First, let’s get some basics out of the way in terms of how to interpret these rankings. None of this stuff should come as any major surprise, but it never hurts to provide background:
- As a reminder, these rankings are geared toward a standard, daily, 12-team H2H redraft league, as that is typically the most popular fantasy baseball format. They will only factor in the five standard categories: Runs, RBI, Home Runs, Batting Average, and Stolen Bases.
- I would recommend not paying super close attention to the specific ranks of each player, and honing in more on the respective tiers that they’re in. Each tier represents a grouping of players that I think could arguably perform at a similar level, and/or carry similar levels of risk in terms of injury concerns or playing time obstacles. If Player X is ranked at #55 and Player Y is ranked at #65, but they’re in the same tier, it means that I personally like Player X a lot better, but think there’s a valid argument to be made for Player Y performing just as well.
- I take rankings like this as more of an art than a science. Every person’s rankings are influenced by their own biases, strategic philosophies, determinations of risk, and projections. It’s why no two rankings are ever exactly alike. Jon’s way of evaluating and ranking players has worked out well for Jon (and me) over the years, but it might not be a great fit for you. I can’t possibly predict your team’s specific needs, your league mate’s player evaluations, or your current waiver wire, and if I could it’d be weird. In a bad way.
- Yes, these ranks vary from the official PL positional rankings that I also developed in the offseason. That’s because these are only mine – no input from others. This is a safe space for me where I answer to no one but myself…and you if you leave a comment.
- I’m using 20 games as the threshold for the positional eligibility in the List. I have not included presumed eligibilities based on likely new positions. This is just a maintenance thing and we will update eligibility throughout the season. Feel free to let me know if I’m missing any!
And now a couple of notes on how I generally evaluate hitters before we dive in:
- I’ve gotten more level-headed over the years when it comes to weighing stolen bases, but I still think they’re incredibly valuable given how rare they’re becoming. Every steal is important, so don’t take those “chip-in” steals for granted. Finding steals at the end of the season can be a dogfight.
- It’s OK to be worried about slumping hitters like _____, but don’t do anything rash.
- If I did want to get some insight on whether what I’m seeing is new or if it’s just normal fluctuation, I’d use my favorite tool—the rolling chart. While we don’t have much for rolling data in 2022, you can see where they currently are on a rolling chart and see how it compares to their career trajectory.
- No stat is an island and they should all be taken in proper context. For ranking purposes, the primary starting points I use are plate discipline, wRC+, quality of contact metrics (also known as Statcast batted ball data), and lineup context. I also use various projections (some free, some I buy) and dollar value generators. Unlike Nick, I’ll also look at other rankings as I prepare my own to get a feel for how my colleagues are valuing certain players, positions, or stats. I recommend trying as many of these things as you can until you find what you like.
- Positional eligibility, and specifically multi-eligibility, is really neat but also isn’t a huge factor in many 10- and 12-team leagues anymore due to the prevalence of multi-eligible players (16 of the 30 second baseman I ranked in the preseason were eligible at two positions, with five more players being eligible at three positions). It’s of more value in deeper contests like the NFBC, or in leagues with limited roster moves (draft and hold leagues, transaction limits/costs, extremely short benches, etc.), but even then the value is fairly situational and context-dependent.
- On a similar note, I don’t really penalize players for only qualifying in the utility slot. At most, it is a mild inconvenience if a DH-only player is available at a great value and you already have filled your utility spots.
- If you’d like input on a player or have any feedback, your best bet is to reach out to me on Twitter (@ifthechufits) or in the comments!
Want more on how these rankings came together? Check out the podcast Hacks & Jacks featuring myself and Joe Gallina, which also happened to be a finalist for Best Baseball Podcast of 2021 by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA)!
- I continue to shuffle this top tier around, but again, it’s just awfully tight up there. Hard to go wrong with almost anyone as your top overall hitter.
- Mike Trout looks a lot like Mike Trout right now, even if he doesn’t run. That’s good for baseball.
- I’m not worried about Kyle Tucker. He’s a beast. If anyone is worried in your league, start making offers.
- I love what I’m seeing from Luis Robert. He’s been incredibly unlucky with batted balls and he’s still doing it all (except for batting average, but that will come).
- I just couldn’t stop moving Buxton up. The durability will always be a concern, but holy moley can he hit. It’s hard to remember that there was a time that he looked like a negative with the bat.
- Wander Franco can do all things. If I thought he could hit 30 home runs or steal 20 bases, he’d be even higher.
- Arenado has been lucky, sure, but he’s still hitting the ball hard and looks like a lock for yet another 30 home run, 100 RBI season. It’s amazing how consistent he has been over the years.
- And just like that, Francisco Lindor looks like a 25 home run, 15-20 stolen base shortstop. What a rollercoaster.
- OH LOOK! A bunch of slumping bats (Springer has been good, at least). While I did move many of them down from their original position, they aren’t close to the chopping block yet.
- I’m still not worried about Cedric Mullins yet. Ask me again next week.
- Seiya Suzuki might finally have been moved up enough. Maybe.
- Franmil Reyes will…eventually do something useful? He could still get to 35 home runs, but every week he’s bad he gets closer to the outside looking in.
- No, I still don’t know what to do with Cody Bellinger. I’m not sure when I will. BUT I am a lot more excited about it than I was a month ago.
- Bryan Reynolds is struggling, and he’s struggled before (see 2020) and bounced back. I’m still thinking he can be a high-level player.
- Ty France is the feature because I took way too long to buy in. He looks like a 25 home run, 100 RBI, high batting average bat with excellent plate discipline.
- Insert pun about Jazz and sweet music. He’s making it.
- DJ LeMahieu is another guy who seems to be turning it around quickly. Even if he only hits 20 home runs, there should be enough counting stats and ratios to be very worth while.
- Welcome to the list, Gio Urshela and Alec Bohm. They’ve really added a layer of hopes and dreams to a position that felt very thin on draft day. I don’t think either is a “league winner”, but they’re both very much worth taking a flyer on if you drafted Jeimer Candelario or other back-end third baseman.
- I’m sorry, Akil Baddoo, but until there are fewer strikeouts or more running, you’ll keep falling. He’s fine to drop in 10- and 12-team leagues with three outfield spots. I’d probably keep him in anything deeper. This hurts me.
And now, at long last, I present to you, the Hitter List:
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)