THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 125 DYNASTY LEAGUE OUTFIELDERS, #21-60
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2021 consensus rankings by looking at the 21-60 outfielders in dynasty leagues.
21. Starling Marte, Miami Marlins (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 21)
Weird fact: I have never rostered Starling Marte in any of my leagues. Also fact: the first fact is a darn shame, because Marte is good at baseball. At this point in his career, we know exactly who he is. He’s going to have a prime spot in whatever lineup he’s in, have a .275-.290 batting average, and year after year be a potential 20 homer, 20+ steal threat. I guess you could potentially see the minimal decline in sprint speed as a sign of his age catching up to him, but overall, I expect more of the same from Marte in 2021. (Taylor Case)
22. Nicholas Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 31)
Castellanos’ 2020 stats weren’t too hot and weren’t too cold. They were just…well, I guess I can’t even say they were just right. They were average, as exemplified by his 102 wRC+. Am I worried about him failing to bounce back in 2021? Absolutely not. Last season, his average tanked and he also struck out a career-high clip, but we also saw him take his walk rate and barrel rate to new heights. Gold stars for getting on base and hitting the ball hard, Nick! In all seriousness, he should be a target for any savvy dyno manager this offseason if another manager in your league is panicking. I still think that Nick has a few 35-homer, .275 seasons in him. (Taylor Case)
23. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 8)
What more can be said about Aaron Judge that hasn’t already been said? He’s a very large human who can crush baseballs, knows to take a walk, and even steals more bags than his 6’-7”, 282-pound frame would suggest, making him a cornerstone player in pretty much any format…at least on a per-game basis. But therein lies the elephant in the room: his health, that which he has not been able to maintain over the last few seasons. In fact, he hasn’t eclipsed 500 plate appearances since 2017, his breakout campaign (although, admittedly, he was very close in 2018 with 498). To make matters more convoluted, Judge has been sent to the injury list for various reasons at this point, including obliques, calf, rib, and wrist injuries. This has ultimately led to over 160 days riding the pine since 2016. We know that he still has a monster bat – trust me, I’m not arguing that. And maybe there’s even another 600 plate appearance, 45 homerun season lurking in there somewhere if he can stay healthy. But at this point, it’s difficult to even imagine a 120-game season for the slugger, and he’s fading down our rankings appropriately. (Taylor Case)
24. Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 26, Previous Rank: Unranked)
What a breakout performance! Since being traded to Tampa Bay, Arozarena has done nothing but rake, hitting .281 with 7 homers in 23 games during the season and then .376 with 10 homers in 20 playoff games. I mean, are you kidding me? Those are the kind of video game numbers that have shot his draft price through the roof in the last few months. Personally, I do not roster him in any of my leagues, specifically because of this price, which I’m not willing to pay based on 43 games. I admit that he has perennial 20/20, maybe 25/20 upside, but for now, he fits more into the “Wait and see” category instead of the “absolutely, have to have him, trade the farm to acquire. (Taylor Case)
25. Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 52)
Alex Verdugo may not have been Mookie Betts in his first season with the Red Sox, but sure wasn’t a scrub either. Playing mostly corner outfield and largely slotting in as the leadoff hitter in an above-average Boston lineup, Verdugo put together a very respectable .308/.367/.478 slash. There was a significant jump in his strikeout rate, but I wonder if that could be pinned on switching leagues and perhaps trying to press a bit much as the table-setter. Regardless, he has the tools and the prospect pedigree to maintain his high average as well as his spot in the lineup, and I’d imagine you’d have to be pleased with Verdugo on your dynasty teams. Most projection systems seem to have him in the 16-homer / 8-steal range, but I honestly think he could have a few 20/10 seasons at his peak. (Taylor Case)
26. Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 118)
