20 catchers, and that could change further. In the mean’s time, you know who this is good for? *saddles up to the bar* “Give me a martini with two carrot sticks.” That’s right, Yu’s personal catcher, could be yours. Victor Caratini will move into the everyday catcher job and this could mean time for Luis Campusano, who is cut from the same white-linen tablecloth as the $54 Vending Machine Steak, Franmil Reyes. In addition to my updated catcher rankings, I’ve also updated the top 500 for 2021 fantasy baseball. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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I don’t have some big introductory explanation here. I trust you grasp the premise and intend to skip this paragraph, but if I still have your eyes for the moment, I’ll say I imagine a start-up build for a 15-team, 2-catcher dynasty league when parsing through the lists and try to explain when a player’s value varies based on settings. If you’re in a contention window, your rankings should look a bit different than they’d look on the front end of a rebuild. I’ll flag some players along the way for whom the disparity in value can get especially large from build to build. 

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the Top 10 Prospects for 2021 Fantasy Baseball.

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Could I see owning two of the top 20 shortstops for 2021 fantasy baseball? More like: Can I draft four of them? This post is going to envelope you with so much love you’re going to remember when it was that you were first stung by the Fantasy Baseball Bug. By the way, the Fantasy Baseball Bug is mostly found in North America, struggles to reproduce and inhabits dark basements. Here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections included here are mine, and where I see tiers starting and stopping are included. Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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Things tend to get weird after you win a World Series these days. 

You might lose your manager due to a slow-burn scandal.

Might trade your franchise player in his prime. 

For prospects, of course. 

Might look kinda cryptically smart for doing so when a pandemic erases much of his final season under contract. 

Oh yeah, and your big-money ace has the bad elbow but might be back in July or so. It’s a weird moment in Boston, but 2021 isn’t without hope, especially in the form of the guy who tops this list. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?