Last Updated: 3/26
A couple of things to note before reading:
- These rankings are for 10- and 12-team head-to-head category leagues with standard scoring and a starting lineup consisting of 1 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS, 3 OF, 2 UTIL, and a shallow bench, and were created by me with input from Nick Pollack.
- Within the write-ups, I will call out individual players who would see value boosts or drops in alternative formats, such as rotisserie leagues, deeper leagues, or points leagues.
- Projected stat totals assume that teams each play at least 145 games unless specifically stated otherwise.
- I am more than happy to answer your questions, requests, and counter-points on Twitter!
- Tier 8 was reranked.
- Tier 9 was reranked.
- Lorenzo Cain was demoted to Tier 8 from Tier 6.
- Mitch Haniger was promoted from Tier 8 to Tier 7.
- Heavy reranking.
- Victor Reyes and J.D. Davis demoted to Tier 8 from Tier 7.
- Myles Straw and Jon Berti promoted from Tier 9 to Tier 8.
Tier 8: Even Deeper League Options
No. 61: Tyler O’Neill (St. Louis Cardinals)
He finally had a (mostly) starting gig in 2020, and hit for some power and chipped in a bit of speed, albeit with a dismal .173 batting average. In a full season, he could probably hit 25 home runs and threaten to reach double-digit steals, but the batting average will always be a problem that needs to be worked around. That’s tough to do in roto leagues, but head-to-head players can probably manage if they need the pop.
He’s got mostly doubles power, but will probably get to 17 home runs or so by the end of the season with a .270 batting average. He took some big steps backwards in 2020 against breaking pitches, hitting just .106 against them on the season, but he was above average against them in 2019 which leads me to believe that he can make the adjustments and be productive again for deep league players.
When healthy, he’s flashed some meaningful power with a good approach at the plate that leads to a plus batting average. “When healthy” isn’t very often for Dickerson, but with the Giants ready to give him a mostly starting role in 2020, I bet he can swat 20 home runs and hit .275, even if he only plays 120-130 games. In a shallow league, that’s not too shabby at all when you combine it with whatever you replace him with in the other 30 games. In deeper leagues, though, you may want to look elsewhere.
Some projection systems are rosier than others on Hays outlook, but when a guy can hit 25 home runs, steal 10 bases, and bat .265 on multiple projection systems if given 140 games, I take notice of it. Consider this my taking notice of it.
I always want to like Hicks more than I end up liking him. Despite batting third for the Yankees and having elite plate discipline, he fails to put up strong counting numbers and has been unable to stay healthy at any point in his career. OBP players can slide him up a bit if they’d like, but otherwise he’s best left for deeper leagues where his playing time is more of a deal breaker.
Presumably, Cain is chomping at the bit to play in 2021 after opting out in 2020 after the Cardinals’ outbreak early in the season. He’ll turn 35 in mid-April, and while he’s probably no longer a threat to steal 30 bases, a 10 home run, 17 stolen base season would not be out of the question, and neither would a .280 batting average. He’ll also bat leadoff for the Brewers, and his playing time makes him an especially attractive option in deep formats.
Health is an issue, though, and he’s already dealing with soreness and days off. They really need him defensively, but if he’s not playing five days a week, he’ll need to be doing a lot of base stealing.
3/26 Update: He’s had some quad issues, but it sounds like he’ll be OK for Opening Day.
There’s only one question you need to ask yourself with Hampson—are you ready to get hurt again? On one hand, we’ve believed that he has 15 home run, 25 stolen base upside thanks to his speed and power. On the other hand, he sort of can’t hit.
With no obvious starting position, a team that seems wholly unwilling to play their young players, and a whole lot of unseized opportunity, I’m likely to pass on Hampson in drafts. If you want to toss him on your watch list, I say go for it. Just don’t get your hopes too high unless he starts to show improved discipline at the plate and, more importantly, gets a chance to play more than three or four times a week.
Weirder things than Hampson finally breaking out have happened, presumably.
3/26 Update: The injury to Brendan Rodgers was very unfortunate, but it creates more opportunities for the healthy players in Colorado for a little while.
He has a career .286/.334/.494 line in 264 games, but if you didn’t know any better you’d think the guy was chopped liver after his horrific 2020. I’m not sure what the change in scenery and move to Texas will do for Dahl, but unless it keeps him healthy and on the field, I’m not sure it will matter
He can hit 30 home runs and bat .245, but at the moment he looks like he’s locked in a platoon with Rowdy Tellez. Grichuk isn’t all that exciting when he’s in a full-time role due to his on-and-off health issues and low batting average, and when he’s in a platoon he’s even less interesting.
Still, having 30 home run power still means something, and if he wins a job outright, he’ll be picked up by someone in your league as their last outfielder.
