Hitter List 7/14 – Ranking the Top 150 Hitters for 2021

Ranking the top 150 hitters for fantasy baseball every week of the year

Hello, and welcome back to Hitter List, where every week during the regular season I’ll be sharing updated rankings for the top 150 hitters in baseball. These rankings are geared toward standard, daily, 12-team H2H leagues, as that is typically the most popular fantasy baseball format. They will only factor in the five standard categories: Runs, RBI, Home Runs, Batting Average, and Stolen Bases.

First, let’s get some basics out of the way:

 

  • I would recommend not paying super close attention to the specific ranks of each player, and honing in more on the respective tiers that they’re in. Each tier represents a grouping of players that I think could arguably perform at a similar level, and/or carry similar levels of risk in terms of injury concerns or playing time obstacles. If Player X is ranked at #55 and Player Y is ranked at #65, but they’re in the same tier, it means that I personally like Player X a lot better, but think there’s a valid argument to be made for Player Y performing just as well.

 

  • Player movement (+/-) can be influenced by the movement of players around them in the ranks. You may see a player rise a few spots despite a poor performance, or drop a few spots despite a great performance. This can happen when players above them are moved below them, or vice versa. It could also be the result of injured players returning to the list after coming off the IL, or dropping off the list when they hit the IL. Just something to be conscious of if you see a change that doesn’t initially make a ton of sense.

 

  • Any player currently on the IL or not in the majors is removed from the list.

 

  • Hopefully it goes without saying, but these rankings aren’t an exact science. Every person’s rankings are influenced by their own biases, strategic philosophies, determinations of risk, and projections. It’s why no two rankings are ever exactly alike. My way of evaluating and ranking players has worked out well for me over the years, but it might not be a great fit for you. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and that what makes the game so fun. Please keep that in mind before eviscerating my fragile mental health in the comments.

 

And now a couple of notes on how I generally evaluate hitters before we dive in:

 

  • I’ve typically weighed stolen bases pretty heavily, but I’ve gradually learned to value the stat less and less over the years. I’m hoping to continue to move in that direction this year, with one caveat: I still think players with truly elite speed (e.g. Trea Turner and Adalberto Mondesí) are worth their weight in gold. As stolen bases have plummeted in recent years, and previous world-class speedsters like Mallex Smith, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Jonathan Villar currently find themselves with declining skillsets and/or no path to full-time at-bats, players who can swipe 30+ bags have become a true rarity. Getting that kind of stolen base output from one lineup slot allows you so much more flexibility in how you put together the rest of your team, and I think that can really give you an edge when it comes to roster construction.

 

  • Batted ball quality is huge for me (as I’m sure it is for most people). Every year the industry takes further strides in how it evaluates contact quality and its relationship with launch angle. Looking at quality of contact in conjunction with a hitter’s plate discipline, contact ability, spray charts, and batted ball tendencies is really where the meat of my player analysis tends to take place.

 

  • Considering the format that these rankings cater towards (standard 12-team H2H), I generally think streaming catchers is a viable strategy, and as a result I’m a bit lower than most on the mid-tier options. That said, a catcher like J.T. Realmuto is essentially in a tier of his own, and as a result I think rostering him gives you a significant edge over your competitors. With this position in particular, I weigh ceiling significantly more than floor.

 

  • I hate kids. As exciting as it is to own a young prospect right as he’s breaking out, I’ve found that trying to pinpoint which prospect will take off and when is a complete crapshoot, and can oftentimes result in spending a lot of playing time and FAAB on young players who don’t return much value. As a result, I tend to lean towards veteran hitters with longer track records.

 

Ranking Notes

Injured Hitters

 

  • All hitter injuries blow chunks, but losing Ronald Acuña Jr. blows especially large chunks. Acuña Jr. made some impressive gains in the strikeout department this year, and seemed well on his way to joining Fernando Tatís Jr. as the first players to reach the 40/40 plateau since Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Fortunately we should see Acuña Jr. ready to go by early next season. As a result of his injury, everyone on the list has a +1 baked into their ranking.

