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.
This is the first list in two weeks, since the All-Star break made it such that there wasn’t enough gameplay prior to last Tuesday to necessitate significant changes or analysis in a new rankings. Because there is 10 days’ worth of information to process now, some big changes have been made. Read on below the table for some clarifying notes.
Note: These rankings have been made with H2H 5×5 12-teamers in mind.
- Mike Trout is back on top, where he realistically belonged immediately upon his return. I talked last week about how good Paul Goldschmidt had been and that he’d been rightfully occupying the pole position in Trout’s stint on the DL; in other words, it didn’t make sense to penalize a streaking Goldy just because Trout was back without having done anything yet. Well, now Trout is back in the swing of things and Goldschmidt had a substandard week, so it thus seems appropriate to tweak the top of the Hitter List accordingly. Meanwhile, Nolan Arenado has had a second-half start (.400, 11 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI) that inspires fear in the hearts of athletes who don’t even play baseball, so he’s your new No. 2.
- Carlos Correa suffered a ligament tear in his thumb that almost ensures he won’t be usable for the rest of the fantasy regular season. He went under the knife to get it repaired this past Wednesday, and it’s expected he’ll be gone for six to eight weeks rehabbing. If he can’t help get you to the playoffs, then unfortunately his fantasy value is realistically much lowered ROS, if it exists at all. This is just terrible timing, and I can’t really go about recommending that he’s a better asset to hang on to over guys in this list of 150 that will be producing counting stats and hitting for your team’s average over the next two months. He’s obviously one of the best players in baseball, but these are ROS rankings and not dynasty or keeper rankings.
- A.J. Pollock is back to being a 5×5 stud. He is a bona fide top-25 play when healthy, which has obviously been the limiting factor in recent seasons.
- I don’t think I would have believed anyone who said at the start of the season that Starling Marte deserves to be ranked comparably to Andrew McCutchen, but Steamer’s projections for what they are supposed to do ROS are startlingly similar. Cutch has been deserving of his promotion back up the ranks, and Marte is still a five-category contributor. Balancing Marte’s speed with a slightly lower average and perhaps a handful fewer homers and then evaluating those numbers next to the expectation that McCutchen should score and plate more, marginally speaking, and then it becomes tough to pick which guy you’d want. Henceforth, they’re two spots apart, at No. 52 and No. 54 respectively.
- Jonathan Schoop was named the AL Player of the Week and might have a case at being in the conversation for one of the best fantasy 2B of the year. He’s doing everything but stealing bases, and I’ve bumped him up from No. 71 to No. 47 because his high average combines beautifully with his propensity to get RBI and provide decent power (21 homers to date).
- Eduardo Nunez and Ian Desmond have made their return to their respective 25-man rosters. Desmond’s calf issue seems to be actually resolved, and he has hit .318 and scored once with three RBI since coming back nine days ago. Nunez, meanwhile, was activated on July 14 but has somewhat struggled with recurring tightness in his hamstring. Much like the description of Pollock’s viability, Nunez is extremely useful as a fantasy asset provided he can maintain a healthy status. He hasn’t stolen a base in a while, so although he’s been promoted back up the rankings to account for his diverse skill set; if he ends up becoming a high-average guy whose run production is somewhat meager as the season draws on, then his ranking will necessarily suffer without the speed he is usually expected to provided.
- Didi Gregorius is also a big riser this week. He’s got a nice hit streak going, and 40-plus runs and RBI in an injury-shortened year are really solid numbers (considering he’s yet to eclipse 300 AB) that make it reasonable to expect a lot of production moving forward. An OPS of 1.363 over the last week is just absurd, and he’s shaping up to have a monster second half from the heart of the Yankees order. I personally own him in our Pitcher List staff league
- Tommy Pham is also just wrecking it as a member of the St. Louis outfield lately. I can’t abide not highlighting the appeal of a guy who has six multi-hit games, two steals, three homers and nine RBI since the break. He has shot up from No. 142 to No. 124.
