What a difference a year makes! Hopefully the remnants of 2020 can be flushed out of our systems for good, with normalcy returning in 2021. On that note, we’ll see if MLB can return to a normal 162 game season following the abbreviated, but appreciated 60 game season in 2020. How many games MLB will be able to play remains to be seen, but you don’t have to wonder about RealGM’s fantasy baseball draft guide – they are here! In case you’re not familiar with the format of my rankings, I organize the players in tiers based on position. I strongly suggest using a tier system for all of your drafts. You will also find a composite ranking of the top 150 players at the end of this article, which you must use to cross-check against the tier rankings (since player values vary based on position). So to emphasize due to its importance, you need to use the tier rankings and the top 150 in tandem in order to best make use of this guide (e.g. a tier 1 catcher doesn’t have the same value as a tier 1 first baseman, etc.).

Please also note the following with respect to the rankings:

  • Rankings are based on the standard 5 x 5 categories (R, HR, RBI, AVG and SB on offense; W, K, ERA, WHIP and S for pitching). Adjust accordingly for leagues with additional/different categories. For example, Joey Gallo’s value decreases in leagues that penalize for strikeouts by hitters.
  • Rankings cover the 2021 season ONLY. For keeper/dynasty leagues, you will need to factor in keeper ramifications accordingly. 

Please hit me up on twitter at @NeemaHodjat with any questions for your draft or the rankings. With that, here we go: 


Tier 1
J.T. Realmuto, PHI
Salvador Perez, KC

Tier 2
Will Smith, LAD
Yasmani Grandal, CWS
Willson Contreras, CHC
Travis d'Arnaud, ATL

Tier 3
Gary Sanchez, NYY
Christian Vazquez, BOS 
Austin Nola, SD
Mitch Garver, MIN

Tier 4
Tom Murphy, SEA
Sean Murphy, OAK 
James McCann, NYM 
Buster Posey, SF 
Yadier Molina, STL 
Jorge Alfaro, MIA 

Draft Strategy: In short, punt the catcher position and use the waiver carousel to fill the position. Catcher typically returns the lowest ROI when selected high, due to high seasonal variance, higher injury propensity, etc. JT Realmuto leads the position, and he’s worthy of selection in the 7-8th round. Otherwise, the difference among the catcher group as a whole is minimal, and you can get similar value by waiting until the end of your draft to select your catcher versus using a mid round pick like many folks in your league are wont to do. So snag a catcher at the end of your draft, and use the waiver wire to pick up the hot hand at the position…then repeat.

First Base:

Tier 1
Cody Bellinger, LAD, OF/1B
Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1B

Tier 2
DJ LeMahieu NYY, 2B/1B/3B
Pete Alonso, NYM, 1B
Jose Abreu, CWS, 1B
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR, 1B

Tier 3
Luke Voit, NYY, 1B
Matt Olson, OAK, 1B
Paul Goldschmidt, STL, 1B

Tier 4
Anthony Rizzo, CHC, 1B
Max Muncy, LAD, 1B/2B/3B

Tier 5
Dominic Smith, NYM, 1B/OF
Mike Moustakas, CIN, 2B/1B
Rhys Hoskins, PHI, 1B
Eric Hosmer, SD, 1B
Josh Bell, WSH, 1B
Miguel Sano, MIN, 1B
Ryan Mountcastle, BAL, OF/1B

Tier 6
Christian Walker, ARI, 1B
Jared Walsh, LAA, 1B
Carlos Santana, KC, 1B

Draft Strategy: First base doesn’t have the same level of boppers that we were accustomed to seeing just a few years back, but this doesn’t mean you can’t find value. I would suggest targeting your first baseman from tiers 3 and above, as absent a rebound season from Rizzo, there’s quite a dropoff from tier 4 down. In order land a tier 3 and above first bagger (that’s a group of 9 players), you’ll likely need to use a pick by no later than round 6. So follow this position closely in your draft, and be ready to pounce before the tier 3 group is wiped off the board.

