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 and does not take into account the games played on 6/6.
- First and foremost, it’s worth specifically calling attention to both the premiere of Tampa Bay C Wilson Ramos and the conservative reinsertion of Pirates OF Starling Marte in to the rankings.
- Ramos has been recovering from tears to the meniscus and ACL in his right knee since October and has progressed sufficiently that he made a rehab start for High-A Charlotte yesterday. If all goes well in the minors assignment, Ramos could be activated from the 60-day DL to rejoin Tampa Bay in a DH capacity by mid-June. When fully healthy, he could viably be a top-10 fantasy catcher in the league, if not better. This is your heads up to perhaps make some moves soon to be able to have him stashed for the reactivation, as he should have a very competitive rest of the year.
- Marte, on the other hand, is still serving his 80-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs but will be eligible for reinstatement in mid-July. He’s been training judiciously during his absence and had a legitimate claim to being a versatile multi-category Top 25 fantasy asset before the hammer came down. Some readers noted last week that it was about time his candidacy as a Top 150 rest-of-season guy be reemphasized, despite losing almost a third of the year already. 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. 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.
- Carlos Correa, George Springer, Ryan Zimmerman, Zack Cozart, Elvis Andrus, Ender Inciarte, Ryon Healy, and Anthony Rendon all had monster weeks. They are some of the notable names who saw promotion based on spurts of production that just built on already sterling bodies of work. Domingo Santana was another name whose stats I knew were good; but the numbers elicited an audible expletive from me when I checked up on them, so he has climbed considerably too.
- Wil Myers has had a rough couple of weeks. Of all the batters who are at least 90% owned in ESPN leagues, Myers had the second-most strikeouts over the last 15 days with 19. Myers was .186 during the timeframe in question with but a single homer. By comparison, Miguel Sano struck out 20 times but also had four homers and is mashing .302 in that span. Similarly, Khris Davis tied Myers’ 19 K in that period but had 14 runs and 4 homers to go with a .250 average: you get the point. Myers is still a great talent at the dish with a .260 average and 12 jacks overall, and he shouldn’t be considered substandard suddenly based on a small slump. However, it makes sense to keep an eye on his trends because the yips are affecting his game at the moment.
- Jean Segura (ankle), Justin Bour (ankle) and Yasmany Tomas (groin) were all relegated to the 10-day DL, so their rankings have been adjusted to account for their lack of availability in the immediate 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 – 29 runs and just 17 RBI with a measly pair of homers and a .231 average BUT…he’s got 14 steals. In my book the steals make up for either the lack of power (coughDeeGordoncough) or the subpar average but not both. 17 RBI needs work at this point in the season, too.
- Austin Hedges – A passable 20 runs and a robust 11 homers to go with 28 RBI. But speed is not a thing for Hedges and the .214 average is too low for me to feel good about adding him. Bump up the BA to .240 and give me 25 runs right now and he’d already be listed.
- Lucas Duda – He’s done great this week with three homers and a .292 BA. But the counting stats have been limited in general, somehwat in part to a stint spent on the DL. The rate of production is looking good when he’s in stride, but I need another strong week and a continued spike in runs scored (he only has 15 thus far) before he rejoins the 150.
- Todd Frazier – Frazier has batted .300 this week with two homers, so it’s a good sign he’s expelling his demons. But eight homers and only mid-20s in runs/RBI aren’t enough to compensate me for my sacrifice in average because you’re below the Mendoza Line. He has to be at least at .220 before I consider adding him. Same goes for Kole Calhoun, who needs more RBI and perhaps .015 more in average before I’ll believe he’s truly turned it around.
- Jackie Bradley, Jr. – He’s hit .421 this week with two homers and 10 RBI, but 17 runs overall and a .233 average have me remaining gunshy, despite a DL handicap to his counting stat totals.
- Yoenis Cespedes has been a frustrating case of mixed messages as far as return timetable goes. He was supposed to be reactivated today, but he’s just not ready so has seen a slight dip. Mitch Haniger shouldn’t be far away from coming back into Seattle’s lineup and restored fantasy relevance, if all goes smoothly this week with Triple-A Tacoma.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is still on the 7-day concussion DL, which is quite troubling, given that Brian McCann went out around the same time and is back with no problems. Ellsbury’s situation is being dealt with carefully, and rightfully so, but he could also be eased back into the lineup sporadically even upon reactivation. Aaron Hicks is settling in nicely in his absence from the Yankee outfield, to the extent that playing time could be limited for even a 100% Ellsbury. We have to wait and see how Girardi handles it all when he rejoins the 25-man roster.
- Addison Russell and Stephen Piscotty saw a huge demotion and exclusion from the list, respectively. This was a case where preseason expectation was high for both guys, and it has become clear that they just aren’t performing up to the ranking that came with where that bar was set. In other words, it wasn’t because of one bad week that they tumbled; instead, it was me realizing their positioning was flawed and undeserved, based on the guys that were in their vicinity in the 150, and correcting that discrepancy.
- For Russell: 27 runs, good. 19 RBI, acceptable but not thrilling at all. 3 homers and a .213 average, absolutely awful. He was projected preseason to hit 11 homers and bat .246, and he is a far cry from accomplishing either of those things.
- For Piscotty: Compared to Lucas Duda, who we mentioned as being on the cusp of inclusion earlier, Piscotty has also had a DL-shortened season but just four fewer at-bats than his Mets 1B counterpart. And yet Duda has 3 more runs, seven more homers, six more RBI and is batting .026 better in average. I can’t abide including Piscotty and saying Duda has “almost” made it back to the list, so that’s why the St. Louis OF is gone.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are the aforementioned Stephen Piscotty (95), Maikel Franco (122), Welington Castillo (133) Dustin Pedroia (138), Melky Cabrera (149) and Victor Martinez (150).
- Franco has just completely let me down. The RBI production with flashes of power were all that were keeping him afloat, but both have screeched to a halt over the last couple of weeks. He’s at .218 on the year with just seven homers, and there’s just not enough on the résumé to even stream him at this point.
- Castillo hit the DL with a groin issue last week but encouragingly took batting practice Tuesday and could rejoin the Orioles this week. He’s been doing well when healthy, but he has to stay consistently productive for him to do you any fantasy favors when he’s active. The counting stats are obviously low, but he has a chance to rebound back into the rankings.
- Pedroia is also on the DL with a wrist injury but also could return this week. He only has 17 runs and 21 RBI to go with a pair of homers, although his average is characteristically high. He’s got to start raking and plating to make it worth your while when he’s back, though.
- I expressed reluctance to believe that Cabrera beating up on Detroit was anything that would carry over into ensuing series last week. It turns out that he’s had a week with just .250 , one run and one RBI. His totals are OK, but the production isn’t consistent enough for me to feel enthused about him in a starting spot in my lineup.
- V-Mart isn’t really doing anything wrong. I just feel like 17 runs and five homers aren’t popping off the page at me. If he was hitting .275-plus, it would be a different story. If anything, Carlos Beltran is probably a better option at this point (see below), and it felt time to demote Martinez from the Top 150 until some numerical bursts happen.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Wilson Ramos (133), Aaron Hicks (137), Starling Marte (139), Max Kepler (143), Yulieski Gurriel (149) and Carlos Beltran (150).
- Hicks has eclipsed the 30 mark in both runs and RBI to pair up nicely with a .321 average and eight HRs. Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner and he have ensured the Yankees boast one of the more formidable outfield units in all of baseball.
- Kepler is batting .269 and has 29 runs, seven jacks, 25 RBI and three swipes. A little more power and he’d be more widely owned with a quickness, mark my words.
- Gurriel is batting .268 with mid-20s in runs and RBI and six homers. Not exceptional, but he’s especially picked up the pace in the last week to merit more serious consideration.
- Beltran has 27 runs and just 22 RBI with seven HRs and a .250 average. I need a smidgeon more production from a regular DH, admittedly, but he’s doing enough to be worth a UTIL deployment if you’re strapped. Mike Moustakas has comparable run/RBI numbers with .010 more BA and double the homers, for perspective on someone with a similar number of at-bats (approaching 200 on the year). Boost the work rate for two of his four categories and I’m feeling great about Beltran.