Every week during the season, we are releasing a list of the best batters in fantasy baseball that’s designed to be similar to Nick’s list of Top 100 Starting Pitchers that comes out each Monday. Our objective is to give you the most current rankings of who we see as being the top 150 hitters league-wide for the rest of the season. They take into account expectations going into the season and production to this point, as well as recurring trends and streaks, as a way of analytically extrapolating who will bring you the most fantasy dividends throughout the year. Use these rankings to help understand what to expect from batters for all of 2017 and as a tool to gauge trade value in your fantasy leagues.
Note: These rankings have been made with H2H 5×5 12-teamers in mind and do not take into account 5/30’s games.
- Hate seeing Mike Trout go to the DL for the first time in his career. Hunter Cockcroft of ESPN had a magnificent article earlier today about how to make sense of his fantasy value now that he’s expected to be out for a very significant six to eight weeks following a surgery Wednesday. As such, he will certainly be an elite option upon return but this is more about opportunity cost and what you’re missing in his absence. Have faith in a speedy recovery and adapt in the meantime.
- Mark Reynolds, Zack Cozart and Corey Dickerson all continue to rise because of sustained and consistent offensive production. There is no fathomable reason any of them remain unowned in any league or format at this point now that we’re two months in to the season. Dickerson has scored 38 times and is mashing .345 with an OPS of over 1.006, and Cozart is doing similar work with less power and fewer runs. Reynolds has been in the top tier with runs batted in for a good chunk of the season as well, and the regression in both performance and playing time when Ian Desmond came back to the active roster simply never happened.
- I’m slowly but surely giving up on Maikel Franco. The RBI sustained him for a while but the average is cringe-inducingly bad at .209 because of a 2-18 week. If the power doesn’t arrive soon, he’ll start to lose you matchups with the average. Bench him and be patient is probably your best course of action.
- With Anthony Rizzo and Jose Bautista are also starting to find their expected form after severely underwhelming early on, and they have been incrementally promoted over the past couple of weeks to reflect this.
- Chris Davis is in the midst of a brutal .154 slump over the last 15 days and has seen a demotion as such. His average and power had both been respectable but he is lapsing back to the type of hitter that provides extra-base clout in sporadic bursts.
- Mike Napoli is still on my radar with what is now 11 homers, but the BA has to improve further still. Back stiffness held him out recently, so that bears monitoring also. Carlos Beltran is doing decently with a .253 average through 170 at-bats; his age, only six homers and rotating positional work in Houston all make me cautious, though. They are not included on the list…yet.
- Ryan Braun is back on the DL, and that recurring calf injury is starting to throw a real wrench in the gears of his fantasy appeal long term. He’s still a good option but his durability is starting to appear questionable. Yoenis Cespedes and Mitch Haniger have experienced some setbacks in their recovery, but Cespedes could be back within the week and Haniger is working a rehab assignment as an indicator of progress. Trevor Story is back for Colorado and should continue to be a high-strikeout, max power, low average kind of guy henceforth.
- Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury aren’t going to be out for long, with 7-day concussion DL stints, but head injuries are not to be messed with so just be advised to use them with care.
- Brandon Phillips is avoiding a DL stint so prepare to keep firing him up when he returns to the Braves lineup this week after resting his knee.
- Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson saw reinstatement and I am perhaps being conservative in my re-promotion of them both, but call it not wanting to jinx a healthy renaissance. As I detailed last week, they are top 85 and top 10 talents, respectively, if everything goes according to plan and they can ramp their production up to compensate for their absences.
- I’m being even more conservative with the re-promotion of Adrian Beltre, who finally made his season debut after what felt like an eternity on the DL. We had him rated as the 29th most productive fantasy hitter in our first rankings, so 72nd is likely unfair to him but I want to see how he reacclimates before anointing him as a legitimate asset all over again.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Kole Calhoun (132), Todd Frazier (137), Brad Miller (144), Manuel Margot (145), Randal Grichuk (146), Yadier Molina (149) and Tim Anderson (150).
- Calhoun is doing himself no favors with a .205 average and only 16 RBI. Many others are outpacing him despite his talent.
- I can’t handle the Toddfather having a .105 week and the .181 average overall. 21 runs and 21 RBI matched with six homers just aren’t enough when you’re that far below the Mendoza Line.
- Miller is on the DL but underperforming on the season before being injury-stricken anyway. He is starting a rehab assignment at High-A Charlotte starting Wednesday, so that’s positive news but there’s a reason he’s owned in just 35.5% of ESPN leagues and 45% of Yahoo leagues at this point.
- Margot went to the DL and it’s unclear how long he’ll be out, since he’s off his feet with calf inflammation after being in a walking boot last week. Keep him on the fringe of your awareness as he heals because the rookie has been exciting in San Diego when he’s been healthy.
- Grichuk is .100 in the last week and .195 in the last month with a singular homer. That is insufficient for fantasy success.
- Molina is good but not great, unfortunately. It’s unfortunate to knock him out of the rankings because he can absolutely be a role player as a backup catcher, but that doesn’t make him one of the premier fantasy players available league-wide.
- Anderson was 150th last week, but the steals have fallen off and RBI just aren’t happening with any frequency. He had a four-game hit streak so the White Sox need what he’s doing in real life, but the production isn’t viable for a fantasy roster spot.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Joey Gallo (134), Kevin Kiermaier (140), Hunter Renfroe (141), Josh Bell (143), Jed Lowrie (146), Neil Walker (147) and Melky Cabrera (149).
- Gallo has been too strong a power batter for Texas to just bench him upon the return of Beltre. He’s likely going to see way more starts in OF now that Beltre is the entrenched 3B, but he could also spell the veteran if some maintenance days are necessary. Just like Cody Bellinger has been impossible to shelve or send down in L.A., so too will Gallo continue to enjoy playing time if the status quo is maintained.
- Kiermaier’s stat line is one by which I was a little taken aback. He has the quietest nine SB in the league for sure, and the .243 BA and 27 runs are enough for me to consider streaming the guy if I need somebody who isn’t going to tank me in a certain category. Four homers are a bit low, but the upside is there for him to do well throughout the year.
- Bell, like his hot teammate Josh Harrison, has been producing nicely in recent weeks. A .232 average could use work, but it’s tough to argue that nine HRs and 24 runs are worth considering an add. Max Kepler has a slightly better average but four fewer homers, and he is not far behind Bell in my mind for these reasons.
- Lowrie is one of the most underappreciated players who plays 2B primarily so far this year, straight up. A .293 average and he’s scored 31 runs? Yikes. People are rapidly picking him and Pittsburgh OF Adam Frazier based on some solid work at the dish: beat them to it and look clever for it later.
- Walker is like a sine curve with his good and bad trends: thankfully, the line of best fit is starting to look a little more favorable. He’s had a fantastic week by way of batting .370 to go along with two homers and scoring six times. He and Lowrie are perhaps the best possible backup 2B you could possibly dream of acquiring.
- Cabrera hit four homers last week and has truly picked up the pace in noteworthy fashion. This could be a little recency bias but he is hitting upwards of .320 during the last two weeks. Give him a chance as a streamer, even though this work rate is unsustainable.