“Today is a day that will live in infinity,” as FDRRRRRRRRR….said. It will also live in your hearts and minds for the next few months as you constantly check the 2021 fantasy baseball rankings for updates on projections, rankings and just other little fun bits of tid.
Before we get into the top 10 for 2021 fantasy baseball (though I imagine every single one of you has skipped this intro), I’m gonna lay down some exposition. Here’s where you follow us on Twitter. Here’s where you follow us on Facebook. Here’s our fantasy baseball player rater. Here’s our fantasy baseball team name generator. Here are all of our 2021 fantasy baseball rankings. Here’s the position eligibility chart for 2021 fantasy baseball. And here is a picture of my son. What a punim! You may not get all of those links in such a handy, easy-to-use format again this year, so make proper note. (Unless you just go to the top menu on this page that says “Rankings” and click it, but semantics, my over-the-internet friend, semantics.) Also, here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Rudy’s on top of it this year! Sorta, he says to note it’s Version 1.0, and tweaks will happen over the course of the next few weeks.
Now my expositional half insists I breakdown some generalizations about these 2021 fantasy baseball rankings. The 2021 fantasy baseball rankings will be an ever-evolving mass like the blob. This fantasy baseball top 10 for 2021 list is as of right now and could potentially change with a big injury or Ronald Acuña Jr. quitting baseball because he’s bored with being the best and wants to play competitive Mahjong. (I’m not sure yet where Acuña would rank in my Mahjong Top 10.) So while it is the 2021 fantasy baseball gospel, take it with a tablet of salt. Tomorrow we will cover the rest of the top 20 for 2021 fantasy baseball, then we will go around the horn with a top 20 (more like 60) list for every position. Then for pitchers and outfielders, I’ll turn the dial to 100 (more like 140). Listed with each player are my 2021 projections. Did I consult with anyone else who does projections? It would be ignorant not to, but, in the end, these are my projections. Players need 5 games started at a position to get included in the positional rankings. If I put someone in a position, that is why. Well, that is whyahoo, actually. Finally, as with each list in the 2021 fantasy baseball rankings, I will be mentioning where I see tiers start and stop. I look at tiers like this, if Mookie Betts and Acuña are in the same tier, it doesn’t matter if one guy is ranked 1st and one guy is ranked 4th, they’re both very close. It comes down to personal preference. I would prefer the guy at number one over the guy at four, but you do you, I’ll do me and let’s hope we don’t go blind. Anyway, here’s the top 10 for 2021 fantasy baseball:
NOTE: All 2021 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games.
NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr. – This is the first tier. This tier goes from here until Betts. I call this tier, “Ju$t.” Tier name isn’t hard to understand. These guys are Ju$t. Ronald Acuña Jr. isn’t just Ju$t. He’s Scrooge McDuck in an old-timey tub filled with Bitcoin. He’s every fraction of a penny they skimmed in Office Space. By the way, I have a theory that all major corporations saw Office Space and came up with the idea for their gift cards. Has anyone ever used exactly how much is on their gift cards? There’s prolly about $500 trillion dollars of leftover money on all the gift cards in the world. Gift us our gift card money back! So, Tildaddy, as Acuña is popularly known in these parts, is the Father, the Son and the “Holy Schnikes I Got The 1st Pick” of the draft. Was telling Donkey Teeth that I felt cowardly putting Tildaddy number one overall, because it felt easy, and I hate being easy, but I’m easily taking Tildaddy number one, so coward is I. Also, and I’ll prolly mention this at least once in every rankings post this year, but I’m weighing 2020’s stats on a scale, even if that was a wonky year, but I’m not putting all my eggs in that ovary, as the saying goes. If legitimate changes were made to a guy’s game in 2020, then I will adjust my thoughts on him. Mostly, I’m concerned about pitchers coming off a 45-65 IP season, but will cross that fallopian with my eggs when it’s that time of the month, as another well-known saying goes. In 2020, Tildaddy’s Ks went up, but his BABIP was down, and he just had a little bit of a slump that was more pronounced because of the small sample. I’m not concerned, and am in that tub with McDuck letting Tildaddy make it rain at number one overall. 2021 Projections: 116/39/97/.277/25 in 601 ABs
2. Fernando Tatis Jr. – What’s with all the juniors, huh? Makes me wish Delino DeShields Jr. was ranked third. Sadly, I have him down in the top 20 this year. (Top 20 Players Who Won’t Be Ranked Ever Again.) Was it lost on you that Ju$t is a Run the Jewels song and ranked number two was FTJ? Fun the Jewels fast! Fun the Jewels fast! Fun the Jewels fast! I was the high man on FTJ last year, and wanted to be again this year, but it felt slightly disingenuous to put in front of Tildaddy, when I would 10,000,000% take Acuña in front of FTJ. I’m sure some out there will put Tatis at number one overall, and I ain’t gonna fault them. If you never get better, you never get cheddar. And FTJ gets cheddar. Last year, when I told you to draft him supremely high, was the year to grab him. This year, you’re just hoping for a push, but a push from a guy projected for 35/25 isn’t a bad push. It’s like you’re playing against The Queen’s Gambit gambit’er and she does a Sicilian Defense and you pull out a bottle of Tanqueray and you guys call it a draw. If you were to weigh 2020’s stats as a 100% step north for FTJ and ignore RTJ’s Never Look Back, then he is about to have a 50/50/.290 season and be an easy number one. If you worry he still hasn’t had one full major league season, and maybe he’ll tire at some point, then number two is fine. I’m in the latter camp while happy to get rung up with a 100-game 30/20 season. 2021 Projections: 114/37/98/.274/27 in 581 ABs
3. Juan Soto – You’re wondering, so I’ll give it to you: Only debate in the top four for (stutterer!) me was Mookie Best or Sexy Dr. Pepper. At one point I had Best over SDP, then flip-flopped them, then flip-flopped them again, then took a 45-second nap, shot up in my bed, sweaty, questioning no one, “If there’s a Keanu Reeves, is there a Keanu Steves?” They’re both so damn sexy it’s hard. Dot dot dot. Really awkward time to pause, huh? I mean, pausing after saying “it’s hard,” and not clarifying what is hard is just bad form. It’s hard — the decision! What is wrong with you people? As I mentioned on one of our last fantasy baseball podcasts from last year, Sexy Dr. Pepper reminds me of a young Pujols — a 40-homer, .310 hitter, and more steals than you expect. That Juan Sexy Ess-Oh-Bee has upside still was final straw pushing him to three for me. 2021 Projections: 104/40/117/.312/10 in 536 ABs
4. Mookie Betts – Baseball might be a mess from the bottom of every organization’s Team President’s feet to the tippy-top of every owner’s head, but talent on the players’ end is not a problem. The top of the sport is as good as I can remember. Ju$t one sexpot after another. Tildday, Fun the Jewels, Sexy Dr. Pepper and Mookie Best are all so money. Just thought about the NL All-Star team and I had to splash ice water on my face, then stood up fast so the water would drip down, wetting my Kent Hrbek caricature three-quarter-sleeve shirt to my chest. Best is a .290-.330 hitter who can go 30/30 without a ton of effort, and is a lock for 120 runs. Thankfully, my Kent Hrbek shirt is already drenched, so my drool is camouflaged. 2021 Projections: 121/30/91/.301/24 in 607 ABs
5. Mike Trout – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Jo-Ram. I call this tier, “Yahoo Answers’ answer for, ‘Is PS4 worth buying for my kid?'” Maybe it’s manopause, maybe it’s from being quarantined for the last ten months, maybe my father didn’t lock me in a closet forcing me to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes enough times, but I cried when I saw someone ask Yahoo Answers, is it okay to buy their kid a PS4. *smacks self across the face* Get it together, you human! Yahoo Answers’ answer was that Ps4 was not as cool as the new PS5, but was still an excellent choice at a cheaper price. That’s this tier. As for Mike Trout, more like a barely used Ps5? Okay, I’ll lose the metaphor, but thinking Trout as being yesterday’s news, as Ryan Adams sang, is just straight crazy, right? Sure, his steals became nothing last year, but you really want the best real-life baseball player to steal bases in a goofy eh-eff year? Though, going back to 2019, and, yeah, maybe the steals are gone, huh? I’m about to say something, but before I do, you have to promise me you won’t try to commit me to an insane asylum. Promise? Okay. Is there that big a difference between a 39-homer, .280 hitting Trout with little-to-no-speed and Jose Abreu? *getting dragged into a paddy wagon* You promised! 2021 Projections: 103/39/109/.284/7 in 542 ABs
6. Trevor Story – When I see Trevor Story moves down to the 2nd round in some early ADP, the only thing I can think is everyone loves their new PS5. Sorry, that is the end of that allusion. I honestly have no idea why Trevor Story gets no love in drafts. It’s going on three years now. I can understand if you just woke from a coma from 2017, and you don’t understand why Trevor Story is good or why everyone’s wearing three masks and screaming like George Bluth’s prison guards, “No touching!” Assuming y’all have been staring at the walls for the last ten months and thinking about nothing but fantasy baseball, then I don’t get it. What does Trevor Story need to do? He’s a 35/20/.290 hitter, and he’s in Coors. You remember Coors, right? It makes pitchers grimace. Any definition of Coors and pitchers works there. I dug in a little to try to figure out why other people don’t like Story, but since I’m not other people, I stopped, realizing I have more important things to do. There’s more of a case to be made Story should be above Trout, then any lower than this. That’s a Story I’m more likely to tell. 2021 Projections: 105/33/98/.288/19 in 589 ABs
7. Trea Turner – As said previously, which is what I say before repeating myself, each tier’s players are interchangeable. If you want Story after Treat Urner, then I could see it. With that said, I nearly had the rankings like that myself while trying to make heads or tails of Treat’s 2020. I know, I know, I KNOW! Don’t put too much emphasis on 2020, but we can’t ostrich our heads in the sand and pretend it didn’t happen at all. Earth to dear reader, it happened, and dubya tee eff is 12/12 from Treat Urner? It’s, how do I say, not making sense. I can kinda understand it away in a few different ways: A) He knew there wasn’t much of a season, and the Nats were out of early, so he decided to say, eff it, and just hit for power. The ‘I’m going for mines’ strategy. B) With age, he can’t steal as many bags anymore, and is overcompensating. The ‘Check out my sports car’ strategy. C) There’s no C. So, B doesn’t make a ton of sense, his clocked speed was about the same. Maybe A makes sense, but I’m not sold, and it’s pretty anecdotal. The good news is his walk and strikeout rate went in the right direction, and those are the kind of changes that could stick from the shortened season, i.e., Trea Turner might’ve just became a perennial .315 hitter. Also, the other good news, steals come fast, literally and figuratively. He might’ve only stole 12 bags last year, but, in a six-month season, he could have a random 10 steals in a month, and correct two or three boring-for-steals months. Damn, I’m talking myself into moving Urner above Story again. Also, I kinda want to move them both above Trout, but I am a giant chicken. A bawk here, a bawk there, everywhere a bawk-bawk. 2021 Projections: 106/20/74/.306/33 in 608 ABs
9. Jose Ramirez – This whole tier could’ve been called “The 30/20 or the 20/30 Club Plus One and Trout’s on the List.” Trout knows someone at the front door, apparently. Those Jersey kids and their clubbing. The big concern I’d imagine with Jo-Jo-Ram is the fear he will hit .250. Cool, but he’s never hit for that low of an average without some bad luck. Of course, he has a proclivity for bad luck with his batted ball profile. You hit a badonkadonk trunkload of a fly balls, and bad things can happen to your average. That’s fair. He still has 25/25 ability, and he doesn’t strike out a lot, so, at worst, it’s a .250 average, and, more likely with neutral luck, it’s .270. He gives me the feels of a guy who will at some point have the bottom drop out, and just be awful, but, at 28 years old, I’m not betting it’s this year. Plus, after you bet your entire life on fantasy baseball, you don’t have room in your portfolio for more bets. 2021 Projections: 91/29/101/.268/23 in 564 ABs
10. Cody Bellinger – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 20 for 2021 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “The I Test.” The I Test is a lot like the eye test, but since I’m not judging any of these guys on anything I saw on the field, and is way more subjective, I’m calling it The I Test. I am the sole arbiter of The I Test, as nature intended it. As for Bellinger, I know about the shoulder surgery. As I said previously, “A random internet doctor said the surgery is minor, and Bellinger could come back stronger than ever. All the best doctors also list DFS in their Twitter bio.” And that’s me quoting me! He’s 25 years old, and it was fairly routine surgery that doesn’t affect hitters. Ideal? Prolly not, but this is a guy who has 45/15/.300 ability. Nothing about his previous year’s struggles scream warning signs, or even whisper it. He slumped for two months. It happens, no relation to J.A. or Ian. “You need to shorten that.” That’s someone at Ellis Island talking to Happ’s family after they misinterpreted someone saying sh*t happens as a family name. The I Test looks at Cody B. and says, “Get in on him before he’s a top three fantasy guy again.” This is the key to winning fantasy baseball. Get in on guys who are going to outperform their draft spot. Sounds basic, right? Okay, then why does everyone regurgitate to you rankings of what a player just did vs. what they are going to do in the future? Maybe they don’t know the future, like…*adjusts swami head covering*…me. 2021 Projections: 106/38/112/.278/12 in 551 ABs