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. They also do not take the games of 6/13 into account.
- Tampa Bay C Wilson Ramos has gone 2-11 at the plate during four games of work on rehab duty at High-A Charlotte over the last week. More importantly for the viability of his reactivation from the 60-day DL, though, is the fact that he has caught five innings of ball during three of those games without issue. If he continues to show that his surgically repaired right knee (ACL, meniscus) can handle the workload during several more minor league games, he would be on schedule to return to the Rays on June 25. As such, his ranking here is rising to account for his ROS value as a truly excellent second-half catcher during a year where many at the position are struggling. When fully healthy, he could viably be a top-10 fantasy backstop, if not better. This is your second consecutive heads up to perhaps make some moves soon to be able to have him stashed for the reactivation. That “DL60” tag is very easy to gloss over, but Ramos will be usable soon.
- As referenced last week, Pittsburgh OF Starling Marte is due back from his 80-game suspension for PED use in the middle of July. He offers considerable fantasy value over the second half of the 2017 season, given his top-20 positioning before the suspension took effect. Marte’s spot in the rankings will trickle upward over the next several weeks leading up to his reinstatement to the Pirates’ 25-man roster. I see him having roughly a ceiling of Top 50 right now because of the time constraints on what he can do ROS, but that could change and is a very difficult thing to calculate before we see how he performs starting next month. As the weeks tick by until Marte suits up for Pittsburgh once again, he’ll slowly be rising through the list to account for his prospective value in the latter part of the season.
- Jean Segura (ankle) and Justin Bour (ankle) are both still on the 10-day DL. Segura still has significant fantasy value, as he should be back by the end of the month as a high-average player who can threaten to steal and is reliable for slightly more runs than RBI. Bour found his form in May as a pleasant surprise at 1B for Miami, and he’s already got 16 homers and 40 RBI. If all goes well with his High-A rehab assignment, he could rejoin the team before the weekend series with Atlanta but I’m playing it cautiously until we cross that bridge. Bour is to be considered a top-15 1B this season when healthy, and he could be a great bargain acquisition during this upcoming rehab if everyone else in your league is avoiding him. Bour’s absence has afforded Tyler Moore some playing time and opportunities, but Moore’s fantasy relevance is only temporary and inversely related to Bour’s health.
- Yoenis Cespedes, Mitch Haniger and Justin Turner all came back from DL stints this week.
- Cespedes and Haniger are obviously behind the curve as far as counting stats go, since their absences were quite extensive. But their upside for ROS production is substantial, and I feel good about each guy’s chances to really do well in the fantasy landscape without too much trouble shaking rust off. Cespedes hit a grand slam over the weekend, so he obviously hasn’t lost his touch, as one example. Both guys can be tentatively considered locks as top-30 and top-115 talents, respectively, even if they struggle to reacclimate or encounter a slight slump in the coming weeks.
- Turner, on the other hand, only missed a few weeks and returned to belt his second homer of the year. The work he’s done hitting for average is fantastic this year, but the 27-HR power production from last year has obviously been lacking even when he has been slashing nicely. He hits third in the Dodgers lineup, and I believe some power will come, so you can feel good about using the 3B. Square away power with other guys in the meantime, however.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is still on the 7-day concussion DL. It’s been three weeks since he went down; you never get good vibes from a recovery process like this taking so long. But the Yankees are rightfully handling Ellsbury’s situation with great care, and it’s easy to forget that he sustained a neck sprain at the same time. The longer the recovery time gets, though, it makes me think the easing back into the lineup when he’s healthy will be increasingly and correspondingly gradual. We have to wait and see how Girardi handles his workload when Ellsbury rejoins the team. The good news is that he’s slated to participate in workouts with Double-A Trenton this week, even though he’s still a ways away from game action as part of a rehab assignment. Because of the unclear timetable and the finnicky nature of concussion symptoms, we have tentatively removed him from the Top 150 until his immediate future becomes a bit more certain.
- Yasmany Tomas landed on the DL last Tuesday and there is no firm timetable for his return, although it’s a plus development that he’ll be working out at the D-backs’ spring training facility this week in anticipation of a return. He’s a solid asset when healthy, but it made sense to temporarily drop him from the rankings to account for guys who could be doing something for you in the immediate future. Jeremy Hazelbaker was called up from the minors as Tomas’ understudy in the meantime, but he lacks fantasy relevance.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are the aforementioned Jacoby Ellsbury (128) and Yasmany Tomas (135). Also dropping out are Kevin Kiermaier (136), Max Kepler (142), Josh Reddick (145), Addison Russell (146) and Yulieski Gurriel (149).
- Kiermaier suffered an intense hip injury this past week that will sideline him until probably mid-August. Sliding into first base against the White Sox, he managed to jam his hip joint so violently that it fractured a pelvic bone and he was seen on crutches in the dugout later on. His fantasy value ROS has taken a major hit for the year, since he’s only going to be active for seven of the 14 remaining H2H matchup weeks, and we have no guarantee he’ll be as confident with his baserunning and swing mechanics when he gets back as he was prior to the injury. He was not an elite OF, but he definitely had some upside in the speed and run-scoring categories.
- Kepler is frustrating the daylights out of me. He’s an inconsistent slumper one week, and then he’ll make it seem like he’s trending upward the next with some fine dishwork. Kepler has hit just .115 over the last seven days and just .236 over the past 15, so that gives me a moment of hesitation when trusting him in my lineup right now. An average of .250 with 31 runs, seven HRs and 26 RBI are all acceptable, but if you can only expect production from him in unpredictable spurts, that is usually going to be a dealbreaker for me. He’s out for now.
- Reddick was already pretty low in the rankings, and as of Monday, he’s not on the 7-day concussion DL yet but he’s apparently dealing with mild symptoms. His .281 BA and 36 runs were his strongest attributes, but the uncertainty of when he’ll suit up sends him from the fringe to fantasy obscurity for the time being.
- Russell just isn’t getting it done for me. This has nothing to do with the investigation into accusations of domestic violence that have cropped up, though that situation contributed to him having some time away from Cubs this week. He was projected to be a top-12 shortstop and a .240-ish hitter: instead, he is outside the top 20 at the position as a guy with a .215 average who may not get 70 RBI after plating 95 last year. Russell has underachieved in power as well, knocking only five homers skyward thus far. He’s just not living up to expectations, unfairly lofty though they may have been.
- Gurriel has failed to crack into the 30s of runs and RBI, and a .271 average and seven homers aren’t impressive enough to feel great about taking a chance on him right now. While he had a decently productive 11-game hit streak going that ended Monday, he’s also very matchup-dependent and that’s concerning. Gurriel is a paltry .173 against LHP while lopsidedly hitting .305 against RHP. The fact that you need to monitor BVP to decide whether to start him in the first place justifies his demotion out of the Top 150. He’s not awful by any stretch, but you probably have access to more prolific hitters at the corner infielder positions.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Kole Calhoun (136), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (139), Austin Hedges (140), Shin-Soo Choo (142), Todd Frazier (146), Tim Beckham (147) and Cameron Maybin (149).
- Calhoun looks to have his worst days behind him. He has 30 runs, 10 homers and 31 RBI. The .241 average is not bad enough any longer for me to spurn him entirely, especially when you realize he has seven multi-hit games in June. That says to me he’s shaken the yips and doesn’t need to be shelved anymore.
- JBJ has hit safely in 10 of his last 12, and the slump that enveloped his game after a DL trip early on seems to be long gone. He’s batting .326 with three homers and 14 RBI over the last 15 days, and his OPS in that span is well up over 1.000. It looks safe to trust the Boston OF once more.
- Hedges has been a low-average purveyor of dingers that simply cannot be ostracized any longer. His 11 homers are tied with Kyle Schwarber for second-most among those with C eligibility, while he trails only Salvador Perez in RBI at the position. He more than compensates for his .219 average.
- Choo has been an oddly quiet producer on a Texas team that features some big personalities like Joey Gallo, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus all enjoying varying levels of success. Contrast that with the struggles of Mike Napoli and Jonathan Lucroy, and it is easy to lose Choo in the mix. At 16% ownership in Yahoo leagues and just 13.6% ownership in ESPN leagues, it struck me as baffling how 35 runs, 29 RBI, nine homers and six steals could just fly so low under the radar. You’d expect his average to be .205 with numbers that are otherwise decent, but he’s actually hitting .255. Again, I don’t know how it happened, but he’s a really solid asset who’s eluded the attention of many.
- Let’s give the Toddfather another shot. He’s hitting .351 with three homers in the month of June, and you know how bad it was to start the season when that kind of efficiency has only lifted his average to .214 on the year. He had to turn it around at some point. Frazier is finally up over the 30-RBI milestone as well.
- Beckham has four multi-hit games during his current seven-game hit streak. He owns a .282 average with 26 runs, 10 homers, 31 RBI and four steals. No abject liabilities and a hot bat: sign me up.
- Maybin has been wreaking havoc when he’s been healthy: managing to steal six bases in one weekend when you’re supposedly fresh off of recovering from an injury tells me he’s got something to prove in the absence of Mike Trout. An average of .260 and 36 runs scored show that he could very well help your cause in the near future.
- Knocking on the door of the rankings are the following guys, who have decent hitter’s pedigrees but are lacking considerably in one category or another that gives me pause before considering them among the 150 most valuable batters league-wide.
- Jarrod Dyson – 33 runs are awesome, but just 18 RBI with a measly pair of homers and an improving .238 average BUT…he’s got 16 steals. In my book the steals make up for either the lack of power or the mediocre average but not both. He’s so close to being in the Top 150. I basically just need more RBI to vouch for him. Absolutely solid add for speed alone, but the whole package is imperfect.
- Melky Cabrera – Similar to what I said about the Twins’ Max Kepler: it’s inconsistency that gets me. The .274 average, 33 RBI and 32 runs are actually legitimate in my book. But he hasn’t homered in over two weeks and has just six overall. If you can get over that, he’s hitting .326 in June and is on the cusp of being worth your time without asterisk.
- Chris Taylor – He’s basically only relevant while Adrian Gonzalez is still injured. Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson outrank him in the Dodgers’ pecking order, but 31 runs and a .293 average are not too shabby through just 157 AB. He’s a short-term stopgap if you need some help, given his 2B/3B/SS/OF eligibility, but nothing more.
- Andrelton Simmons – As a fan of the sport, I recognize that Simmons is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game right now. As a deployer of fantasy studs, my praise is slightly less effusive. He’s been good but not great. Six homers leave a lot to be desired, but he’s batting .274 and sniffing 30 RBI. What’s underrated about Simmons is both his balance in run production (28 R, 28 RBI) and his ability to steal bases. Four of his eight SB have come since May 29, and he’s batting better in June than he did in either April or May. He’s probably the closest to cracking the Top 150 of all seven gentlemen discussed here.
- Matt Adams – Adams is only relevant while Freddie Freeman is laid up with his hand injury, so up until some time in the middle of July. That said, to go .282 with nine homers and 26 RBI through 142 AB in relief of one of the best 1B in the game is solid. Utilize Adams as a handcuff if you must, but his 2017 fantasy viability as a 2017 Atlanta Brave is resoundingly finite.
- Mallex Smith – Smith had a monstrously effective weekend in relief of the previously discussed Kiermaier. He was admittedly still playing in Triple-A on Thursday, so I’m hesitant to hail his offensive splash as evidence of the Second Coming. Keep an eye on him though, as he could be embracing this chance at serious playing time as his opportunity to show he belongs in the majors permanently. He’s batting .357 through 42 at-bats and has scored in all but one of his games since the callup.
- Trey Mancini – If Chris Davis‘ injury is as serious as we fear it might be and requires a DL stint, look to Mancini to fill the void he leaves behind. He doesn’t have 1B eligibility yet but would soon gain it. Mark Trumbo, as a fellow OF-eligible guy, would probably slot in at DH more often. Mancini has a .288 average with 10 homers and 33 RBI through 163 at-bats. The power may not be on Crush’s level, but it’s definitely present enough to merit an add if you’re scrambling for a fill-in.