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…

 
  1. Uncle Razzkai says:
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    Sorry to be a killjoy but there are *two* corner infielders in your top 10 (#8 and #10) … and half the players ranked in the second 10 qualify for one or both of 1B/3B …

    Regardless, thanks for sharing your insights!

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Ha! You got me! I need to fire the editor now!

      This is a far cry from the 2010s with Pujols, Votto, Miggy and more. Now I feel old!

      Thanks for stopping in for the read!

      • Uncle Razzkai says:
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        Yup. But if we are going to reminisce about “old” times (do 2010s count as old times? I guess anytime before the pandemic …), I think it’s amazing how many SS there are in the top 50 … and not because of “position scarcity” !!

        Thanks again

  2. Chris says:
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    Hi Jeremy,

    For a 7 keeper league with 14 teams.
    I don’t have a 1st round pick (which is actually a 8th round).
    H2h league, obp
    No mi and no ci but 2 útil.

    I have set:

    Scherzer
    Alonso
    Story
    Merrifield
    Blackmon
    Tucker

    For the 7th keeper, should I keep Maeda or JD Martínez?

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Hey Chris! Thanks for stopping in.

      Looks like you have a good balanced start. I am personally very high on Maeda and believe he can continue his breakout 2020. I do like Martinez, but think his risk is higher and you have a solid set of hitters as it stands!

  3. Foxman says:
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    Brandon Lowe gets no love.
    Though my Cubs fandom hopes you are right in ranking Baez and Rizzo ahead of him(fingers crossed)
    I like Rendon’s price a lot this year too, as his floor is where you are buying him this year.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Lowe is certainly a hard rank. Relative to many on the list, his potential outcomes are a much wider range. Lowe strikes out a lot (made improvements in 2020), but kills the baseball when he does connect.

      If you have a safe draft through the early rounds, he is a guy that might be worth the risk. However, Don’t buy a trio like Judge, Mondesi and Lowe unless you have some strong blood pressure meds!

  4. Harley Earl says:
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    Don’t overlook my boy Wil Myers. He’s tearing it up in spring ball after tearing it up last season. All his metrics say the changes were real and should not be discounted. If he stays healthy, he’ll easily be a top 100 player. Curious to see where or if you rank him at all.

    On the other hand, seems like Muncy and Hiura ought to be faded. Muncy still suffices in OBP leagues but Hiura doesn’t seem to do anything well but strikeout lately.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Harley! Good to hear from you!

      Stay tuned for part 2 on Wil. Still massaging the second half of the rankings but I had him noticeably higher than the market to give you a slight preview.

  5. Quick question for my last two, of seven, keepers! I realize that it is difficult to advise without knowing leagues, context, etc. However, in a vacuum, as you are building your team would you prefer or prioritize:
    Realmuto (definitely position scarcity), Tim Anderson, or Kershaw?? I am keeping Nola, & Giolito

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      If we are at the draft table, it is certainly hard to prioritize Catcher. However, I flip that script in a keeper league and would lock in that advantage with Realmuto.

      With that other two, I am going Anderson with his upside in average. If that is less valuable in your league I can see a good argument for Kershaw. Good problem to have here.

      Side note: I have Kershaw over Giolito in my SP rankings. Just don’t trust Lucas.

  6. Thank you for the quick reply and the very sound argument for keeping JT – something I haven’t considered. Would be hard to keep Kershaw and drop Giolito as I would be going against “chalk” from every ranking site. : ) I was wondering about Lucas, so may follow your lead. Although, Giolito may have more keeper years in him than Kershaw. Need to do some more research!

    As they say, “Fortune rewards the bold!” I appreciate your advice, work, and love the Razzball articles.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      As they say “Zig when others Zag” or something like that. Good luck this season.

  7. Jeffrey Gilden says:
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    Heye Jeremy –

    Thanks for the column. Very helpful.

    I have a few keeper questions. 12 team league, pretty standard scoring with OBP, QS, SV+HLD. We’re keeping 12 this year, and I some great auction bargains I’ll hold on to:

    Hitters: Bichette, Luis Robert, Hiura, Franmil, Will Smith, Madrigal, Austin Riley
    Pichers: Gallen, Lamet, Paddack
    Total for all is $28

    I can pick 2 more – here are my choices and prices. I’ve already eliminated a few

    Strasburg ($30)
    Mike Minor ($7)
    Nate Pearson ($5)
    Charlie Morton (27)

    Goldschmidt (27)
    Khris Davis (10)
    Anthony Rendon (37)
    JD Davis (7)
    Ozzie Albies (32)
    Victor Robles (19)
    Mark Canha (6)
    Luis Arraez (1)
    Austin Hays (2)

    Any advice would be welcome. Would you make changes? Who would you keep from the players I haven’t committed to yet?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      See my comments in the post below…failed to reply here.

  8. Anodyne says:
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    I see you’ve faded Matt Olson quite a bit compared to Grey’s rankings. Thoughts on him? How does your assessment of him compare to the market overall? He’s going to be available in a keeper auction I have coming up, and I’m trying to figure out how to value him.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I wrote about Olson briefly at the very beginning of the offseason. I personally think he has a ton of potential and own him in a number of keeper leagues. That being said, I see him as a strong liability in the Batting Average category that would have to be planned around.

      If you start your draft with high Average plays then bringing Olson on is much more advantageous. It really comes down to roster construction for me. Trust yourself? Then bump him up. Need to protect yourself from yourself? Then be careful in grabbing him.

      • Anodyne says:
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        Seems like sound advice to me. I’m keeping Mike Trout, so that’s a fairly solid foundation in average, though I might grab somebody else later to stabilize the category.

        • Jeremy Brewer

          Jeremy Brewer says:
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          One of the many kinds of advice we give here at Razzball. I spun the wheel and you just missed BS and complete apathy.

  9. Jeremy Brewer

    Jeremy Brewer says:
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    Thanks for reading. Of those guys, I am keeping Pearson and Rendon. Rendon feels like an expensive choice out he adds solid stability that might get inflated at the draft table. Locking in a guy like that on a team with big upside is valuable.

    Pearson still has a ton of upside and you aren’t paying much to see if that comes through.

    Ready for the unpopular take? I would be hesitant keeping Madrigal as he is really a one or two trick player. But there is nobody that I am jumping at replacing him with. Might be worth testing the trade waters.

    • Jeffrey Gilden says:
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      Thanks so much for taking the time – really appreciate it.

      I love Rendon and just wanted some confirmation because he costs a lot. As for Pearson, I wish it was clearer how he would be used. And I was debating about Madrigal for those same reasons. Maybe Hays is a better bet?

      I totally forgot to list Kopech at $1 – that seems the way to go, right?

      Thanks again,
      Jeff

      • Jeremy Brewer

        Jeremy Brewer says:
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        I debated recommending Hays, but I like the $1 flier on Kopech especially in a keeper league. I am sure others will see it as crazy, but I just can’t justify Madrigal…

        • Jeffrey Gilden says:
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          I totally get it regarding Madrigal. In a league with HR and SLG as stats he’s certainly a risk . And if he doesn’t run a lot, it really downgrades him.

          I look forward to hearing your advice once the season starts.

          Thanks again!

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