Second Base:

Tier 1
DJ LeMahieu, NYY, 2B/1B/3B
Ozzie Albies, ATL, 2B
Whit Merrifield, KC, OF/2B
Ketel Marte, ARI, 2B

Tier 2
Brandon Lowe, TB, 2B/OF
Jeff McNeil, NYM, OF/2B
Cavan Biggio, TOR, 2B/3B/OF
Keston Hiura, MIL, 2B
Jose Altuve, HOU, 2B
Max Muncy, LAD, 1B/2B/3B

Tier 3
Mike Moustakas, CIN, 2B/1B
Dylan Moore, SEA, OF/2B
Jean Segura, PHI, 2B/3B
Nick Madrigal, CWS, 2B
Nick Solak, TEX, OF/2B
Chris Taylor, LAD, OF/2B/SS
David Fletcher, LAA, SS/2B

Draft Strategy: Second base had recently undergone a resurgence in fantasy baseball, with Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez and Javier Baez leading the way. Well, Altuve and Baez have been fading, and while Ramirez has remained a force, he now plies his craft at third base. The 2021 outlook at second base shows solid players at the top, but no franchise cornerstones, with good depth through tier 2 and some upside in tier 3. Your draft strategy at the position should be to seek value. If a top option presents itself in your draft at a reasonable price, then feel free to pull the trigger. But don’t feel pressure to lock in your second baseman early, as you can get by with the tier 3 group without a huge dropoff. Dylan Moore provides a reasonable upside play in case you wait on second base.

Third Base:

Tier 1
Jose Ramirez, CLE, 3B
Manny Machado, SD, 3B
Nolan Arenado, STL, 3B

Tier 2
Alex Bregman, HOU, 3B
Rafael Devers, BOS, 3B
Anthony Rendon, LAA, 3B
DJ LeMahieu, NYY, 2B/1B/3B

Tier 3
Eugenio Suarez, CIN, 3B
Cavan Biggio, TOR, 2B/3B/OF
Matt Chapman, OAK, 3B
Max Muncy, LAD, 1B/2B/3B
Kris Bryant, CHC, 3B
Yoan Moncada, CWS, 3B
Alec Bohm, PHI, 3B

Tier 4
Tommy Edman, STL, 3B/SS/OF
Gio Urshela, NYY, 3B
Ke'Bryan Hayes, PIT, 3B
Jean Segura, PHI, 2B/3B
Justin Turner, LAD, 3B
Austin Riley, ATL, 3B
Josh Donaldson, MIN, 3B

Tier 5
Brian Anderson, MIA, 3B
J.D. Davis, NYM, 3B

Draft Strategy: While the right side of the diamond has limited star power, third base has no such problems. The tier 1 trio should be off the board by the end of round 2, with the tier 2 group disappearing through the end of round 4. The recommendation here is to do your best to snag one of the seven tier 1/2 options, as tier 3 and below come with significant performance and/or injury questions. You should expect to use one of your top 4 selections on third base in order to grab one of the upper echelon options at the hot corner. In case you miss out on that group, don’t panic. In that case I’d target Suarez, Chapman and Bryant within tier 3, as they come with huge upside and could easily perform at a tier 2 level. They just come with more risk.


Tier 1
Fernando Tatis Jr., SD, SS

Tier 2
Trea Turner, WSH, SS
Trevor Story, COL, SS
Francisco Lindor, NYM, SS

Tier 3
Xander Bogaerts, BOS, SS
Corey Seager, LAD, SS
Bo Bichette, TOR, SS

Tier 4
Adalberto Mondesi, KC, SS
Tim Anderson, CWS, SS
Gleyber Torres, NYY, SS

Tier 5
Javier Baez, CHC, SS
Carlos Correa, HOU, SS
Marcus Semien, TOR, SS

Tier 6
Didi Gregorius, PHI, SS
Tommy Edman, STL, 3B/SS/OF
Paul DeJong, STL, SS
Chris Taylor, LAD, OF/2B/SS
Jorge Polanco, MIN, SS
David Fletcher, LAA, SS/2B

