We’ve gone over the final 2021 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters and the top 20 starters. This is different than Final Fantasy rankings where you rank Final Fantasy 1 thru Final Fantasy 15. That’s hardcore nerd shizz! This is simply fantasy baseball — we’re softcore nerds like Emmanuelle is to porn. So, there’s no more of these godforsaken recap posts left. You’re welcome. I, my over-the-internet friend, will be talking next about 2022 rookies. Let’s boogie to the next year, boogiers! Oh, and one thing I think people might enjoy if you’ve been reading Razzball for a while, Tehol’s on national TV without pants:

Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

21. Anthony DeSclafani – I had a strategy I deployed in deep leagues, that I wish I deployed in all leagues: Buy all the cheap Giants starters I could. Cueto was the only one who didn’t work out, but for his price, even he was fine. One of the biggest value buys was a No Doubt’er like DeSKAfani. Also, enjoyed Alex Wood, Logan Webb, and Gausman, in different places. I figured at worst they were good for home starts. Turned out they good for all starts. The Giants starters’ home ERA was 3.28, and home/road ERA was 3.25. Dodgers’s home/road ERA was the only team better, and to say Urias, Kershaw, Buehler, and others cost more than the Giants’ starters is a huge understatement. Preseason Rank #87, 2021 Projections: 6-9/4.24/1.28/123 in 147 IP, Final Numbers: 13-7/3.17/1.09/152 in 167 2/3 IP

22. Lucas Giolito – I can see my ebb and flow for certain starters so clearly. It’s like this: I like a guy and no one else does, so I’m in on him. He does well, and I celebrate, but then get out when the price goes up. Then when everyone likes him, he disappoints, and I celebrate avoiding him. Now he’s burned people, and I’m back in. That’s Giolito for me 2020 thru ’22.  Preseason Rank #6, 2021 Projections: 16-8/3.18/1.03/239 in 190 IP, Final Numbers: 11-9/3.53/1.10/201 in 178 2/3 IP

23. Lance McCullers Jr. – Ya know what’s weird that prolly has nothing to do with nothing, his Max EV was 117.3 MPH and that’s bottom 4% in the league. What’s less a curio is he felt right on the cusp of becoming a top 10 starter, until the forearm issue this postseason, which has me very worried. Preseason Rank #36, 2021 Projections: 12-6/3.81/1.19/166 in 154 IP, Final Numbers: 13-5/3.16/1.22/185 in 162 1/3 IP

24. Sandy Alcantara – For a 26-year-old, Alcantara is one of the most predictable and safest pitchers in fantasy. Not best. Nope. Safe? Yes. 8-ish K/9, high-2 BB/9, 200-ish IP. By the way, just randomly looked at an old scouting report for him (not from us, from another site), and they said he’s destined to be a reliever because he only has two pitches. That is one of the dopest things people say about pitchers. If someone got a .150 BAA on their splitter, would they need two other pitches, or would two total pitches be enough? Oh, I know, we can ask Kevin Gausman, who throws one pitch ~85% of the time, and no one can hit it. Sandy actually mixes his pitches more, but still has a .189 BAA on his slider, so how many more pitches does he need? Preseason Rank #41, 2021 Projections: 9-11/3.63/1.18/170 in 182 IP, Final Numbers: 9-15/3.19/1.07/201 in 205 2/3 IP

25. Dylan Cease – Had one of my favorite narratives come to life and I wasn’t even in on him until in-season. That narrative: Young starters breakout most frequently in their 3rd season. Does this always hold up? Oh, not at all, but I love it mostly because it makes sense. First year: Shambles to shamrocks hoping they get lucky. Second year: Starting to see flashes of why they’re gonna be good, but lots of inconsistency. 3rd year: They put it together. Preseason Rank #132, 2021 Projections: 6-9/4.64/1.43/129 in 138 IP, Final Numbers: 13-7/3.91/1.25/226 in 165 2/3 IP

26. Logan Webb – This doesn’t mean anything but I found it interesting. Actually, most of this site could be called, “This doesn’t mean anything but I found it interesting.” Actually II: ACKCHUALLY, most of the internet could be called, “This doesn’t mean anything but I found it interesting.” Any hoo! The thing I found interesting was around Logan Webb’s ADP (448), you find other starters like Pivetta, Wacha, Matz, Rodon and Danny Duffy. All of those starters were usable. You also find hitters like Pillar, Adley Rutschman, Garrett Cooper, Goodrum and Caratini. None of those hitters were useful. That illustrates that pitchers are easier to find later, while only being a snapshot. Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 11-3/3.03/1.11/158 in 148 1/3 IP

27. Tyler Mahle – Wrote a Tyler Mahle sleeper last year, and I felt like I could hear a collective wincing. Sorta like how I felt every 4th or so start. Tyler Mahle was patience-trying, but similar to a lot of guys this year, you just had to grin and bear it. Wait a minute, Mahle pitched for Cincy and the college team there is the Bearcats, and you had to grin and bear it. *numbers float in front of me* There are no coincidences. Preseason Rank #42, 2021 Projections: 9-11/3.89/1.27/174 in 151 IP, Final Numbers: 13-6/3.75/1.23/210 in 180 IP

28. Ranger Suarez – Knew that I didn’t rank this guy, but I was curious what his ADP was and do you have any guesses? I will tell you at the end of this blurb. Ranger Suarez made 12 starts and he allowed 11 runs. His most comparable starter this year was Jacob deGrom. Now, I will cackle for twenty-five minutes, then cry for ten minutes, then laugh again for five, then shrug. He had a 0.88 ERA when he became the closer; 1.86 ERA as the closer, then 1.51 ERA as the starter. That is insane. His ADP was 894. He was only drafted in 11 of 1401 possible leagues. Preseason Rank Unranked, Final Numbers: 8-5/1.36/1.00/107 in 106 IP

29. Marcus Stroman – Didn’t write a Marcus Stroman sleeper post this year, because I wrote one for the previous year when he sat out, so it still applied. Just one year ahead of the rest of youse! Preseason Rank #54, 2021 Projections: 10-9/3.77/1.28/148 in 152 IP, Final Numbers: 10-13/3.02/1.15/158 in 179 IP

30. Luis Garcia – “Move further into the room, we have space for a few more, but you need to move all the way in.” That’s a person at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion bringing a group into that first stretching room, and the group is all the Luis Garcias in the majors. Garcia is an interesting pitcher in that his fastball, which he throws a decent amount, isn’t great — .297 BAA, but it’s so juicy hitters sit on it, which makes everything else better. Oh, and his ADP was 587. There’s so many starters available in every league! Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 11-8/3.30/1.17/167 in 155 1/3 IP

31. Trevor Bauer – At some point, is the MLB braintrust going to suspend him or is it going to be endless ten-day suspensions? By the way, braintrust when applied to MLB is actually short for Brain That’s Rusty. I’m not sure the Bauer thing could be handled worse. Preseason Rank #9, 2021 Projections: 15-8/3.47/1.18/247 in 203 IP, Final Numbers: 8-5/2.59/1.00/137 in 107 2/3 IP

32. Clayton Kershaw – The Dodgers had so many starters, they led the league in ERA and just pitching, in general, and lost Kershaw, Bauer, and May, and didn’t even really use David Price or Gonsolin, Of course, adding Scherzer helped, but still that rotation is ridiculous. Preseason Rank #17, 2021 Projections: 12-5/2.94/1.02/169 in 159 IP, Final Numbers: 10-8/3.55/1.02/144 in 121 2/3 IP

33. Nathan Eovaldi – Yup, you guessed it, I wrote a sleeper post for this guy too. If it was wincing for my Tyler Mahle sleeper, I think I could hear groaning for my Eovaldi sleeper. I do feel like I’m doing my job when I find, highlight and write a sleeper post about guys who no one wants to draft. Also, Eovaldi came about the closest to my preseason projections, so natch on that. Preseason Rank #46, 2021 Projections: 9-12/3.77/1.18/167 in 161 IP, Final Numbers: 11-9/3.75/1.19/195 in 182 1/3 IP

34. Shohei Ohtani – Ya know what’s interesting? I liked Ohtani in my preseason rankings, and said I’d draft him. Interesting to me, because of how stupid I turned out to be not listening to January Grey and actually drafting Ohtani. *turns to mirror* You’re weak-minded and dumb. *turns away from mirror* My reflection can be tough on me. Dreaming about the league where I just said, “Eff it,” and drafting Ohtani and basking in his glory. My projections for him vs. his final numbers make me laugh at how off they were. Listen to this preseason shizz I wrote, “Because of the unknown pitching and bat usage, Ohtani is one of the biggest wild cards. If he were to just hit, I’d rank him in the top 100 overall. Because he could pitch, and that will sideline him the part of some weeks as he recovers, or just sideline indefinitely when the very likely arm injury happens, I’d take the flyer on Ohtani, but not until pretty late.” And that’s me quoting a very dumb me! You can kinda see the glimmers of me knowing what Ohtani was capable of, but also the fog of stupid hovering all around causing a haze. He hit in 158 games and pitched 130 1/3 IP! I hope we see this every year, but, holy shizz, that seems impossible even after knowing it just happened. Preseason Rank #81, 2021 Projections: 4-2/3.44/1.25/71 in 61 IP and 52/20/63/.273/9 in 381 ABs, Final Numbers: 103/46/100/.257/26 in 537 ABs and 9-2/3.18/1.09/156 in 130 1/3 IP

35. Trevor Rogers – 340 ADP, in case you were curious like me. Much like my Giants’ starter strategy that I mentioned in the DeSclafani blurb, I also said numerous times in the preseason variations of ‘I want to draft every Marlins starter.’ They had the 11th best ERA, and 3rd best home ERA behind the Rays and Dodgers. If you play in deep leagues, and you’re not thinking about how you can draft someone to at least start at home every time out, you’re missing the big picture/pitcher. Preseason Rank #131, 2021 Projections: 5-8/4.31/1.43/87 in 81 IP, Final Numbers: 7-8/2.64/1.15/157 in 133 IP

36. Sean Manaea – Innings were so down, and strikeouts as a result, that I was thinking, “Did anyone get 190 Ks and not make the top 40?” And the answer was yes, Luis Castillo. He missed by a lot too. He was the 72nd best SP. He had a sub-4 ERA too! Guess what I’m saying is Manaea had issues, but was helped by wins, and the difference between the 35th best SP and the 72nd wasn’t as dramatic as you might think. About the same as the difference between deGrom and Manaea as there was between Manaea and Castillo at 72. Okay, now that I write that out, it does seem a decent-sized difference. Preseason Rank #63, 2021 Projections: 10-8/3.71/1.10/144 in 154 IP, Final Numbers: 11-10/3.91/1.23/194 in 179 1/3 IP

37. Yu Darvish – More like Woof Darvish. This guy was painful. Like the worst of the worst when you have a guy you feel like you have to start, and then Yu takes a blowtorch to your team. Not as bad as his teammate Paddack, obviously, but the expectations were so much higher for Darvish. The crazy thing is his stats don’t look that bad if you cover his name and he’s just a solid, number two to three starter who you grabbed late. When you put his name to it though, expectations go up and you’re like gee tee eff oh. Please, all the way the eff out of here. Preseason Rank #4, 2021 Projections: 14-8/2.79/1.03/237 in 188 IP, Final Numbers: 8-11/4.22/1.09/199 in 166 1/3 IP

38. Alek Manoah – Next time a rookie pitcher is promoted will we remember Manoah was the only one to rank in the top 40 starters this year? No. Should we? No, what fun is that? Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 9-2/3.22/1.05/127 in 11 2/3 IP

39. Aaron Nola – Some random starters who didn’t make the top 40 who were drafted like they should’ve: Tyler Glasnow, Jack Flaherty, and Shane Bieber. The things those guys have in common is I told you to avoid all three of them. The bad news, there was Blake Snell, Ryu, Luis Castillo, Kenta Maeda, and Sonny Gray, who I liked and also don’t appear here. Didn’t like Aaron Nola either, and he made it here, and I’m not sure that’s still good enough considering his ADP of 22 overall. His stuff actually read great, but unlucky. 11.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 3.37 xFIP, those are ace numbers. It’s hard to not see an incoming buying opportunity here. The 4.63 ERA is gonna scare so many. Let them be scared! Preseason Rank #5, 2021 Projections: 9-9/4.63/1.13/223 in 180 2/3 IP, Final Numbers: 15-4/2.89/1.02/236 in 201 IP

40. Chris Flexen – When I don’t rank a hitter and he ends the year in the top 40, I’m like, “Hmm, what did I do wrong?” But when I don’t rank a pitcher, I think, “Exactly, there’s starters everywhere on waivers.” As I’ve said about five hundred dozen times before, starters have barely any control over their wins, ERA, and WHIP. They don’t get saves. So, you’re drafting starters for one of five categories: Strikeouts. Then throw in injuries? Of course guys are going to come out of nowhere. That’s not a weird Flexen, that’s reality. Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers: 14-6/3.61/1.25/125 in 179 2/3 IP

51 Comments
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Andy Tucker
Andy Tucker
11 months ago

I was surprised Nola’s final numbers were so good, and then realized you switched them with your predictions. I agree there could be value next year.

Coolwhip
11 months ago

Hunky Tony, took him as a flyer so many places lol, moving to SF from the sandbox worked wonders along with his improved slider

Giolito and Darvish, woof. I avoided Goilito cus it looked like he was due for step back, went back further than I thought he would… and man, Darvish was SO BAD for the price ouch. That was out of nowhere (feels like) with how good he had been the last year and half. Might have to do some digging so see WTF happened there.

Sandy with 15 losses *eyes* omg lmao

Hats off to Itch on Luis Garcia, he called it.

Cease finished a lot better than I thought he would given the inconsistency, feels like he will take step back next year

Stroman, always slept on, always steady. The new split-change was a difference maker for him this season like I thought it might, but even better.

OHTANI… *wink* both you and Rudy had really odd projections for him, were they just health concerns? When I wrote my article on him I projected him based on the assumptions he was fully healthy and treated his NPB numbers like AAA numbers since his “stuff” was elite like when Darvish came over. And he even surpassed my expectations, lol. The biggest thing with him (I’ve talked about this before) is that he changed his entire pitch mix and approach throughout the season based on how he felt to protect himself from injury/wear and tear. Early on he threw a ton of splitters like Gausman then he backed off them and threw cutter more and saved the splitter for 2nd and 3rd time through order, and he moderated his velocity during each start saving the next gear for 4th inning on and at end of innings for Ks. It was wild to watch.

Trevor Rogers was so good before he ran out of gas

Manaea same, seems like he ran out of gas around where you projected him for, his August was so bad compared to the rest of year. Outside of that he was pretty great. He could have used some off days and skipped starts to help him get to the end.

Flexen LOL the wins definitely helped

Coolwhip
Reply to  Grey
11 months ago

Yeah, i see can that. This was the first season he was seen as fully healthy since coming over. When he signed there was some concern that a surgery was going to be needed even then.

The major step forward he made was with command. When you look at his walk rate by month he just got better and better. That’s probably the biggest breakout for him from a pitching standpoint and should be factor when projecting him for next year is he’s a become more command dependent and less effectively wild.

Smitty
11 months ago

Thought I got a good SP1 with “Blowtorch” in the 4th, who actually pitched well in 1st half. My mistake was sticking with him way too long and finished in 2nd as a result. He will be a “bargain” for somebody next year, maybe he will fall to Yu!

I am the Walus
I am the Walus
11 months ago

So the moral to the story is load up on offense, take maybe 3 reliable or upside pitchers and then draft a several sleepers for your bench in the mid/late rounds?

Dong Show
Dong Show
11 months ago

Obviously waaaaayyy too early to tell where he’s at with his TJ progress and actual live pitching and he doesn’t have a team since he will be a FA, but do you have any early thoughts on Verlander for next year on how you want to approach and rank him?

I’m not one to normally buy into guys coming off TJ, especially at his age, but Verlander is always going to be intriguing given his pedigree.

Thanks in advance Grey!

Dong Show
Dong Show
Reply to  Grey
11 months ago

More than fair Grey, and I think that Sale comp is a pretty good one.

Appreciate your knowledge as always!

RoarOf84
RoarOf84
11 months ago

I know it’s early but any idea where Alcantara will rank next season? Borderline top 10? I see him as a real workhorse, in a great park, and an improving supporting cast.

I ask because there’s a deal on the table where I could acquire Olson for him and, with 1B being so shallow, I’m torn on what to do.

Other SP keepers that I have are Buehler, Flaherty, Manoah, and Ohtani (also U eligible). Hitter keepers are Acuna, Soto, Wander, JoRam, Ohtani, Ketel, Bellinger.

League is 10 teams and each team can keep up to 12 players at no penalty (draft pick, salary, etc.).

Jackie Daytona
Jackie Daytona
Reply to  RoarOf84
11 months ago

It might not matter – your team is stacked! I have Alcantara as my #2 SP in an 11 Team points league where we keep 10 players. My other starters are C.Burnes, F.Peralta, A.Manoah and L. Webb.

With your team, and your other starters, I think I’d pull the trigger on that trade if you felt that what we got from Olsen is what he will do year in and out.

My 2 cents.

Will
Will
11 months ago

Curious if the relatively high number of starters not ranked by you who ended up in the top 40 at year end was unusual this season? Or is this about the norm for unranked preseason pitchers who end up in the top 40? Thanks.

Will
Will
Reply to  Grey
11 months ago

OK, thanks. Adds to your “don’t reach for pitching early” draft strategy.

Schoolboy P
Schoolboy P
11 months ago

All Flexen does is throw strikes. Thats all it takes to be a top 40 pitcher! Why cant Kikuchi learn this?

Anyhow, how bout my $23 Stanton and $13 Bellinger for his $9 India and $17 Musgrove?

scoboticus
scoboticus
11 months ago

The Braves went with a bullpen game last night instead of Ynoa. Seems he still has some things to figure out with his hand. You gotta expect it has changed the way he pitches even after it fully heals.

BB
BB
Reply to  scoboticus
11 months ago

Ynoa scratched yesterday with shoulder tightness, removed from NLCS roster.

Toolshed
Toolshed
11 months ago

Trevor Rogers looked so good early in the year and his statcast page still looked really good even at the end of year. He took time off for a personal matter and pitched more than I thought he would when he should have been shut down. But, he was not all that great in 2H as the innings crept up. The control wasn’t there and he failed to go 5 innings in over half of his starts from July on (less than 5 IP in 5 of his last 9 starts). Do you like him for next year? Do you think he can start going 6 innings? He also did not reach 100 pitches in any of his starts last year. Thanks

MattTruss
Editor
11 months ago

First three pitchers on the top 20 list are all Dodgers and yet they’re out here trying to throw 7 bullpen games against the Braves….

Malicious Phenoms
Malicious Phenoms
Reply to  Grey
11 months ago

Dodgers trying to be the Rays, stupid just stupid.

