2021 Fantasy Baseball OBP Targets

by Brandon Morrow
2021 Dynasty Baseball Player of the Week: Bryce Harper

The 2021 Fantasy Baseball OBP Targets list will help inform you of those who are being undervalued in OBP formats.

On-base percentage is much better at displaying a player's overall value than batting average is. As Fantasy players have started to realize this, OBP leagues have become more popular. Although OBP has become more popular in Fantasy Baseball, we do not see those with high OBP's showered with the same praise as those with high batting averages.

The lack of spotlight on those with elite OBP's helps ensure plenty of value picks in OBP formats.

The players mentioned in this article are my favorite OBP league targets. All of the players mentioned are undervalued in Fantasy in comparison to their real-life value (Yes, even Bryce Harper).

2021 Fantasy Baseball OBP Targets

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Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

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We all know Bryce Harper is an exceptional player, but his fantasy value is only truly shown in OBP leagues. He hasn’t been a great average contributor in the last few seasons, but his OBP has remained elite. Since his 2015 MVP season, his lowest OBP in a season is .372, which would’ve ranked 22nd last year just behind Cavan Biggio

In 2020, almost nobody was better at taking a walk than Harper. His BB% was in the 100th percentile, meaning he is at the very top of the sport in this area. The most impressive thing about Harper is unlike some other prolific OBP studs, he doesn’t sacrifice any aggressiveness or power. 

In my eyes, Harper is a first-round pick in OBP formats. The Bat X projects Harper to have a .394 OBP with 37 homers and 105 RBI, all while pitching in 14 steals. That is very similar to Juan Soto’s projection, who is routinely going top four in drafts. He is the most well-known player to target in OBP leagues but is somehow still underrated. 

Cavan Biggio, 3B/2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Perhaps the second-most well-known OBP master on this list, Cavan Biggio. The Blue Jays infielder has a career AVG of .240 with a career OBP of .368. He is a rare player who will actually hurt you in average leagues, but help you tremendously in OBP leagues.

Biggio’s 13% chase rate is ridiculous, and it demonstrates how great of an eye he has. He also has an 18% first-pitch swing rate compared to Harper’s 45%, so he is clearly looking to make the pitcher work. He’s a limited player who knows his strengths and plays to them. 

He will also help in other categories, as he has 24 home runs and 20 steals in 159 career games. A potential 20/20 threat with an elite OBP should be taken higher in OBP leagues than at his current 58th overall ADP (FantasyPros). 

Aaron Hicks, OF, New York Yankees

With an ADP of 255 (FantasyPros), Aaron Hicks is a forgotten player in fantasy baseball. He has been an OBP asset three of the last four seasons and is slated to hit third in a loaded Yankees lineup. With the added RBI and run-scoring opportunities that come with hitting third, Hicks is a favorite target of mine for OBP leagues. 

Hicks has some power, as The Bat X projects him for 23 home runs. If he can provide a similar OBP to his 2020 .379 OBP he will be a steal. Hicks is far from the most exciting player on the Yankees, but that is why we can get him cheap. 

You could plug almost anybody in the Yankees three spot and they’d be valuable, but when you have somebody with an elite eye and underrated pop in that spot you have to pounce. Going in the mid 200’s, I recommend jumping on him a few rounds earlier in OBP formats.

Yasmani Grandal, C, Chicago White Sox 

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Currently going as the fifth catcher off the board (FantasyPros), Grandal has a path to becoming the number one catcher in OBP leagues. He nearly doubled Realmuto’s 8.2 BB% in 2020 with a BB% of 15.5. This helped Grandal maintain a higher OBP than Realmuto despite having .230 average compared to Realmuto’s .266. 

The Bat X projects 23 home runs for both catchers, with Realmuto having a handful more of counting stats and Grandal having a better OBP. Very similar players but with Grandal going 70 picks later than Realmuto, he’s easily my preferred target in OBP leagues.

The White Sox lineup is going to be a powerhouse in 2020, and Grandal will be a beneficiary of that. Catchers with elite on-base skills in elite lineups don't come along very often, so be sure to take advantage of this. Expect somewhat of a bounce-back season, and at least a top two catcher season in OBP leagues.

Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs

Ian Happ seems to be a popular breakout pick for 2021, but it is especially true in OBP leagues. In 2020, Happ had a .258 average but he managed a very good .361 OBP. I do expect his average to increase in 2021 as well, which will help bump up that OBP. 

He is going as the 152nd player off the board, which would be a steal in OBP leagues. He can be a true four-category contributor in 2021 while mixing in a couple of steals as well. People have heard of a Happ breakout for a few seasons now, but it was happening last year until he fouled a ball off of his eye. He was hitting .294  prior to the incident, and then hit .171 for the remaining 20 games. 

Happ is one of my favorite OBP targets for 2021 because he provides a solid floor and a high ceiling. He is a very safe pick, and you should feel comfortable taking him before his current ADP of 152. 

Mark Canha, OF, Oakland Athletics

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Going as the 241st pick, Mark Canha provides an excellent OBP at almost no cost. Canha’s OBP in the last two seasons was .387 in 2020 and .396 in 2019. His power seemed to decline after a 26 home run season, but his exit velocity and launch angle both increased.  With the increases in those areas, it is fair to expect a bounce-back power season. 

There have been rumors of Canha becoming the leadoff hitter in Oakland, and if that happens he is sure to be a steal at his ADP. With Matt Olson and Matt Chapman hitting behind him, there will be plenty of run-scoring opportunities for Canha. 

The best players to target in OBP leagues are those with good counting stats, mediocre AVG, and an elite OBP. These players slip through the cracks because mainstream media does not promote those with a high OBP as they do with those with a high AVG.

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