Draft Strategy: The shortstop position has completely transformed from a generation ago, when a .250 hitter with minimal power and good defense was deemed adequate for the role. Today’s top shortstops dazzle with 30+ homers, along with their gloves, continuing in the evolution of the position brought about by A-Rod, Derek Jeter and many others. Similar to shortstop, the suggestion here is to try to land one of the top 7 shortstops (through tier 3), but which for this position, a pick from your first three rounds will likely need to be expended. Granted the directive to snag your first baseman, third baseman and shortstop all with early-ish picks is hard to meet, note that there’s a soft second line at the shortstop position at tier 4. So if you don’t end up in position to grab one of the top shortstops, the backup suggestion is to grab one of the tier 4 players. As such, I would not suggest rolling with a player from tier 5 and below as your primary shortstop.


Tier 1
Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL, OF
Mookie Betts, LAD, OF
Juan Soto, WSH, OF
Mike Trout, LAA, OF

Tier 2
Cody Bellinger, LAD, OF/1B
Christian Yelich, MIL, OF
Bryce Harper, PHI, OF

Tier 3
Eloy Jimenez, CWS, OF
Kyle Tucker, HOU, OF
Luis Robert, CWS, OF
Marcell Ozuna, ATL, OF
George Springer, TOR, OF
Aaron Judge, NYY, OF
Starling Marte, MIA, OF
Whit Merrifield, KC, OF/2B

Tier 4
Michael Conforto, NYM, OF
Trent Grisham, SD, OF
Nick Castellanos, CIN, OF
Randy Arozarena, TB, OF
Charlie Blackmon, COL, OF
Teoscar Hernandez, TOR, OF
Brandon Lowe, TB, 2B/OF
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR, OF
Jeff McNeil, NYM, OF/2B
Eddie Rosario, CLE, OF
Cavan Biggio, TOR, 2B/3B/OF

Tier 5
Byron Buxton, MIN, OF
Austin Meadows, TB, OF
Tommy Pham, SD, OF
Wil Myers, SD, OF
Mike Yastrzemski, SF, OF
Michael Brantley HOU OF
Joey Gallo, TEX, OF
Dominic Smith, NYM, 1B/OF
Anthony Santander, BAL, OF
Ramon Laureano, OAK, OF

Tier 6
Alex Verdugo, BOS, OF
Kyle Lewis, SEA, OF
Ian Happ, CHC, OF
Victor Robles, WSH, OF
Dylan Moore, SEA, OF/2B
Ryan Mountcastle, BAL, OF/1B
Max Kepler, MIN, OF
Tommy Edman, STL, 3B/SS/OF
Kyle Schwarber, WSH, OF
Andrew McCutchen, PHI, OF
Nick Solak, TEX, OF/2B
A.J. Pollock, LAD, OF

Tier 7
Trey Mancini, BAL, OF
Dylan Carlson, STL, OF
Clint Frazier, NYY, OF
Austin Hays, BAL, OF
Andrew Benintendi, KC, OF
Chris Taylor, LAD, OF/2B/SS
Lorenzo Cain, MIL, OF
Raimel Tapia, COL, OF
Kole Calhoun, ARI, OF

Draft Strategy: Outfield obviously requires a different evaluation than the remaining position players, since you will need at least three to start for you, while the depth at the position gives you more leeway. The tier 1 outfield group belongs within the top five overall picks in your draft, with shortstop Tatis joining the group to round out the quintet. If you’re picking in the top five, that’s the pool of players you should be looking at. Otherwise, the outfield options are scattered throughout the rankings, with many viable options even as you move down the tiers. Given the depth at the position, outfield drafting strategy trends more towards the value side, rather than ensuring players are picked by a certain tier cutoff. If you are looking for a loose outline to use with tiers, a rough goal should be to snag at least one outfielder within the top 3 tiers, and your top three within the first 5 tiers. That gives you plenty of flexibility to work with as you build your roster.

