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:
- Luis Robert Jr. doesn’t really conform to most expectations for a ballplayer. He’s just young, extremely athletic, and doing whatever he wants in the box. And it works.
- Bobby Witt Jr. is doing a lot better with his decision-making of late, and that’s extremely encouraging.
- I was disappointed that Ozzie Albies wasn’t running at all anymore, but I’m feeling much better about it if he’s going to keep hitting for this kind of power and staying healthy. Albies has missed significant time in two of the last three seasons, but if he stays healthy, he could certainly hit 30 home runs and bat .270. The OBP won’t help you (if you’re into that sort of thing), but counting stats should keep coming.
- It looks like I hate everyone in this tier, but really I just needed to boost Witt Jr. and Albies.
- Bryce Harper hasn’t found the power stroke yet coming off of surgery, but it will come eventually.
- Manny Machado is looking more like himself every day, so there’s something to look forward to for Padres fans.
- Josh Jung is slumping a bit this month, slashing just .232/.313/.406, but I won’t be worried unless the strikeout rate spikes and 16.9% is the opposite of a spike.
- Nothing is wrong with George Springer, I just wanted to move a few other guys up.
- Matt Chapman has always been streaky and I’ve tried to suffer through it, but it’s just getting to be too much at this point. He isn’t broken or anything, but perhaps I had been rating him just a bit too high.
For Tiers 8 and 9, there is a net gain of five to all rankings
- Luis Arraez is a tough cat to rank. His contributions to ratios are valuable, but if you’re way behind in batting average at this stage in roto, there’s just not much a single player can do to help you. Arraez is incredibly consistent from week to week, though, and that counts for something, doesn’t it?
- Yandy Díaz still isn’t giving us much power yet. I don’t think the early season binge was purely a mirage, but we are getting close to a recalibration point on rest-of-season projections.
- I had hoped Thairo Estrada would come close to his 2022 production in 2023, and here he is getting there in almost half a season (in terms of home runs and steals, anyway). Our own xAVG and xSLG models like Estrada way more than Baseball Savant, and I’m inclined to trust ours as we’ve added in elements like batted ball direction. I’m not sure Estrada can keep hitting .286, but even if he’s just a .260 guy the rest of the way, I think we’d all be very happy (unless we are against him in our leagues, of course).
- The Mets have been a huge disappointment from a fantasy perspective, as I was pretty sure a healthy Starling Marte would approach 15-20 home runs and 30 steals. The stolen bases are there (and then some), but with just three home runs to his name through 67 games, it’s looking like even double-digit home runs could be a challenge for Marte. Even with a rebound in the power department, the ceiling for Marte is considerably lower than I previously imagined.
- I’ve said it all season long, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is a weird hitter who I’ve never had a good read on. Hopefully, he kicks this short slump soon, but I won’t pretend to know what’s going on.
- Hoo boy, what a tier. Let’s start with Ketel Marte, who quietly has been much better than I realized. Razzball’s player rater actually has him as the 25th-best hitter on the season so far, and if he stays healthy, he appears to be on track for a 20 home run, 10 stolen base season with nearly 100 runs scored and excellent ratios. That’s sort of the kicker, though—Marte hasn’t played 140 in a season since 2019 (though he got close with 137 in 2022), and he even missed a quarter of the 60-game season in 2020. Marte’s career high in home runs is 14 (excluding 2019’s rabbit ball season), and he’s also never topped 11 stolen bases. I am betting Ketel does better than both this season, but he’ll need to get to about 140 games to do so.
- Gunnar Henderson exploded and I didn’t move him up, but he hasn’t completely faded either and he’s kept the strikeout rate manageable. He’s unlikely to keep the leadoff role when Cedric Mullins returns (which should be fairly soon), but he doesn’t need it to maintain value. This is an upside ranking, but we should all be weary of the risks.
