As fantasy baseball comes to a close after yet another phenomenal season, we look at some of the best pick-ups of the 2021 season.
Cedric Mullins, OF, Baltimore Orioles
There is no doubt that Cedric Mullins was easily the best pick-up from the waiver wire this season. He finished as a top 15 fantasy performer this season. Mullins finished the season hitting .300 with 30 homers, 59 RBIs, and 89 runs scored. He also added 30 stolen bases to his credit. But Mullins also reached some amazing marks as well. He became the first player in franchise history to finish with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases. There is no question Mullins will be a top 25 next season for fantasy and anyone who had him this season had the absolute treat of getting a major boost in their hitting production all season long.
Jake Cronenworth, 2B/1B/SS, San Diego Padres
After a strong rookie season in the shortened season, Jake Cronenworth met the expectations set for him in his first full season in the majors. Cronenworth finished with 20 homers, 66 RBIs, and 92 runs scored while hitting .266 on the season. His position flexibility also made him a very likable player to have on rosters. And despite the disappointing season from the Padres as a team, he was a bright spot as another productive that the Padres can have in their everyday hitting rotation. Cronneworth will likely be a top 50 player drafted next season as he is expected to have another impactful season.
Brandon Crawford, SS, San Fransisco Giants
The Giants as an entire roster were a major surprise to have the kind of season they did this year. But a major part of that was the resurgence of Brandon Crawford. At 34, most could realistically say that his best days were behind him. But he completely revolutionized his hitting standards and finished as a top 30 hitter this season. Crawford finished with 23 homers, 88 RBIs, 75 runs scored, all while hitting .302. He also added 10 steals to his name. All of his numbers were career highs for Crawford. Will he have another season like this? It is hard to predict, but those who had him rostered should be very happy with his production this season.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Boston Red Sox
After Hunter Renfroe was cheaply traded to the Boston Red Sox from the Tampa Bay Rays, many thought this would be his last opportunity as an everyday starting catcher for any team. However, Renfroe completely turned around his MLB career and finished with an incredible second half to the season, finishing as a top 50 hitter in the entire league. Renfroe finished with 28 home runs, 91 RBIs, and 86 runs scored while hitting .262 on the season. Now with a team that values him, Renfroe could be in for another productive year next season as the Red Sox continue to build a franchise that can compete in the post-season.
Robbie Ray, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
After a shaky and inconsistent career with other franchises including six years with the Diamondbacks, everything changed for Robbie Ray with the Blue Jays. Ray finished with a 2.62 ERA and a 14-6 record, both are two of the best in the American League. He also finished with an elite 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings and a league-leading 163 ERA+. A free agent this season, Ray should be looking for a major payday whether it be from the Blue Jays or another franchise looking to upgrade their starting pitching. He’ll likely finish this season as a top-three CY Young pitcher once the winners are announced.
Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Being 40 years old has not stopped Adam Wainwright from being one of the consistent pitchers in recent memory. Already with a 3.35 career ERA, Wainwright rose the bar and finished this season with a 3.05, his best since 2014. He also added three more complete games to his name, totaling 27 for a career. And to top it all off, Wainwright was very successful with a 16-7 as well. Whether he chooses to retire or not, Wainwright will be remembered as one of the few pitchers to age like fine wine and never run out of gas when needed to step in and produce high-end outings for the Cardinals.
Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox
After signing a one-year prove it deal, Carlos Rodon has done more than prove that he deserves to be a quality starting pitcher in the MLB. In 2021, Rodon finished with a 2.47 ERA and a 12-5 record. He also finished with an incredible 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings while only managing 2.4 walks per nine innings. He also threw a no-hitter in April. He dealt with injuries throughout the second half of the season but still pitched productive outings when healthy. Rodon will also be in line for a major payday this winter as he hopes to carry that production for multiple more seasons.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP, San Fransisco Giants
After multiple mediocre seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani’s production took a major jump once joining the San Fransisco Giants. His ERA dipped to a career-low 3.26 while also finishing with a 12-7. He also managed to improve his walks per nine innings to a solid 2.3 after an ugly 4.3 in 2020. Alex Wood and Kevin Gausman also finished with very surprising and great seasons, but it was DeSclafani who stayed the most consistent between the three. He will be a free agent this season and it will be intriguing to see where he brings productive pitching to next, if he chooses to leave.