There is never any shortage of outfield talent around Major League Baseball.
What makes the outfield such a fun position to take a deep dive into is there are many different ways that guys have found success. Some can do everything. Others use contact and speed to get on base and cause disruptions. Then there are the guys who prefer to hit the ball into the seats as often as they can to give their team a boost.
So which was is the best way? There's not an easy answer to that question. It all really just depends on the team that you have assembled around your outfielders and what you need them to do to be successful. Myself, Matt Hanson, and Tyler Austin did our best to put together our outfield rankings, so when your turn comes up in your fantasy baseball draft, you'll have a plan on who to draft if you are targeting an outfielder.
The Top 5 Outfielders in Baseball
It's either all or nothing with the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year. In 313 games, Acuna has 81 home runs and 194 RBIs, but he also has struck out 371 times. Last year's shortened season was a strange year to try and evaluate Acuna, as even though he hit just .250, he won his second straight Silver Slugger award.
What's crazy is that Acuna isn't even 24 years old yet. Expectations were so high after the 2019 season, that it was going to be impossible to live up to those expectations last year, especially considering MLB played a 60-game season in front of no crowds. Acuna is one of those players who feeds off the fans in the stands. As patrons return to baseball stadiums, expect Acuna's numbers to tick back up to what we saw from him in 2019. This year the Braves outfielder leaves no doubt that he is the best outfielder in baseball.
How much do the Boston Red Sox have to be kicking themselves for not getting more for Betts when they traded the outfielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers? The centerfielder felt like the piece that Los Angeles needed to finally win the World Series after losing the Fall Classic in 2017 and 2018.
Last year Betts finished second in the NL MVP voting, hitting 16 homers in 55 regular season games. An area where Betts can make some noise where he didn't last season is in the stolen base department. Last year Betts only swiped 10 bags. The regular season could have been an anomaly though, as Betts stole four bases in the World Series. If Betts can regain some of his baserunning prowess, he could be an even bigger monster for the defending World Series champions this year.
Mike Trout being third in the ranking of best outfielders in baseball should tell you just how loaded the position is. Even though it doesn't factor into fantasy baseball rankings, you have to wonder if Trout might be a little lower than he probably deserves because he has never been on a team that has won a playoff game. While Trout puts up huge numbers and stat guys always tout his WAR, he won't get quite as much respect until he makes some noise in the postseason.
It's scary to think that Trout could be in store for one of his best seasons. This will be the first year that Trout will have Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani together with him in the lineup for a full season. Opponents will not have a very tough decision to make when it comes to what to do with Trout. As long as Trout stays healthy, he should have no problems smashing 30 homers for the sixth time in his career.
Washington Nationals outfielder Juan SotoJohn McDonnell - Getty Images
Much like Acuna, Juan Soto is one of the young faces of baseball. Soto isn't even 23 yet, but he already has had an amazing start to a career that could eventually see him in the Hall of Fame. Soto was a driving force for a Nationals team that won the World Series in 2019, and now will look to cement himself as one of baseball's cornerstones for at least the next decade.
So far in three seasons (313 games), Soto finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, crushed 34 home runs in 2019, and led baseball with a .351 average last year. The sky is the limit for Soto, who is only going to improve as he sees more time on the field. If you are in a keeper league, Soto is one of the first players you should be looking at taking if he is available.
It's hard to believe that we are entering Harper's 10 year in the majors. Sometimes we take how good Harper is for granted since he often makes hitting look effortless. While Philadelphia hasn't made the playoffs in Harper's first two seasons with the team, it isn't because of a lack of effort from Harper, who hit 48 home runs and drove in 147 runs in his 215 games with the Phillies.
You can count on Harper to hit at least 30 homers and drive in at least 90 runs for Philadelphia. Even though Harper has been in the league for a decade, he is still in the prime of his career. Even though there is plenty of tape out on Harper, he continues to evolve and improve his game to stay in the conversation as one of the best players in baseball.
The Rest of the Top 25
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian YelichGene J. Puskar - Associated Press
After two straight seasons of hitting over .300, Yelich really struggled to find his swing last year, hitting just .205 and driving in 22 runs. Expect a bounce-back season from Yelich this year. He might not win a Silver Slugger award, but he at least puts himself back in the conversation after earning the honor three times in four years prior to last season.
Unfortunately we compiled these rankings before Jimenez was injured. The young Chicago outfielder will miss at least four months after suffering a pectoral injury. Even though you'll want to avoid him in single-season leagues, Jimenez still has plenty of value in keeper leagues.