Homers? Check. Steals? Check. Counting Stats? Check. Unsustainable average due to high strikeout rates? Check check. That last one certainly doesn’t have the same sweet ring to it, but nevertheless, Tesocar proved in 2020 that he can mash his way to fantasy dreamland despite the whiffs. A word of caution, however. There’s a fine line between dreams and nightmares with players of his profile, and if can’t get his strikeouts under control and BABIP swings back to league-average (or worse), the floor looks more like a .230 hitter with 25 dingers, which won’t sit well as the #26 dynasty outfielder. (Taylor Case)
27. J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 15)
J.D. Martinez had a lousy year at the plate in 2020, struggling to a .213/.291/.389 and a 77 wRC+, his lowest since before his trade from Houston to Arizona. I’ll admit that I had soured on his dynasty outlook by midseason, but after some further assessment, I’m all in on a 2021 bounce-back. First off, he ended the season with a .259 BABIP, a far cry from his career .341. I don’t want to say he “just got unlucky” because BABIP highs and lows are a little hard to predict for the individual, but an 82-point drop is definitely noteworthy. Second, we still saw an above-average barrel-rate, while maintaining a strikeout rate very similar to his career rate as well, at 24.9%. Look, I know he’s a bit older than some of the other players in this range and doesn’t give you any sexy stolen bases, but I’m not ready to give up on a player like Martinez who was so consistent over the six years prior to 2020. (Taylor Case)
28. Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees (Age: 17, Previous Rank: 37)
Jasson Dominguez is, still, a beast. Decked out with above-average tools across the board as well as muscle mass for days, “The Martian” has a fantasy limit somewhere up in the sky. He is by all accounts the epitome of a five-tool player, that rare player we covet so much in standard Roto leagues. There is ultimately still plenty of risk in planning your dynasty team’s future around a 17-year-old who won’t play professional ball until later this year, but with Dominguez, it sure seems like the hype is real. He has true 30/30 potential and I imagine the Yankees will do everything they can to help him realize that goal. Keep in mind that his MLB debut will probably not happen until 2024. (Taylor Case)
29. Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 44)
How many great hitters does this Blue Jays team need!? I mean, come on! While Lourdes Gurriel Jr. may be the least-talked about outfielder in this stud lineup, he definitely should not be overlooked. He quietly improved his plate discipline metrics across the board in 2020, including O-swing%, contact% and swinging strike rate on his way to contributing (at least a little) in all five categories. As we know, contributors of this kind are a rare breed, so I will be targeting Lourdes in many a league moving forward this offseason. (Taylor Case)
30. Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 13)
In early July 2020, Joey Gallo tested positive for COVID-19, undoubtedly starting his campaign out on the wrong foot. He ultimately recovered and found his way into the lineup for 57 games, but his end-of-season stats were quite the mixed bag. On the positive side, he maintained a high barrel rate, decreased his O-swing% (percentage of swings at pitches out of the zone), and increased his contact percentage. In my mind, those are three noteworthy improvements for the three-true-outcome poster boy. However, his barrel rate was cut down to 14% from 25.6% (!!), and this more patient approach only resulted in a K-rate decreased to 35%, which, for those of you in the back, is still atrocious. Somehow, he walked less too! What does this all mean? In a nutshell, Gallo can still crush the ball, but it seems his attempt to strike out less and play more to contact severely hurt his fantasy impact. Could his 2020 performance have been affected by COVID-19? Absolutely! These guys are humans, despite their fan-made pedestals. In my opinion, we have a much larger career sample size here to assume Gallo can make it back to his 40-homer ways. In fact, if he can keep even a small portion of the plate discipline gains from last year, there could be a superstar season coming in 2021. (Taylor Case)
31. Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 39)
One of their top prospects, the Twins proved just how highly they think of Kirilloff by promoting him to the majors during the 2020 playoffs. Kirilloff made his MLB debut during game two of the wild card series against Houston, starting in right field and going 1-for-4 with a single. The 23-year-old is surely part of the Twins’ future plans, bringing above-average power and hit tools, in addition to his growing defensive versatility. The lefty does have a rough history of injuries including Tommy John surgery in 2017 and wrist issues that slowed him during 2018 and 2019. But if healthy, Kirilloff has one of the highest upsides of any minor league hitters. (Greg Gibbons)
