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)!
After getting some feedback and thinking it through, I’m going to try something new this week and call out 1-2 players per tier that are on the cusp of major movement.
- As you’ll notice, I’ve shrunk this down a ton. While the next tier has a LOT of good players, I wanted to be a little bold and say these are the clear top fantasy assets right now.
- Mookie Betts added three more steals and three more home runs in his last 11 games, and that kind of production could help him get on track for a 35-home run, 20-stolen base season. That’d put him right up in the top tier. Betts only has 2 seasons in his career with 30+ home runs, and they were in 2017 and 2018.
- I’m not “worried” about Juan Soto, but it’s annoying that he’s turned half of his line drives into fly balls. The difference between a line drive and fly ball in terms of where on the bat the ball makes contact is minuscule, but the average results of a typical line drive versus a typical fly ball are enormous, especially when it comes to batting average (which happens to be the biggest negative on his stat sheet right now). This will fix itself, but if for some reason it doesn’t, Soto could fall a bit.
- Bo Bichette is hitting .339/.418/.593 over his last 14 games, but he’s just converted just one stolen base attempt since the start of May and those steals are a big part of his fantasy contributions. The light at the end of the tunnel here is that he’s slotted back into the second spot in the order, which is also where the vast majority of his stolen base attempts have come from in his career. He could really move in either direction based on how the steals play out in June, but it wasn’t that long ago that we had legitimate reasons to consider him as high as third on this very list.
- Tim Anderson is slated to started a rehab assignment next week, and that’s when we might start getting an idea of how the White Sox might try to manage his groin injury. My fear is that it’ll cut from his stolen base attempts, and that would cause a drop in his upside that would pull him down the list.
- I didn’t put Julio Rodríguez over Starling Marte (who I have repeatedly mentioned as a 2022 comp for J-Rod), but it could happen soon. I’m just waiting for Julio’s 70-grade power to start showing up more often in games. There was an outburst near the end of May, but it didn’t carry over when the calendar flipped.
- Oh, and I should have moved up Francisco Lindor last week, so I’m doing it now. His ups and downs over the last few years have made him one of my least favorite players to rank.
- Ozzie Albies‘ home run on Wednesday was his first since April 23. From April 24 to now, he’s hitting just .250/.277/.335 with that single home run and two steals (though he’s been caught a whopping four times in this stretch and hasn’t converted any of his last three tries). He’s been slowly demoted in the lineup as the season has gone on, and a permanent relegation to the bottom-third would have him tumbling down this list in a hurry. It doesn’t help that teammate Dansby Swanson, who took Albies’ place near the top of the order, has a 142 wRC+ with six home runs, and has converted eight of his 10 stolen base attempts during that same stretch between April 24 and today.
- Randy Arozarena is as explosive as he is inconsistent, but right now we’re seeing the fun version. In his last 82 plate appearances, he has five home runs, four steals, and a .338/.390/.608 line and better plate discipline than we’ve seen from him in a long time. He put up a 20-20 season in 2021, and while he’s a bit behind the eight-ball when it comes to home runs due to a very slow start, I think he still has a decent shot to surpass both totals.
- Matt Olson is supposed to be a 40-home run threat, but is currently on pace for less than 20. A big reason for that, probably, is that he leads the league in doubles. Prior to this season, he had roughly a one-to-one double-to-home run ratio, but this season has almost four doubles for each home run on the ledger. The rolling chart below does a good job showing the relationship between Olson’s ground ball rate and his performance and should show both why I am frustrated and why I do think this could be turning itself around. If it does, he might move up a bit. If it doesn’t, he’ll drop like a sack of doorknobs.
- Taylor Ward is going to be one of the most volatile rankings from site to site based on how much you value his year-to-date performance over his scouting reports and projections. I’m a believer. He moved down a bit this week due to being unsure about his timetable, but that’s it.
- Oh, hey Marcus Semien! It’s not often that a player reverses their entire season’s trajectory in a single week in June, but here we are. The speed has been awesome too, as Semien has six home runs and seven stolen bases since May 25. It’s way too late to get to 35 home runs, but 25-30 for the season is still very much in play and he’s just five swipes from breaking the personal record of 15 that he set last season. If I had to guess now, I’d call him a 27 home run, 20 stolen base player by the end of the season with OK run and RBI totals and a disappointing batting average, but if this recent surge continues for another week or two, I might have to adjust that and move him back into the top-40.