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron JudgeKathy Willens - Associated Press
When he is healthy, Aaron Judge is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. The staying healthy part is easier said than done for Judge, who has missed significant portions of the last three seasons after winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2017. If Judge is able to play at least 140 games, he'll likely be approaching 40 home runs and 100 RBIs.
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy ArozarenaTony Gutierrez - Associated Press
Arozarena is one of the trickiest players in fantasy baseball to assess. While it may seem like a no-brainer to target Arozarena, we have only seen a small sample size of the outfielder in the majors. Even though Arozarena lit up any pitcher he faced in last year's playoffs, pitchers should be able to adjust as they see more tape on him. Plus, you never know what Kevin Cash is going to do with his lineup, which always makes Tampa players tough to gauge.
Castellanos made quite an impression last year in his first year in Cincinnati, helping the Reds make the playoffs. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of change in Cincinnati during the offseason, which will likely make it tough for the Reds to be playing in October this year. With Joey Votto getting older, Castellanos is looking like the best hitter in the Reds lineup this year.
A fantasy baseball "sleeper" this year could very well be Teoscar Hernandez. While Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette get the headlines in Toronto, an argument could be made that Hernandez was the Blue Jays' best hitter last year. After hitting 16 homers and driving in 34 runs in 50 games last year, it'll be interesting to see what Hernandez can do in a full season.
There hasn't been a lot to get excited about in Seattle in quite some time. Kyle Lewis is changing that. Last year's AL Rookie of the Year burst onto the scene and gave Mariners fans some hope. Now Lewis will have to build off the hype that he generated last year. A fair projection for Lewis in his sophomore year would be around 25 homers, 80 RBIs, and a .270 average.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex VerdugoMichael Dwyer - Associated Press
Verdugo's stats might not bowl anyone over yet, but we have to remember that the Red Sox outfielder is just 24. Verdugo was the best player Boston got from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, and Verdugo showed glimpses of what he can do, hitting .308 in his first season with the Red Sox. Now that he'll be able to see regular playing time, this could be a breakout season for Verdugo.
Joey Gallo is like one of those cartoonish sluggers from Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball. It's either all or nothing from Gallo, who has 120 home runs in 473 career games. If Gallo was able to make regular contact he'd be higher on this list, but the Texas slugger has hit over .210 in just one of his six seasons in the majors. Gallo is a great add if you are looking for homers, he just isn't going to get you much else.
Michael Brantley is one of the most professional hitters in baseball. In his 12 seasons in the majors, Brantley has hit below .280 in just three seasons, and has posted a .300 average in six seasons. Houston lost George Springer in free agency over the winter, so even more pressure will be on Brantley to produce this year.
Even though the Orioles are a dreadful team, there are a few bright spots in the lineup. Anthony Santander has put together a couple solid seasons for Baltimore, hitting 20 homers in 2019 in 93 games, and following that up with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs last year. Santander isn't a top-tier outfielder, but he could be a solid addition that could pay dividends if he continues to grow as a hitter.
Keep an eye on FindBet.com for the complete top-50 outfielder rankings
When it comes to the infield, there isn't a position with more talent than shortstop.
Some of the best young talent in baseball is at shortstop, making it a very tough exercise to rank who is the best at the position. Myself, Matt Hanson, and Tyler Austin did our best to try and rank the best fantasy baseball options at shortstop, as we make our way around the diamond to fully prepare you for your fantasy baseball draft this year.
Cream of the crop
The son of the former major leaguer hasn't even played 150 regular season games, yet the 22-year-old is already considered the best shortstop in the game. Last year Tatis finished fourth in NL MVP voting, as he was the driving force that helped the Padres earn their first playoff appearance since 2006. In just 59 games in 2020, Tatis hammered 17 home runs and drove in 45 runs.
Just how good is Tatis? The Padres already locked up the talented shortstop for the next 14 years, making him one of the highest paid players in baseball. It's obvious that Tatis moves the needle, not only with his teammates, but with fans as well. If you have one of the first few picks in your fantasy baseball draft, Tatis should definitely be on your radar. The shortstop would be a great building block in trying to assemble a championship fantasy team.
If you are new to baseball, it might be a little surprising to see Francisco Lindor ranked this high among baseball shortstops. Last year was a down year for Lindor, as it became obvious that Lindor wasn't part of Cleveland's future plans, and the team was going to move him when they felt they were getting fair market value. The uncertainty with Lindor's future led to the shortstop hitting just .258 with eight homers in 60 games.
Expect Lindor to regain the form we saw from him in the four years prior, when he was one of the most exciting players in the game. Lindor hit 30 homers in at three straight years, and almost led Cleveland to a World Series title. With the Mets positioning themselves to be a factor in the NL East, Lindor should see a bump in his production, especially with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, and others surrounding him in the lineup.