32. Austin Martin, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: N/A)
The Blue Jays had to be ecstatic to land Martin with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft. The former Vandy Boy looks the part of a future five-category fantasy contributor and evaluators tagged Martin with the best hit tool of this year’s class. During college, Martin played both second and third base and while he was announced as a shortstop, he’s already getting experience in the outfield. Regardless of which position Martin calls home, his bat will be the reason he makes it to the big leagues. I expect he moves quickly and ends up with a ton of position versatility. Martin should be off the board by the second pick in your first-year player drafts. (Greg Gibbons)
33. Kristian Robinson, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 80)
By now you’re probably familiar with Robinson, a 6’3’’ Bahamian slugger with double-plus raw power and plus speed. Scouts project the big righty to settle in long-term at a corner outfield spot and while a lost 2020 season didn’t help Robinson’s development, his immense upside is sought-after by all fantasy managers. Robinson is already a top prospect across the industry and you’re unlikely to acquire his future services without providing a significant MLB piece in return. Robinson’s ETA is 2022, but he was rumored to have taken big steps at the Diamondbacks alternate site this past season, so it will be interesting to see which level will host Robinson to open the 2021 season. (Greg Gibbons)
34. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 96)
Happ broke out in a big way during 2020, leading the Cubs to the playoffs by hitting .258/.361/.505 with 12 home runs, 28 runs batted in, and added one steal en route to receiving a vote for NL MVP. The lefty was always known for his hit tool, but it never quite came together until this past season. Playing nearly all games in the outfield, Happ will lose some position eligibility heading into 2021, but with a plummeting strikeout rate over the past two seasons and career highs in hard-hit rate, exit velocity, and walk rate, he looks like an integral part of fantasy outfields. One concern coming into 2020, and to monitor going forward, is Happ’s performance vs. left-handed pitching. While he showed improvements, it was over a small sample of at-bats (48) and his strikeout rate jumps to an ugly 37%. Look for Happ to start the year in a full-time role and atop the Cubs lineup. (Greg Gibbons)
35. Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees (Age 31, Previous Rank: 18)
Giancarlo Stanton is the epidemy of a high risk, high reward player with unquestioned righthanded power that is capable of singlehandedly winning your league or he may spend the entirety of the season on the injured list. Unfortunately, over the last two years, the outcome was closer to the latter, as Stanton played in a total of 41 regular-season games, managing only seven home runs and 24 runs batted in while creating a laundry list of injuries that is too long to count. Though, after a second straight injury-riddled season and fantasy managers ready to write him off, he exploded in the 2020 playoffs, hitting .308 over seven games with six home runs and 13 runs batted in while striking fear into opposing pitchers. The Yankee thumper looked like his old self again, finally. Heading into 2021 he is a complete wild card. Steamer projects 136 games played, .251 batting average with 39 home runs and 100 runs batted in. Pretty good for your 35th ranked outfielder, just cross your fingers he can stay healthy. (Greg Gibbons)
36. Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics (Age 26, Previous Rank: 28)
Laureano’s encore to his 2019 breakout left more to be desired from fantasy managers. The A’s star hit only .213/.338/.366 over his 54 games with only six home runs, 25 runs batted in, and two steals. Without a doubt, we were expecting more and unfortunately, there isn’t much to point to when explaining his down season, other than his early-season suspension. Otherwise, we saw a decline in all his counting stats and batted ball data despite the playoff-bound A’s ranking in the Top-10 offensively. The 2020 season was an anomaly for a lot of players, and the 26-year-old is a great candidate to rebound and makes an ideal target for either rebuilding or contending fantasy teams. He’s fallen a couple of spots within our rankings, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him jump back into the Top-30 with a return to form. (Greg Gibbons)
37. Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals (Age 32, Previous Rank: 7 at second base)
Merrifield has been a model of consistency during his last four seasons, hitting .282 or higher each year and ranking Top-5 in stolen bases three times. His hit tool is unmatched, with an xBA and whiff rate ranking in the 90th percentile or better during 2020, and most impressively he posted a career-low strikeout rate of only 12.5%. Unfortunately for Merrifield and fantasy managers, his batted ball metrics are all at career lows as well, with hard-hit rate, barrel rate, and exit velocity trending in the wrong direction. The 32-year-old likely has a season or two of productivity left, but with so much of his value tied up in stolen bases, we aren’t far from a contact-first outfielder with below-average power and limited speed. This may be the last time we see Merrifield ranked in the Top-50 for dynasty purposes. (Greg Gibbons)
38. Brennen Davis, Chicago Cubs (Age 21, Previous Rank: 64)
If you blinked, you missed Davis’ assentation up prospect lists and into the future of the Cubs outfield. The 6’4’’ righty has massive power and above-average speed, with MLB pipeline projecting him as a 30-30 type centerfielder once he debuts. Davis doesn’t have a ton of professional experience yet as he was drafted in 2018 and lost the 2020 season that he likely would have spent at High-A, but reports from the Cubs alternate site had Davis showing growth and maturity, allowing him to likely to open the 2021 season at Double-A. His ETA is 2022 but with the Cubs trending closer to a full rebuild, Davis will have every opportunity to earn the keys to the North Side, so we may see him sooner than later. (Greg Gibbons)
39. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies (Age 34, Previous Rank: 26)
The Rockies star outfielder fared decently well in 2020, hitting .303/.356/.448 over 59 games but managed only six home runs and two stolen bases. Most concerning, Blackmon’s hard-hit rate dipped to the lowest mark since his rookie year and he ranked in the 25 percentile or lower in barrel rate and exit velocity. Blackmon still holds extremely good contact rates and strikeout rates, but his days of 30 home runs are behind him. Like Merrifield, we may be on the verge of a contact first outfielder with average power and little-to-no speed contributions going forward. (Greg Gibbons)
40. Dominic Smith, New York Mets (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 34 at first base)
Smith broke out during 2020, emerging as an everyday player for the Mets after hitting .316/.377/.616 with ten home runs and 42 runs batted in over 50 games. Thanks in part to the National League adopting the designated hitter last season, Smith found playing time in the outfield and at first base, so he likely has dual eligibility in your league. While he’s projected to start in left field, it’s uncertain as of the time of this writing whether the DH will return which could limit Smith’s opportunities, especially considering his struggles against left-handed pitching. Regardless, Smith showed huge gains in nearly all batted ball data and the former top prospect belongs in your fantasy lineup until further notice. (Greg Gibbons)
41. Jorge Soler, Kansas City, (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 22)
Soler is a monster. Don’t be fooled by his inferior output in 2020 compared with his previous year. On the surface, yes, this short season was unspectacular, but when you look at the peripherals, you realize that Soler did exactly the same as the year before, with slightly negative variations. For example, his .317 BABIP was aligned with his career .312, his exit velocity was exactly the same in 2020 as in 2019 (92.5 mph), his walk rate was 10.9% in three of his last four years (and it was 10.8% in that fourth year, 2019), and 18% of his batted ball events (BBE) were Barrels. so, we’ve found the new Khris “247” Davis of consistency (don’t panic, he’s taller). On the negative side, Soler increased his K% tendencies by a huge +8.3% because of a higher whiff rate on breaking balls. Taking into consideration the identical approach at the plate and the almost complete lack of variance of the rate of offspeed/breaking balls he saw, I’m sure that if the season had been longer, those numbers would have been normalized. 2021 Personal Projections .250/.340/.500, 35 homers, 90 RBI. (Marino Martinez).
42. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 45)
Buxton found a way to incorporate his personal short season inside the already-shortened 2020 season, because, you know, it is part of his trademark. He played 39 games in total, establishing himself as an “if only” player; if only he can stay healthy, if only he can take free passes without a gun pointed to his head, if only he could strike out less often, and so on. But he is only 27 years old and his power surge is a pretty welcome addition to his exciting game (.251 ISO 2019, .323 ISO 2020). Let’s hope for a complete season at least one more time. 2021 Personal Projections .255/.305/.485, 25 homers, 75 RBI. (Marino Martinez).
43. Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 32)
Kepler had a pretty strong 2019, his age-26 season, but let’s be honest, he’s not that good. As we know, the 2020 short season was bad for many players, but Kepler just went back to his roots. We can expect more of the same from him- low batting average, low OBP (even with a good amount of walks, his BABIP is terrible), and decent slugging percentage. 2021 Personal Projections .240/.315/.475 27 homers 72 RBI. (Marino Martinez)
44. Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 101)
If we had a dictionary comprised of images, without any doubt, the definition of late bloomer will be attached to Mike Yastrzemski’s picture. This guy was a meh player in his minor league years, but when he debuted in the majors just took the league by storm and also took his grandfather’s legacy in his hands. I was expecting a regression this past season but Yaz had another great season, even better than the previous one, good for a 159 wRC+, .271 ISO, and even with a high .370 BABIP and expecting some regression, Yaz will be fine. 2021 Personal Projections .270/.350/.470 24 homers, 80 RBI. (Marino Martinez).
45. Trevor Larnach, Minnesota Twins, (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 59)
Larnach, maybe the best pure hitter in the Twins system (yup, for me, he is and will be better than Kirilloff) is having a good MiLB career so far. The first-rounder has an average of 146 wRC+ and 396 wOBA throughout his career. He maybe will never be the Twins’ top prospect but could be the best of the bunch at the end of the road. Larnach has a good shot for a cup of coffee this season. (Marino Martinez)
46. Corbin Carroll, Minnesota Twins, (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 75)
The million-dollar question about Carroll is if he will develop some kind of power. If so, we can expect a star-caliber type of player, and if not I think he has the tools to be a pretty good fantasy asset. With his first pro season as a sample, he showed us that he can take a walk at least. A 70-grade runner, Carroll’s blazing speed will not be enough for him to be an everyday player (take Billy Hamilton or Mallex Smith as examples); let’s hope for a breakout this season and beyond. (Marino Martinez)
47. Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 112)
Who is the real Kyle Lewis? Is the one we saw in July/August, or in September/October? Lewis, like his rival for the ROY Luis Robert, fell off a cliff in the last stretch of the season. His last 89 plate appearances were a nightmare for him, hitting just .147/.270/.280 and striking out 37% of the time. Globally, Lewis K% was a high 29.3%, an enhancement compared to his 38.7% the year before. The good news is the huge increase of free passes, he went from an awful 4% to an above-average 14%. The bad news is a -11% decrease in Hard Hit % and his 58.6 whiff% against breaking balls. So, if you ask me, I’ll say, stay patient with him, the guy can be a star or can be a total mess, but the positive improvement this past year would tilt the balance in favor of the possibility of him becoming a star. 2021 Personal Projections .250/.330/.450, 23 homers, 72 RBI. (Marino Martinez)
48. Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Greene’s more attractive tool is his offensive potential, and you know, for fantasy purposes that’s what counts. His explosive left-handed swing is projectable to produce hard contact, showing good power to his pull side. He’ll need to gain muscle and focus on his offensive game because he is an average runner at best and his defense is also average with a weird throwing mechanic. (Marino Martinez).