Starting Pitcher:

Tier 1
Gerrit Cole, NYY, SP
Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP
Shane Bieber, CLE, SP

Tier 2
Trevor Bauer, LAD, SP
Walker Buehler, LAD, SP
Yu Darvish, SD, SP
Aaron Nola, PHI, SP
Max Scherzer, WSH, SP
Lucas Giolito, CWS, SP
Jack Flaherty, STL, SP

Tier 3
Brandon Woodruff, MIL, SP
Luis Castillo, CIN, SP
Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP
Tyler Glasnow, TB, SP
Blake Snell, SD, SP
Kenta Maeda, MIN, SP
Lance Lynn, CWS, SP

Tier 4
Zac Gallen, ARI, SP
Carlos Carrasco, NYM, SP
Corbin Burnes, MIL, SP
Jose Berrios, MIN, SP
Hyun-Jin Ryu, TOR, SP
Stephen Strasburg, WSH, SP
Sonny Gray, CIN, SP
Kyle Hendricks, CHC, SP
Dinelson Lamet, SD, SP
Zack Wheeler, PHI, SP
Max Fried, ATL, SP

Tier 5
Jesus Luzardo, OAK, SP
Charlie Morton, ATL, SP
Chris Paddack, SD, SP
Zach Plesac, CLE, SP
Zack Greinke, HOU, SP
Framber Valdez, HOU, SP
Lance McCullers Jr., HOU, SP
Joe Musgrove, SD, SP
Julio Urias, LAD, SP

Tier 6 
Dylan Bundy, LAA, SP
Pablo Lopez, MIA, SP
Ian Anderson, ATL, SP
Kevin Gausman, SF, SP
Sixto Sanchez, MIA, SP
Corey Kluber, NYY, SP
Patrick Corbin, WSH, SP
Marco Gonzales, SEA, SP

Tier 7
Shohei Ohtani, LAA, DH/SP
Sandy Alcantara, MIA, SP
German Marquez, COL, SP
Frankie Montas, OAK, SP
Triston McKenzie, CLE, SP
Mike Soroka, ATL, SP
Chris Bassitt, OAK, SP
Andrew Heaney, LAA, SP
Jose Urquidy, HOU, SP
Tyler Mahle, CIN, SP

Draft Strategy: Pitcher strategy largely depends on the format of your league. In points leagues, the top starting pitchers usually lead the league in points, and thus require a premium in the draft. As such, Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom would be top five overall values in points leagues, with Shane Bieber rounding out the top ten. In short, bump all quality starting pitchers up by 30-40% in overall rankings in points leagues. Now for head to head leagues, which are the basis for these rankings, the recommended strategy is to select an anchor for your staff (ideally someone within tier 2) in rounds 2 or 3, and then solidify your offense with your next 5 or so picks before turning to starting pitching again with your following 5 or so picks. Why this strategy? Ultimately offense has more consistency from season to season from a performance standpoint, while also having less injury risk. Also, a strong offense can overcome a mediocre pitching staff more so than vice versa, as you can better manipulate pitching numbers. In short, build a strong offense and a deep starting pitching staff.

Relief Pitcher: 

Tier 1
Josh Hader, MIL, RP
Liam Hendriks, CWS, RP
Edwin Diaz, NYM, RP
Aroldis Chapman, NYY, RP

Tier 2
Raisel Iglesias, LAA, RP
Ryan Pressly, HOU, RP
James Karinchak, CLE, RP

Tier 3
Kenley Jansen, LAD, RP
Kirby Yates, TOR, RP
Brad Hand, WSH, RP
Trevor Rosenthal, OAK, RP

Tier 4
Rafael Montero, SEA, RP
Devin Williams, MIL, RP
Alex Colome, MIN, RP
Drew Pomeranz, SD, RP
Matt Barnes, BOS, RP
Will Smith, ATL, RP
Richard Rodriguez, PIT, RP
Craig Kimbrel, CHC, RP

Tier 5
Nick Anderson, TB, RP
Hector Neris, PHI, RP
Jose Leclerc, TEX, RP
Giovanny Gallegos, STL, RP
Diego Castillo, TB, RP
Amir Garrett, CIN, RP
Joakim Soria, ARI, RP
Greg Holland, KC, RP
Bryan Garcia, DET, RP
Anthony Bass, MIA, RP
Jake McGee, SF, RP
Daniel Bard, COL, RP
Taylor Rogers, MIN, RP