BB
BB
Reply to  Grey
11 months ago

“Buehler, Urias and Scherzer…Just start one!” Scherzer started game 2 on Sunday (79 pitches, 4.1 IP, 2 R/ER, coming off clutch save appearance Thursday vs. Giants and complaining of “dead arm” ), Buehler game 3 on Tuesday (76 pitches, 3.2 IP, 4R/2ER, rattled by blown strike three call and let down by his defense), Urias game 4 on Wednesday (92 pitches, 5 IP, 5 R/ER, just didn’t have it). So which one are you starting again tonight?

DonnieB
DonnieB
Reply to  BB
11 months ago

It’s so bad. Roberts overmanages and mismanaged his pitching staff in the playoffs every year. He thinks it makes him appear a real strategist. He got lucky last year. I would fire him and have said so for years. Thanks for listening. I obviously have money on the Dodgers but I thought their talent would overcome Roberts.

Jim Beam
Jim Beam
Reply to  DonnieB
11 months ago

With a decent playoff manager like Cora (saying this as a Yankee fan, so UGH!) the Dodgers would have been unstoppable for years. Roberts has made so many bad calls, it puts the Yankees fan-base to shame as we complain about Boone.

It almost seemed natural that the twilight-zone season in 2020 was one that he was able to win.

DonnieB
DonnieB
Reply to  Grey
11 months ago

That’s what I am saying. Can’t Mary Hart get him fired?

Marc
Marc
Reply to  BB
11 months ago

Check and mate ;)

joeurso1
joeurso1
11 months ago

Since you mentioned the names… my staff in a 12 team mixed keeper auction was Maeda, Ryu, Gray, Gallen, Bundy (who you also liked going into this year), and Elie Hernandez. Had worst ERA and second worst WHIP in league. Hoping for better choices next year. Just a year where each choice sucked. (Also had Yelich and Mondesi! Ugh.)

Jim Beam
Jim Beam
Reply to  joeurso1
11 months ago

That should teach you not to bank on recovery projects or injury magnets.
NEVER draft Mondesi w/o a solid back-up. Never draft high-floor, lower ceiling finesse pitchers after 31 years…
… AND NEVER, EVER DRAFT BACK-INJURY PLAYERS! NEVER!

If they can give you a couple seasons w/o an injury later, then, fine… try it, but that’s VERY rare.

bigbear
bigbear
11 months ago

Seriously? Tehol’s on The Bachelorette? I’m surprised he made it. Not surprised he’s the one without pants though… Seems par for the course.

You’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but if IP was ‘normal’ how do you think that would impact the final ranking of Ohtani? Not sure I can see more IP from Ohtani, but he’s already proven to be Superman, right?! Gotta think this is near peak outcome for the split hitter/pitcher platforms.

Bbboston
Bbboston
11 months ago

Is Quantrill not listed due to IP?

VinWins
VinWins
Reply to  Bbboston
11 months ago

If you want, you can check the Player Rater and see he comes in at #47 for SPs.
https://razzball.com/playerrater/

41 Framber Valdez
42 Alex Wood
43 Steven Matz
44 Tyler Glasnow
45 Hyun Jin Ryu
46 Aaron Civale
47 Cal Quantrill
48 Kyle Gibson
49 Shane McClanahan
50 John Means
51 German Marquez
52 Wade Miley
53 Jack Flaherty
54 Jose Urquidy
55 Shane Bieber
56 Eric Lauer
57 Zack Greinke
58 Aaron Loup
59 Ian Anderson
60 Eduardo Rodriguez

Jim Beam
Jim Beam
Reply to  Bbboston
11 months ago

Quantrill gets a lot of hype but it isn’t like he’s got wipeout stuff… It’s hard to rank him highly right now. Maybe in a year or two.

fivepoundbass
fivepoundbass
11 months ago

Great stuff Grey. I wonder if Dominic Brown chose Tehol first in his Fantasy Bachelorette draft