Bold predictions for the 2021 fantasy baseball season

Hitter Predictions: Underrated names open eyes

Alejandro Kirk finishes as a top-five fantasy catcher. He’s not the starter right away, but Kirk’s bat was too good not to keep on the MLB roster. The Blue Jays are going to be playing in highly favorable hitting parks this season, there’s a DH available, and it may only require about 400 ABs for Kirk to achieve this given the rest of the catcher landscape. The projections are extremely bullish — now we just need the at-bats. Starter Danny Jansen owns a career line of .208/.297/.370. Dalton Del Don

Raimel Tapia is finishing as a top-30 fantasy hitter, folks. He’s freely discussed his pursuit of the NL batting title, and it really doesn’t seem like too bold a statement; the man hit .321 in an abbreviated season in 2020. Tapia will do his home hitting at Coors Field atop the Rockies lineup, plus he has multiple 20-steal seasons in his minor league past. He has a shot at producing at a high level across three standard hitting categories and he’s a dark-horse candidate to lead the NL in runs.

It’s wild to me that Tapia is un-rostered in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues. We’ll be mass-adding him early in the season. — Andy Behrens

Cavan Biggio was a misunderstood fantasy case this spring; part of the story is driven by a .240 career average, and part of the narrative stems from his lukewarm scouting profile. But Biggio has played 159 MLB games, the equivalent of a full season, and he’s produced all sorts of goodies: 107 runs, 24 homers, 20-for-20 on stolen bases, a .368 OBP. His adjusted OPS checks in at 117; coincidentally, that’s the same as Francisco Lindor’s.

Biggio might slide down the Toronto lineup later in the year when everyone’s healthy, but perhaps a quick start will solidify his slot near the top. Let’s get frisky: Biggio scores 123 runs, hits 16 homers, and steals 28 bases; the same stats his Hall of Fame father posted two decades ago. Let’s party like it’s 1999. — Scott Pianowski

Pitcher Predictions: Let the deGrom-ination commence

-I’ve shoved all my chips on Jacob deGrom this year, and there’s nothing bold about that. But let’s take it a step further and pick him to win the NL MVP, which BetMGM ticketed at 100-1 this month. deGrom is capable of posting the type of statistical-outlier season that will be portable for voters, and this is the deepest roster deGrom’s ever been tied to — even better than the 2015 team that went to the World Series. The Mets are back in business, with money, moxie, and baseball’s best pitcher. — Scott

Corbin Burnes finishes as a top-five fantasy starter. He was admittedly a bit risky at his ADP with such a small track record, but those who took the leap of faith will be rewarded in a big way. Burnes should benefit from an improved Milwaukee defense and strong bullpen as well as an incredibly shaky division. He had the second-highest spin rate among starters last season on his fastball, and Burnes’ secondary stuff continues to develop. He’s going to rack up the strikeouts. Dalton

OK, this one works as either a hitter or pitcher prediction: Shohei Ohtani is winning the MVP and delivering the sort of two-way season that baseball hasn’t seen in a century. He struck out 14 batters over 8.0 spring innings, hitting 102 on radar guns, while also crushing five homers in his first 28 at-bats. Ohtani’s pitching arsenal is obscene …

… and he’s a well-established power/speed threat, likely to hit in the heart of an excellent batting order. If he can simply remain healthy, no one else has a path to value like his. Friendly reminder: You can still get Ohtani MVP shares at +3000 over at BetMGM. Andy

Team Predictions: Long-shots set to surprise?

-Here’s another BetMGM recommendation for you. The Milwaukee Brewers are currently +3000 to win the NL pennant, which sure seems generous considering the fact that PECOTA likes ‘em to comfortably win their division. I like the Brewers to reach the World Series. Christian Yelich absolutely raked throughout the spring, recapturing his MVP form, and this team’s pitching staff is loaded. Milwaukee’s bullpen is as good as any and the lineup is stacked (and built to endure an injury or two). The Cardinals may have made the splashiest offseason move in this division, but, to me, the Brewers appear to have the best and deepest team. Andy

-I agree with Andy and bet on the Brewers as a long-shot, but for this exercise let’s go with the underdog Los Angeles Angels winning the AL West. With sneaky additions on defense, Dylan Bundy developing into a true ace, and two of arguably the most valuable players in the league, LAA takes a winnable division. Dalton

-It’s been fun watching the Miami Marlins pitching staff shift from underground secret to trendy nightclub. We’ve been talking all spring about pounding the over on their win total, which has been tucked in the low 70s since market open. Let’s take it a step further for the purpose of this space: The Miami Marlins, in their stadium with the silly name, will be .500 or better in 2021. The staff is divine, and the lineup is sneaky-interesting. — Scott