I’ve been dreading this next stretch for a hot minute.

Well–not “dreading” dreading. That word doesn’t fit many contexts now the world is experiencing existential dread on a daily basis.

But the faux fear is realish enough that my point stands: infield feels like pretty solid ground for fantasy baseball purposes. Pretty much every league uses a catcher, shortstop and first, second and third basemen. Some use one catcher, some use middle and corner infielders, some use an IF spot, but the needs across leagues, and the depth of each position, are fairly standard. 

Outfield and Pitcher feel like the dark arts. Snape describes them to Harry in book six, and Harry describes them to Dumbledore’s Army in book five, as a constantly shapeshifting, infinite battle for which there is no measure of readiness that reaches the level of being “prepared.” 

You do the best you can and react when the world changes. 

So that’s my task here, starting with the sequencing of the top 50 outfielders for 2021 dynasty baseball. 

PS: This is a living document and an invitation to converse. I’m not set in stone on any of these, particularly not my Trout ranking, which feels a bit criminal but perhaps just (like Harry’s DA meetings). I will update and continue ranking outfielders until we’ve covered all the relevant paths to magic.

Rank Player Age Team
1 Ronald Acuña Jr. 22 ATL
2 Christian Yelich 28 MIL
3 Mike Trout 28 LAA
4 Cody Bellinger 24 LAD
5 Juan Soto 21 WAS
6 Mookie Betts 27 LAD
7 Austin Meadows 24 TB
8 Luis Robert 22 CHW
9 Bryce Harper 27 PHI
10 Victor Robles 22 WAS
11 Eloy Jimenez 23 CHW
12 Jorge Soler 28 KC
13 Aaron Judge 27 NYY
14 Jo Adell 21 LAA
15 Starling Marte 31 ARI
16 JD Martinez 32 BOS
17 Joey Gallo 26 TEX
18 George Springer 30 HOU
19 CJ Abrams 19 SD
20 Julio Rodriguez 19 SEA
21 Giancarlo Stanton 30 NYY
22 Dylan Carlson 21 STL
23 Ramon Laureano 25 OAK
24 Jasson Dominguez 17 NYY
25 Michael Conforto 27 NYM
26 Byron Buxton 26 MIN
27 Kyle Tucker 23 HOU
28 Charlie Blackmon 33 COL
29 Kyle Schwarber 27 CHC
30 Oscar Mercado 25 CLE
31 Jarred Kelenic 20 SEA
32 Oneil Cruz 21 PIT
33 Kristian Robinson 19 ARI
34 Franmil Reyes 24 CLE
35 Bryan Reynolds 25 PIT
36 Tommy Pham 32 SD
37 Andrew Benintendi 25 BOS
38 Lourdes Gurriel 26 TOR
39 Eddie Rosario 28 MIN
40 Nick Castellanos 28 CIN
41 Marcell Ozuna 29 ATL
42 David Dahl 26 COL
43 Willie Calhoun 25 TEX
44 Trey Mancini 28 BAL
45 Michael Brantley 32 HOU
46 Trent Grisham 23 SD
47 Corbin Carroll 19 ARI
48 Max Kepler 27 MIN
49 Nick Senzel 24 CIN
50 Alex Verdugo 23 BOS

 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 
  1. d says:
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    In a shortened 2020 – say 100 games or less – who do you like more, Dylan Carlson (#21 on your list), or Sam Hilliard?

    Thx!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’d go Carlson.

      I think the MiLB season is mostly over and that close/ready guys like Carlson will come right up ASAP.

      And the shortened clock may mean he’s only service on clock watch about a week.

      • 183414 says:
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        Mostly over ? Hasn’t begun, haha
        How many games do you see ? 30 ? 60 ? 75 ? 81 1/2 ?

    • this ain't no disco says:
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      No bellinget????

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Good call.

        Thanks!

        Ranked him at 1B but def should have him here too.

  2. LG Baseball says:
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    Itch,

    Great stuff! Really enjoying all of your content! Just acquired V. Robles in a keeper and hope he takes another step.

    Assuming Yordan maintains OF (Yahoo) where would you have him on this list?

    Also is Meadows someone that can take another step or was last years breakout a best case scenario?

    Last q – Yordan or meadows in a keeper?

    Thanks,
    LG

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, LG Baseball!

      And great question (and answer!): I would put him in the Meadows range and think I’d take him over Harper and Meadows.

  3. thehombre says:
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    Itch,

    I look forward to these. Thank you.

    I just finished a dynasty 12 team draft where we hold 5 prospects. Based on your rankings I drafted Abrams, Vaughn, Cruz, Skrubal and Matos.