49. Tommy Pham, San Diego Padres, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 33)
This guy is a hybrid between a broom and a vacuum cleaner. First things first, Pham’s compact swing generates pretty good hard contact (92.8 EV last year, hard hit% of 50), that was his third year in a row with an exit velo above 90, but man, all that hard contact is spoiled by his ground ball tendencies. In the last three years, Pham’s GB% are 48%, 53%, 62% (yes 62%) in more than 100 PAs. Even with those trends, he somehow managed to hit 21 homers in 2019. In his next season shortened by Voldemort and also shortened by a hamate bone fracture, he had a .101 ISO, then he was stabbed, then he went under the knife again for another wrist related procedure. Pham is still a keeper, but be careful with his broom alter ego and his operating room affairs. 2021 Personal Projections .270/.350/.440 18 homers, 65 RBI. (Marino Martinez)
50. Franmil Reyes, Cleveland Indians, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 47)
Franmil is in fact a mole, with an average exit velocity above 92 mph in all his three seasons, despite an imposing physique at the plate and the ability to take the free pass. Can we dream of the next Giancarlo Stanton? When Stanton was 24 (Franmil’s age last season) we didn’t have Statcast, but in 2015 as a 25-year-old Stanton’s average exit velocity was an insane 96.1. If there is a human being capable of doing the same, this is The Mole. 2021 Personal Projections .275/.335/.510 35 homers, 85 RBI. (Marino Martinez)
51. Clint Frazier, New York Yankees (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 84)
Frazier had a very solid 2020, with eight home runs, three steals, a .267 batting average, and .905 OPS. Frazier started the season as the Yankee’s right fielder batting in the bottom of the order; injuries to other Yankees saw him take over cleanup for a couple of weeks, before ending back in the lower half of the order. His 2020 also saw a stellar 15.6% walk rate, with a career minor league walk rate of 10.5% (not crazy high). His strikeout rate was a blemish at 27.5% and just off of his pro rate of 28.9% in 162 games. Frazier’s minor league career rate is 24.8%, so he will strike out a lot, and his minor league high for home runs in any one season was 16. In his 162 big league games, he has hit 24 home runs and stolen five bags. Frazier has been around since Cleveland drafted him fifth overall in 2013; the Yankees have given him some game action going back to 2017, but never a starting job, until 2021 (hopefully). A good hitter from both sides of the plate, Frazier is currently penciled in as the starting left fielder, batting seventh. He should maintain a decent on-base percentage with 20-ish home runs, five or so steals, and plenty of RBI opportunities hitting toward the bottom of a loaded Yankees lineup. As of this writing Frazier is the 51st outfielder drafted, with an ADP of 187, in NFBC leagues, and at that position does not provide a lot of potential value; in Dynasty leagues the fact that he is only 26 and is in a good lineup for counting stats gives him more value, especially in deeper leagues that allow more than three starting outfielders. (Phil Barrington)
52. Jeff McNeil, New York Mets (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 36)
The utility knife of the Mets, playing all over the diamond in recent seasons, McNeil has gone from being vastly underrated to vastly overrated (following an out of nowhere 23 home runs in 2019), to still kind of overrated (based on a current ADP of 90 in NFBC leagues). We here see him for what he is; a high average, low strikeout hitter who will not hit many home runs or steal many bases, but usually has multiple position eligibility. A consistently high BABIP leads to the high average and good (but not great) On-base percentage. A 2021 line of 100+ runs, 60+ RBI, 20 home runs, five steals, and .310+ batting average are what I expect of McNeil. In normal 5×5 leagues, there is value to be had, just not at McNeil’s current ADP. In Dynasty leagues as he approaches age-30 his value will tumble, so it may be time to put him on the block. (Phil Barrington)
53. Zac Veen, Colorado Rockies (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