Draft Strategy: More than any other position, relief pitchers (specifically closers) will jump off the board higher than their rankings. The position is most susceptible to a run (i.e. one selection of a relief pitcher in the draft causing several to follow afterwards). Further, there are only thirty closers in the league, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. That being said, the position brings with it the highest risk, as closers usually fly off the board within the first ten rounds, while injuries and loss of job due to performance impact a third to a half of closers per year. As a result, you don’t need to necessarily draft a lot of closers to lock down the saves category for the season. Attention to the waiver wire and handcuffing second-in-line relievers with your final roster spots can get you set without having to expend significant capital. So how should you approach the position? Let others expend early picks for the first two tiers, and take your first reliever from the tier 3 group. From there, add one to two more relievers within the tier 4 and 5 groups. You don’t want to punt the position. Instead, make yourself competitive on a weekly basis, but position yourself to upgrade the position group by targeting the second-in-lines behind struggling closers.


1. Ronald Acuna Jr. ATL OF OF1
2. Mookie Betts LAD OF OF2
3. Fernando Tatis Jr. SD SS SS1
4, Juan Soto WSH OF OF3
5. Mike Trout LAA OF OF4
6. Gerrit Cole NYY SP SP1
7. Jacob deGrom NYM SP SP2
8. Trea Turner WSH SS SS2
9. Jose Ramirez CLE 3B 3B1
10. Shane Bieber CLE SP SP3
11. Trevor Story COL SS SS3
12. Francisco Lindor NYM SS SS4
13. Cody Bellinger LAD OF/1B OF5
14. Christian Yelich MIL OF OF6
15. Freddie Freeman ATL 1B 1B2
16. Bryce Harper PHI OF OF7
17. Trevor Bauer LAD SP SP4
18. Manny Machado SD 3B 3B2
19. Walker Buehler LAD SP SP5
20. Yu Darvish SD SP SP6
21. Xander Bogaerts BOS SS SS5
22. Nolan Arenado STL 3B 3B3
23. Corey Seager LAD SS SS6
24. Aaron Nola PHI SP SP7
25. Eloy Jimenez CWS OF OF8
26. Max Scherzer WSH SP SP8
27. Lucas Giolito CWS SP SP9
28. Bo Bichette TOR SS SS7
29. Jack Flaherty STL SP SP10
30. Alex Bregman HOU 3B 3B4
31. Rafael Devers BOS 3B 3B5
32. Kyle Tucker HOU OF OF9
33. Brandon Woodruff MIL SP SP11
34. Luis Robert CWS OF OF10
35. Marcell Ozuna ATL OF OF11
36. Anthony Rendon LAA 3B 3B6
37. DJ LeMahieu NYY 2B/1B/3B 2B1
38. Luis Castillo CIN SP SP12
39. Ozzie Albies ATL 2B 2B2
40. George Springer TOR OF OF12
41. Clayton Kershaw LAD SP SP13
42. Adalberto Mondesi KC SS SS8
43. Aaron Judge NYY OF OF13
44. Tim Anderson CWS SS SS9
45. Starling Marte MIA OF OF14
46. Pete Alonso NYM 1B 1B4
47. Whit Merrifield KC OF/2B OF15
48. Jose Abreu CWS 1B 1B5
49. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 1B 1B6
50. Tyler Glasnow TB SP SP14
51. Blake Snell SD SP SP15
52. Kenta Maeda MIN SP SP16
53. Lance Lynn CWS SP SP17
54. Gleyber Torres NYY SS SS10
55. Ketel Marte ARI 2B 2B4
