When you think about keeper rankings, you think about the future. But the future of Major League Baseball is in action now. Some of the best hitters in the game are barely of drinking age. There are also a few players who have spent little or no time at the MLB level that should also be considered among the preferred bats to keep. Here is my list of the top 25 batters for keeper leagues. Each player’s age for the 2021 season is included in parentheses.
1. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves (23 years old)
Don’t be surprised if he goes for 40-40 this year. Acuna hit 41 homers and stole 37 bags in 2019.
2. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals (22)
Last season’s National League batting champ is already being compared to Ted Williams.
3. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (28)
Betts has been a durable five-category producer for 4-5 seasons now, and he’s still in the prime of his career.
4. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres (22)
You could make a good argument for Tatis to be No. 1 on this list. He has the skills to be a 30-30 player multiple times in his career.
5. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels (29)
Trout will turn 30 this year and has been nagged by injuries for the past few seasons. But whenever he is on the field, he is arguably the best player in the sport.
6. Cody Bellinger, 1B-OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (25)
The 2019 NL MVP is one of baseball’s premier power hitters, but he’s got enough speed to steal 15 or more bases, too.
7. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (29)
Yelich slumped for the entirety of the shortened 2020 season, but there’s no reason to expect that to be the norm for him at this age. He averaged 40 HRs and 26 steals while hitting .326 from 2018-19.
8. Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals (28)
One of the fastest players in MLB, Turner also has enough strength to hit 20-25 homers.
9. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies (28)
Another do-it-all shortstop, you just hope that Story gets enough pitches to hit in what has become a depleted Rockies lineup.
10. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians (28)
Ramirez could put up another 30-30 season in 2021. He is the best third baseman in fantasy right now.
11. Francisco Lindor, SS, New York Mets (27)
The switch to the National League won’t affect Lindor, who has popped 30-plus homers with at least 15 steals and a .270 average in each of his last three full seasons.
12. Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (28)
Harper is one of the best run producers in baseball, can provide double-digit steals and a workable batting average. Not bad for someone whom many consider overrated.
13. Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres (28)
Feels like he’s been around forever, but Manny is still very much in his prime. More than 30 homers, 10 steals and an average around .290 are all reachable benchmarks.
14. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox (24)
There are multiple 40-homer seasons in his future.
15. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (24)
His 2019 line — 32 homers, 115 RBIs, 129 runs, .311 batting average — may be his apex, but Devers is just a fantastic hitter at such an early stage in his career.
16. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (28)
The left side of that Red Sox’s infield is pretty good. Bogaerts’ power has really blossomed over the past couple of years, and he can still steal 10-15 bases.
17. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (23)
Although Bichette has played only 75 games at the MLB level, it looks like his floor in a full season includes at least 20 HRs and 20 steals with a batting average that hovers around .290.
18. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves (24)
Albies offers 25-25 upside with the potential for more over the next few years at a position that is thin on top-tier talent.
19. Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros (27)
Bregman is just a year removed from bashing 41 HRs.
20. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (20)
Franco is the first player on this list who hasn’t appeared in an MLB game, but baseball’s No. 1 prospect should make his debut this year. He is expected to hit for a very high average and showcase good raw power.
21. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays (22)
Vlad hasn’t lived up to the immense hype, but his exit velocities and hard-hit rates tell us that there’s a 30-homer star waiting to burst out.
22. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves (31)
The oldest player on this list, Freeman definitely hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. The 2020 NL MVP has improved his HR stroke in recent seasons.
23. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (24)
Tucker put up 34 homers and 30 steals in the minors in 2019 and displayed that dual-threat ability in 58 games last year with the Astros.
24. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (27)
He is too low here if he maintains his 2020 power surge.
25. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox (23)
The sky’s the limit for Robert if he can make contact consistently. That remains in question.