 

  • Juan Soto has finally started to come around lately, hitting .327 over his last 15 games with three homers and two stolen bases. Unfortunately, now that he has taken part in the Home Run Derby, his swing is forever ruined. Just kidding. I know it hardly matters–there’s nobody on the fence right now about rostering Juan Soto–but I’m not quite ready to bump him back into Tier 1. The hot streak hasn’t coincided with any fixes to his launch angle issues, and until that happens I’m just not confident enough that the power will get to where it needs to be for him to justify a top spot. Still, he’s on a hot streak, and it wouldn’t take a huge adjustment for him to return to being a top-3 bat.

 

  • In all likelihood, what George Springer is going through is just as extended slump. He’s struggled to get into a groove after missing most of the season with injuries, whiffing an uncharacteristic 31.8% of the time. He’s still squaring up the ball fairly well–his 38% Sweet Spot rate would be the highest of his career. But the hard contact hasn’t shown up yet at all. He gets a drop this week; anytime a player comes back from injury, there’s a chance they’re dealing with some lingering issues that could impact their performance going forward. But if I had him rostered, I wouldn’t be looking to move him at a discount just yet–he has barely accumulated enough plate appearances for a lot of his peripherals to stabilize, so it’s too early to tell whether there’s cause for major concern.

 

  • I tend to forget this every year, but as disappointing as a player is in the first half, there’s still hope that their entire season can be redeemed with a strong finish to the season. Francisco Lindor seems primed to be one of the players who turns things around–his wOBA has risen every month of the year so far, starting at .250 in April before rising to .283, .330, and now.441 in July. We’ve talked about it all season, but aside from a rise in whiff rate brought on by a decrease in the amount of zone contact he’s making, nothing about his peripherals looks that far off from where he was at in his best seasons.

 

  • Brandon Crawford was already having an incredible season–then he went and slashed .339/.393/.596 with six homers and four stolen bases over a 30-game stretch and pushed things to a whole other level. He’s essentially transformed himself into a completely different hitter this season, employing some type of dark magic to dramatically increase his Hard Hit rate while not giving much–if anything–back in terms of his contact ability. It’s kind of baffling to think that you might rather have Brandon Crawford than Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, or Francisco Lindor at this stage in the season but… that honestly seems to be the case. Everything he has done so far looks completely legit.

 

  • I’ve always been pretty low on Joey Gallo because, historically, the batting average has actively hurt you. It always seemed more advantageous to roster a hitter who could hit .250 with 30 home runs than a guy like Gallo who would hit .210 with 40 home runs; it’s easier for me to make up that 10-home run gap than it is for me to make up those 40 points in batting average. The caveat, however, was that if Gallo could find a way to muster a .250 average, he’d be a top-tier hitter. Well, finally, he’s starting to do things that seem like they could be conducive to keeping the batting average at a palatable level. He’s whiffing less against breaking balls, which has helped him cut his strikeout rate to a career-best 30%. He’s become less pull-happy, which has helped pull his wOBA against the shift up to .397. His Z-Contact rate and whiff rate are both at career-bests. And overall he just seems to be making all the adjustments he needs to to become a more well-rounded player. Maybe I’m still a bit too low on him at the moment, but I do want to see him sustain this for awhile, especially considering that prior to his blistering run over the past six weeks, he looked like vintage Joey Gallo.

 

  • Another slugger getting a well-deserved bump is Brandon Lowe. Lowe has homered a staggering eight times over his last 15 games, and has really started to turn things around after being mired in a slump that dated back to the second “half” of 2020. My concerns with Lowe are twofold. For one, he’s atrocious against lefties, and will likely continue to be benched against them, especially given the depth of the Rays’ bench. And secondly, this power outburst has not coincided with any improvement in his contact ability, as his strikeout rate hovers in the 35% range on a good week. I think Lowe still is what he is at this point–a prolific power hitter whose contact issues make him prone to extended hot and cold streaks. He also won’t start everyday, and shouldn’t start against lefties. There’s value there in daily formats, but you have to work for it.

 

  • Vidal Bruján is no longer Vidal Nuno, and I think the world is a sadder place for it. I think we’re all still trying to piece together how the Rays will use Bruján this year, as he’s been optioned, recalled, and started at both second base and in the outfield since his initial call-up. The Rays have logjams at practically every position on their roster, and things won’t get any clearer for Bruján once Manuel Margot returns from the IL in the next few weeks. Bet on the tools, but know that he’ll have to stake a claim to playing time soon to get consistent at-bats.

 

  • I just want to allow a quiet moment of appreciation for Jesús Aguilar, an afterthought in drafts this year that has returned a really solid amount of production so far. His 62 RBI have him tied for sixth-most in baseball, and he keeps chugging along, batting .286 with four homers and 20 RBI over his last 30 games. Just a very solid, overlooked start to the year from the big guy.

 

  • It’s probably no secret at this point that I’m not a big Rhys Hoskins fan. But with eight homers over the past month, he absolutely deserves our attention. He’s become more aggressive this year, swinging at more pitches both in and outside the zone. Considering one of his weaknesses in the past has been his passive approach at the plate, this is fairly encouraging. I still think it’s going to be a struggle for him to get the batting average to .250. But something like 33 home runs and good counting stats by season’s end is nothing to sniff at.

 

  • The last time I pronounced that Dansby Swanson was on the upswing, his production plummeted like a catamaran going over a waterfall. If you’re wondering why the analogy was so specific, it’s because I imagine that people with names like Dansby Swanson own catamarans, and I want to make this blurb as relatable as possible for him. Anyway, it seems it’s not quite time for Swanson’s swan song, as he’s hit .321 over his last 15 games and has been maintaining a 20/20 pace over the past month. The strikeout rate may cap his batting average this year, but he’s got pop, speed, and enough counting stats to be worth keeping an eye on in the second half.

 

  • AJ Pollock is, like, the physical embodiment of the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” He’s seemingly guaranteed to hit the IL at least once every season, and the sporadic healthy periods make it difficult to really latch onto his productivity as a hitter. But he is still a really productive hitter when he’s on the field. The speed has severely waned over the years, capping his ceiling, but an AJ Pollock who accumulated 600 plate appearances in a season could likely hit 30 home runs with a .270 batting average and really good run production. He’s hitting .306 with seven homers over his last 15 games, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

  • Andrew Vaughn continues to take flight. He’s cut down on his strikeout rate as the season has gone on, but maintained a Hard Hit rate in the 45% range, and it has played out to the tune of a .292 average and six homers over his last 30 games. Look out for a potentially big second half for the heralded prospect.

 

