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 do not take 6/20 games into account.
- Tampa Bay C Wilson Ramos has gone 5-17 with a homer, a double, two RBI, three runs and two walks over the course of a five-game stretch with Triple-A Durham. More importantly for the viability of his reactivation from the 60-day DL, though, is the fact that he caught eight innings of ball on Friday, caught again Saturday and then worked a full nine innings Monday. His surgicaly repaired right knee (ACL, meniscus) seems more than fine, and he would be on schedule to return to the Rays on June 25—this Sunday. His ranking here is rising significantly 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 chance to get him and stash him. That “DL60” tag is very easy to gloss over, but Ramos will be usable for your next H2H matchup if everything goes according to plan.
- I have decided that empirical data support the claim that Cody Bellinger, Lorenzo Cain, Justin Smoak and Edwin Encarnacion are all fantasy monsters and they have been promoted aggressively to reflect their high value, especially of late. To a lesser extent, Kendrys Morales, Ryon Healy and Brett Gardner have also been excellent and have seen slight promotions. Conversely, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Michael Conforto have each been dealing with some struggles of their own and have been brought down within the rankings.
- Justin Bour (ankle) returned to the Marlins’ 25-man roster Friday and didn’t skip a beat, going 6-12, 2 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI in the four games that he subsequently played in over the weekend and on Monday. He was on the 10-day DL for the minimum amount of time and should be owned and started in all leagues. Bour has 29 runs, 18 homers and 48 RBI to complement a .307 average. He’s leaped back up toward cracking the top 100, and I can’t see him staying put if he keeps this up.
- Jean Segura (ankle) served as the DH for Triple-A Tacoma Monday and plays shortstop for the Rainiers today. If everything goes smoothly from a fielding standpoint during his rehab outing, he should be able to rejoin the Mariners on Thursday and resume his role as the everyday Seattle SS. His .341 average would be good enough for fourth-best in MLB if he were to return today. Segura also has four homers to go along with 29 runs, 20 RBI and seven steals.
- A.J. Pollock (groin) experienced some tightness in his quad during a game playing for Triple-A Reno over the weekend. He’s officially designated as day-to-day down in MiLB, and it bears clarifying that the quad issue is unrelated to the injury that has him on the DL. The upshot of the additional injury is that his return to Arizona’s lineup will almost certainly be delayed until he can get the requisite rehab assignment completed. Expect Pollock to be unusable for your current H2H matchup as well as the next one.
- Jonathan Villar (back) is doing much better and has resumed baseball activities; his rehab assignment should be scheduled in the coming days, as the Brewers have said he is physically ready for gameplay. Although Eric Sogard has played extremely well in relief of the injured infielder, if Villar can turn his lackluster numbers around upon returning, hopefully his positional versatility will allow manager Craig Counsell to find a way to work them both into lineups consistently.
- Zack Cozart and Michael Brantley are still studs and are just experiencing the need for short DL stints. They been bumped down but it’s not a reflection on their recent performances before sustaining a strained quadriceps and a sprained ankle, respectively. Expect to have them back as soon as possible.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Troy Tulowitzki (110), Evan Gattis (125), Joey Gallo (129), Gregory Polanco (130), Josh Bell (135), Mitch Moreland (138), Neil Walker (141), Todd Frazier (146), Tim Beckham (147) and Alex Bregman (148).
- Tulo hasn’t done anything of note lately, even though he and Josh Donaldson basically came back from their respective rehab assignments at the same time. Preseason expectation had him start at No. 114 in these rankings, but he hasn’t done enough to even merit inclusion at all, if we’re being brutally honest. I can’t abide him not having scored 10 runs yet, even in an injury-shortened first couple of months. If you are batting .240 and only have given me 15 RBI and two homers, you are presently worthless to my fantasy squad.
- Brian McCann is the catcher to own in Houston. He’s got four more runs, six more homers, 12 more RBI and a slightly higher average in just 14 more at-bats than Gattis. The production just hasn’t been there for him to be a wise fantasy play, and Carlos Beltran has been utilized far more than we expected before the season started. Gattis isn’t bad at baseball, he’s just not making the most of his slightly more sporadic chances to do a ton for you.
- You already know that Gallo’s batting average (.191) is why I can’t have him hanging out when so many guys are raking perhaps several fewer home runs while not costing me a matchup with their BA. Gallo went 1-18 last week. I can’t work with that, even if he does have fantastic hard contact and gobs of homers. I’d rather get my power slightly less often from someone more consistent.
- Polanco has underwhelmed all year. Going .180 in June with a single homer, on top of an already shaky 22 run and 17 RBI, means I’m not relying on him to do anything great on any given day. He’s taking up space on a lot of fantasy benches, and that’s where he’ll likely stay unless he picks up the pace.
- Fellow Pirate Josh Bell does have 12 homers, 33 runs and 30 RBI. I truly like Bell and I think he has value but I couldn’t, in good conscience, omit some surging names when he’s batting just .231 right now. He’s the most likely to be re-injected back into the Top 150 because I think he’s just barely outside it. Bump the average up and he is no longer a liability.
- Moreland’s relevance in 5×5 formats has plateaued. He still has a .270 average, but the XBH production has flagged after he was leading the league in doubles for quite some time early on in the season. The balance of 35 runs and 37 RBI is nice, but only a handful of homers every month isn’t going to get it done (two in April, four in May, three in June). His June has been a 10-game hit streak bookended by five hitless games, and the consistency isn’t leaping out at me. He could make a return.
- Walker landed on the DL with a hamstring tear and was already close to the bottom end of the Top 150. He is still relevant when healthy, but you need a viable 2B now so he is excluded for the time being.
- It’s the same old tricks that Frazier is up to. It’s like including him on the list last week jinxed him: any week you go 2-21, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, SB as an everyday starter, I’m going to question what I’m giving up by using you on my fantasy team. His season average is .205 right now. Eleven homers aren’t enough to make that worth it. You’ve had 210 at-bats to do SOMETHING, Todd. Get it together.
- Bregman went 4-15 with 0 runs, 0 RBI, 0 HR this past week. That is useless in a roto league. His season totals and average don’t impress either; he’s just not living up to the hype this year, and it’s become increasingly difficult to be an apologist on his behalf.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Alex Avila (132), Chris Taylor (136), Welington Castillo (139), Carlos Gomez (141), Yangervis Solarte (142), Matt Davidson (145), Trey Mancini (147), Mike Zunino (148), Andrelton Simmons (149) and Jarrod Dyson (150).
- Avila has broken through into double digits in homers, and there’s no real reason to avoid him anymore. My rationale for a little while was the fact that he was platooning with James McCann and that the stats weren’t exceptional. If anything, Avila’s relevance has spiked with the departure of Victor Martinez to the 10-day DL; his eligibility as both a catcher and a 1B were already useful, but Brad Ausmus is very likely going to use him daily with V-Mart gone because Detroit will need help at DH on days when Avila might have previously sat. The 22 runs and 27 RBI aren’t leaping off the page, but again, those could spike with more playing time. Avila is batting .319, so you will be in good shape with him on your roster.
- Taylor, like his amazing teammate Cody Bellinger, has gone from being a temporary fill-in to an everyday starter in the Dodgers’ outfield. Even when Adrian Gonzalez returns from the DL around the All-Star Break, he wasn’t performing very well in the first place, so it’s very possible he only gets spot starts with Bellinger at 1B and the trio of Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig and Taylor manning the outfield. Taylor is hitting .302 and has a diverse portfolio after having contributed nine homers, 32 RBI, 35 runs and eight steals.
- Castillo hasn’t had the most consistent stretch, going just .182 in June since returning from the DL on the 10th of the month, but his current .288 average overall is still great and he did hit a grand slam this past Wednesday. The 24 RBI and 19 runs are going to see increases since he is one of few catchers that is heavily relied upon by Baltimore to start almost every day. He’s a quality catcher in fantasy even if he has short slumps, and he should definitely be utilized somehow.
- Gomez is back from the DL and has gone 5-15, 5 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI since returning. He’s got a high BABIP and his strikeout rate is concerning, but he has made great contact when he’s been a healthy and contributing member of the Rangers this year. His ceiling is a bit low, but I think he is safe to fire up in a pinch as a fourth OF or UTIL until he shows us otherwise.
- Solarte has hit safely in 11 of his last 12, knocked four HRs this week alone and has 40 RBI overall. There’s not really anything to dislike, although the fantasy leash you allow him should probably be short if his recent under-the-radar success suddenly comes to a regressive halt. A .268 average and 28 runs scored go along with two steals for the 2B/3B hybrid.
- Of the 34 players in MLB who have hit at least 15 homers this year, Davidson and Hunter Renfroe are the only two to be owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues. With Renfroe, it is probably the fact that he’s batting just .225 and playing on a relatively horrid Padres team. With Davidson, there’s no reason to avoid him: his BA is .257 with 26 runs and 36 RBI. Because he plays DH, the at-bats are more infrequent but the production has still come.
- Chris Davis did in fact go to the DL, which makes Mancini a surefire recipient of frequent starts for the Os and takes him from fringe fantasy territory to a legitimate Top 150 guy. Twelve HRs, 38 RBI, 24 runs and an average north of .300 with more consistent playing time equates to getting the fantasy nod.
- Zunino’s been a different player since returning from having been demoted to play a Triple-A stint. After lingering below the Mendoza Line, he must have taken the reality check to heart because he’s now batting .257 with nine homers (four in the last week) and 30 RBI that are collectively beyond reproach. His second-half splits—if he keeps this recent production up—are going to be fascinating to look at.
- I mentioned Simmons as being one of the guys close to inclusion in the Top 150 last week, and he’s improved his average to .278 since that discussion. During the last six days, he’s managed to cross the 30-run and 30-RBI thresholds, and I praised the underrated balance with which he accumulates both before. He also had two games with two steals each during the last week to bump his total to 12 on the year. Simmons should not be ignored or slighted any longer. He’s finally a truly relevant fantasy asset, and the seven home runs that represent his weakest 5×5 category are still acceptable because you’re not going to structure your roster around counting on him for power.
- I’ve been looking for an excuse to include Dyson. The 20 RBI aren’t great, but he’s got 17 steals and 39 RBI to go alongside a .254 average. He’s got value as long as you plan for what he does best and make arrangements roster-wise to account for what he lacks.
- As referenced for the last two weeks, 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 is trickling 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.