    I took Matos based on your ranking and barely any info about him on the internet. I’ve read all your blurbs about him, but who is he? Who is his comp?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Awesome draft, hombre!!

      Matos gets pretty scary in comp world.

      Reminds me of young Ronald Acuña Jr.

      Now I’m not trying to put that on him, but they have fun similarities, particularly the lightning in their hands.

      Was last one off this list. Toggled he and Solak a few times.

      • thehombre says:
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        Are you kidding? Delete your response. Word cannot get out.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Hahaha . . . was right there with you as I tried to buy him up across all leagues this fall and winter!

      • Malicious Phenoms says:
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        What is Matos first name, what team. Thanks Itch, as always, for another article packed full of info!

  4. Powdered Toast Man says:
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    Love these Itch. Talk more about Verdugo. Seeing where he is makes me wonder about him being a strong Kepler comp. I have Robert and Rosario in my AL keeper league and have an opportunity to add Verdugo but his injury scares me off so far.

    • Powdered Toast Man says:
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      I’ll also add I have Julio Rodriguez in my minors, so part of looking at Verdugo is growth and overtaking say Rosario in a year or two.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Having Julio in the minors right now is such a crazy strong position to be in.

        His ability to go the other way is sublime. Dude just hits it where it’s pitched–much easier said than done.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Why thank you Powdered Toast Man!

      I feel kinda low on Verdugo compared to some, but I love hit-tool guys with speed that plays and think Boston could be just what the doctor ordered to unlock some monster seasons.

      Would not be shocked if he’s better than Bennintendi v soon but have same concerns about his health.

      I hope he makes more consistent contact and runs more successfully than Kepler, but that seems a solid range for outcomes.

      • Powdered Toast Man says:
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        Thanks Itch. Stay safe and free of… Space Madness!

        • Ren says:
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          You coveted my ice cream bar!

  5. Chucky says:
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    Great Hot Stove article. Thanks. Twelve team, 10 keepers without contracts. Three OF. Betts as my #1 OF. Somewhat murky after that however. Can a combination of LuRob, Franmil, Mercado and Avi suffice as my #’s 2 and 3? Or should I be in trade mode? It’s H2H 6×6 OBP

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Chucky!

      It’s not ideal for OBP to have those at 2 and 3, but that’s just one category and they’re all wonky week-to-week, so I think you’re money.

      Pretty close to my ideal for a long-term build. Steals is an underrated category in H2H in my opinion, and you’re in good position to own it.

  6. leon says:
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    16 man 6×6 dynasty league.
    was offered Derek fisher for my Nick Lodolo.

    Fishers upside looks good, but dont know if he will be a starter. You think hes worth Lodolo? after watching some of lodolo highlights, i dont know if he will be an impact player.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’d rather have Lodolo and think he could be flipped again for more (or appeal to more teams) than Fisher if you decide you’d rather not have him.

  7. Nice work, thanks Itch!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thank you kindly, Smitty!! (2nd exclamation to indicate smiling hat tip)

      Safety and happiness to you and yours!!

  8. Mark says:
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    curious about upside and wondering about Meadows. Taking his skillset, is it possible/shock you for him to get to the #1 fantasy outfielder spot in your rankings or do you not think those skills exist?

    Also….I don’t think it is possible due to the OBP, but Can Franmil Reyes leapfrog over Judge and Soler? To me they also have a similar skill set

    Two guys I am targeting based on age and ability out of many.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Mark,

      I think the competition is too stiff to give Meadows a realistic shot at the top spot. He just won’t run enough, I think.

      I’d say yes to the Franmil question. He’s quite a ways behind those two, but he’s also younger and playing in a good setting. Plus he was a best shape of his life guy back in Spring. Who knows how that tracks today, but it’s certainly better than the opposite.

  9. Chris says:
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    I guess you are counting Yordan Alvarez as UTIL. Where would he rank if included?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Good question, Chris,

      I should find a way to include him here for the leagues with looser eligibility requirements.

      Man I guess I’d put him just after Mookie.

  10. KrazyIvan says:
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    As a life long Yankees I’ve seen this Jasson Dominguez prospect so many times. Everything I’ve read is “looks like an NFL player- wonder kid- looks great in bp- and the most Yankee thing of all “many teams have been checking in on him”.

    He’s young, and if he works hard then good things may happen for him down the road. But being the #24 best dynasty OF is too much.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      That’s fair.

      Totally with you on Yankees prospects, historically speaking.

      I feel kinda low on Dominguez relative to the field.

      Might’ve been the only whatever I am to put him after Abrams in FYPD rankings.