With Nolan Arenado being traded to St. Louis, Trevor Story is now the big dog in Denver. How long Story will be with the Rockies remains to be seen, but until he is traded expect the shortstop to continue racking up the bases. Over the last three years, Story is averaging over two total bases per game.
It remains to be seen if Story is going to see his numbers dip a little since he has very little protection around him the lineup. At least Story will still get to utilize the thin air in Denver to help boost some of his production when he makes contact. A realistic goal for Story this year will be 70 extra base hits. Anything above that would be a bonus, and would have you in good position in your league if he is able to get more than that.
Turner might not have the power numbers of the first few shortstops on this list, but he more than makes up for it when it comes to stolen bases and runs. Turner swiped at least 30 bases in each of the first years prior to last year's shortened season. Even though Turner doesn't have as much power as some of the other top shortstops, he still led baseball in hits last year, recording 78 hits in 59 games.
As long as Turner can stay healthy, he'll be in line for a big season. While Turner did play all 162 games in 2018, and nearly every game last year, he was out for extended periods of time in 2017 and 2019. If Turner can stay healthy, he'll help you get a leg up in other categories early on while others might be focusing on those with bigger power numbers.
New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber TorresJim McIssac - Getty Images
If someone told you after the 2018 and 2019 seasons that Gleyber Torres was only the fifth-ranked shortstop in baseball, you would think they were crazy. In his first two years in the big leagues, Torres smashed 62 homers and drove in 167 runs. Last year saw Torres lose his stroke, smashing just three taters and only driving in 16 runs.
If there was ever a season for Torres to schedule, last year might have been the perfect year to do so since it was a shortened season. It's hard to imagine a talent like Torres continuing to struggle. As long as Torres and the rest of the Yankees stay healthy, the shortstop is going to be a crucial part of a New York lineup that can put up runs in a hurry at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
The rest of the top-10
The rest of the top-10 fantasy baseball shortstops are still ridiculously strong, and it's hard to go wrong with drafting any of them. Tim Anderson has one of the smoothest swings in the game. The White Sox shortstop has hit over ,320 in each of the last two seasons. Basically you can think of Anderson as Trea Turner with a better average but not quite as much speed.
Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo BichetteTodd Kirkland - Getty Images
Bo Bichette may be known because of his father, but the Blue Jay has held his own so far in the majors. Even though Bichette has played in just 75 games in his major league career, the shortstop is a key part of a Toronto lineup that is loaded with young talent. Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are going to be a dangerous duo for years to come.
Aside from the 2018 season, where injuries limited Seager to just 26 games, Seager has been living up to the hype since winning Rookie of the Year in the National League in 2016. Last year might have been Seager's best season, as he blasted 15 home runs in just 52 games. With the Dodgers winning the World Series last year, expect even more from Seager and the rest of the boys in blue.
The Red Sox might be rebuilding, but one of their cornerstones now, and for the foreseeable future, is Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop hit 33 homers and 52 doubles in 2019. Even though the Boston lineup isn't quite what it used to be, Bogaerts should again approach those numbers if he avoid injury, which he has done a great job of so far in his career.
Kansas City Royals shortstop Aldalberto MondesiDaniel Shirey - Getty Images
Rounding out the top-10 is Adalberto Mondesi, who has speed for days. Every time Mondesi gets on base, he is a threat to steal. While a lot of the top-10 shortstops are guys with big power nujmbers, Mondesi could give your team a big edge in steals, which are becoming harder to find since stealing bases are becoming more of a lost art.
Ranking the next 10 shortstops
With the MLB season inching closer, we are taking a look at each position around the diamond and ranking the best fantasy options at each position.
Catcher might not be the most glamorous position, but there are still plenty of valuable players out there that could be the difference between winning and losing a title. Last year provided a little more flexibility for catchers, as with the universal designated hitter, managers had more options on how to manage the toughest position to play in baseball. Managers won't have the same luxury this year, since Major League Baseball is going back to the designated hitter being used in the AL-only.
The FindBet positional rankings were a compilation of the rankings from myself, Matt Hanson, and Tyler Austin. For catchers, we will dive into our top-20 catchers in the game right now.
After becoming a full-time starter with the Miami Marlins in 2015, Realmuto has gotten better in each year since. After earning a spot in the All-Star Game in 2018 Realmuto was traded to Philadelphia in the off-season. In 2019, Realmuto blasted a career-high 25 home runs, and also won a Gold Glove award.
