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 (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)!
- Yup, shuffled again. It’s been less than a week and I shuffled it again. There are very few combinations of this tier that bother me, though I guess Bryce Harper, Bo Bichette, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani (DH-only) are sort of like a sub-tier in that they’re the only ones I couldn’t justify as the number one overall player on my board (though DH/SP Ohtani is absolutely my top choice every time).
- If I was really picky, I’d call out Byron Buxton’s lack of plate discipline. I’m not really picky, though, and wouldn’t be shocked if that aggressive approach is the result of him batting at the top of the order. The Twins need Buxton to hit much more than they need him to walk.’
- As I mentioned on the First Pitch Podcast this morning, I think we need to just consider Yordan Alvarez a 40-home run threat until further notice. This guy doesn’t even need knees to be good.
- Oh look, Kyle Tucker is OK after all. In his last nine games leading into Wednesday’s action, he has 15 hits, two home runs, 11 RBI, and three steals. He did drop 2 spots, but don’t read into it—that’s wholly the result of Buxton and Yordan being unreasonably good.
- Aaron Judge has been fantasy’s top performer, and while I don’t see a path to the top tier for him in the near future, another strong month and I could reconsider.
- I was bummed that Luis Robert didn’t steal any bases against the Angels (who give up a LOT of stolen bases). Steals come in bunches, though, and the White Sox might need to get scrappier as a team to try and win the AL Central.
- Rafael Devers and Manny Machado “dropped” because others had to move up. That’s all.
- The weird thing about Wander Franco is that the numbers don’t jump off the page from a fantasy perspective, but that’s only because we’re so trained to look at home run and stolen base totals. I could see Wander putting up a 20 home run season with 12 stolen bases, 100 runs scored, 90 RBI, and a .305 batting average. It’s a little bit of everything!
- 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 might finally have been moved up enough. Maybe. Yes, this is the exact comment from last week with the exception of this sentence.
- That Blue Jays lineup is just getting started. When Teoscar Hernández is healthy there won’t be a single left-handed pitcher I’d feel good about having on the mound against that lineup. Think about it—Teoscar might be only the fourth-best hitter on this team!
- So yeah, I’m buying Anthony Rizzo. The batting average probably isn’t going to go back to .285 (probably more like the .250 we’ve seen since the start of 2021), but he should be a legitimate threat for 30 home runs and 10 steals to go along with 90-100 RBI.
- Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, and Corey Seager have all dealt with slumps so far this season, and for Story and Semien it’s fair to say they’re still dealing with it. I expect all to bounce back or rebound in some capacity.
- Max Muncy is off to a slow start, but this guy is a power machine. It’s still very early, and it would take just one hot streak or two to turn it all around. I mean, that’s basically what Kyle Schwarber did over the weekend.
- Julio Rodríguez is putting it all together and we should all be very excited. I really do think there’s a Starling Marte-like player in there for 2022.
- Bobby Witt Jr. seems to be putting it together as well, if a little less dramatically than J-Rod. The batting average will be an issue, but 15 home runs and 25 steals should be in play.
- I keep moving Fernando Tatis Jr. around but he’s probably going to stay at this spot for a while until we get more news.
- I hope Christian Yelich is back to being something we can he happy about. The plate discipline looks good, and at this rate, he could be a 25/15 sort of guy, albeit with a mediocre batting average.
- No, I still don’t know what to do with Cody Bellinger. After almost being ready to move him up, he goes 1/27 over his last seven games. I’m back to being befuddled.
- A lot of slumping players got pushed down into this area around Tiers 8 and 9, such as Austin Meadows, Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte, and Franmil Reyes. I am concerned about overall outlook to one degree or another with all of these players, but Franmil appears to be the most lost. When he’s off, he looks as bad as any player in the league.
- If you roster Franmil Reyes, you probably think I’m being too nice. The power here is extraordinary if he can tap back into it, but when he’s off he’s just really hard to watch.
- In as little as two or three weeks, all of Tier 11 could be in Tier 10 (and vice versa).
