Hitter List 5/12 – Ranking the Top 150 Hitters for 2021

Ranking the top 150 hitters for fantasy baseball every week of the year

Hello, and welcome back to Hitter List, where every week during the regular season I’ll be sharing updated rankings for the top 150 hitters in baseball. These rankings are geared toward standard, daily, 12-team H2H leagues, 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.

First, let’s get some basics out of the way:

 

  • 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.

 

  • Player movement (+/-) can be influenced by the movement of players around them in the ranks. You may see a player rise a few spots despite a poor performance, or drop a few spots despite a great performance. This can happen when players above them are moved below them, or vice versa. It could also be the result of injured players returning to the list after coming off the IL, or dropping off the list when they hit the IL. Just something to be conscious of if you see a change that doesn’t initially make a ton of sense.

 

  • Any player currently on the IL or not in the majors is removed from the list.

 

  • Hopefully it goes without saying, but these rankings aren’t an exact 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. My way of evaluating and ranking players has worked out well for me over the years, but it might not be a great fit for you. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and that what makes the game so fun. Please keep that in mind before eviscerating my fragile mental health in the comments.

 

And now a couple of notes on how I generally evaluate hitters before we dive in:

 

  • I’ve typically weighed stolen bases pretty heavily, but I’ve gradually learned to value the stat less and less over the years. I’m hoping to continue to move in that direction this year, with one caveat: I still think players with truly elite speed (e.g. Trea Turner and Adalberto Mondesi) are worth their weight in gold. As stolen bases have plummeted in recent years, and previous world-class speedsters like Mallex Smith, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Jonathan Villar currently find themselves with declining skillsets and/or no path to full-time at-bats, players who can swipe 30+ bags have become a true rarity. Getting that kind of stolen base output from one lineup slot allows you so much more flexibility in how you put together the rest of your team, and I think that can really give you an edge when it comes to roster construction.

 

  • Batted ball quality is huge for me (as I’m sure it is for most people). Every year the industry takes further strides in how it evaluates contact quality and its relationship with launch angle. Connor Kurcon’s DHH% and TrueHit statistics are revelations, and something I hope to rely on for player rankings throughout the year, once those stats are updated for 2021. Looking at quality of contact in conjunction with a hitter’s plate discipline, contact ability, spray charts, and batted ball tendencies is really where the meat of my player analysis tends to take place.

 

  • Considering the format that these rankings cater towards (standard 12-team H2H), I generally think streaming catchers is a viable strategy, and as a result I’m a bit lower than most on the mid-tier options. That said, a catcher like J.T. Realmuto is essentially in a tier of his own, and as a result I think rostering him gives you a significant edge over your competitors. With this position in particular, I weigh ceiling significantly more than floor.

 

  • I hate kids. As exciting as it is to own a young prospect right as he’s breaking out, I’ve found that trying to pinpoint which prospect will take off and when is a complete crapshoot, and can oftentimes result in spending a lot of playing time and FAAB on young players who don’t return much value. As a result, I tend to lean towards veteran hitters with longer track records.

 

Ranking Notes

 

 

 

  • Just some quick housekeeping right off the bat — some guys, particularly later in the list, are marked as “UR” to denote that they were previously unranked, despite the fact that they have been featured in previous lists. That should be fixed going forward, but just something to be cognizant of.

 

  • Trea Turner is getting the bump into Tier 1 this week on the back of 15-game stretch that has seen him hit .344 with four homers and two stolen bases. With a .297 career batting average, the floor there is as high as it is for anyone, and Turner continues to retain the power gains he made a few years back, posting a 9.2% barrel rate that I think makes him a legitimate threat for 30 home runs. He’s literally tops in baseball in sprint speed as well, so really we’re just hoping to finally get a fully healthy season from him so we can bask in the glory of a potential 30/40 campaign.

 

  • If you wanna have yourself a good cry (we all need a good cry sometimes), check out the ADPs of some of this year’s top hitters. Yordan Álvarez was being taken 77th overall and as the 50th hitter off the board. Cue Yordan as Michael Jordan (Michael Yordan?) in the “And I took that personally” meme. Yordan has hit an even .400 over his last 15 games, lifting his season slash line to .342/.374/.596. He’s also blasted three homers over the past week, giving us some hope that the prodigious power we saw in 2019 is starting to come around again. The concern coming into the year were the dual knee surgeries he underwent last season, and of course that spooked most fantasy managers away. But it’s worth pointing out that Yordan struggled with knee issues for years prior to going under the knife, so there’s reason for hope that he might be better than ever now that they’ve ostensibly been addressed. With a Max EV surpassing 114 mph on the season and an absurd 40% Sweet Spot rate, there’s no doubt in my mind that 40 homers is possible for Álvarez. What makes him even more special is that he hits so many line drives, and whiffs at a roughly league-average rate despite crushing almost every pitch he makes contact with. This, I think, puts him in elite company as a guy who could hit .280+ with top-tier power, similar to J.D. Martinez. I think there’s still a little rust to shake off with Álvarez after a long layoff too, which is what makes what he’s done so far this year extra scary. It should be a fun summer.

 

  • Speaking of large humans who seem to be the missing links between man and deity, Giancarlo Stanton is doing things again. The batting average was lacking over the first few weeks of the season, but Stanton has rattled off a .403 average over his last 15 games with four homers and strikeout rate just barely over 20%. He’s also leading the league in just about every quality-of-contact metric, including Hard Hit rate (65.9% !!!), Max EV (120 mph !!!), and Average EV (98.8 mph !!!). What’s interesting is that he’s mostly going up the middle, as he customarily has, and hitting the ball on the ground a ton, so he’s not even making the most out of all these hard hit balls yet, which is wild. The question here was never talent, it was whether his muscles can remain un-torn long enough for him to put that talent on display. If you’re rostering Stanton, throw some salt over both shoulders and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

 

  • Yermín Mercedes and Nate Lowe have been two of my most fun players to roster this year, and I’ll literally designate a small section of this article every week to just heaping praise on them both. Nate Lowe has done a good job of maintaining a steady xwOBA in the .370 range over the past few weeks, which gives me hope that pitchers have not been able to adjust to him yet. And Mercedes is actually posting better xwOBAs against non-fastballs than fastballs at the moment, which I think also speaks to a good foundation that is going to be tough for pitchers to exploit. Nothing but love for my two giant power-hitting humans.

 

  • Is Josh Donaldson… improving? His 15.3% strikeout rate would be the lowest of his career, and he’s also posting career-bests in xBA (.326), barrel rate (16.4%), and xwOBA (.424). His performance against non-fastballs this year has also arguably been better than it’s ever been. Maybe it’s a small-sample thing — Donaldson did miss time earlier this year with a leg injury. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, as the surface numbers haven’t caught up to the underlying metrics, and he could be in line for a big hot streak if he can maintain this.

 

  • I had actually dropped Tommy Pham much lower in this week’s rankings after it appeared that he was entering a timeshare with Jurickson Profar. But with both Profar and Wil Myers hitting the IL, Pham should get plenty of consistent playing time. And, believe me, I know how hard it has been to roster him this year. But he’s been one of the unluckiest hitters in the game to this point, and he’s someone who has historically been able to go on hot streaks that can carry your team. I really think your patience will be rewarded with Pham. As I whisper anxiously to myself every night before falling asleep: it’s not too late to turn things around.

 

  • Ty France is under occupation, besieged by troops from the Nation of Suckitude. He’s hitting just .215 over his last 30 games with only two homers, and his xwOBA has quite literally dropped off a cliff the past few weeks. Purely speculating here, but I’m a little concerned that he may be playing through something, as a lot of his metrics were looking good prior to the past couple of weeks. If he’s healthy, I’m reasonably optimistic he can turn things around, as he’s been doing a lot of things right this season, posting solid line drive rates, a really good Sweet Spot rate, limiting his strikeouts, and taking plenty of walks. If you’re a believer, and think this is just a cold spell, now might be a good chance to buy low.