Rank Hitter Position Change
1Fernando Tatis Jr.T1SS+1
2Vladimir Guerrero Jr.1B, 3B+1
3Shohei OhtaniDH+1
4Trea TurnerSS+1
5Juan Soto
T2
OF
+2
6Jose Ramirez3B-
7Rafael Devers3B+1
8Bo BichetteSS+1
9Freddie Freeman1B+2
10J.D. MartinezDH-
11Matt Olson1B, DH+1
12Nick CastellanosOF+1
13Xander BogaertsSS+1
14Mookie BettsOF+1
15Kyle TuckerOF+1
16Nelson CruzDH+1
17Aaron JudgeOF, DH+1
18Manny Machado3B, SS+4
19Trevor StorySS-
20Jesse WinkerOF-
21Yordan Alvarez
T3
OF, DH
-
22Bryce HarperOF+1
23Teoscar HernandezOF, DH+2
24Cedric MullinsOF+4
25Marcus SemienSS+2
26Giancarlo StantonOF, DH-
27Trent GrishamOF+2
28Ozzie Albies2B+4
29Starling MarteOF+1
30Jose Altuve2B+1
31Randy ArozarenaOF+2
32Jose Abreu1B, DH+2
33Jared Walsh1B+4
34Nolan Arenado3B+1
35Tim AndersonSS+3
36Whit Merrifield2B, OF+3
37Max Muncy1B, 2B+5
38Pete Alonso1B+5
39Kris Bryant
T4
3B, OF
+1
40Austin MeadowsOF, DH+1
41Adolis GarciaOF+3
42Justin Turner3B+4
43George SpringerOF-19
44Wander FrancoSS+1
45Cody Bellinger1B, OF+2
46J.T. RealmutoC+3
47Brandon CrawfordSS+14
48Tommy PhamOF+2
49Yuli Gurriel1B, 3B-1
50Mitch HanigerOF+1
51Paul Goldschmidt1B+1
52Bryan ReynoldsOF+2
53Franmil ReyesOF+2
54Salvador PerezC+4
55Francisco LindorSS+12
56Christian YelichOF-3
57Luke Voit1B-1
58Jazz Chisholm
T5
2B
+5
59Trey Mancini1B, OF+5
60Javier BaezSS+6
61Joey GalloOF, DH+18
62Ramon LaureanoOF-
63Ke’Bryan Hayes3B-6
64Michael BrantleyOF-5
65Tyler O’NeillOF+3
66Jake Cronenworth1B, 2B-1
67Josh Donaldson3B+3
68Austin Riley3B, OF+4
69Jonathan Schoop2B-
70Chris Taylor2B, OF+5
71DJ LeMahieu1B, 2B, 3B-
72Andrew BenintendiOF+1
73Alex VerdugoOF+1
74Alex KirilloffOF+3
75Mike YastrzemskiOF+3
76Joey Votto1B+6
77Ryan Mountcastle1B, OF+3
78Eduardo Escobar
T6
2B, 3B
+3
79Willy AdamesSS+5
80Brandon Lowe2B+35
81Michael ConfortoOF-5
82Josh Bell1B+3
83Randal GrichukOF+3
84Jesus Aguilar1B+11
85Nate Lowe1B-2
86Will SmithC+3
87Gio Urshela3B+3
88Vidal Brujan2B+UR
89Anthony Rizzo1B+9
90Rhys Hoskins1B+15
91Matt Chapman3B-3
92Yoan Moncada3B-1
93C.J. Cron1B+3
94Hunter RenfroeOF+8
95Akil BaddooOF+6
96Wil MyersOF+8
97Ty France2B, 3B-5
98Lourdes Gurriel Jr.2B, OF-1
99Jean Segura
T7
SS
+1
100Charlie BlackmonOF-7
101Gary SanchezC-2
102Tommy Edman2B, 3B, OF+4
103Ryan McMahon1B, 2B, 3B+8
104Adam DuvallOF+9
105Jeff McNeil2B, OF+2
106Jonathan India2B, 3B+3
107Dansby SwansonSS+16
108Andrew VaughnOF+20
109AJ PollockOF+17
110Avisail GarciaOF+9
111Carlos Santana1B, DH+1
112Willson ContrerasC-2
113Dominic Smith1B, OF-10
114Eddie RosarioOF+3
115Amed RosarioSS, OF-7
116Gavin Lux2B, SS-2
117Garrett Cooper1B, OF+1
118Raimel TapiaOF+9
119Cavan Biggio
T8
2B, OF
-3
120Isiah Kiner-FalefaC, 3B, SS-26
121Josh Rojas2B, OF-
122Joey Wendle2B, 3B-2
123Harrison BaderOF+1
124Didi GregoriusSS+5
125Adam Frazier2B, OF+6
126Max KeplerOF+6
127Jorge Polanco2B+7
128Luis Arraez2B, 3B, OF+7
129Jonathan Villar2B, 3B+UR
130David Fletcher2B, 3B, SS+UR
131Steven DuggarOF-9
132Myles StrawSS, OF-7
133Dylan Moore2B, OF-3
134Harold RamirezOF-1
135Eugenio Suarez3B+3
136Taylor Ward
T9
OF
-
137Jed Lowrie2B, 3B+9
138Andrew McCutchenOF+1
139Bobby Bradley1B+UR
140Dylan CarlsonOF+1
141Luis Urias2B, 3B+UR
142LaMonte Wade1B, OF-2
143Keston Hiura1B, 2B-6
144Kyle Seager3B-2
145Garrett Hampson2B, OF-
146Cesar Hernandez2B+UR
147Jake FraleyOF-
148Patrick Wisdom1B, 3B+UR
149Pavin SmithOF-5
150Nick Solak3B-1

Photo via Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

  • Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    Surprised to see Hiura still on the list. Is that just a case of wishful thinking? Seems he’s on the wrong side of a platoon with R.Tellez or maybe even a roster spot as the deadline approaches. I actually have Hiura rostered in a deep 12 teamer, but H.Bader is a FA just sitting out there.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Yeah, when you get to the bottom few tiers, you’re mostly talking about bench pieces, so it’s mostly a gamble on ceiling with Hiura there, even though the floor with him is universally unrosterable. I’d definitely rather be taking a chance on Bader right now.

  • Avatar Anon says:

    Just going to point this out: the White Sox have 23 series left. Using Fangraphs’ ROS projections, 13 of those are against bottom 10 pitching staffs, 5 against middle 10 staffs and 5 against top 10 staffs with only one of those top 10s against a top 7 staff (Brewers at 4th). I’d be looking to load up on White Sox hitters.

    Also I get that he hits the ball hard and has a lot going for him, but isn’t Nate Lowe a groundball hitter who strikes way too much? Should he really be that high?

    • Avatar DB says:

      I get the trepidation about Lowe, and he’s been slower to adjust to the division adjusting to him than Adolis Garcia has, but he’s still a young ~.350 OBP guy with a TON of pop and a little bit of speed. He’s no Yandy Diaz, he’s got a lot more potential than that.

      The long swing and swing-holes leave something to be desired, but I don’t think he’s simply “a groundball hitter who strikes way too much.” He could easily become the next Matt Olson w/ a couple minor adjustments.

      Granted, Gallo’s probably on the move, but if there’s a guy who might be able to help him, Gallo’s that guy. Think Nick Castellanos learning from JD Martinez. Probably more of a 2022 play, but I wouldn’t write him off quite as dismissively as you seem to be doing, (no offense.)

      Agree w/ you about ChiSox hitters for the most part, if it weren’t for La Russa and the fact that pretty much every pitching staff is going to have to deal w/ innings limits and whatnot after a 60 game season.

      Unless a pitcher has been a long-term workhorse, I’d be looking at loading up on elite “Betader” type relievers at the moment, especially in the current saves situation around MLB.

      I usually play in leagues w/ lots and lots of categories though, (5×5 has never been my thing,) so YMMV.

      The second-half pitching landscape is going to look a LOT different than the first half. Pretty much every staff is going to have large amounts of “Dodgeritis.”

      Starters on mostly 6-man rotations and/or w/DEEP ‘pens are probably going to be pretty valuable, as long as their leash has been around 5+ innings prior. DL ace-adjacent guys like Syndergaard, Cookie, Severino, and Sale too (in ascending order, depending how they look in rehab.)

      Kikuchi’s a guy I’d be targeting, as long as the velo comes back to the ~97-98mph peak in his next start. I think the brew crew ‘pen and their defense will save Woodruff’s season-long value as well. The other heads in their 3-headed Monster? Not so much.

      (Yankee fan, BTW, but fantasy is fantasy, lol.)

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Great point–matchups are something I’m hoping to factor in over the final few weeks of the season, when exploiting opposing pitchers and grabbing guys who are hot is more important than rostering someone with name value or track record.

      And yeah, I’m a bit of a Lowe fanboy. I think he’s a tweak away from being a really, really good hitter–his ability to hit for power to all fields and go the other way isn’t something I see a lot in left-handed sluggers. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’m hoping we see him make an adjustments take things to that next level in the second half.

  • Avatar Howtulve? says:

    Why is Altuve a bit low on the list? His production has been really great but I feel he always hovers around his current ranking

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Interesting. I’ve been pretty high on him this year, and a top-30 hitter puts him in a class with the elite bats in the game right now. It’s a little hard to justify pushing him up too much higher given that I don’t think the 40-homer pace will hold, and he doesn’t steal bases anymore. But out of curiosity, where would you have him ranked?

  • Avatar Ryan Fickes says:

    I may be rebuilding for next year, but it made me so happy to open up this list every week and see Acuna and Tatis 1-2 and know they’re going to anchor my lineup for a decade. Now I has a sad.

  • Avatar justins06 says:

    Where do you see Duran on this list? Would you drop Baddoo for him at this point? Thanks!

  • Avatar Jack says:

    Solak at 150? Add 150 more and I’m with ya, lol.

    That being said, I don’t envy you this task. You do great work.

  • Avatar Hue says:

    Juan.Soto

  • Account / Login
    >