      Still we’ve come so far in evaluating this specific player pool. He has an inside lane on being the near-consensus best prospect in baseball little more than a year from now.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Accumulated hype, while dangerous if you’re making a big investment, carries a surprising amount of long term value in my experience in dynasty leagues.

        Legacy prospects who’ve struggled for years get traded for solid returns at a rate that’s surprising to me, anyway.

  11. Ryan says:
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    In my 14 team h2h dynasty league i am looking to deal one of C. I was offered Luke Voit and Yu Darvish for Wilson Contreras and Jose Abreu. I could use another solid SP, but i am not sure if Darvish is the right move. Should I go after another sp? Some other sp he also has are: Patrick Corbin, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, Corey Kluber, Ryu.

    c wilson contreras

    1b jose abreu

    2b ozzie albies

    3b rafael devers

    ss bo bichette

    lf juan soto

    cf ronald acuna

    rf austin meadows

    util yuli gurriel

    bn cj cron

    bn omar narvaez

    na andrew vaughn

    na robert puason

    na corbin carroll

    na jeter downs

    na julio rodriguez

    na erick pena

    sp brandon woodruff

    sp julio urias

    sp max scherzer

    rp scott oberg

    rp ryan pressly

    rp brandon kintzler

    p robbie ray

    p kevin gausman

    p alex wood

    bn miles mikolas

    bn carlos rodon

    bn deivi garcia

    bn sixto sanchez

    bn edward cabrera

    bn nathan eovaldi

    bn matt shoemaker

    na luis patino

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’d make a play for Cole.

      Willy, Abreu and maybe a Sixto or something.

      Yuli could play 1B for you with Omar at C.

      I like the general plan and might do the deal as is, but I wonder if you could just do Contreras for Darvish straight up. Abreu’s looking at a pretty big opportunity to rack up numbers these next few years.

  12. toolshed says:
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    I am glad to see K Robinson in the middle of the rankings considering his age and room for growth. I actually like carroll quite a bit too and picked him up on the cheap this year. He was out there kind of late in my draft and I guess he is overlooked b/c of his size. Do you think he has been undervalued in the fantaay community? Not saying he is betts, but the size comp is similar. He has has speed and defense to help accelerate his path. He hits the ball hard too, do you think the power will develop?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I do think Carroll’s been underrated to some extent.

      Even in FYPD rankings, people would rank him low but add a qualifier to allow the possibility he could be drafted earlier or wind up a better prospect than guys ranked ahead of him. This seems pretty popular in prospect writing circles, and it’s part of the reason I end up an outlier on huge topside guys like Carroll and Oneil Cruz. I just price their topside into the ranking if I like their chances of getting there. Maybe everyone else is doing the same. But Carroll is a near 80-grade runner with plus hand-speed, plus hit tool, plus exit velocities, plus-plus defense. He’s the definition of a monster fantasy prospect.

  13. toolshed says:
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    One final comment, how much longer do you keep Dahl in the top 50? He can’t stay healthy and if he ever stays healthy he probably won’t run. Col may not let him and all of the speed he once had may now never materialize into anything because the window to use it has closed. Even so, he has to stay on the field. He has never played more than 100 games and is usually about 70-80 or so. This isn’t a one time deal or even twice with him. The injuries go back to his minor league days. I am afraid to say he may never do much more than he already has in the bigs. I’ve owned him for a while and I haven’t quit him yet, but it is getting to the point where I have some talent getting close and his spot on my team is now tenuous at best.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Totally agreed on Dahl. Very difficult player to rank.

      Dude doesn’t even have a spleen.

      But if it comes together . . . and the if gets bigger every day . . . it will be loud.

      He’s definitely out of the top 50 if he’s not a solid fantasy outfielder this season.

      The ranking here is kind of a last-chance buying opportunity. Sounds like he could be had kinda cheap in the league you’re talking about, and I think he’s a buy if so. Totally prepared to lose the investment and move on from it, but in some leagues, the price is right like Bob Barker spaying a stray puppy.

  14. toolshed says:
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    Actually, I have one more. If you did this list a couple of years ago, nomar mazara would likely be on your list and pretty much everyone’s list. What happened to him? He was once considered an elite / can’t miss / high floor prospect. He has pretty much been written off in fantasy and he is only 25. Did he come up too early? Should he have been sent down? He has no speed, can’t hit lefties, subpar defender, high gb rate, etc. I guess what I am getting at is what do you look for in your rankings as red flags? Or what do you look for in your valuation of talent to avoid or mitigate the misses? I think every one got mazara wrong and he may need a restart. Lots of other players never lived up to the hype too. I only use mazara as a recent example where a lot of people invested in him. Thanks

  15. Harley Earl says:
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    Itch,

    Tell me more about Matos. I’m intrigued. Anyone that draws a comp to Acuna has my attention.

    Please, tell me more.

    • Dong Show says:
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      I second this. I got Acuna as a pup because of these little snippets from Raz info, so I am all for gambling on a profile like this again if he’s worth the early plunge.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I’m still thinking about the best way to do this . . .

        might be my first piece after this series

        aggro comps and the times I don’t hate em

        For Matos there’s the size comp, the rounded game comp, the big league blood comp, the under the radar explosion comp, the rising system parallel, the baseball is easy parallel

        Younger Acuña could spray liners anywhere at will and chose/found a power path as he aged.

        Matos has a pretty linear swing plane today, but I don’t mind if that stays where it is for a while. High baseball acumen kid like him can add launch when the time is just right—another potential similarity to Acuña.

        We can’t know yet how he’ll respond to better spin, velo, command, but so far he’s just cruising.

  16. Dong Show says:
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    Is Evan White for Nick Senzel a fair 1-1 in a dynasty? I am not sure if I need White as I have Bell and Muncy, but also not sure if I have a need or fit for Senzel. My thought was he would be a solid buy low, but at the same time is White a better piece to hold onto because of his position?

    Just not sure with my situation. White is in my minors, which is where I would stash Senzel. The Senzel owner has a plethora of OF’s (like 9 guys total) but is rather weak at 1b long term

    I am deep in the OF (MLB level with Mookie, K.Bryant, Brantley, Soler, Verdugo) and a minors of Robert, Kelenic and Krob.

    Just curious on your thoughts here Itch. Keep or try to sell based on the names and situation.

    This has been a great series you have done. A lot of the content everyone is pumping out here is keeping me engaged in fantasy, so just want to extend a thanks for all your work.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I love this question. And this trade in general—very fair offer falls under the heading “challenge trade.” Just a 1v 1 evaluation gamble. I’d take the White side for reasons you mention here but also bc I think he’s just plain underrated now and doesn’t have any of the Senzel injury or playing time flags.

      Also White is a super smooth athlete.

      Senzel’s a great athlete too but is more of a try hard guy with strong hands/wrists and not a swing I’d be teaching many youngsters.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        And thanks so much for the kind words!

        It’s been a unique grind for me and I suspect for all of us, so it’s awesome to hear we’re making someone’s day better, as comments like yours have done for me (made multiple days better really :D)

  17. Drew says:
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    Would you guys trade Luis Robert & Trevor Story for Christian Yelich? I’m in a 5 player keeper league, format is 6×6 h2h categories (OPS. Average, steals, runs, rbis, homers). My other keepers are Galvin Lux, Xander, Starling Marte, and Aaron Nola. No limit on keeper length.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’d be keeping those two. Would throw Nila (sic bc I like wafers) for either.

  18. Isaac says:
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    Its knit picking…. but at the same age, does anyone really think yelich is above trout. Track record should come into play a bit.. i have zero problems ranking yelich above him for this year or even next. But i feel, in dynasty, we have a better idea of what trout will be at age 32 moreso than yelich.. we are just seeim the yelich in Milwaukee version, which the pedigree never suggested. Make sense?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’ll see if I can copy paste my novella response from the Reddit thread where a similar tho lesser comment was upvoted by basically everyone, which makes sense.


      TheProspectItch
      Razzball3d
      For starters, I looked to the immediate past.

      Trout wasn’t real close to Yelich in 5×5 roto value last season.

      They were closer the year before, but Yelich had 228 R+RBI and Trout had 180. That’s an enormous gap.

      Yelich also beat him in batting average .326 to .312.

      Last year’s BA split was .329 to .291—another monstrous advantage to Yelich’s teams.

      Trout caught and passed him in R+RBI 214 to 197

      but stole just 11 bags to Yelich’s 30.

      Across two full seasons with similar PA totals, Yelich has been the better roto player, and it’s not super close.

      I mention in the intro it felt weird to rank Trout 3rd, but ours is game of numbers not names, and unless you’re in an OBP league and perhaps even if you are, Yelich has earned the edge.

      Certainly helps that his park is elite for lefty bats, but that ain’t changing anytime soon.

      Also might hurt Trout a little that Joe Maddon’s in town. He’s not big into the stolen base, and it seems Trout has soured some on running anyway.”

      Also added:

      Plus Yelich was 30 for 32 in stolen base attempts and has been incredibly efficient there for three straight seasons.

      Dude knows when to take his bases.

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