 

  • In the course of trying to track the recent and historical performances of about 200 hitters every week, a handful of guys are almost inevitably going to be overlooked. This week, I’ve discovered that I’ve been giving Cedric Mullins and Marcus Semien short shrift recently. Mullins, as I recently discovered, actually stopped switch-hitting this season and decided to become a left-handed hitter, and the results have been awesome. He’s always been a decent contact hitter with speed, but he now seems to be seeing non-fastballs a lot better, and putting more of a charge into them, with his Hard-Hit rate jumping to 41% this year. He’s also done a much better job of elevating the ball. This isn’t to say I think he’s suddenly a 20-homer threat, but low-teens home runs with a good average and potentially 20 stolen bases while leading off is very nice, to say the least, and I think he should probably be starting in most 12-teamers. Semien I’ve always been a bit tepid on, but he’s leaning heavily into a pulled flyball approach, and thanks to an uptick in hard contact, it’s working out so far. I do think he may hit a slump soon as pitchers start to pull back on the amount of fastballs he sees, but it’s hard to argue with his performance to this point.

 

  • Andrew Benintendi looks super. Like a Super Benintendo who could play until he’s Benintendo 64. What’s caused this Benintendo Switch? Okay sorry, I’m done. But seriously, Benintendi has seemingly reverted back to the player he was in his early Red Sox career, spraying line drives to all fields with moderate power, good contact ability, and solid plate discipline. I think 20 homers is still the high-water mark with him, but he’ll likely give you enough of everything, to the point where you’re saying “Benintendo, Wee!” Okay, seriously, I’m done now.

 

  • Do you ever consider a baseball player a personal adversary purely because they choose to prosper after you’ve moved on from them, or are you actually well-adjusted? Timed perfectly with the point at which I dropped Josh Rojas off most of my rosters, he’s become one of the hottest hitters in baseball, hitting .306 with five homers over his last 30 games and an insane .423 over the past week. In the short term, he’s an absolute must-add, as he’s been winning teams their matchups in H2H for awhile now. In the long-term, I’m not entirely sure what to think. He’ll continue to have a spot in the lineup as long as he’s hitting, but there are lots of mouths to feed in a healthy Arizona lineup if he cools off. I’m also not sure the penchant for ground balls and middling performance against non-fastballs bodes well for his power or ability to hit for an average much higher than .260. But we can put those concerns off for another time, because he’s on fire right now.

 

  • Andrew McCutchen is also on fire right now, hitting .357 with three homers over his last seven games. I’m not buying this long-term —there’s just way too many red flags in his profile. Still, not a bad option for streaming though, as long as he’s seeing the ball well and producing.

 

  • I think I’m pretty much done with Josh Bell. With each passing day, 2019 looks more and more like an aberration as opposed to a legitimate breakout. His ground-ball rate has receded back to where it was pre-2019, he’s whiffing at a high rate, and it just all looks really bad. Every time I watch him hit, I hope to see that he’s rediscovered the quiet batting stance that coincided with his big breakout. But there’s still too much movement, and it all makes me sad. If there’s reason for optimism, it’s that he’s still hitting the ball really, really hard. But I’m not sure that even matters at this point when it’s consistently going straight into the ground.

 

  • I feel like there are probably lots of questions about Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, who have been doing some fun things lately. Crawford is posting an inexplicably high 13% barrel rate at the moment, thanks in large part to what looks like a conscious effort to elevate the ball more this year. However, with his whiff rate at a career high, no corresponding shift in his approach to pull the ball more, and no significant boost to his Hard-Hit rate, I think this power outbreak is more of a flash in the pan than anything else. He’s a fine option to stream while the production continues, but I don’t think there’s much to see here long-term. I’m inclined to say the same about Belt, who has seemingly teased us every season of his career with an impressive hot streak, only to get injured and/or have his production drop off precipitously. I think this is a situation where I’ve been burned so many times that I’m going to need to see Belt maintain this for a little while before becoming a believer.

 

