Draft season is upon us and it is time to unveil the inaugural Top 100 Hitter Rankings for the 2021 Fantasy Baseball season.  Throughout the year, I will be updating my rankings and calling out those movers and shakers.  This week we will be covering the first half of the top 100 broken down into six individual tiers.  Before we get started, we need to qualify how the rankings are developed and designed to be used:

  • The top 100 ranks are aimed at traditional 5×5 scoring with Yahoo roster eligibility and rules. There will be key differences for points and OBP leagues, so adjust accordingly.
  • Tiers are used to illustrate where there is fluidity in the rankings. It is more important what tier a player is in rather than their ultimate rank.  As the season progresses, we will look to break down the tiers.
  • Stats from the last few seasons drive much of the initial placement of a player and then adjustments are made based on potential for growth or potential for fluke.

Before we jump in, a quick overview of the top 50 tells us a few interesting notes:

  • There is only one Corner Infielder in the Top 10, which goes a long way to tell us that positional scarcity is not what it once was.
  • There is only one catcher and one utility player in the Top 50, however in many leagues with less forgiving eligibility there is one additional utility player (Yordan Alvarez).
  • Keeping in mind that we are double counting across roles there is decent balance across the diamond with 16 Corner Infielders, 18 Middle Infielders and 23 Outfielders.

Without further ado, we can get into the real reason you are here and begin to dissect the Top 100 Hitter Rankings for the 2021 Fantasy Baseball season.

Tier 1

Tier Ranking Player Team Position
1 1 Acuna Jr., Ronald ATL  LF,CF,RF
1 2 Betts, Mookie LAD  CF,RF
1 3 Tatis Jr., Fernando SD  SS
1 4 Soto, Juan WSH  LF,RF
1 5 Trout, Mike LAA  CF
1 6 Story, Trevor COL  SS

We are going to call this tier the ‘Foundation’.  If you get any of these players, you are starting with a solid foundation to your hitting.  If you have an opportunity to snag any of these guys after the top six picks, that will be a steal.  I have always been partial to gaining a balanced hitter with my first-round pick, so I personally will be slightly fading Soto and Trout as they run less than the rest of the group.  However, if you want to lead off with either player there should be no looking back.

Tier 2

Tier Ranking Player Team Position
2 7 Yelich, Christian MIL  LF,RF
2 8 Ramirez, Jose CLE  3B
2 9 Turner, Trea WSH  SS
2 10 Bellinger, Cody LAD  1B,CF,RF
2 11 Harper, Bryce PHI  RF
2 12 Freeman, Freddie ATL  1B
2 13 Lindor, Francisco NYM  SS
2 14 Bichette, Bo TOR  SS
2 15 Rendon, Anthony LAA  3B
2 16 Abreu, Jose CWS  1B

Tier 2 is our “Solid All-Star” group.  There is a reasonable case for each player in this tier to end the year as a consensus Tier 1 player going into 2022.  We have a few players that had down years in 2020 with Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger, where I am writing off those results recognizing their immense potential.  This is also where we find our 2020 MVPs in Freddie Freeman and Jose Abreu.  I personally will be owning a fair number of Abreu and Rendon shares this year as I believe the market is downplaying the value of their consistently high floors.

Tier 3

Tier Ranking Player Team Position
3 17 Ozuna, Marcell ATL  LF
3 18 Machado, Manny SD  3B,SS
3 19 LeMahieu, DJ NYY  1B,2B,3B
3 20 Bogaerts, Xander BOS  SS
3 21 Arenado, Nolan STL  3B
3 22 Seager, Corey LAD  SS
3 23 Bregman, Alex HOU  3B,SS
3 24 Anderson, Tim CWS  SS
3 25 Jimenez, Eloy CWS  LF

By the time we get into Tier 3 (Outfield Sandwich), many teams will be selecting their first pitcher.  This is the last tier before we really start to get into guys with question marks.  The first player that may jump out here is Nolan Arenado.  Is this a homer pick for me?  Absolutely!  At the same time, I don’t buy the argument that his road splits will be a fair (or even close) representation of his potential in 2021.  This will also be the last tier where you can lock up a batting average leader with guys like LeMahieu, Anderson and Bogaerts.

Tier 4

Tier Ranking Player Team Position
4 26 Tucker, Kyle HOU  LF,RF
4 27 Mondesi, Adalberto KC  SS
4 28 Devers, Rafael BOS  3B
4 29 Albies, Ozzie ATL  2B
4 30 Springer, George TOR  CF,RF
4 31 Merrifield, Whit KC  2B,CF,RF
4 32 Cruz, Nelson MIN  Util
4 33 Arozarena, Randy TB  LF
4 34 Robert, Luis CWS  CF

Tier 4 will affectionately be called the ‘but tier’.  Get your head out of the gutter, I said but not butt!  For this tier, each player comes with a caveat.  Randy Arozarena has huge upside, but do we trust the postseason?  Adalberto Mondesi directly win in the stolen base category, but can he even get on base?  Nelson Cruz might lead the league in home runs, but is this the year that father time catches up?

I am clearly lower than many on guys like Mondesi, Devers and Albies.  I believe each player has substantial upside; however, they have much bigger ‘buts’ in my book than others in this tier.  While generally I would avoid filling the utility role this early in the draft, Nelson Cruz is going to win leagues this year.

Tier 5

Tier Ranking Player Team Position
5 35 Marte, Starling MIA  CF
5 36 Realmuto, J.T. PHI  C
5 37 Judge, Aaron NYY  RF
5 38 Alvarez, Yordan HOU  LF
5 39 Blackmon, Charlie COL  RF
5 40 Conforto, Michael NYM  CF,RF
5 41 Biggio, Cavan TOR  2B,3B,RF

Tier 5 has clearly the most creative name yet in the “guys that didn’t make tier 4”.  Seriously, I should have thought harder about trying to name all the tiers.  We pick up our only catcher in the top 50 in J.T. Realmuto, which should be no surprise as he is head and shoulders above others at the position.  We also have a pair of injury bounce back sluggers in Yordan Alvarez and Aaron Judge.  I personally believe Judge has the higher upside, but the injury risk is even higher than that of Mr. Alvarez.  Picking up either of these two gentlemen requires a draft pattern of reliable bats before investing.

Tier 6

Tier Ranking Player Team Position
6 42 Martinez, J.D. BOS  LF,RF
6 43 Goldschmidt, Paul STL  1B
6 44 Guerrero Jr., Vladimir TOR  1B,3B
6 45 Rizzo, Anthony CHC  1B
6 46 Marte, Ketel ARI  2B,SS,CF
6 47 Baez, Javier CHC  SS
6 48 Torres, Gleyber NYY  2B,SS
6 49 Alonso, Pete NYM  1B
6 50 Grisham, Trent SD  LF,CF,RF

Once we reach tier 6 in the draft, we are likely entering the 6th round as well.  I personally will be skipping many names in this tier for my draft strategy unless I am getting a reasonable discount at the draft table.  There is certainly power to be had with a glut of first basemen in Goldy, Vladdy, Anthony and Pete(y), but I suspect this will be an ideal time to pause and check in on the pitching staff before diving into some upside plays as we round out the Top 100.

Next week I will be revealing the rest of the Top 100 Hitter Rankings for the 2021 Fantasy Baseball season.  Jump into the comments and let me know who we need to be watching as spring progresses.  I know you have an opinion…