2021 Fantasy baseball preview and position rankings



The drafts are over, and now it’s time to see if the team you assembled has what it takes to carry you to fantasy glory.

It’s time to see if that under-the-radar player you selected two rounds above his average draft position will pay off the way you hoped, or if that normally steady veteran begins to show his age or continues to defy everything you know to be true about aging players (hello, Nelson Cruz).

It’s time to see if that young phenom with tons of upside lives up to the hype, or if there’s an unheralded player who comes out of nowhere and outshines the biggest of stars.

It’s time to play ball.

But before the season starts, it’s time for Roto Rage’s seventh annual Overrated/Underrated Fantasy Team. Here’s this year’s squad:

First base

Overrated: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays

His power and Hall of Fame lineage, mixed with the fact he’s hitting in the middle of a stacked Toronto lineup, make him a very exciting player. But the results to this point of his career have been underwhelming.

Underrated: C.J. Cron, Rockies

Healthy? Check. Starting? Check. Starting half his games in a ballpark where you can hit a pebble out of the ballpark with a paper clip? Check. He hit .253 while averaging 28 homers and 76 RBIs in 2018-19. This is a match made in heaven.

Second base

Overrated: Whit Merrifield, Royals

Reasons for concern: His walk rate, on-base percentage, average and stolen base totals have all declined in each of the past three seasons.

Underrated: Nick Madrigal, White Sox

Among players with a minimum of 100 plate appearances last season, he had the sixth highest average (.340) and the second lowest strikeout percentage (6.4) in the majors. Offers little power, but his elite average and speed on the basepaths help.


Overrated: Adalberto Mondesi, Royals

No one in baseball has stolen more bases than Mondesi over the past two seasons. It would sound so much better if he wasn’t a .251 career hitter with an ugly .284 OBP, 29.7 percent strikeout rate and 4.3 walk rate.

Underrated: Andres Gimenez, Indians

Double-digit homer and steal potential with a .250-ish average. Sound sort of like Mondesi? He may not steal nearly as many bases, but he’ll have a .330-ish OBP and was a heck of a lot cheaper on draft day.

Third base

Overrated: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals

Arenado is a .263 hitter away from Coors Field and is coming off a season in which he hit a career-worst .253 with a .738 OPS, his lowest mark since 2013. Now he calls St. Louis home. No thanks.

Underrated: Rafael Devers, Red Sox

Despite being drafted as the sixth- or seventh-best third baseman, Devers is a top-three fantasy option at his position, period.


Overrated: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies

Best fantasy catcher out there? Sure, but still worried about wear and tear on the 30-year-old. Realmuto’s numbers were solid in 2020, but it didn’t hurt that 18.5 percent of his plate appearances came as a DH (he hit .364 in those at-bats). He won’t have that luxury this season and has already dealt with a thumb injury in spring training.

Underrated: Jorge Alfaro, Marlins

Strikes out a ton but hit .262 while averaging 14 homers, 47 RBIs, four stolen bases and a .734 OPS from 2018-19.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge


Overrated: Aaron Judge, Yankees

Cue the hate mail. So much talent, but so many injuries. Until he proves he can stay healthy, he’ll be among the overrated.

Underrated: Mike Yastrzemski, Giants

May not be a Hall of Famer like his grandfather, but he can do plenty to help. He has 30-homer potential and the ability to drive in (and score) runs. He will also get on base regularly (top-20 OBP in 2020) while hitting for a solid average.

Starting pitcher

Overrated: Walker Buehler, Dodgers

Despite having the stuff of an ace, a potential innings limit and deep Dodgers rotation could eat into his workload.

Underrated: Joe Musgrove, Padres

Love his move to San Diego. Among pitchers who threw a minimum of 30 innings, Musgrove ranked sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.48) and 16th in swinging strike rate (14.4 percent). He also held opponents to a .223 average. Oh, and from 2017-20, his FIP was consistently 40 points (or more) lower than his ERA, meaning he was unlucky (largely with lousy teams in Pittsburgh).

Relief pitcher

Overrated: James Karinchak, Indians

Sure, he held opponents to a .159 average while striking out 48.6 percent of the batters he faced, but he has one career save and has pitched in just 32 games. Let’s slow down before treating him like Mariano Rivera.

Underrated: Craig Kimbrel, Cubs

Despite pitching 7 ¹/₃ scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts, no walks and a .125 opponent average over his final eight appearances of 2020, he enters 2021 as an overlooked closer.

Roto Rage’s top five position rankings

First base

Pete Alonso
Pete Alonso
  1. Freddie Freeman, ATL
  2. Cody Bellinger, LAD
  3. Pete Alonso, NYM
  4. Jose Abreu, CWS
  5. DJ LeMahieu, NYY

Second base

  1. DJ LeMahieu, NYY
  2. Keston Huria, MIL
  3. Ozzie Albies, ATL
  4. Brandon Lowe, TB
  5. Cavan Biggio, TOR
Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor
Getty Images


  1. Fernando Tatis, SD
  2. Trea Turner, WAS
  3. Francisco Lindor, NYM
  4. Trevor Story, COL
  5. Xander Bogaerts, BOS

Third base

  1. Jose Ramirez, CLE
  2. Manny Machado, SD
  3. Rafael Devers, BOS
  4. Anthony Rendon, LAA
  5. Alex Bregman, HOU


Mike Trout
Mike Trout
  1. J.T. Realmuto, PHI
  2. Salvador Perez, KC
  3. Yasmani Grandal, CWS
  4. Will Smith, LAD
  5. Willson Contreras, CHC


  1. Juan Soto, WAS
  2. Ronald Acuna, ATL
  3. Mookie Betts, LAD
  4. Mike Trout, LAA
  5. Christian Yelich, MIL

Starting pitcher

Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom
Getty Images
  1. Jacob deGrom, NYM
  2. Gerrit Cole, NYY
  3. Shane Bieber, Cle
  4. Trevor Bauer, LAD
  5. Yu Darvish, SD


  1. Josh Hader, MIL
  2. Liam Hendriks, CWS
  3. Edwin Diaz, NYM
  4. Aroldis Chapman, NYY
  5. Ryan Pressly, HOU


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