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 regarding weighing stolen bases, but I still think they’re precious 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 feel how my colleagues value 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. will have dings and bruises throughout the season. Don’t panic. Even 120 games of Acuña is an elite player.
- We found out Bryce Harper has a partial tear in his elbow, but I’m not sure I care yet. I mean, his May ISO is .521. ISO is calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging and is a decent indication of how often he’s hitting for extra bases. His ISO, again, is .512. That’d be impressive as a slugging percentage on its own, but he’s actually slugging .917 through 48 plate appearances this month. I couldn’t put him in the top tier, since I don’t think anyone is arguing yet that he has a case to be fantasy’s top overall player for the rest of the season, but if he keeps even two-thirds of this kind of production through early summer, I’ll be forced to reconsider.
- Mike Trout, on the other hand, only has a .345 ISO in May, so obviously, he’s a bum. He and Harper will likely stay tied to the hip in these rankings all season, and your particular format will likely help you choose which one would be higher in your league (Trout has been better in OBP so far, though roto managers might appreciate Harper’s double-digit steals over the small bump in counting stats that Trout will provide).
- Bo Bichette had a bit of a slump last week, but he’s still hitting .300/.354/.483 in May with two home runs and a stolen base. I’ve recalibrated my season-long expectations for him to more like a 25 home run, 18-20 stolen base player instead of the 30/20 guys I hoped for, but that’s still a heck of an asset.
- Tier 2 expanded, and it feels like there’s really a nice spread of talent in that range. The top-tier talent in the league is getting pretty deep—especially in the outfield.
- Tier 3 is just a step below, but almost all of these players are guys who could make a jump to Tier 2 without it being a surprise. They just feel safer as a whole than the next tier, where we start to see warts and stuff to worry about.
- Speaking of Tier 3, it probably won’t be long before Jazz Chisholm Jr. finds himself there. He’s striking out just 16.9% of the time in May, and when he’s making contact like this he becomes a plus contributor in pretty much every category (the RBI can be inconsistent due to leading off). Strikeouts crushed his batting average last season, and if he continues to show this kind of contact ability and strike zone awareness, he could make the jump quicker than I ever thought.
- During his current nine-game hitting streak, Whit Merrifield has a 1.020 OPS with two home runs, two steals, and 19 combined runs and RBI. While it helps that he had a three-game series in Colorado, it’s still enough for me to relight the candle I’ve been holding for him.
- Julio Rodríguez has been getting caught a bit more on the basepaths lately but he’s also found more success with the bat, hitting .339 so far in May with two home runs and two steals (though if your league uses net steals, he’s in the red this month).
- Salvador Perez hits the IL with a right thumb sprain, though I’m not sure yet how long that will keep him out. I’m sure many will be curious about the outlook for MJ Melendez, but I want to be very clear that it is better to stream your catchers in a single-catcher format rather than try to attach yourself to a rookie backstop.
- This Francisco Lindor roller coaster is exhausting. He has just a 52 wRC+ in May, meaning he’s been 45% worse than the average hitter this month, though he is still managing to put together a reasonable amount of counting stats. Those will dry up pretty quickly though if he can’t get back to hitting above .250.
- Is this enough for Taylor Ward? I don’t even know anymore. I’m not sure how much higher he can climb, but his .517 wOBA is the highest in the league. Actually, that’s misleading. It’s not just the highest in the league, it’s the highest in the league by a LOT. The second-best wOBA in the league belongs to his teammate Mike Trout, and while it’s a rather impressive .476, that’s still 41 points behind. He’s gotten on base every single game since becoming the lead-off hitter, so at this point, we have to just watch and be amazed.
- I’m not sure where Seiya Suzuki will settle in as he continues to adjust to the game on this side of the Pacific, but I’m sure it’s a top-75 player.
- Don’t be shocked if Willy Adames falls again next week—I just am not entirely sure how long he’ll be out.
- I’m encouraged by the fact that Bobby Witt Jr. is finding his power stroke, as he all five of his hits over his last seven games have gone for extra bases. He’s still striking out too much, and three of those seven games were in Coors, but I’ll take it.
- The performances of Willson Contreras and Daulton Varsho have really deepened the catching pool at the top, which has been desperately needed for some time.
- Marcus Semien and Bryan Reynolds are in freefall and I don’t know when it will stop. Hopefully soon. The talents they’ve shown over the last three or four seasons are absolutely legitimate, but these guys are just playing terribly.
- The stats aren’t pretty, but Joey Gallo has two home runs and is only striking out half as often as he walks. The signs of life are there and I’m willing to believe that a hot streak is coming.
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is really off right now, hitting just .140/.189/.180 this month and has fallen to the bottom third of the order. He’ll need to climb back up to avoid dropping out of the top-100.
- Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez are forming a nice little tandem in the middle of the lineup for the Mariners, and while it’s still not consistent yet (particularly for Eugenio), it’s fun watching this lineup develop. Winker, in particular, has come to life lately, hitting .314 with a home run and two doubles during his current nine-game hitting streak. Both of these players have the skills to vault into the top-75 if they can show some extended success.
- Speaking of coming to life, Andrés Giménez has a 180 wRC+ with six doubles, three home runs, and two steals over his last 15 games while hitting .333. His speed and hit tool give him a chance to be a 15 home run, 20 stolen base kind of player one of these days, though a more likely outcome is like 12 home runs and 17 steals if he plays all year.