Last year, Realmuto's average dipped below .270 for the first time since 2015, but it's hard to put much stock in 2020 since it was such a strange year for everyone. Realmuto still hit 11 home runs last year in just 47 games, and with fellow Phillies like Bryce Harper and Rhys Hopkins with him in the lineup, it leaves opposing managers and pitchers with a big decision to make on how to pitch to the stacked lineup.
The biggest reason to expect a strong year from Realmuto is re-signed with Philadelphia in the offseason, so now he doesn't have to worry about free agency for a while. With a big payday secured, now we'll likely see Realmuto show that he was worth all the coin that the Phillies put in his pocket.
While J.T. Realmuto has established himself as the best catcher in the game, it wouldn't be a shock to see Will Smith pass him for that honor in a few years. The Louisville product entered the majors in 2019, hitting 15 homers for the Dodgers. Even though Smith and Austin Barnes split time for Los Angeles in 2020, it became obvious that Smith is the future behind the plate for the World Series champs.
After hitting .253 for the Dodgers in 2019, Smith raised his average to .289 in 37 games last year. Even though it's not often that we see a catcher hit over .300, it's possible to see Smith hit that mark. With the protection he'll have in the Dodgers lineup, many teams will likely look at Smith as someone they need to pitch to so they can avoid Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and others. Smith will make them regret that decision. Expect Smith to put up numbers that mirror what Realmuto puts up in Philadelphia, and the average and RBI total might even be better.
Yasmani Grandal has bounced around a little, with Chicago being his fourth team in nine years in the majors. Grandal isn't going to wow you with his average, but his power numbers are great for a catcher. Prior to last year, where he played 46 games, Grandal hit at least 20 home runs in four straight seasons.
Much like the first two catchers on this list, Grandal is a key cog in a lineup that is loaded with talent. Being able to hit along with Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and Luis Robert will allow Grandal to continue to put up big home run and RBI numbers. Also, getting to go against some of the suspect pitching of the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers so many times definitely won't hurt Grandal's numbers in 2021.
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador PerezCharlie Riedel - AP Photo
One of the most respected catchers in the game right now is Kansas City's Salvador Perez. After missing the 2019 season, Perez burst back onto the scene last year, hitting .333 and bashing 11 homers. Perez has earned Silver Slugger honors in three of the last four years, and it's hard to not see him being in the mix to add to his collection this year.
Yasmani Grandal isn't the only catcher in Chicago with some pop. As the core of the Cubs continues to age, Contreras is even more important to Chicago's playoff hopes. While you'll likely have to deal with plenty of strikeouts from the 28-year old catcher, he'll make up for the whiffs with some big flies at Wrigley Field, and around the rest of the NL Central stadiums that he'll frequent throughout the season.
The rest of the top-10
New York Yankees catcher Gary SanchezJim McIssac - Getty Images
After struggling to find a home in his first few years in the majors, Travis d'Arnaud really looked comfortable in Atlanta, hitting .321 for the Braves. Meanwhile in the Bronx, Gary Sanchez hit just .147 for the Yankees in 2020. A reason to be optimistic about Sanchez in 2021 is when he hit under .200 in 2018, he rebounded with 34 home runs in 2019.
Austin Nola has limited time in the majors so far in his career. He's not quite at the level of Will Smith, but you could see him have an impact similar to Smith and some of the others at the top fo the rankings who are part of lineups that are loaded with quality hitters. Even though Christian Vazquez is less than a year younger than Nola, he has seen a lot more playing time in his career, as the Red Sox have been rebuilding over the last few years. The two catchers are on different coasts but should put up similar numbers.
Rounding of the top-10 is James McCann, who signed with the New York Mets in the offseason. After a breakout season in 2019, McCann had a hard time finding a rhythm in 2020. Now that he won't have to share time with Grandal, McCann will now set his sights on passing Realmuto and d'Arnaud in the conversation as the best catcher in the NL East.
Closing out the top-20 catchers
Sunday's NFL Playoff action featured six teams who don't like each other at all.
All these games were played between teams who had played each other at least once during the regular season. If you thought those games in the regular season were intense, Sunday's playoff matchups upped the stakes even more.
The Chicago Bears even replicated a dubious feat from their regular season matchup, as one of their wide receiver Anthony Miller was ejected after throwing a punch at C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The New Orleans cornerback also got into the head of Chicago wide receiver Javon Wims in the November matchup, causing Wims to get ejected in that game after he threw a punch at Gardner-Johnson.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar JacksonChristopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports
Game MVP: Lamar Jackson
Early on in this game it looked like the Titans were going to run the Ravens out of the building in Nashville. Tennessee opened up a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after an A.J. Brown touchdown, followed by a Lamar Jackson interception that led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. There wouldn't be much more offense in the next three quarters from the Titans, as Baltimore put the clamps down on Derrick Henry, holding the 2,000 yard running back to just 40 yards on 18 carries in the game.