The top-rated high school player straight out of Port Orange, Florida, Zachary Richard Veen, was drafted by the Rockies with the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, and with his size (6’4″, 195 lbs) and broad frame has him compared to Jayson Werth. There is a lot of talk about how the Rockies are bad with development and/or playing young players, and the proof is in the pudding, but we should not expect him to arrive in the big leagues for at least three seasons. Meaning that I am not putting too much weight into what will happen in a few years (the Rockies may make big internal changes, who knows). In first-year player drafts, the helium may be a bit too high, but if Veen has a big first professional season watch him climb boards. Already a top 100 prospect, adding Veen in your first-year player drafts after the guys closer to the majors are picked is highly recommended. (Phil Barrington)
54. Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 17 at First Base)
Barring a Chris Davis resurgence (he’s signed through 2022), Mountcastle should be the O’s first baseman next year. However, he saw more time in the outfield than first base (25 OF games versus 10 at first base) in 2020, hence him being ranked among the outfielders. The former first-rounder hit five home runs, 23 RBI, with a .333 batting average and .878 OPS in only 140 plate appearances in 2020. That line has us all wondering how much better he can be with a full season of at-bats. Though a hard-to-repeat .398 BABIP inflated those rate stats, and while his underlying metrics were not as good looking, his minor league numbers are, so let us take a look. In 2019 he was the Triple-A International League’s most valuable player with a .312 batting average, .871 OPS, 25 home runs, and 35 doubles and showed improvement at every minor league stop. With a career minor league walk rate of 4.9%, strikeout rate of 20.4%, and .295 batting average, Mountcastle should be a target in batting average leagues to start. 20-ish home runs should be a good estimate for 2021 but with a 60 Raw Power prospect grade the possibility for 30+ in his career is highly probable. Mountcastle is still rookie eligible and is my sleeper AL Rookie of the Year. (Phil Barrington)
55. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 72)
If it feels like Winker has been around forever, it is true; the former 49th overall selection from the 2012 MLB draft finally became a regular in 2020. Winker had a productive 2020, with 12 home runs and a slash line of .255/.388/.544, yielding a stellar .932 OPS. His underlying stats support a breakout as well; he was 88% or above his fellow major leaguers in Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, xSLG, BB%, and Barrel %. The only real blemishes are an above-average strikeout rate of 25% and batting average of .255. So, what it looks like is Winker’s hitting the ball harder and worrying less about strikeouts, which is good for us as fantasy players.
We pause due to the fact that Winker has never shown as much power in any of his minor league seasons and injuries have shortened his 2018 and 2019 seasons, so that high OPS may be a mirage. His 2018 season ended in July with right shoulder surgery; his 2019 season ended in August with a lingering cervical strain that he never was able to return from. Lastly, he has shown no propensity to hit left-handed pitchers (career .195 batting average in 126 games) and the Reds have a lot of options, so a platoon is very much on the table. In 2020, Winker played DH 37 times compared to 16 outfield games, so the National League getting the DH in 2021 benefits him more than most. Currently penciled into the sixth spot in a good Reds lineup, Winker is being drafted as the 57th outfielder off the board with an ADP of 210. Winker is entering his prime, but with middling power, no steals, and distinct platoon possibility, this ranking may even be too high. (Phil Barrington)
56. Eddie Rosario, Free Agent (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 30)
Rosario had a 2020 very similar to his 2019, yet the Twins (somewhat shockingly) non-tendered him, making him a free agent. In 2020 compared to 2019 he walked more, had a similar home run rate, K%, ISO, OPS; a 0.019 lower batting average (.257 vs .276) which corresponded to a 0.025 drop in BABIP (.248 vs .273). The Twins were going to have to pay him $10 million-plus and have other talented outfielders more highly rated on this list, at a much lower cost. The good is Rosario has improved his strikeout rate every big-league season (from 24.9 % his rookie season to 14.7% last year) with a .277 career batting average in 697 big league games. A floor of 25+ home runs, 5-8 steals, a .260 batting average, and .800 OPS will play in most leagues. As of this writing, Rosario is the 30th outfielder off the board in NFBC drafts with an ADP of 120; expect that to rise once he signs. While he is a player I would avoid in Dynasty and Keeper leagues for the long term, I am all in for the upcoming season, as long as he finds a starting gig with 500+ at-bats, that is. (Phil Barrington)
57. Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 43)