56. Eugenio Suarez CIN 3B 3B8
57. Michael Conforto NYM OF OF16
58. Trent Grisham SD OF OF17
59. Josh Hader MIL RP RP1
60. Nick Castellanos CIN OF OF18
61. Liam Hendriks CWS RP RP2
62. Luke Voit NYY 1B 1B7
63. Randy Arozarena TB OF OF19
64. Zac Gallen ARI SP SP18
65. Javier Baez CHC SS SS11
66. Charlie Blackmon COL OF OF20
67. Matt Olson OAK 1B 1B8
68. Carlos Carrasco NYM SP SP19
69. Paul Goldschmidt STL 1B 1B9
70. Teoscar Hernandez TOR OF OF21
71. Brandon Lowe TB 2B/OF 2B5
72. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. TOR OF OF23
73. Jeff McNeil NYM OF/2B OF24
74. Edwin Diaz NYM RP RP3
75. Aroldis Chapman NYY RP RP4
76. J.D. Martinez BOS DH DH1
77. Corbin Burnes MIL SP SP20
78. Jose Berrios MIN SP SP21
79. J.T. Realmuto PHI C C1
80. Eddie Rosario CLE OF OF25
81. Yordan Alvarez HOU DH DH2
82. Nelson Cruz MIN DH DH3
83. Hyun-Jin Ryu TOR SP SP22
84. Cavan Biggio TOR 2B/3B/OF 2B7
85. Stephen Strasburg WSH SP SP23
86. Keston Hiura MIL 2B 2B8
87. Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B 1B10
88. Jose Altuve HOU 2B 2B9
89. Sonny Gray CIN SP SP24
90. Kyle Hendricks CHC SP SP25
91. Dinelson Lamet SD SP SP26
92. Zack Wheeler PHI SP SP27
93. Max Fried ATL SP SP28
94. Matt Chapman OAK 3B 3B10
95. Max Muncy LAD 1B/2B/3B 1B11
96. Byron Buxton MIN OF OF27
97. Dansby Swanson ATL SS SS12
98. Salvador Perez KC C C2
99. Kris Bryant CHC 3B 3B12
100. Yoan Moncada CWS 3B 3B13
101. Austin Meadows TB OF OF28
102. Carlos Correa HOU SS SS13
103. Raisel Iglesias LAA RP RP5
104. Jesus Luzardo OAK SP SP29
105. Charlie Morton ATL SP SP30
106. Chris Paddack SD SP SP31
107. Tommy Pham SD OF OF29
108. Alec Bohm PHI 3B 3B14
109. Ryan Pressly HOU RP RP6
110. James Karinchak CLE RP RP7
111. Zach Plesac CLE SP SP32
112. Marcus Semien TOR SS SS14
113. Giancarlo Stanton NYY DH DH4
114. Wil Myers SD OF OF30
115. Zack Greinke HOU SP SP33
116. Framber Valdez HOU SP SP34
117. Mike Yastrzemski SF OF OF31
118. Lance McCullers Jr. HOU SP SP35
119. Michael Brantley HOU OF OF32
120. Joe Musgrove SD SP SP36
121. Joey Gallo TEX OF OF33
122. Dominic Smith NYM 1B/OF 1B12
123. Anthony Santander BAL OF OF35
124. Ramon Laureano OAK OF OF36
125. Kenley Jansen LAD RP RP8
126. Julio Urias LAD SP SP37
127. Kirby Yates TOR RP RP9
128. Didi Gregorius PHI SS SS15
129. Mike Moustakas CIN 2B/1B 2B11
130. Rhys Hoskins PHI 1B 1B14
131. Will Smith LAD C C3
132. Eric Hosmer SD 1B 1B15
133. Brad Hand WSH RP RP10
134. Josh Bell WSH 1B 1B16
135. Miguel Sano MIN 1B 1B17
136. Alex Verdugo BOS OF OF37
137. Franmil Reyes CLE DH DH5
138. Kyle Lewis SEA OF OF38
139. Ian Happ CHC OF OF39
140. Yasmani Grandal CWS C C4
141. Jorge Soler KC DH DH6
142. Victor Robles WSH OF OF40
143. Dylan Moore SEA OF/2B OF41
144. Ryan Mountcastle BAL OF/1B OF42
145. Trevor Rosenthal OAK RP RP11
146. Max Kepler MIN OF OF43
147. Dylan Bundy LAA SP SP38
148. Willson Contreras CHC C C5
149. Tommy Edman STL 3B/SS/OF 3B15
150. Travis d'Arnaud ATL C C6