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:
- Few players are as volatile as Luis Robert Jr., but the raw physical ability is elite.
- Trea Turner has looked much better in June, but I’m still hesitant to move him to that loaded second or third tier. Things are trending in the right direction, though.
- I was getting questions about whether to sell high on Manny Machado, but I don’t think that’s actually what you’d be doing right now — I think you’d be selling while you’re still in the red. Machado has overcome long slumps before and balanced out the final batting line, and I expect the same in 2023.
- Kyle Schwarber falls to the bottom of the tier as he’s been awful for the last week. I expected this power surge to last longer (and for our purposes, it really needed to), but perhaps it can still come back.
- The movement in this tier is a result of a slight shuffling of Daulton Varsho’s ranking combined with a player dropping to a lower tier. Don’t read into it too much.
- If the first half of June is what a slump from Masataka Yoshida looks like, I’m fine with it. Short and not that devastating.
- Jazz Chisholm Jr. is back and ready for action, though if you’ll recall, he was fairly disappointing prior to getting injured. He’s an incredibly explosive player, so hopefully Jazz comes out of the gate in a gallop.
- Ketel Marte just hit his 15th home run of the season — a career high (excluding the wacky 2019 rabbit ball). I’d project about 25 home runs in 2023, if only because he hasn’t played in more than 75% of his team’s games since 2019. The improved lineup around him and his excellent plate skills should make him a consistent force, especially if he continues to make good decisions at this kind of level:
- Elly De La Cruz could continue to oscillate between hitting everything and missing everything all season long — that’s just the nature of young players who still need time developing their hit tool and are doing so in the majors. I’ve been impressed with how quickly he’s bounced back so far, and if that continues, we could see Elly do some amazing things. Of course, you can’t ignore the risk of a prolonged slump from any player who has this kind of swing and miss in their game, but nobody wants that to happen.
- So much for Bryan Reynolds not going on the IL, eh?
This entire tier dropped at least one spot due to Elly De La Cruz’s bump
- Yandy Díaz hasn’t hit a home run in over a month, and since that last home run his ground ball rate has gone back to 55.4% and his fly ball rate is a miniscule 19.3%. That incredible early-season binge may be more of a fluke than I want it to be.
- Max Muncy is back from the IL, but his drop is due to me realizing that he may not have the upside he did in years past due to durability concerns combined with his lack of consistency.
- Michael Harris II isn’t making better decisions or anything — he’s just finally finding the ball with the right part of the bat. It’s hard to say how long this can last, but he managed pretty well in 2022 with this type of approach. The floor is low, but it’s not as though Harris II can’t hit.
- A big question I always have been I see a player with a line drive rate over 30% is “what will the extra line drives turn into?” You see, no one can sustain a line drive rate over 30% for very long, and most players settle in closer to 20%. Matt McLain came out hitting tons of line drives, but as we’ve moved forward, many of those line drives have become fly balls. Fly balls won’t generate as much batting average as line drives; however, they are much more likely to leave the yard. McLain has been more well-known for his power than his hit tool, and while I’d like to see the strikeout rate come down a bit, the fact he’s getting the ball in the air is a big deal for his upside.
- For the several of you that read these comments, you’ll know that I have never had a good read on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.. That remains true whether he is doing well or when he isn’t. The best explanation I have right now is that he’s making poor decisions at the plate, and even though Gurriel Jr. able to make contact with those bad pitches, he can’t do anything with them.
- Dansby Swanson has been better for about two weeks, which is just long enough to delay another overdue drop in these rankings.
- I’m losing faith in Xander Bogaerts really quickly, as the power has been out for quite a while now.
- Jake McCarthy bats ninth, but his team is so much better than Esteury Ruiz’s that he can still pile up runs scored from down there. With 15 steals since his return to the big leagues and the 11 runs scored in his last 14 games, McCarthy is the preferred speedster over Ruiz. He won’t steal quite as many bases, but McCarthy can also provide more consistent ratios and even a little bit of pop here and there when he’s hot — Ruiz can’t do that.
- Esteury Ruiz should not be counted on for anything except stolen bases. That said, he can be counted on for SO MANY stolen bases. That plus the occasional hot streaks where he hits .280 are enough to be a top-100 player. It helps that Oakland will let Ruiz lead off and run even when he isn’t hitting (or walking, but he never does that anyway). The complete and total lack of offensive support, though, is a real drag on his upside.
Players in this tier started with a +6 in the Change column due to other players dropping or falling off entirely.
- Brandon Nimmo has surprised with five home runs in his last 13 games with a .283/.356/.604 line. The high strikeout rate recently really weirds me out still, but he’s producing so I won’t question it too much yet.
- Ty France is turning it around a little, but the ceiling is pretty low unless the Mariners can start scoring runs like they did a year ago.
- Isaac Paredes is pulling about half of his fly balls and it’s leading to a lot more home runs than you’d expect from a guy with his profile. Pitcher List’s expected stats validate what Paredes has done so far more than Baseball Savant’s stats do, though it’s worth noting that it is difficult to maintain this kind of pull rate for long. I think he can keep it up, though.
- Andrés Giménez still isn’t giving us much in the way of home runs or steals, but at least he’s getting the ball in play.
Players in this tier started with a +9 in the Change column due to other players dropping or falling off entirely.
- Nolan Jones has slowed down slightly despite being at home. The strikeout rate is a mild concern as well, but overall I still like the upside.
- Ezequiel Tovar may not have a ton of upside, but he’s been surprisingly effective in June, getting on base in all but two games and slashing .310/.314/.524. Four home runs ain’t too shabby either. Might be more of a floor guy, but this was a touted prospect in draft season and it’s good to see him find success.
Unless the Change is +15 or more from here on out, assume the player didn’t move. The rankings in this range are extremely volatile.
- Justin Turner isn’t exciting, but he’s not bad either. Ratios and counting stats with occasional power binges.
- Giancarlo Stanton has been horrific since his return. No idea why or if it will get fixed, but he’s getting close to droppable in 10-teamers.
- Christopher Morel is striking out a lot more over the last week, but the upside is enough to kind of hang out in this range for now.
- Cody Bellinger’s last home run was in April. He was hurt for a while, but it’s been 21 games and counting.
- Royce Lewis has looked so much more comfortable, but between injuries and being a rookie, the risk is still very real.
- Maikel Garcia isn’t a guy I’m targeting long term, but he’s got an amazing schedule for stolen bases between now and the All-Star Break. He could steal four or five without much issue.
- I’m not sure why it’s saying Ryan McMahon was unranked, because he was definitely ranked last week (118). Of course, since then he’s had a terrible week and I wasn’t a big fan to begin with.
- LATE ADDITION: I left Henry Davis off this list despite pulling him out of the Taxi Squad. I love that he’s catcher-eligible yet playing every day as an outfielder. Being a rookie catcher is immensely challenging, as like a rookie tight end in football, they have to perform two entirely different skills at a much higher level than before. Being in the outfield should give Davis an edge over other rookie catchers, as he doesn’t need to learn how to call games for a big league staff while also trying to hit.
- I’m curious to see how much Jordan Westburg plays. He’s been fantastic in the minors this season, but Westburg wasn’t exactly their top prospect or anything coming into the year. The hit tool won’t wow us, but he’s got enough power to potentially make an impact.
- Spencer Torkelson can hit the ball hard, but unless he gets more of those hits in the air (and to the pull field, ideally), it won’t do him much good.
- Nick Madrigal has no power whatsoever, but he was once a guy I liked for contact and speed. He’s finally doing those things, so take a look if your infield is in dire need of help.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
And here’s the Taxi Squad, presented in no particular order: