Hitter List 6/11 – Ranking the Top 150 Hitters for 2021

Ranking the top 150 hitters for fantasy baseball every week of the year

Hello, and welcome back to Hitter List, where every week during the regular season I’ll be sharing updated rankings for the top 150 hitters in baseball. These rankings are geared toward standard, daily, 12-team H2H leagues, 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.

First, let’s get some basics out of the way:

 

  • 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.

 

  • Player movement (+/-) can be influenced by the movement of players around them in the ranks. You may see a player rise a few spots despite a poor performance, or drop a few spots despite a great performance. This can happen when players above them are moved below them, or vice versa. It could also be the result of injured players returning to the list after coming off the IL, or dropping off the list when they hit the IL. Just something to be conscious of if you see a change that doesn’t initially make a ton of sense.

 

  • Any player currently on the IL or not in the majors is removed from the list.

 

  • Hopefully it goes without saying, but these rankings aren’t an exact 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. My way of evaluating and ranking players has worked out well for me over the years, but it might not be a great fit for you. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and that what makes the game so fun. Please keep that in mind before eviscerating my fragile mental health in the comments.

 

And now a couple of notes on how I generally evaluate hitters before we dive in:

 

  • I’ve typically weighed stolen bases pretty heavily, but I’ve gradually learned to value the stat less and less over the years. I’m hoping to continue to move in that direction this year, with one caveat: I still think players with truly elite speed (e.g. Trea Turner and Adalberto Mondesí) are worth their weight in gold. As stolen bases have plummeted in recent years, and previous world-class speedsters like Mallex Smith, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Jonathan Villar currently find themselves with declining skillsets and/or no path to full-time at-bats, players who can swipe 30+ bags have become a true rarity. Getting that kind of stolen base output from one lineup slot allows you so much more flexibility in how you put together the rest of your team, and I think that can really give you an edge when it comes to roster construction.

 

  • Batted ball quality is huge for me (as I’m sure it is for most people). Every year the industry takes further strides in how it evaluates contact quality and its relationship with launch angle. Connor Kurcon’s DHH% and TrueHit statistics are revelations, and something I hope to rely on for player rankings throughout the year, once those stats are updated for 2021. Looking at quality of contact in conjunction with a hitter’s plate discipline, contact ability, spray charts, and batted ball tendencies is really where the meat of my player analysis tends to take place.

 

  • Considering the format that these rankings cater towards (standard 12-team H2H), I generally think streaming catchers is a viable strategy, and as a result I’m a bit lower than most on the mid-tier options. That said, a catcher like J.T. Realmuto is essentially in a tier of his own, and as a result I think rostering him gives you a significant edge over your competitors. With this position in particular, I weigh ceiling significantly more than floor.

 

  • I hate kids. As exciting as it is to own a young prospect right as he’s breaking out, I’ve found that trying to pinpoint which prospect will take off and when is a complete crapshoot, and can oftentimes result in spending a lot of playing time and FAAB on young players who don’t return much value. As a result, I tend to lean towards veteran hitters with longer track records.

 

Ranking Notes

 

 

 

  • First off, apologies for the delayed list this week. I was making my annual pilgrimage to Wyoming to pay respects to the birthplace of one of the greatest ballplayers to ever live: Brandon Nimmo. It’s a beautiful state if you ever get the chance to go, and I’m not sure why Nimmo ever left it behind to spend half his life getting yelled at by a bunch of dudes in shirseys next to derelict auto body shops in Flushing, Queens. But I digress.

 

  • Though it’s just six-spot jump and he remains in Tier 2, the move by Shohei Ohtani this week feels pretty significant, as he’s on the cusp of being a top-5 fantasy hitter in my mind. It seems the Angels have essentially thrown caution to the wind this year, allowing him to not only hit and pitch during some games, but also scaling way back on the amount of rest they give him as a hitter after making starts. He’s appeared in 60 of the team’s 62 games to this point in some capacity, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that we can cast aside any concerns we might have had that he’s going to get drastically fewer plate appearances than most hitters this year. Ohtani’s focus on elevating the ball more this season means a 40 HR/20 SB season is absolutely in the cards, and he’s had no trouble whatsoever accumulating counting stats even without Mike Trout around. My only concern is the batting average–the uptick in flyballs has resulted in increased power numbers, but has kept his BABIP around .306 compared to the ~.350 marks he posted in 2018 and 2019. I think a .260 average is probably what you should expect rest-of-season, but I don’t think anyone will complain about that when you’re getting absolutely elite production everywhere else.

 

  • I know the concept of a player’s production increasing in a contract year is a little contentious, but personally I think it stands to reason that some people are motivated to work harder when there’s a $150+ million carrot dangling in front of them. Then again I would do horrible, unconscionable, irredeemable things just for a $50 Best Buy gift card, so maybe I’m projecting. Anyway, Carlos Correa has been looking better than ever this year, right before he hits free agency, and I feel like there’s a chance that it’s not a coincidence. He’s currently posting the best Hard Hit rate (44.9%), strikeout rate (15.7%), and walk rate (12.3%) of his career, and Thanos would love his spray chart (since it’s so perfectly balanced):

Between the all-fields approach and the lack of flyballs, I do think maintaining a 30-homer pace might be difficult for Correa. But he should be able to get to 25 home runs pretty easily, and the batting average should stick around .285 with great counting stats, so he’ll likely come pretty close to putting together one of his better seasons as long as no nefarious masseuses do him in.

 

  • Cedric Mullins already looked like he was having a legit breakout. Then he went and had a week where he posted a casual .536 batting average with three homers and a stolen base. He’s now hitting .323 and pacing towards a 25/25 season, and considering that, I’m sure some folks are questioning why he’s not higher than #55 this time around. To be clear, there are a lot of great developments happening with Mullins. His Sweet Spot rate has improved by over 50% this year, jumping to an impressive 36.5%. This is allowing the increase in his Hard Hit rate to play up, resulting in much more pop than he’s flashed before. That uptick in hard contact hasn’t come at the cost of his contact ability either, as he’s whiffing just 18% of the time this year. He’s got xwOBAs over .300 against all pitch types, and yes, I know at some point I’ll have to segue into the bad stuff, so here we go. First off, the barrel rate points to him being someone who will likely settle closer to 18 homers than 25. And despite his good performance against all pitch types, the expected stats against those pitches are notably lower than what he’s actually produced so far. Furthermore, while Mullins scrapping his switch-hitting approach likely contributed to the leap forward that he’s made this year, hitting solely left-handed does make him more prone to being shifted, especially given that his pull rate has increased significantly. Mullins has historically struggled as a lefty against shifts, and unfortunately that trend has continued this year. Shifts are one of the things xwOBA doesn’t account for, and the fact that his xwOBA (.343) is significantly lower than his wOBA (.397) is a bit troubling, as you’d typically expect xwOBA to perform a bit more favorably than wOBA for someone who is prone to being shifted. Now, none of this is to say that Mullins isn’t legit right now–he very much is. But I think I’d be expecting something closer to a .280 average with 17 home runs and 25 stolen bases over a full season based on his peripherals.

 

  • One of my first articles for Pitcher List was about a phenomenon I refer to as the “Joe Schmo Effect,” which is essentially just the propensity for fantasy managers to overlook players who have boring, ho-hum names. The irony is that I’ve probably been a victim of the Joe Schmo Effect this year when it comes to Bryan Reynolds. Sure, I remembered his 2019 season where he managed to hit .314 with 16 homers. But I also remembered that he had some issues elevating the ball. And that he struggled pretty mightily in 2020. And so, since he wasn’t named Jabari Blash or Winters McGoo or anything notable like that, he faded into the background. Well, Reynolds has looked mighty good this year, particularly over the past few weeks:

He’s a skilled contact hitter who can go to all fields with some pop, and I think the uptick in flyballs should get him over the 20-homer plateau pretty easily this year. That said, with his Hard Hit rate at a good-not-great 38%, and with the flyballs coming at the expense of his line drives, I’m not sure I’d expect the average to hover around .285 all year. But he is going to soak up plenty of counting stats, even in the barren Pittsburgh lineup. And it wouldn’t be crazy if he did manage to hit close to .280 with 25+ homers.

 

  • Ben Clemens had a fun article on Tyler O’Neill over at Fangraphs, so while I could try to shamelessly regurgitate everything he says there, you’re better off giving that a read if you want the real skinny. The biggest takeaways, though, are what I think we all know about O’Neill deep down in our little hearts: he’s immensely powerful, and he whiffs on a huge amount of his swings. Why I’m conservative when it comes to ranking guys like this is that players with this profile can completely fall apart at any moment. It hasn’t happened yet, and frankly he could easily go another month hitting .339 with 12 home runs (like he just did). But long-term I still find him pretty risky. One notable stat from the aforementioned article: hitters who have struck out more than O’Neill in 150+ plate appearances this year have a max wRC+ of 104. Another notable stat: O’Neill swings at 55% of first pitches, yet pitchers have thrown him pitches over the heart of the plate in 0-0 counts way more than average. Okay, so I guess I am just shamelessly regurgitating that article. But the point being, O’Neill keeping this up and pitchers not adjusting are both highly unlikely. Hold on tight while he goes on this incredible run. Just don’t be surprised if and when the ride comes to an end.

 

  • I promised myself I would be better about giving credence to late-career breakouts from aging players, and then I went and gave the figurative middle finger to Brandon Crawford for the first two months of the season. Every year there are older guys who take a surprisingly legitimate step forward (remember 2019 Alex Gordon or Hunter Pence?). And this year, as shocking as it is, Crawford seems to be one of those guys. What looked a few weeks ago like a fun little productive spurt from Crawford has turned into a gradual ascension over the past few weeks. His xwOBA recently peaked at a point it hasn’t touched before (he had a 50-PA stretch where it sat at .532!). And everything seems to point to a conscious change in approach on Crawford’s part, from the higher pull rate, to the jump in Hard Hit rate, to the 31% flyball rate from a guy who previously peaked at just 22%. The old Brandon Crawford appears to be dead, long live Brandon Crawford.

 

  • As much as it saddens me to drop two of my boys so significantly, Nate Lowe and YermÍn Mercedes have been scuffling something awful lately, and I just couldn’t justify elevating them as highly anymore. Lowe has been particularly bad, but he’s gone through lulls like this a couple of times this year already, so I think the peaks and valleys are just a part of rostering him and he’ll come around again. Mercedes is also dealing with some growing pains, chasing a lot of bad pitches and further compounding his recent slump. But again, long-term I don’t think there are huge reasons to worry.

 

  • Fantasy baseball is so fun. A month ago, 95% of people probably had no idea who Patrick Wisdom or Eric Haase were. Now they’re two of the most-added players out there. Haase is a pretty intriguing catching option–especially in Yahoo leagues, where he just picked up outfielder eligibility. In the minors he flashed 35-homer power, and he’s been raking lately, with a 20% barrel rate and a 59% Hard Hit rate (in an obviously small sample). The average will likely plummet to .230 eventually, but he’s on a heater and should be owned just about everywhere at the moment. All the same caveats apply to Wisdom. He’s shown prodigious power, but a whiff rate hovering around 40% just doesn’t bode well for sustained production. Still, if you need power in the short-term, these are must-adds for as long as the trains keep rolling.

 

  • Getting back to guys I like who are making me sad right now, let’s talk about Carson Kelly. The peripherals from Kelly were radiant prior to him breaking his toe, and I legitimately felt like he had a shot at becoming the #1 catcher this year. Then, of course, the injury happened, and they activated him before the toe fully healed, which is always a red flag. I wanted to believe the slow start upon his return was him working off the rust from his IL stint. But he’s seen a big dip in his Hard Hit rate and xwOBA since his return, and I’m just not convinced he’s fully healthy at the moment. In these dark days of injuries, it seems silly to wish for an IL stint. But that may be what Kelly needs to return to being an elite catching option again this year.

 

  • Let’s give Hunter Renfroe his due, as he’s having a very solid season at the moment, at least by his standards. We always knew he had power, and that hasn’t gone away–his 114 mph max exit velocity is one of the highest among qualified hitters this season. But he has seemingly curtailed some of that power to become a better overall hitter this year. His line drive rate currently sits at a career-best 26.8%. He’s going to the opposite field more than he ever has with his batted balls. And he’s whiffing less than he ever has. If he sticks with these changes, and continues to retain that plus power, I think he could have one of his better offensive seasons this year, with a home run total above 30 and, for the first time in his career, a batting average above .250 over a full season. He’s not a bad guy to speculate on for counting stats and power.

 

  • The baseball season is long. So long that Jonathan India has already gone from top prospect breakout, to disappointing waiver wire fodder, back to top prospect breakout. And it’s not even July. India has put together a good run over his last 15 games, hitting .318 with two homers and two stolen bases. That production has helped him move into the leadoff spot over the past week. If he sticks, he should rack up plenty of runs with his above-average plate discipline. I’m not sure the batting average settles much higher than .270, but there’s probably mid-teens pop with around 10 stolen bases here if he maintains what he’s been doing so far, and that likely plays in most leagues from a middle-infielder.

 

Rank Hitter Position Change
1Ronald AcunaT1OF-
2Fernando Tatis Jr.SS-
3Trea TurnerSS-
4Juan SotoOF-
5Jose Ramirez
T2
3B
-
6Vladimir Guerrero Jr.1B, 3B+1
7J.D. MartinezDH+2
8Shohei OhtaniDH+6
9Rafael Devers3B+1
10Bo BichetteSS+1
11Mookie BettsOF-5
12Nick CastellanosOF-
13Trevor StorySS+UR
14Freddie Freeman1B-6
15Jesse WinkerOF-2
16Xander BogaertsSS-1
17Aaron JudgeOF, DH-
18Kyle TuckerOF-
19Matt Olson1B, DH-
20Nelson CruzDH-4
21Nolan Arenado
T3
3B
-1
22Yordan AlvarezOF, DH-
23Jose Abreu1B, DH-2
24Bryce HarperOF+UR
25Tim AndersonSS-2
26Randy ArozarenaOF-2
27Kris Bryant3B, OF-1
28Jared Walsh1B-
29Max Muncy1B, 2B, 3B-
30Yoan Moncada3B-
31Alex Bregman3B-
32Manny Machado3B, SS-5
33Teoscar HernandezOF, DH-1
34Pete Alonso1B-1
35Giancarlo StantonOF, DH-1
36Ketel Marte2B, OF-1
37Mitch Haniger
T4
OF
-1
38Starling MarteOF+2
39Austin MeadowsOF, DH-1
40Cody Bellinger1B, OF-3
41J.T. RealmutoC+1
42Marcus SemienSS+1
43Whit Merrifield2B, OF-2
44Ozzie Albies2B-
45Javier BaezSS+3
46Christian YelichOF-
47Jazz Chisholm2B+2
48Carlos CorreaSS+15
49Jose Altuve2B+3
50Anthony Rendon3B-11
51Alex VerdugoOF-1
52Adolis GarciaOF-7
53Paul Goldschmidt1B-6
54Trey Mancini1B, OF-3
55Yuli Gurriel1B, 3B-2
56Cedric MullinsOF+12
57Francisco LindorSS+2
58Austin Riley3B, OF+4
59Charlie BlackmonOF-5
60Ke’Bryan Hayes3B+UR
61Dansby SwansonSS-
62Justin Turner
T5
3B
+2
63Randal GrichukOF+12
64Josh Donaldson3B-6
65Mark Canha1B, OF+5
66Michael BrantleyOF+UR
67Ryan McMahon1B, 2B, 3B-2
68Andrew BenintendiOF+5
69DJ LeMahieu1B, 2B, 3B-14
70Jesus Aguilar1B+8
71Tyler O’NeillOF+30
72Bryan ReynoldsOF+24
73Tommy PhamOF+1
74Brandon CrawfordSS+38
75Wil MyersOF-18
76Buster PoseyC+6
77Gio Urshela3B+2
78Anthony SantanderOF-9
79Yermin MercedesDH-23
80Rhys Hoskins1B-9
81Tommy Edman2B, 3B, OF-1
82Salvador Perez
T6
C
-1
83Garrett Hampson2B, OF-
84Nate Lowe1B-24
85Eduardo Escobar2B, 3B+2
86Lourdes Gurriel Jr.2B, OF-9
87Chris Taylor2B, OF+2
88Joey Wendle2B, 3B+6
89Anthony Rizzo1B-5
90Willson ContrerasC+14
91Eric Hosmer1B-25
92Patrick Wisdom1B, 3B+UR
93Carlos Santana1B, DH-5
94Pavin SmithOF+3
95Ty France2B, 3B-19
96Will SmithC-4
97Miguel Andujar3B, OF+UR
98C.J. Cron1B-26
99Dominic Smith1B, OF-14
100Gleyber TorresSS-
101Isiah Kiner-FalefaC, 3B, SS+2
102Jake Cronenworth1B, 2B-7
103Gavin Lux2B, SS-4
104Avisail GarciaOF+3
105Alex KirilloffOF+5
106Manuel MargotOF-8
107Josh Rojas
T7
2B, OF
-16
108Carson KellyC-41
109Ryan Mountcastle1B, OF+19
110Dylan CarlsonOF-5
111Josh Bell1B-5
112Jonathan Schoop2B+UR
113AJ PollockOF+UR
114Eric HaaseC+UR
115Adam Frazier2B, OF+12
116Alec Bohm3B-23
117Colin Moran1B, 3B+UR
118Eddie Rosario
T8
OF
-
119Willie CalhounOF, DH-6
120Jean SeguraSS+UR
121Eugenio Suarez3B-13
122Willy AdamesSS+UR
123Hunter RenfroeOF+UR
124Joey GalloOF, DH-15
125Matt Chapman3B-8
126Raimel TapiaOF-3
127Omar NarvaezC+UR
128Kyle SchwarberOF-14
129Ian Happ2B, OF-27
130Brandon Lowe2B-14
131Tyler Naquin
T9
OF
-1
132Jonathan Villar2B, 3B+1
133Amed RosarioSS, OF+8
134Jorge Polanco2B+UR
135Nick Solak3B-14
136Jonathan India2B, 3B+UR
137Andrew VaughnOF-6
138Robbie GrossmanOF+UR
139Andrew McCutchenOF+8
140Kyle Seager3B+2
141David Fletcher2B, 3B, SS-9
142Jed Lowrie2B, 3B+2
143Jeimer Candelario3B-18
144Victor RoblesOF-22
145Christian Walker1B-30
146Odubel HerreraOF-3
147Christian VazquezC-13
148David PeraltaOF-19
149Jurickson Profar2B, OF-12
150Jorge SolerOF, DH-15

Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

  • Avatar Glenn says:

    One of these weeks you’ll wake up to Chris Taylor, the No. 42 rated player (hitters and pitchers) on Yahoo. I’ll keep coming here to see it!

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Haha, fair. Very fair. I’ve been too low on him for awhile and he definitely deserves a bigger push up.

  • Avatar J.C. Mosier says:

    Thanks, Jon. Worth the wait! What do you think about adding a short list of top 150 injured hitters, like Nick does with the SP and Rick does with the RP?

    • Avatar Guest says:

      Yeah, I myself am debating who a better IL stash is, between Hoerner, Senzel and Bader

      • Avatar Glenn says:

        No worries, man. I’m sure if I put one of these 150-player lists together, I’d have more than one blind spot.

      • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

        Bader is probably has the best shot of that group of going 20/20, so I might be inclined to stash him for upside. Hoerner probably has the highest BA upside of that bunch though if that’s something you need.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Appreciate that! I promise I’ll try to get something like this added for the next one–it’s a bit of an undertaking to put together from scratch, but I’m hoping to find the time soon.

  • Avatar William Lankford says:

    B Lowe?

    • Avatar William Lankford says:

      Oh wait, how did he get all the way down to 130? Is he even worth rostering now?

      • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

        In 12-teamers, he’s maybe worth stashing on your bench in the event he can turn things around soon. But the hot stretch he put together in 2020 looks like an aberration based on his rolling xwOBA charts and the fact that it was the only season where he wasn’t hurt by the shift. I’m not super optimistic long-term.

        • Avatar William Lankford says:

          That’s disappointing, but I appreciate the advice. Thanks for the awesome articles every week!

  • Avatar Joe says:

    Would Cavan Biggio make this list? If so where would you rank him?

    • Avatar Will says:

      I came to see about Biggio as well.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I think he’ll slot in somewhere in the 80-90 range next week. Not sure he has the power to reach 20 HR or the speed to reach 20 SB. If he’s not at the top of the lineup he’s not gonna be able to turn his walk rate into a bunch of runs, and he’s so passive that I think the average will hover around .250. I’m just not sure the ceiling is super high, and the floor seems like it could be pretty low.

  • Avatar Pablo Escobar (from the afterlife) says:

    For years you have disrespected my son. Why do you continue to disrespect my son and put him behind Wil Myers. Wil is on one of the best lineups and still cant get it done. While my boy has been way better than Wil for 2/3 years. Do you really think Wil will (see what I did there) get it done?!?

    Honestly though, I can never get behind your list because you use too much “advanced metrics” to try and prove why Wil and other smucks are better than their own stats.

    Asking as someone from SD, do you really think Wil Myers is the 75 best hitter in the whole MLB?!? Does that long list of 0’s in his stats mean nothing?

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