- Marwin Gonzalez continues to surpass my expectations. Through 261 AB, he has a .318 average, 18 homers, 59 RBI and 46 runs. For context, that’s a better average and comparable counting stats to teammate Yuli Gurriel, but he’s done his work in 73 fewer at-bats. Just remarkable. His overall numbers on the season are actually quite close to those of Scooter Gennett, who I was hesitant to anoint early in the season, while Gonzalez has been a steady climber for longer. Both have pretty high BABIPs so there could be regression for the pair, but until that happens, both will be rising in my eyes and getting closer together in the rankings as they do so.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Chris Davis (105), Cesar Hernandez (127), Paul DeJong (130), Jorge Bonifacio (133), Corey Spangenberg (136), Nick Williams (144), Jose Reyes (145), and Clint Frazier (148).
- I was worried about Crush coming back and struggling post-oblique-injury, but he is a certifiable source of power and fantasy prowess all over again now that he’s back in the mix for Baltimore. It seems like a drastic move to “promote” a guy from unranked to No. 105, but his exclusion from the list was based on the uncertainty of his return and ability to reacclimate. It’s hard to quantify a return from that type of injury, so I omitted him while he was out. The reality is he should easily be a 30-35 HR guy despite his lengthy layoff, and the low average is just something you know from the outset when you are a Davis owner. I’m feeling good about him scoring at least 30 more runs and pushing for 40 more RBI.
- Hernandez is another case where he was on a roll early in the season and then suffered the dreaded oblique injury. He’s scored a run in six of his last seven since returning and owns a .282 average. The power is sporadic, but he’s a consistent crosser of the plate from Philly’s leadoff spot. Really solid play at 2B.
- Spangenberg has been quietly doing a nice job in San Diego, hitting safely in nine of 11 games for San Diego since the break. He is averaging .269, and he has 30 runs and 28 RBI as the now-full-time 3B for the Padres. Power is a little meager with just eight runs, but he has shown he can manufacture offense and can offer a helping of speed too. He’s got multiple positions of eligibility, too, which is always a boon in your fantasy world.
- Bonifacio’s exploits were honestly brought to my attention by my colleague Ben Palmer’s mention of him in a Batter’s Box yesterday. After taking a look at his numbers overall, I’m liking the look of 14 homers, 41 runs, 31 RBI and a .259 average. Perfectly serviceable as fourth OF or UTIL streamer.
- Williams has been killing it for Philadelphia lately, and he also is a recent discovery for me. His utilization coincided with the departure of Howie Kendrick for the DL, 10 runs, four homers and 18 RBI to complement a .315 average over his first 73 MLB at-bats. It’s a small, but awfully promising, sample set for the 23-year-old upstart. I like him as a fun waiver-wire add in deep leagues, should you need an offensive spark. I feel the same way about Clint Frazier hitting the ground running for the Yankees. He’s my flier of these rankings, again given the tiny sample. He has seemed up to the task of seamlessly fitting into an MLB lineup and not shying away from the daunting task of playing alongside Aaron Judge.
- Reyes has a rough average of .229, but it’s hard to deny him inclusion when he’s got 12 steals along with nine homers and above-average run production (43 runs, 36 RBI) for the Mets. He’s by no means a certifiable fantasy monster, but his eligibility at 3B and SS could be helpful, considering what he’s been able to do lately. He’s notoriously streaky, though, so keep an eye on BVP matchups if you’re going to deploy him.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are the aforementioned Carlos Correa (8), Nomar Mazara (106), Curtis Granderson (131), Alex Avila (133), Cameron Maybin (143), Manuel Margot (144) Mitch Moreland (146), and Jarrod Dyson (147).
- Mazara is actually just straight up not having a good season, and it took a revisit of his numbers after the All-Star break for it to dawn on me that I was giving him an undeserved benefit of the doubt.
- Avila isn’t bad necessarily on the whole, as catchers go in the fantasy world, but he is in a timeshare with James McCann and the slow start after the break makes me more iffy than ever about him. It’s possible he could get traded soon, and where he fits into a new backstop situation absolutely could affect his stock.
- Granderson, Dyson and Moreland have had god-awful starts to the second half that are difficult to forgive, in light of what exciting things the new additions above are doing.
- Margot’s average of .250 would not be a dealbreaker if he was generating some runs for the Padres, but he’s unfortunately not been doing that of late.
- Maybin is dealing with a Grade 1 sprain of his MCL, so unfortunately the speedster is spending some time on the DL. We’ll obviously be conservative with fantasy advice even when he’s healthy, because he may very well be more cautious with the knee upon returning.