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.
- 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. 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)!
- Ronald Acuña Jr. is incredible. Any fears you had about being eased in or not stealing bases should be gone now that he’s playing every day (though he did just sit to rest a sore groin). As long as he’s playing the rest of the season, he’s the king.
- I finally split the top tier in two, but really, it’s kind of like 1A and 1B. The top tier is a collection of guys I think could reasonably be your top overall player based on format or preferences. The second tier is made up of guys who all could be part of the first tier if they make a minor adjustment or even just have an extended hot streak.
- Mike Trout is still Mike Trout and that’s awesome. He’s not in the top tier due to the injury risk and lack of steals (I’d be surprised if he even got to five), but he’s still Mike Trout.
- Bo Bichette took a tumble here despite hitting MUCH better of late (.347 over his last 10 games) because I just had to move a few guys up due to their performances.
- Luis Robert is currently on a nine-game hitting streak, and now I’m wondering if he can stay healthy and be the 30 home run, 20 stolen base monster I know he can be. He’s made big adjustments to his approach and has cut the strikeouts all the way down to 13.3% despite a hyper-aggressive approach (he’s in the top-four in all three swing rates (outside, zone, and overall) much like his teammate Tim Anderson. The main difference, though, is that Robert has considerably more power potential. While Robert probably can’t keep up this kind of plate discipline forever, he’s only 24 and has at least a couple of seasons before we have to worry too much about his bat-to-ball skills.
- Not much to say about Tier 3, really. It’s mostly the same guys in mostly the same spots. I imagine that if we had to draft today, this would mostly be the second round, and the order would be more about who pairs best with your top pick than it is about clear talent differences.
- I’m still not worried about Cedric Mullins yet. Ask me again next week. Yes, this is the exact comment from last week with the exception of this sentence.
- Seiya Suzuki didn’t move! He is slumping a bit of late, which is totally normal for hitters who are in their debut season. Pitchers have adjusted, and now it’s Suzuki’s turn.
- If I knew Springer would play 130 games, he’d be comfortably in Tier 3. The problem is that I don’t think I’ll feel certain about Springer playing 130 games until he actually completes the 130th game.
- Anthony Rizzo’s batting average should get better in time, but I’d start thinking of him as a .260 hitter at this point in his career instead of the .285 hitter he used to be.
- Jose Altuve extended his current hitting streak to eight games, and he already has four home runs this month. Altuve has 31 home runs in each of his last two non-shortened seasons, and while it might be tough to get there this year in the current environment and with him already having missed time, he should get pretty darn close.
- Jazz Chisholm Jr. is clearly seeing the ball much better than he did last season. He’s cut way down on the ground balls, though what’s also interesting is that he’s pulling the ball 52.1% of the time. Of course, batted ball stats can take quite a while to accumulate enough data to make a good sample, so it’s a bit too early to tell if any of these changes will stick around. What we do know is that he’s got a good shot at 25 home runs and 20 steals, and the batting average will be better than last season.
- I wish I could tell you what was going on with Marcus Semien and Trevor Story, but the best I can do is say that they might be pressing at the plate a little bit?
- No news is good news for Fernando Tatis Jr. and he’ll move up every week until I hear something bad or until he’s at the top of the list.
- Willy Adames leads all 22 qualified shortstops in home runs, runs scored, RBI, and walk rate. I was a tiny bit concerned about the low batting average, but then I noticed that his BABIP is close to 100 points lower than it should be, and Statcast gives him an expected average of .270. He’s probably more like a .250 to .260 hitter, but either way I am loving the power and plate discipline so far.
- Francisco Lindor is slumping again, hitting just .146/.205/.244 this month with a single home run and a stolen base. I think I’ve found just about the right tier for him, but I suppose we’ll see how this week goes!
- Christian Yelich continues to look like a new-but-different guy, and I still like him for 25 home runs and 15 steals. If someone thinks they are selling high, make a move.
- Tyler O’Neill is really struggling against offspeed and breaking pitches right now, and until he can make that adjustment, it’s going to be ugly.
- I still believe in Max Muncy. His plate discipline is still outstanding, but he inexplicably is slugging just .268 on fastballs. Since the start of 2018, Muncy has yet to finish a season slugging less than .594 against fastballs. In the other three seasons, he slugged over .600 against fastballs. That will fix itself.
- The Tigers are horribly lost right now at the plate, and Javier Báez is no exception. It’s hard to see how he can replicate last season’s success, but it’s worth noting that he’s kept the strikeout rate under control compared to last season, so maybe his floor is a little better than it has been in the recent past.
- The signs of life from Ketel Marte were a welcome sight—in his last 11 games, he has two home runs, a steal, 12 combined runs and RBI, and a 203 wRC+.
- I’m starting to get the feeling that Adolis García has a bit of Rougned Odor in him due to his great fantasy stats (four home runs, four steals, and 35 combined runs and RBI) and bad real-life stats (.200/.262/.364). There’s a lot of risk/reward in this profile, though it can also lead to 25-30 home runs and 15 stolen bases like we saw last season.
- I love Steven Kwan. There’s just something about the guys who just never go down on strikes that is incredibly charming to me. I expect oodles of hits and runs scored, even if it only comes with barely double-digit power and speed.
- Austin Meadows, Franmil Reyes, and Chris Taylor all took some major tumbles due to their continued struggle. In 10- and 12-team formats with just three outfielders, they are getting close to cuttable.
- In brighter news, though, Jeff McNeil made quite a climb after I realized he’s hitting .330. Forget all about the 23 home runs in 2019—that’s the rabbit ball effect—and focus on the .300 or better batting average and the counting stats that come with it.
- Do your thing, Josh Naylor! He’s showing off some of the power that has been locked up in ground balls the last few years with three home runs in his last two games and his hit tool remains outstanding. Jeez, the Guardians have a really scrappy lineup.
- Yasmani Grandal can’t keep making a habit of these slow starts. I still don’t think you can drop him, though. He just has too much upside in this lineup.
- I wasn’t sure I believed at all in Harrison Bader’s improved strikeout rate from 2021, but so far in 2022 it has been fantastic. Making consistent contact was always a real issue for Bader, so if he’s worked that out there’s a chance he could be a 15-20 home run, 15-20 stolen base kind of player who hits somewhere between .230 and .250.
- AJ Pollock continues to struggle and has now hit seventh in the order twice in a row. I don’t mind dealing with his injury risk, but I can’t deal with that and performance problems at the same time. I’ve moved on in several shallow leagues.
- Eloy Jiménez is a premium hold but I’m not sure how to actually rank that. Just don’t cut him, OK?
- If you’re in a shallow-ish 10- or 12-team league, you can generally feel free to cut anyone in the last tier for something better, especially if you are using Yahoo’s default roster format (three outfielders, two utility spots, no corner or middle infield).
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
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