- Tier 12 is when things really start to feel messy for me. Heck, I took Luis Urías from unranked to 119. A lot of the biggest movers are in this tier, and it’s in large part because it’s a tier of guys who you’re probably thinking about adding or dropping all the time—and that’s OK. In 10- and 12-team standard leagues, this is around the point in the rankings that player evaluation and waiver targets shift from predominantly talent-focused to predominantly need-focused. Is there a reason to cut, say, Jeff McNeil for Jorge Soler? There is and it doesn’t take much imagination to see why. There’s no such thing as a vacuum in fantasy because context is everything.
- Tyler Stephenson and Keibert Ruiz are starting to really stand out to me. Stephenson is hitting the ball really hard right now, and I expect the strikeouts to come down as he gets back into his groove. Ruiz’s contact ability and hit tool are also starting to shine through, and I love seeing a 12.8% walk rate next to an 8.5% strikeout rate. There’s a reason he was considered to be a top-20 overall prospect and his bat-to-ball skills are a big reason why.
- 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). They’re just guys who have been interesting for one reason or another but may have dealt with slumps, have lower upsides, are injured, or some other random problem that befuddled me.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
(Oh, and come back this weekend for a list of the next 25-30 players who could make the next edition of the Hitter List!)
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)
Love seeing Connor Joe in the top 80. If you had to bet on Walker or Yepez moving forward, where do you land?
Connor Joe just continues to hit for average, and that skillset plays REALLY well in Coors. That said, I hope we can see some power come back to his bat – particularly in games outside of Coors.
And I’ll take Walker – Yepez is actually kind of struggling over the last week, while Walker had three straight games with a home run. Also, I’ve seen Walker have a good season in the bigs before, and if I have to pick between someone who has done it and someone whos name I didn’t know three weeks ago, I’ll take the former.
Mitch Haniger almost pushed off the list this week—where do you see him landing ROS?
It all depends on how that injury heals up. Grade 2 ankle sprains are no joke, and he estimated his timeline at 10-12 weeks. That timeline puts him back near the end of July, so how much of a difference can he make after coming back? What will the Mariners outfield look like at that point?
It’s a lot to consider, so I’m just trying not to think about it. I’ll probably let him hover at the back of the list OR, when I finally find a way to do it that I like, I can move him to a “next guys in” list until healthy.
How would you rank catchers Jeffers, Jansen, and Kirk?
Thoughts on Muncy and his UCL? Will he recover from the injury or is the elbow going to continue to sap his power? His max exit velo is way down, and with the dead ball, it may add up to a lot of fly outs and many fewer HR. Or… he could be a great buy-low if you think he will recover from the injury.
I’m not ready to say the issue is all the lingering injury here, and I’m encouraged that he’s gotten on base in each of his last 14 starts. The barrel rate and xwOBA aren’t awful either. While this slump is worse than any he had in 2021, he actually had worse times in both 2020 and 2019. Muncy has as good a command of the strike zone as anyone and I’m confident he can make the adjustments he needs to make.
And for the catchers, it’s Kirk. THe other two are capped as streamers. Kirk could actually be something.
Surprised to see Tyler O’Neill as high as he is, given that he’s been a healthy scratch in 5 of the Cards’ last 9 games and his batted ball metrics are down pretty much across the board. Are you seeing anything promising from him, or is your ranking based simply on faith he will figure it out? Thanks, Scott!
Tyler O’Neill owner in 6/6 leagues – would also love some clarity here. Tough sledding so far.
Tough sledding indeed. I may drop him further if I don’t see another sign of life over the next week or so. That said, there HAVE been SOME signs of life—he’s making a bit more hard contact this month than he did at the start of the season. I still see a chance for him to end the season as a guy with more than 25 home runs and more than 15 steals, but that window closes each day that he looks like pre-2021 O’Neill.
You can totally bench him, though. That’s my advice.
Why would Judge possibly have moved down 4 spots? understand he’s still in tier 2, but he’s mashing.
Aaron Judge has been phenomenal. I’m not going to argue with you because his placement does seem a little low, but this is my guess for why he’s placed where he is:
The 4 guys above him were all drafted higher than him, and most of them got off to slow starts that caused them to drop in the rankings. Recently, they have been getting results more like what was expected of them, so they are moving back towards their pre-draft rankings.
Aaron Judge is an incredible hitter. But deserved or not, he has an injury-prone reputation. These rankings are for the rest of the season, and his current performance does not affect the likelihood that he gets injured and misses significant time. Everybody knows that Aaron Judge can mash and go on streaks like this, and that was baked into his pre-draft rankings. In that respect, nothing has really changed.
That tier is TIGHTLY packed, and I’ll admit that Judge’s lack of SBs and his historic challenges playing in >120 games in a season (he’s done it exactly twice in the last 6 seasons) had me push him down a bit—but his moving down is more a result of wanting to move guys like Mookie back up.
Are we seeing real signs of life from Semien, or is this the proverbial dead cat bounce? Trying to decide whether I can drop Cronenworth (or Voit) to bring back Dave Robertson from IL, so any sense that Semien might be turning things around would help – but given that Voit is not on the HL at all, that might be my answer right there. Let me put it this way, though: ROS in an OBP league, Voit or Christian Walker?
Do you expect the gap between L Urias and B Rodgers to remain that wide? I thought they were pretty similar….
Have to drop one of them today, which would you keep? 6×6 w/ ops. Thanks!