3/26 Update: The injury to Springer may create some immediate playing time for Grichuk.
A former (and current?) Yancy Eaton favorite, Dickerson will play a lot (when healthy), drive in some runners and probably have a decent batting average with 20 home runs. He’s boring, dependable, and a decent back-end guy in a deep league.
Our own Nate Handy ranked Tavares as the fourth-best prospect in the Ranger’s system, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to see 15 steals and 15 home runs.
I worry about the batting average, though, and if he can’t keep the strikeout rate below 30%, it’ll be really difficult to make it to either of those numbers.
In OBP leagues, there’s considerably more interest thanks to his career 15.1% walk rate and .390 OBP. Health has been a concern, though, as he only has one season where he’s played in 70 games (2018), and he doesn’t have 20 home run power or 10 steal speed.
Put all of that together and I guess you have a decent final outfielder in some formats, but keep an IL spot warm for him.
Injuries have given Upton a rough go of things over the last two seasons, but it’s hard for me to believe that there aren’t still 25-30 home runs in that bat if he could just stay on the field. I don’t know what the batting average will look like, but his 91.7 mile per hour exit velocity in 2020 suggests he can still hit the ball pretty dang hard.
3/26 Update: He’s still healthy and has raked this spring. I love me some former Tigers, so he has been bumped up accordingly.
Tier 9: Taking a Flyer
Earlier this offseason, Kyle Brown pegged Kirilloff as the top prospect in the Twins system due to his pretty swing and plate discipline, and with a chance to be the starter right out of the gate for the Twins, he could capitalize on his promising upside right away.
While projections will be conservative for a guy who hasn’t played above double-A ball yet, he could very well hit 20 home runs, steal 7-10 bases, and hit .280 if things break right for him in 2021. That kind of upside is exactly what folks should be targeting in their back-end outfielders.
Despite all of the moves by the Mets, Davis still appears to have a grip on the third base job. In years past, batting seventh for the Mets was a yucky place for a hitter to be, as there wouldn’t be a ton of counting stats to accumulate in the bottom-third of what was usually a weak lineup.
These days, however, Davis could still push towards 75-80 runs scored and RBI due to the additions to the lineup. The righty is also a Statcast darling due to his impressive quality of contact, though it has yet to manifest itself as gaudy home runs totals.
The only real issues for Davis are that his batting average is neutral, he doesn’t steal bases, and he’s just short of being an everyday player due to the insane flexibility on the Mets roster. Those caps to his upside make him more of a streamer or replacement guy in shallow leagues.
Cordero has been a guy whose name pop ups quite a bit due to his surprising barrel rates and exit velocity. While we haven’t seen much in on-field results from Cordero, the Red Sox appear ready to make him their left fielder for 2021 after acquiring his services from the Royals earlier this year.
Even in a platoon role, Cordero could hit 15 home runs and steal 10 bases, though his strikeout rate would probably keep his batting average below .250 or so. If you want to take a flyer or put a guy on your watchlist, you could do a lot worse than Franchy Cordero.
By the way, Cordero was diagnosed with COVID-19, so he missed some time. He rejoined the team on March 11th.
He’ll bat in the middle of a lineup and can hit the ball really, really hard. That’s more than enough to get ranked, especially when you can steal a few bases while you’re at it.
A long history of injury and disappointment hangs over his head, but Anders Jorstad thinks you should really consider buying in if you can.
It’s worth noting that García has lost almost 40 pounds after playing at 272 pounds in 2020 (which is utterly astounding to me that a 272 pound man can play center field).
On one hand, you could argue that I ought to rank Straw higher than this as he has a real chance to win the leadoff job in Houston. On the other hand, he is really only going to provide meaningful contributions in steals and runs even if he wins that job. If he doesn’t win that job, or if he doesn’t hit first every day, he’s waiver wire material in all but the deepest of leagues. His value, generally, is also dependent on whether you need steals later in your draft. If you don’t, feel free to remove him from your board.
In 116 career major league games, he has 8 home runs, 75 runs scored, 27 steals, and a .269 batting average. If we pulled that out into a 150 game average, that’s 10 home runs, 97 runs scored, and 35 steals. That’s a heckin’ good player!
Of course, turning 116 games over three seasons into 150 games in a single season requires a lot of squinting and dreaming for a guy with a lot of internal competition for his second base job, not to mention the fact that batting eighth for the Marlins is not known to be a fantasy-friendly proposition. The upside here is probably a player similar to Andres Giménez, if that’s a helpful comparison.
3/26 Update: It sounds more and more like he’ll have a place to play nearly every day, which moves him well up my board when I need speed late.
After a breakout campaign in 2019, Dozier had a difficult 2020. While he managed to take significantly more walks, he just couldn’t find the same power stroke he had in 2019 that carried him to 26 home runs and a .279 batting average.
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