- Josh Bell’s 120 ISO on the season is the fifth-worst among all qualified first basemen, and while I’ve called out others for power problems, I’m way more concerned about Bell. He’s just not hitting the ball very hard, finding himself in the bottom-third of the league in hard-hit rate and the bottom-quarter of the league in barrel rate. He’s still making contact and he’s not just rolling over a bunch of grounders or anything, so I’m kind of confused. That inability to identify a possible cause is what keeps him from falling further, but time is running out—here’s to hoping he fixes the problem before I ever figured out what it was.
- All of the top-four catchers are ranked within the same tier. On one hand, I like seeing the compression of talent as more and more young catchers come up and hit. On the other hand, it probably doesn’t feel good for anyone (particularly NFBC players) that their early-round investments aren’t as special as they hoped. They’re good players, but their ADP was largely driven by how much better they were supposed to be than everyone else at their position.
- I don’t hate Wander Franco—he just hasn’t begun baseball activities yet and until he unlocks the power I know he has, he’ll have to stay outside the top-50 hitters.
- I did not expect Jeremy Peña to still be here, but golly has he looked like a 25 home run hitter who can steal 10-15 bases. I’m not sure how much higher he could go, but I guess we’ll have to find out. Regardless, the trajectory looks like it’ll be up or even.
- I’m not done talking about Eugenio Suárez because since May 16 he’s hitting .280 with five home runs and 28 combined runs and RBI. Almost as exciting is that he’s walking again (10.5% of the time) and keeping the strikeouts near 30%, which is about as good as it’ll get for him in any given sample. He’s been a top-eight third baseman so far this season and is available in nearly half of ESPN leagues.
- Remember what I said about Lindor being frustrating because he’s so volatile? That’s what Christian Yelich has been like except he’s also been much worse. Is it the back? Is it something else? I no longer know and I’m too exhausted to care.
- If Bellinger and Muncy can look ANYTHING like their old selves, they’ll vault back up this list and the Dodgers will be much more fearsome. If they can’t, they’ll both be out of the top-100 before July.
- Earlier today we found out Eloy Jiménez had his rehab assignment paused due to “leg soreness”. If it’s really that, he’ll keep climbing as he gets closer to a return. If it’s not, I’ll be very sad.
- I mentioned how good Dansby Swanson has been when I was bemoaning the fate of Ozzie Albies, but it’s worth noting that the second spot in the Atlanta order is a very sweet place to be for fantasy—especially when you’re hitting.
- Since May 24, among 74 qualified outfielders, Austin Hays is in the top-15 in virtually every category but steals. The plate discipline remains strong, and I think that he could finish with 25 home runs and a batting average north of .275.
- Randal Grichuk is a hop, skip, and jump away from just being removed from this list entirely. His struggles as a Rockie simply boggle the mind.
- If you know what to make of Seiya Suzuki or Anthony Rendon, please let me know. I’m not sure how much more I could drop them in the short term, but I know they could both shoot way up if they find their form.
- In 73 plate appearances since returning from injury, Joey Votto is hitting .295/.411/.705 with a 15.1% walk rate and a 17.8% strikeout rate. Welcome back, Mr. Votto.
- I don’t think Joc Pederson can repeat his magical 2019 where he hit 36 home runs, but could he get to 30 for just the second time in his career? Sure, especially if he continues to get full-time at-bats.
- Please don’t make me talk about Javier Báez. It’s too painful. That said, for as bad as he looks right now (which is REALLY bad), he has the ability and streakiness to pull a Semien for a week and make it all look better.
- It was hard not to raise Alejandro Kirk more than this. If he continues to play every day when Gabriel Moreno comes up this weekend, he’s likely moving to the top-100.
- I didn’t “move Franmil Reyes up” as much as I shoved a bunch of players down. Like Javy, he’s NOTORIOUSLY streaky and could pull a week-long fireworks show at any time. Or at least anytime he isn’t on the IL like he is now.
- Nolan Gorman has slowed down because that’s pretty much what always happens when a rookie gets hot right out of the gate. Let’s see how he responds, as that response is pivotal in player development.
- Why are the last 21 players in one tier? Because it’s just a hodge-podge of guys who either have a lot of talent and aren’t showing it, older guys on a hot streak, or young players who could take another step at any moment.
THE NEXT 32
- I’d be fine if you’d rather roster one of these players than the folks in Tier 13 if you have a rationale. At this point, it’s a lot of prospect speculation and hitter versions of a Toby.
- Why 32? Because I accidentally added 2 rows and figured I’d just roll with it.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)