- Slowly but surely, these big shifts where five or more guys in a tier have moved 20 spots should start migrating further and further down the list as the 2022 samples expand and solidify.
- Ramón Laureano is a power and speed threat, but be aware that he’s had some notable cold streaks in the past, especially early in the season.
- Jesús Sánchez, Andrew Vaughn, Taylor Ward, J.P. Crawford, and Brandon Marsh all found a home together and it’s very nice. It’s not as fancy as some want it to be, but it’s nice.
- Tier 12 is huge by design. These players could all move quite a bit in short order and I realized that I couldn’t justify considering it two tiers. You might be able to in your specific circumstances, though.
- AJ Pollock has struggled this year, but the White Sox will need him to play every day and he can be a very useful player in that role.
- Max Kepler has turned things around in a hurry. There’s always a risk he will sit or struggle against some lefties, but that’s why he’s ranked down here and not higher
- If I thought Alec Bohm was going to hit 20 home runs, he’d be higher. I don’t, though. Also, the plate discilipline has been strong, but not as amazing as it was earlier this season.
- I really like the contact Keibert Ruiz and Jeff McNeil are making.
- I’m really curious what Gleyber Torres looks like when his team isn’t on fire. Anyone can look rejuvenated when their team wins every night.
- Eloy Jiménez is a premium hold but I’m not sure how to actually rank that. Just don’t cut him, OK?
- Joey Votto and Matt Chapman were the two most jarring names to bury down here. I’m not cutting them yet in 15 teamers, but I’m willing to take the heat and do so in 10- and 12-teamers if I have to.
And now, only several hours after I was supposed to be done, I present the Hitter List:
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)
Thanks for the list, always find it helpful. Struggling what to do with Gallo in an OBP league. Mountcastle is on the wire. Would he still be rated higher?
It seems that Eduardo Escobar made the list last week. Do you think he belongs on the list and if so, where? Thanks.
He’s a fringe guy for me, and even when he’s.good he can be hard to buy into.
Machado dropped 4 spots?!?!
Thankfully, there’s a ranking note on this exact topic.
Wow, thanks for adding some clarity mr obvious!
Can we bring back Jonathan to replace this joke?
Another homer Machado!!! -4?? 🤡
Luis urias was on the list last week. Back from IL and off now?
He’s a bit of a fringe guy who is probably going to be on and off this list until he adds a little more to his profile.
No Owen Miller? Hitting in the middle of the Guardians lineup. Good pos eligibility.
Agreed…I recall a note from a prior list mentioning that Miller would be added but he was hurt. Probably belongs somewhere in the low 100’s, he’s still hitting .344 with 16 runs batting cleanup
I’ve gone back and forth because I just haven’t seen enough to believe he’s more than a batting average with high-teens home runs. Also, the Guardians counting stats won’t be as abundant as they were earlier this year now that they’ve cooled off.
He will likely be on and off the list more than once, because the different between Tier 10 and Tier 13 really isn’t that much.
As someone who sold high this week, I would love to think Taylor Ward will produce as only the 118th best hitter ROS. That being said:
Ward has played 18 games, with his 18-game rolling WRC+ peaking at 276 on April 28. Among the top-10 players in total WRC+ since 2014 (min. 2000 PA), these are the number of times each has reached 270 WRC+ in any 18-game span (also since 2014; per Fangraphs):
Mike Trout: 3 (July 2014, July 2015, May 2021)
Juan Soto: 1 (September 2021)
Aaron Judge: 1 (September 2017)
Bryce Harper: 3 (May 2015, September 2015, May 2017)
J.D. Martinez: 0
Freddie Freeman: 1 (April 2014)
Nelson Cruz: 5! (May 2014, May 2015, August 2015, August 2017, August 2019)
Giancarlo Stanton: 1 (August 2017)
Paul Goldschmidt: 2 (June 2015, June 2018)
Joey Votto: 2 (July 2015, September 2015)
(Bonus–Shohei Ohtani never reached 270 WRC+ for any 18 game stretch last season. He peaked at 269 during the 18-game span ending July 2.)