Rank Hitter Position Change
1Ronald AcunaT1OF-
2Mike TroutOF-
3Juan SotoOF-
4Mookie BettsOF+1
5Trea TurnerSS+1
6Trevor Story
T2
SS
+1
7Jose Ramirez3B+1
8Freddie Freeman1B+1
9Corey SeagerSS+1
10Bo BichetteSS+2
11J.D. MartinezDH+4
12Bryce HarperOF-1
13Nelson CruzDH-
14Rafael Devers3B-
15Xander BogaertsSS+1
16Vladimir Guerrero Jr.1B, 3B+2
17Shohei Ohtani
T3
DH
+3
18Nick CastellanosOF+3
19Trent GrishamOF+7
20Yordan AlvarezOF, DH+3
21Aaron JudgeOF, DH+1
22Manny Machado3B, SS-3
23Jesse WinkerOF+7
24Pete Alonso1B+1
25Kyle TuckerOF+3
26Francisco LindorSS+1
27Nolan Arenado3B+7
28J.T. RealmutoC+7
29Matt Olson1B, DH-
30Whit Merrifield2B, OF+6
31Jose Abreu1B, DH+1
32Giancarlo StantonOF, DH+10
33Tim AndersonSS+4
34Alex Bregman3B+4
35DJ LeMahieu1B, 2B, 3B+4
36Marcell OzunaOF-3
37Ramon LaureanoOF+6
38Jared Walsh
T4
1B
+11
39Ozzie Albies2B+1
40Franmil ReyesOF, DH+1
41Paul Goldschmidt1B+5
42Randy ArozarenaOF+3
43Kris Bryant3B, OF+16
44Justin Turner3B+14
45Charlie BlackmonOF+3
46Yermin MercedesDH+15
47Nate Lowe1B+17
48Luke Voit1B+UR
49Yoan Moncada3B+3
50Jarred KelenicOF+UR
51Teoscar HernandezOF, DH+3
52Yuli Gurriel1B, 3B+27
53Michael BrantleyOF+4
54Alex VerdugoOF+11
55Austin MeadowsOF, DH-11
56Dansby SwansonSS-
57Josh Donaldson3B+21
58Max Muncy1B, 2B, 3B-3
59Michael ConfortoOF-8
60Jose Altuve2B+12
61Dominic Smith1B, OF-14
62Marcus SemienSS+18
63Javier Baez
T5
SS
-3
64Eric Hosmer1B-2
65Mitch HanigerOF-2
66Anthony Rizzo1B-13
67Trey Mancini1B, OF+10
68Gio Urshela3B+3
69Tommy Edman2B, 3B, OF-
70Jeff McNeil2B, 3B, OF+6
71Carson KellyC+16
72Mike YastrzemskiOF+UR
73Matt Chapman3B-3
74Alec Bohm
T6
3B
-6
75Tommy PhamOF-8
76Carlos CorreaSS-10
77Lourdes Gurriel Jr.2B, OF-4
78Rhys Hoskins1B-4
79Will SmithC+6
80Nick Solak3B+11
81Austin Riley3B, OF+18
82Brandon Lowe2B-
83Ty France2B, 3B-8
84Cedric MullinsOF+26
85Dylan CarlsonOF+10
86Mike Moustakas2B, 3B-2
87Andrew BenintendiOF+24
88Jesus Aguilar1B-
89Gleyber Torres2B, SS-6
90Mark Canha1B, OF+2
91Kyle LewisOF+12
92Garrett Hampson2B, OF+17
93Josh Rojas2B, OF+48
94Joey GalloOF, DH-5
95Raimel TapiaOF+17
96Eddie RosarioOF-3
97Dylan Moore
T7
1B, OF
-1
98Salvador PerezC-1
99Cavan Biggio2B, OF-1
100Ryan McMahon1B, 2B, 3B+UR
101Isiah Kiner-FalefaC, 3B, SS+23
102Jorge SolerOF, DH-12
103Eugenio Suarez3B-2
104Christian Walker1B+9
105Adolis GarciaOF+UR
106Willson ContrerasC+UR
107Jed Lowrie
T8
2B, 3B
+9
108Bryan ReynoldsOF+13
109Corey DickersonOF-7
110Nick Madrigal2B-4
111Willie CalhounOF, DH+UR
112AJ PollockOF+3
113Buster PoseyC+26
114Ryan Mountcastle1B, OF+26
115Carlos Santana1B, DH+8
116Jeimer Candelario3B+9
117Jake Cronenworth1B, 2B+9
118Manuel MargotOF-14
119David Fletcher2B, 3B, SS-5
120Nick SenzelOF+14
121Andrew McCutchenOF+25
122Brandon Belt1B+UR
123Christian VazquezC+4
124Chris Taylor2B, OF+UR
125Andrew Vaughn
T9
OF
+6
126Josh Bell1B-40
127Justin UptonOF-5
128Kolten Wong2B+1
129Harrison BaderOF+UR
130Randal GrichukOF+UR
131Victor RoblesOF-12
132David PeraltaOF+UR
133Clint Frazier
T10
OF
-16
134Eduardo Escobar2B, 3B+3
135Didi GregoriusSS-7
136Gavin Lux2B, SS-1
137Tyler NaquinOF+UR
138Rowdy Tellez1B+UR
139Tyler O’NeillOF+UR
140Pavin SmithOF+5
141Avisail GarciaOF+6
142Miguel Sano1B, 3B+UR
143Yasmani GrandalC+UR
144Evan Longoria3B+UR
145Brandon CrawfordSS+UR
146Josh NaylorOF+UR
147Hunter Dozier3B, OF, DH-3
148Seth BrownOF+UR
149Aaron HicksOF+UR
150Austin SlaterOF+UR