Fully healthy after missing the 2020 season fighting colon cancer, Mancini enters the 2021 season as the Orioles designated hitter, currently penciled into the cleanup spot in the lineup. Coming off a stellar 2019 season where Mancini hit 35 home runs with 106 runs, 97 RBI, and a slash line of .291/.364/.535, 2020 looked to continue Mancini’s rise. Mancini posted high BABIP’s leading to good batting averages throughout his minor and major league career, with his 2018 batting average of .242 caused by a low BABIP of .285, being an outlier. Mancini does not walk much, so he is a much better player in batting average leagues than in on-base percentage leagues. 25+ home runs and a .285+ batting average and RBI are what to expect from Mancini in 2021, with the propensity for more. He played outfield and first base in 2019 so should qualify at those two positions in most leagues and that only adds to his value. Mancini’s ADP as of this writing on NFBC is 184 as the 51st outfielder off the board and once Spring Training starts expect that to rise once Mancini is playing in live games. (Phil Barrington)
58. Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 41)
The former number two overall pick in 2016 and top ten prospect made his big-league debut in 2019, hitting twelve home runs, stealing 14 bases in 104 games, what one would call, “a good start.” His 2020 was limited to 23 games due to injury, but when he did play he was the Reds starting center fielder, with fellow outfielder Shogo Akiyama shifting to left field. A .204 BABIP in that limited sample size did a lot to hurt Senzel’s value heading into 2021. As does a lack of clear playing time has Senzel’s current ADP at 273 as the 73rd outfielder off the board as Roster Resource has him coming off the bench.
There is a reason he was the second pick and had a 60-grade future value with a possible 70-grade hit tool; Senzel is good but has been rushed. Senzel has never stayed at any level past 62 games, meaning the Reds have been very aggressive in promoting him. A starting job would help his consistency and may unlock his 25/25 potential and he should have that against lefties to start (with Jesse Winker sitting against southpaws). As mentioned above, Reds manager David Bell started Senzel when healthy over Shogo in center-field, and there is no reason to think that will not continue in 2021. A late-round flier for annual leagues, he is a target of mine in Dynasty leagues where his managers may have run out of patience with him. (Phil Barrington)
59. J.J. Bleday, Miami Marlins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 67)
The fourth overall selection from the 2019 draft, Bleday had a powerful last season in college, hitting 26 home runs in only 65 games. The Marlins assigned him to the Single-A (Advanced) Jupiter Hammerheads of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he hit three home runs, eight doubles with a .257 batting average in only 38 games. Bleday is consistently in the top-50 of most 2021 prospects lists, even with a subpar debut. He should start at Double-A in 2021 and if he does well there watch him vault into the top-25 prospects very easily. A good corner outfielder as well, there is not much preventing Bleday from rising through the minor leagues quickly and joining the big-league club. The left-handed hitting Bleday will bring power to the middle of the Marlins lineup as soon as 2022. A target in Dynasty leagues, especially those of the OPS variety, getting in on Bleday at this ranking before he really breaks out is the move this off-season. (Phil Barrington)
60. Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 66)
We are true believers here at the Dynasty Guru in Thomas’ current and future projection, as he is ranked ahead of fellow minor leaguers Brandon Marsh, George Valera, Heliot Ramos, Drew Waters (among others). Drafted in the second round in 2018 from Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago; in 170 minor league games at Rookie and Single-A Thomas has 12 home runs, 13 triples, 37 doubles, 202 Runs + RBI, 15 steals, and a slash line of .312/.385/.455. Those are pretty numbers buoyed by a 10.1% walk rate and 18.4% strikeout rate. Thomas was part of Arizona’s 60-man roster in 2020, though there was not much news about how he did. Still, this top-100 prospect will vault into consensus top-25 with a productive 2021 season at (presumably) Double-A. Arizona fans should be salivating over an outfield of Corbin Carroll, Kristian Robinson and Thomas for years to come. Thomas will only fly under the radar for so much longer and this is the off-season to make your move for him in Dynasty Leagues. (Phil Barrington)