- Elly De La Cruz’s big performances on Tuesday and Wednesday broke a 10-game stretch where he was batting just .244/.311/.268, though he did steal six bases in that time. I’d still really like to see the strikeout rate come down below 30%, and we should continue to expect some pretty radical ups and downs as he adjusts his somewhat underdeveloped hit tool to major-league pitching, but De La Cruz looks to have the extreme upside that was promised. The floor is pretty scary as well, though, so my rankings will likely be a bit on the conservative side for a while.
- Jorge Soler is strong, y’all. He’ll be streaky, as power hitters often are, but the juice is worth the squeeze.
- Spencer Steer turned the power back on over the last week or so, and that’s exactly what we wanted to see. As the lineup continues to improve around him, his floor and upside go up due to the potential for more counting stats to go with the 20-ish home runs and solid ratios.
- People don’t seem to like Brandon Drury, but he’s played as well or even better than expected so far this season, slashing .271/.316/.498 in his age-30 season. The strikeout rate is up, sure, but Drury is hitting the ball pretty hard, is eligible all over the infield, and he’s well on his way to a 23-25 home run season at his current pace. Batting fourth behind Ohtani and Trout ain’t so bad either.
- Matt McLain may fall short of both 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, but this Reds offense is getting very exciting very quickly, and McLain is definitely a part of that. This move up is because I feel I’ve been underrating his floor—not a result of something I’ve necessarily seen in recent performances. He only has a single home run this month (though he does have four triples), and as that line drive rate continues to stabilize—it has dropped by 8.5 points in just the last week and a half because very few players can support an almost 30% or higher line drive rate for any meaningful amount of time—we will get a better idea of what McLain brings to the table long term.
There is roughly a +7 net gain in the rankings from here to the end
- I didn’t drop Dansby Swanson far enough, probably, but I’m trying to be patient.
- Nolan Jones had an excellent road trip—which is exactly what I said I was focused on last week. As a result, I’m willing to move Jones into the top 100.
- I don’t know what Byron Buxton is anymore.
- Jarred Kelenic can figure this out, I know it. Until he does, though, the fall continues.
- It’s great to see Jordan Walker succeed in his second trip to the majors. Since his call up his strikeout rate is just 17.9%, he’s slashing .339/.418/.593, and he already has four home runs. Granted, Walker still hits a lot of ground balls and he’s been caught in three of his four stolen base attempts since the call-up, but things are looking up for a guy who really did not get off to a great start.
- Brandon Nimmo is usually known for his plate discipline, but he’s striking out over 30% of the time so far this month and that terrifies me. Nimmo doesn’t have much power or speed, so he’s really supposed to be making up for it with ratios and runs scored. Can’t do that when you’re whiffing.
- Isaac Paredes continues to be a full-time player in Tampa, and that’s not an easy thing to be down there.
- I was not sold on Christopher Morel before, and this ranking suggests I’m not totally on board this time, either; however, unlike Morel’s earlier hot streak, this one is fueled by good decision-making. Morel has flashed good decision-making before only to go back to making bad ones (see the second chart below), but each time he does it, I like to think it has a slightly better chance of sticking around.
- I sort of forgot about Joc Pederson on the last list, so here he is. My bad.
- Sigh, Ryan McMahon. I can no longer willfully ignore the impressive results over his last 25 games (eight home runs, 43 combined runs and RBI, .381 batting average). He’s made some fixes to his mechanics at the plate, which is what McMahon says is the key to the newfound success. It’s worth noting that while McMahon has spiked before, his continued strong performance over the last week has pushed this spike to a MUCH higher place than we’ve seen before. New does not mean permanent, of course, but let’s see what happens.
- Eddie Rosario is the talk of the town, but this is still a guy who swings at everything and chases nearly half of the pitches he sees that are outside the zone (47.4% so far this season). He’s in the top three in both Swing% and O-Swing% and that means he’s still the same Eddie Rosario we’ve always known—he’s probably just hot right now.
- I’m out on Rowdy Tellez right now, and think he can be a roster casualty in most 12-teamers.
- Yainer Diaz is the catcher streamer of choice right now, and he has enough skills to become a guy you could keep the entire season if things play out right.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
And here’s the Taxi Squad, presented in no particular order: