Let’s get some basics out of the way regarding how to interpret these rankings. None of this stuff should come as any major surprise, but it never hurts to provide background:
- Bryan Reynolds finally hit another home run over the weekend — his first since April 7. With that monkey off his back I’m hoping he can get back to being a top-10 to top-15 outfielder.
- It’s good to see Jose Altuve back in the game. He left Tuesday’s game with an illness — not an aggravation of his injury — so don’t be too alarmed.
- Masataka Yoshida is in a mild power drought, but he just keeps on hitting and making contact with everything. Unlike other contact kings like Luis Arraez and Jeff McNeil, Yoshida should actually be a threat to hit 20 home runs instead of just 10.
- The running has slowed down slightly for Steven Kwan, with zero steals in his last nine games despite five of those games being against the incredibly vulnerable Chicago White Sox. Hopefully this is just a blip on the radar. On the bright side, he seems to be coming out of the slump he was stuck in at the start of May. Kwan technically moved up a spot, but that’s more due to guys ahead of him falling harder than he did.
- Anthony Rizzo has five home runs over his last ten games as he continues to show a 30-home run pace. The biggest difference is that unlike the last three seasons, Rizzo’s batting average is back to his 2014-2019 norm (slashing .310/.388/.533 so far in 2023). I don’t expect that batting average to stay nearly that high, as it’s being driven mostly by an uncharacteristic surge in line drives and hits up the middle, but a final batting average near .260 or .270 is very plausible.
- As a note, line drive rate over 25% shouldn’t be considered a sustainable rate for more than part of a season, as we just don’t see players post those kinds of rates with any consistency (with the exception being slap hitters like Luis Arraez, Harold Castro, or Adam Frazier). Line drive rates north of 27% should be seen as a big luck factor. Statcast data will show a good expected batting average because line drives are usually hits, but that won’t mean the batting average is sustainable.
- I’ll give Max Muncy a bit longer to break out of this slump, because what he’s capable of when he’s hot will more than balance out the cold streaks.
- Kris Bryant’s disappointing career in Colorado continues to disappoint.
- I hope you didn’t drop Josh Jung when he was cold. Power hitters like him will have ugly periods, but he has enough overall talent to turn it around in a hurry.
- Drops in the higher tiers gave a lot of these guys a four or five spot bump in the rankings. Don’t read too much into the green number unless it’s seven or higher. Red numbers should be a little bit more alarming, though, as it means I dragged them down five or more spots (even if the net result is a drop of one or two).
- Jarred Kelenic is striking out more and the decision making is dropping fast, but the production is still there. Kelenic’s raw ability can carry him by hook or by crook through some lapses in judgment, but he’ll need to correct them soon so it doesn’t catch up to him.
- Michael Harris II is pretty close to droppable in 10- and 12-team redraft leagues with only three outfielders, but I’m not QUITE there yet. The upside and talent is too high to totally give up on yet.
- Ian Happ is slumping pretty bad after a very solid start to the season. I hope it’s nothing, but he’s more of a high-floor guy than a high-ceiling one, so the slumps hurt a bit more.
- Andrés Giménez and Willy Adames continue to be not very good, and now it’s to the point where they can be dropped in redraft leagues with smaller starting rosters if there are more enticing options available or if the replacement level is high enough that you feel comfortable streaming shortstops. You’re probably stuck with them a bit longer in deep keeper leagues and you definitely aren’t doing anything in dynasty.
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. remains an enigma, as the power is very difficult to project after just five home runs in 121 games last season (zero in the second half!) and just one home run in April. That kind of outage is really tough to ignore. If he hits 10 more for the entire rest of the season, I’d consider it a big win.
- Seiya Suzuki continues to round into form as he continues to distance himself from that early season oblique injury. There’s still plenty of room for him to climb thanks to his on-base skills, power, and speed.
- Nolan Gorman’s strikeout rate has historically been a huge roadblock in terms of major league success, but his 22.4% strikeout rate in May is a great sign that Gorman is maturing as a hitter. That number was actually below 20% for the first half of May, but honestly all we really need from Gorman to be a top-75 hitter is a strikeout rate that stays below 30% more often than it doesn’t, especially if he keeps walking at double-digit rates and showing this kind of growth in his plate discipline:His propensity to strike out will make Gorman a volatile asset from time to time, but as long as he keeps hitting the ball hard and walking a bit, it’ll be more than worth it to weather the storms.
- Esteury Ruiz still ain’t walking, but he keeps on hitting. I still think there’s little-to-no power here, but if he can keep making contact, good things will happen.
- I want to be more patient with Brent Rooker, and his walk rates will let me do that a little bit longer, but I’m still awfully concerned about how often he misses on good pitches to hit. He’s in danger of dropping in the batting order and the ranks if Rooker can’t find a hot streak soon, especially with the return of fellow slugger Seth Brown.
- What if Andrew Vaughn is just a dude who gets close to 20 home runs and bats .260? Bad luck is keeping his batting average down right now, but his lack of home run pop is what’s really holding him back. Why are the White Sox seemingly incapable of developing these young hitters? Sure, Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jiménez have shown flashes when healthy, but that’s just pure talent—we haven’t seen a ton of growth in skills, necessarily.
- Jonah Heim is slumping, though catchers with a bat aren’t easy to find on the wire, even in shallow leagues, so you might be stuck with him a while longer and hoping he heats back up.
- Jeff McNeil’s value is in his batting average and consistency, and he’s not giving us either right now. In shallow categories leagues, he can be streamed off the roster if needed.
- If you can trade Christopher Morel for a top-75 or better hitter right now in redraft, do it. Heck, I’d consider most guys in the top 100. This hot streak is insane, but feels more like an Aristedes Aquino moment. For those who don’t remember him, Aquino was a Reds prospect who struck out too much but had plenty of pop and speed. The guy went on a legendary tear — batting .320 with 14 home runs and two steals in August of 2019 — only to struggle with contact issues once pitchers adjusted to him. He’s now in the Nippon league. I’m not saying Morel will have the same complete burnout, I’m just saying that I think Morel has already provided most of the value he’s likely to provide this season, and that very few players can achieve long-term success when they whiff as much as Morel does in the major and minor leagues.
- Gunnar Henderson is showing some signs of life, and hopefully that continues. His upside is enough that even a faint heartbeat will keep him on this list.
- Lane Thomas struck me as a fairly boring outfielder (neutral batting average, 20 home runs, 10 stolen bases sort of guy) in my offseason prep, but this hot streak can’t be ignored. The Nationals are a bad team, but maybe Thomas is better than I thought.
- Michael Conforto seems to be finding a groove. I’d have him at least on my watch list if I needed power.
- Whit Merrifield is slapping a lot of line drives right now, which as I mentioned before can be a difficult thing to do for an extended period. He’s a slap hitter, though, so at least for him it has a better chance of sticking around for a while.
- As good as James Outman was earlier, he’s almost equally as bad now. How long will the Dodgers let him work to patch up the holes in his swing before platooning him with guys like Jason Heyward, Chris Taylor, or even Trayce Thompson?
- I let myself believe that Jorge Mateo could avoid the frigid coldness of his second half last season, but alas, it was not to be. He’s droppable in most 12-team formats.
- Elias Díaz keeps hitting so I guess I had no choice but to put him on here. It feels weird, as he’s never previously been even close to this list.
- Tommy Edman saw some time in the leadoff spot and is no longer exclusively batting ninth. That’s a big deal for him. He may not get back to the top-60 guy he was in years past, but at least there’s now a plausible path back to relevance.
- DJ LeMahieu keeps hitting fourth in a resurgent Yankees lineup despite being awfully cold for the past week. His strong start to May gives some hope, but he could quickly return to the taxi squad.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
And here’s the Taxi Squad, presented in no particular order:
How is it possible you still haven’t dropped Starling Marte?
I almost did; however, I noticed he’s making more contact lately and has three steals and 10 combined runs and RBI in his last 10 games along with a batting average near .300. I’m willing to hold out one more week to see if he can turn a corner.
So Harris is near droppable in 12 team 3 OF leagues, but a hold in 5 OFs?
Would you trade a guy like JD Martinez for him in a 12 teamer?
I’d hold him if at all possible. JD has looked great since coming off the IL, though Harris has more upside in roto. I’m neither targeting nor trying to move Harris right now in most formats where I’m stuck with him, though.
Any consideration given to McCutchen for the List?
I honestly thought he was on the Taxi Squad. He’s come back alive after a bit of a drought a few weeks ago. He’s definitely in the streaming territory. For OBP, he’s probably in Tier 12 or so.
how has Julia not been banned? Every stinkin’ week with that scam.
I’m not sure how that stuff works, but when I see it I do mark it as spam. The bots have been super active lately. Apologies.
No worries … I wasn’t really blaming you …. just venting
Josh Lowe is comically… Low(e).
Why so high on Kwan still? No power upside, 2-3 category player at best.
He is the first note in Tier 7. Kwan also has a batting title-caliber hit tool. Finished better than this rank last season.
Thoughts on Duvall and Story when they come back? I’ve been holding but I would love some insight to potential value.
So sad about Vaughn, but I think its true. I paid up for him in a dynasty league this year. Watch him leave the White Sox and blow up!
Story’s injury history is really scary. How long will he even be back for? He has top 50-60 upside when playing, but because he misses so much time we can’t really wait out any slumps or rust.
Duvall was RAKING when he went down, but as an aggressive power hitter, streaks like that aren’t unheard of. He’s likely going to creep up near 100 if he comes back hot, but it’s hard to imagine that Duvall is more than the 30ish HR (in a full season which never happens), low ratios hitter he’s been for the last several years.
I’m surprised J.D. Davis isn’t mentioned at all in this article. And I wonder where Duvall and Royce Lewis will be when they come back.
I think you are dead wrong on tommy edman. Look at his numbers. He’s exactly where he’s always been. Producing with 2B eligibility. You are missing the mark.
I’m being a bit hard on him due to format (speed is his primary tool, and it matters less than ever in 12-teamers); however, “where he’s always been” is a fringe top-10 2B. 2022 is the outlier in terms of where he’s finished at second base — he’s 9th right now but he was just 21st in 2021 and 14th in 2020. He’s also only on pace for 20 steals as opposed to 30.
Playing Tatis regularly and in the mean time letting the McLains, DeJongs slip right through my fingertips. Tatis is part of an underperforming Padres lineup/team and I’m not sure we haven’t already seen his ceiling. I think the lack of *muscle milk* is effecting him more than we care to talk about.
DeJong and McClain are streamers while hot, at best (in redraft, anyway). DeJong has a hot 2-4 weeks every season followed by long, LONG slumps. McClain is getting a lot of good luck on batted balls while striking out in bunches.
Meanwhile, Tatis is hitting the ball pretty well and already has 7 HR and 4 SBs in 30 games. He’s been out of action for quite a while, and if this is what Tatis looks like when rusty, sign me up.
It stinks to miss out on these hot streaks because your roster is clogged, but I think you’ve made the right long-term decision here to hold Tatis, assuming you had no one else to drop and no where else to put him.