 

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

 

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

  • Avatar Omar says:

    Where would Mike Yestrzemski rank?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks for flagging this–totally missed that he had been activated. I have him at #72.

  • Avatar AD says:

    Where does Yaz rank now that he is back? And where does Jazz and Ketel rank when they return hopefully in the next few days? Love your weekly column.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks for reading! Just added Yaz at 72, I missed his activation from the IL. Jazz I’ll probably have in the top half of Tier 4, and Ketel in Tier 3. Love what I’ve seen from both of them in their brief stints this year.

  • Avatar Andrew Jadwin says:

    Profar is only out a couple days for Covid protocol, I bet, so still in Pham’s way. It’s not like Profar is hitting any better than Pham, so I have to wonder if they know there’s something wrong with Pham that we don’t, or they just flat out prefer Profar’s defense.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      That’s true, though Myers tested positive for COVID, so Pham will likely grab his at-bats once Profar’s back. Hopefully that’ll give him enough time to turn things around (he’s shown some signs of life lately).

  • Avatar Tommy says:

    Look forward to this every week.

    Looks like you’ve got Edman as a top 5 2nd Baseman still despite less than stellar production. What’re you seeing in him that’s got you believing?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks for the kind words, and for reading!

      Edman is maybe a tad high, but I think the contact ability and sprint speed gives him a high batting average floor. With a league-average Hard Hit rate and a really impressive 112 mph Max EV, I think there may be a little latent power in there that hasn’t come out yet. If things break right I think 12 HR/25 SB with lots of runs and an AVG around .280 is possible, which I think plays everywhere for a guy with his eligibility.

  • Avatar ! says:

    Drop hosmer for Nate Lowe? Shallow league

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I’d be okay with that, yes. Lowe’s been the hotter hitter, and his profile lends itself to better long-term success in my opinion.

  • Avatar Armadillofury says:

    Ty France was HBP on the arm on 4/19. Since 4/20, he’s hit .156/.260/.234. Before the HBP, he was hitting .311/.411/.525.
    https://www.mlb.com/news/ty-france-leaves-game-after-being-hit-by-pitch

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      This is great context, thanks for sharing! I thought something was up–you don’t usually see such a huge dip on a guy’s rolling xwOBA chart unless there’s an injury involved.

  • Avatar Leo says:

    I’m confused why Kyle Seager isn’t ranked. His Statcast numbers look pretty good and he has the production numbers to back it so far this season

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I had him ranked early on when putting together this week’s list, but in adding a few names it looks like he got pushed just beyond the cutoff. He definitely belongs here based on his performance to this point.

  • Avatar Dhroa says:

    Great weekly list!

    Any way you could make an IL list where you mention roughly were they would rank is healthy?? Kind of like the top 100 SP list does.

    Also what’s your stance on Grichuk, I see you have him fairly low (under Canha). I doubt he has PT problems.

    Thanks

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks!

      I’ll see if I can add a chart for the IL guys going forward, that’s a good idea.

      Grichuk is low because I had playing time concerns long-term and he tends to have brief hot streaks ever year before cooling off substantially (which already seems to be happening). But he should be a bit higher, I didn’t factor in the loss of Springer opening up more at-bats in the short term.

  • Avatar Beardawg says:

    I’m flummoxed you have Dom Smith ahead of M. Haniger and J. Baez, what the what?

  • Avatar Ken says:

    Where would you rank Mondesi? In terms of the “TOP 100 SP’ list has IL guys ranked for ex Carrasco as top 20. Thanks :)

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