(note: I only counted peak WRC+ for overlapping stretches, so (for example) for Mike Trout I counted the 18-game stretch ending 7-31-15 (during which he produced a 278 WRC+) and not the stretch ending 8-1-15 (270 WRC+))
I expect the 270 WRC+ threshold has been reached by other, less impressive players. But the above (alongside his strong plate discipline and batted ball stats) provides a strong case for Ward to be ranked significantly higher ROS.
I expect he will continue to climb – I haven’t been afraid to aggressively move players up.
Out of curiosity, where would you put him on the list?
Thanks for the reply! I think I would slot him somewhere in tier 8 or 9 (probably right in front of Ke’Bryan Hayes–Hayes has the positional advantage and will likely steal more bases, but I don’t see as much power upside from him, and he hits in a worse offense in a worse home park).
In general, I’m curious to know if fast starts have more predictive value than usual when offense is relatively depressed (like this year).
That’s aggressive for Ward, but not impossible. He doesn’t run, and a guy with his batted ball profile and raw power isn’t likely to hit more than 22-24 home runs in a season (his HR/FB% is probably double what I’d expect, and he’s not hitting the ball terribly hard).
With limited power and no speed, he needs to make up for it all in batting average and counting stats, which are fluky and weird. He could get to the top 100, but top 75 or top 50 would be a big surprise.
And no – I’m not aware of any correlation between hot starts in April or when offense is down vs hot starts when offense is up. The biggest thing to look for is luck, and the easiest way to do that is look at ERA indicators for pitchers and expected stats for hitters. They will provide some insight on how much luck MIGHT be playing a factor.
Hot streak vs new skill is inctedibly difficult to figure out, and even if it is a new skill, it doesn’t mean they’ll keep it forever or be as good at executing it forever. Id stick to just seeing if you can eliminate luck as a factor.
Appreciate the analysis, thanks Scott! I rely a lot on batted ball numbers (EV and launch angle–and in my ideal world Statcast will add batted ball spin to their search function) for eliminating luck as a factor, but MLB seems intent on making that more difficult by continually changing the dang baseball…
Ward’s batted ball profile isn’t great–that’s true. He’s 162nd in the league in balls hit at 96+ mph with 11+ degree LA (what I think of as “in the air” based on eye test)–but 6 of his 10 have gone for HRs, which is, uh, not a sustainable rate. His plate discipline should protect him from slumps to some extent, and he should generally see good pitches hitting in front of Trout and Ohtani (although he isn’t seeing an especially high rate of middle-middle pitches or fastballs in the zone thus far). He’ll score a ton of runs hitting in front of those guys, too.
In any case, it’s fun when someone comes out of nowhere like him. I’m excited to see how his season turns out!
Why did Matt Chapman get such a big drop, so far below guys like Justin Turner and Spencer Torkelson? He’s had better results, and I’d argue, just as good or better prospects for the rest of the season.
Well, the gap isn’t as big as you’d think, as the double-digit tiers are really muddled. That said, it’d a bit of a harsh move, admittedly, and I may hedge on it next week if he keeps up the plate discipline from this week.
Fair point, though! I will have to consider that order in 5th Edition.
So, obviously Rowdy is exploding shouldn’t earn an insane overreaction, BUT so much of his metrics look like a guy who’s just never been given a full time opportunity. Stats are fine against lefties, even under the hood, and the steamer projections are basically a top 100 guy IF you prorate them out to a full time guys at bats…30-80-80-.250 type guy.
Now, doesn’t mean he’s done being a platoon guy, but I am in a daily move league and I think that certainly helps. Also only 27…feels like he’s slightly overlooked for being shaped like a barrel despite hitting barrels
We’ve seen this before, Logan, and unfortunately he hasn’t been able to make long term adjustments as pitchers change their approach. I’m tempted to start moving him up, but I need to make sure this isn’t just another random bounce that ends with a thud.
No Santiago Espinal love? Playing every day in that lineup, stealing bases, added 10 lbs of muscle in the offseason……
He’s in consideration for the list this week!