After struggling to get any offense going in the first quarter, Baltimore started to find their rhythm in the second quarter. Not only did Lamar Jackson start to make some throws for the Ravens, but the dynamic quarterback added in some electric runs to keep the Tennessee defense on their heels. Baltimore was able to tie the game up on a 48-yard touchdown run from Jackson with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. The Ravens would take the lead for good early in the third quarter thanks to a four-yard J.K. Dobbins touchdown run.
The most controversial play of the game came early in the fourth quarter when Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel opted to punt the football on 4th & 2 from the Baltimore 40-yard line instead of letting his team try to pickup the first down. The defense of the Titans was able to keep Baltimore out of the end zone on the ensuing drive, but Tennessee failed in their last shot to tie the game, as Ryan Tannehill was picked off by cornerback Marcus Peters.
Now Jackson and the Ravens hit the road again to take on the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night. With last year's disappointing playoff performance behind him, Jackson will look to upend Josh Allen, who was taken 25 picks before him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The lights will be shining on two of the bright, young quarterback stars in the NFL on Saturday night.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew BreesBrett Duke - Associated Press
Game MVP: Drew Brees
The only really interesting thing about this game was the Nickelodeon broadcast. Not only did the kids' channel add some SpongeBob SquarePants to the broadcast, but there was also a "slime zone" that was activated when touchdowns were scored. Unfortunately, only four touchdowns were scored in the game, so the fun animation wasn't used all that much.
New Orleans benefitted from the return of Michael Thomas after the wide receiver missed the previous three games due to injury, and the Saints had a full compliment of running backs after the unit was forced to miss the final game of the regular season due to COVID-19 protocols. Drew Brees wasted little time finding Thomas, with the pair hooking up on New Orleans' first drive of the game for an 11-yard touchdown. Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara each added touchdowns in the second half to give the Saints a lead that put the game out of reach.
Chicago was listless all game, with Mitchell Trubisky not striking any fear in the New Orleans defense. Prior to the final drive of the game where he passed for 92 yards and a touchdown, Trubisky had only thrown for 107 yards in the game. The Bears couldn't run the ball with David Montgomery, which put even more pressure on Trubisky. Since Chicago couldn't drives together on offense, the defense of the Bears, which was missing leading tackler Roquan Smith, eventually wore down in the second half.
Next up for the Saints is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who New Orleans has already beaten twice this year. While the Saints do have two wins under their belt against Tampa Bay, it is extremely tough to be the same team three times in a season. This could be the last time we see Drew Brees and Tom Brady go head-to-head on the football field, so expect both quarterbacks to leave it all out there on Sunday night.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker MayfieldCharles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports
Game MVP: Baker Mayfield
While it probably seems pretty lazy to pick the three quarterbacks who won on Sunday as Game MVPs, if any of the three quarterbacks truly deserved the honor, it is Baker Mayfield. Not only was Mayfield making his playoff start for a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs in 18 years, the Cleveland quarterback was also doing so while his play-calling head coach was back at home in Cleveland after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The odds looked to be stacked against Cleveland, as they had just barely gotten by Pittsburgh's backups the week before to earn a playoff spot.
Cleveland's return to the playoffs got off to a dream start, as on the first play after an errant snap from Maurkice Pouncey sailed over Ben Roethlisberger's head, which allowed Karl Joseph to recover the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. The Browns poured on the points the rest of the third quarter, setting an NFL Playoff record by scoring 28 points in the first quarter. After Mayfield connected with Jarvis Landry for a 40-yard touchdown, Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns in a three minute span.
Pittsburgh did make Cleveland fans sweat a little bit, cutting the deficit to 35-23 late in the third quarter. While many were wondering if this was going to be a patented Cleveland collapse, the Browns ease the nerves of their fans early in the fourth quarter when Mayfield tossed his third touchdown of the game, finding running back Nick Chubb to push the score to 42-23. Roethlisberger padded his own stats with a couple late touchdowns, finishing the game with 501 yards passing and four touchdowns to go along with four interceptions.
Cleveland will have an even tougher task in front of them this week when they meet the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The good news is the Browns will have head coach Kevin Stefanski back, and they could see the return of key players Denzel Ward and Joel Bitonio. While the Browns will be a heavy underdog against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Mayfield and company certainly won't backdown from the challenge of beating the AFC's top team.