- As a reminder, these rankings are geared toward a standard, daily, 12-team H2H redraft league, 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.
- 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.
- I take rankings like this as more of an art than a 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. Jon’s way of evaluating and ranking players has worked out well for Jon (and me) over the years, but it might not be a great fit for you. I can’t possibly predict your team’s specific needs, your league mate’s player evaluations, or your current waiver wire, and if I could it’d be weird. In a bad way.
- Yes, these ranks vary from the official PL positional rankings that I also developed in the offseason. That’s because these are only mine – no input from others. This is a safe space for me where I answer to no one but myself…and you if you leave a comment.
- I’m using 20 games as the threshold for positional eligibility in the List. I have not included presumed eligibilities based on likely new positions. This is just a maintenance thing and we will update eligibility throughout the season. Feel free to let me know if I’m missing any!
And now a couple of notes on how I generally evaluate hitters before we dive in:
- I’ve gotten more level-headed over the years regarding weighing stolen bases, but I still think they’re precious given how rare they’re becoming. Every steal is important, so don’t take those “chip-in” steals for granted. Finding steals at the end of the season can be a dogfight.
- If I did want to get some insight on whether what I’m seeing is new or if it’s just normal fluctuation, I’d use my favorite tool—the rolling chart. While we don’t have much for rolling data in 2022, you can see where they currently are on a rolling chart and see how it compares to their career trajectory.
- No stat is an island and they should all be taken in proper context. For ranking purposes, the primary starting points I use are plate discipline, wRC+, quality of contact metrics (also known as Statcast batted ball data), and lineup context. I also use various projections (some free, some I buy) and dollar value generators. Unlike Nick, I’ll also look at other rankings as I prepare my own to feel how my colleagues value certain players, positions, or stats. I recommend trying as many of these things as you can until you find what you like.
- Positional eligibility, and specifically multi-eligibility, is really neat but also isn’t a huge factor in many 10- and 12-team leagues anymore due to the prevalence of multi-eligible players. It’s of more value in deeper contests like the NFBC, or in leagues with limited roster moves (draft and hold leagues, transaction limits/costs, extremely short benches, etc.), but even then the value is fairly situational and context-dependent.
- On a similar note, I don’t penalize players for only qualifying in the utility slot. At most, it is a mild inconvenience if a DH-only player is available at a great value and you already have filled your utility spots.
- Anyone talented enough to make it to the big leagues can be brilliant or putrid for 50 at-bats regardless of true talent. Heck, it could even last a month with no change in potential or skill. It also could be wildly meaningful. We can’t and don’t know which of these will be true until it’s over, though track record, scouting, and trends give us hints.
- If you’d like input on a player or have any feedback, your best bet is to reach out to me on Twitter (@ifthechufits) or in the comments!
Check out the Hacks & Jacks podcast featuring myself and Joe Gallina, which also happened to be a finalist for Best Baseball Podcast of 2021 by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA)!
Just so you all are aware, instead of “The Next 30”, I decided to convert it to a “Taxi Squad” and left little blurbs for each player. Enjoy!
- Finally decided to expand this tier. There is still not much to talk about, I just think recent developments have closed the gap.
- Juan Soto will get more RBI now, though the real improvements (such as getting the ball in the air more) were already well underway in Washington and should continue in San Diego. His fantasy value doesn’t change in the short or long term, though, since he was elite and now he’s still elite.
- The only real change here was the removal of Mike Trout. I’ll get to him later.
- Julio Rodríguez is on the IL, but talk out of Seattle makes it seem as though it’s a minimum stay. At this stage of the game, volume is becoming less of a concern in head-to-head leagues as we get closer to the playoffs. Few players get more fantasy juice out of a plate appearance than Rodriguez, so his rank stays up high for me despite projection calculators putting him closer to the 50-75 range.
- Every piece of good news about Fernando Tatis Jr. moved him up. While he’s not the pure hitter Juan Soto is, he may be the better fantasy player for the rest of the year. Of course, that comes with huge risks, so he’s not up in Tier 1 quite yet (and it may be hard for him to get there since we don’t have much time to build confidence in his health).
- I was too slow to move Fransico Lindor up and this is me correcting that misjudgment.
- AUSTIN RILEY DROPPED?! WHY ARE SO YOU BAD AT THIS?! That’s a loaded question – there are a lot of reasons I’m bad at this, though the reason Riley “dropped” is because I chose to put Lindor just ahead of him. If you wanted him ahead of Tatis and Lindor, then he’d be at a plus-two instead of a minus-one. It’s semantics.
- It’s hard to care about Anthony Rizzo’s .230 batting average when he could finish the season with 35 home runs and 10 stolen bases. I didn’t realize he was producing so much. His career high for home runs, if you’re curious, is 32. He’ll beat that this year. Heck, if he gets hot, he might even beat it this month.
- I know Bo Bichette is going to turn it around, but I don’t know when…or where…or why…or how.
- If you’re worried about Kyle Schwarber’s slump, let me assure you it has nothing to do with the derby and everything to do with the fact that he’s been an incredibly streaky hitter for his entire career. The ups and downs are par for the course.
- Matt Chapman is on fire. If you look at the rolling chart below, you’ll see he’s hotter than he’s been at any other time in the last five years (and it’s not all that close). This is very interesting, and a lot of it is being fueled by a much higher line drive rate. This is a trend we’ve seen throughout his career, which you can also see below.
- Brandon Lowe hit 39 home runs last season, and since being activated from the IL, he’s slashing .314/.364/.510 with just an 18.2% strikeout rate in 55 plate appearances. He had a monster second half in 2021 and there’s no reason he can’t have another in 2022.
- We’re starting to get to a spot where I had several guys who needed to drop a long way, so try to ignore the small moves upward for everyone in this tier.
- If there’s one bump to call out, it’s Whit Merrifield. He could be a sparkplug for the Blue Jays, especially if they let him get close to the top of the lineup.
- Andrew Benintendi gets a boost because he found the perfect landing spot for his fantasy value. He’ll play every day for an elite lineup in a ballpark much better suited to his somewhat limited power.
- J.D. Martinez will probably put up better numbers soon, but then again, it seems like a total mess in Boston right now.
- I won’t merely repeat all the posts about Trey Mancini’s spray chart and how much better it plays in Houston, but that’s a very real thing. He’s pulling the ball more than ever this year, and the changes to Camden Yards punished him for it. That won’t be the case in his new home. Few other parks cater as well to right-handed power, and if you’re into expected home runs, you should know that if he played all of his games in Houston, we’d expect him to have 10 more home runs than he does now (21 total). If he’s available in any leagues, go get him right now.
- Salvador Perez is back and is crushing the ball. A little more of this and he makes a jump to the top tier of catchers.
- Jonathan India continues to look like 2021 Jonathan India, and that has me getting pretty aggressive with his rank. I’ll probably hold here for two weeks or so unless he flounders or gets even hotter.
- Amed Rosario has been good and I didn’t notice, so I fixed it.
- Riley Greene is striking out too much and I don’t think that keeps happening for long. It’s never really been an issue before, and it’s worth noting that he’s an extra-base hit in three of his last five games. The plus-seven is misleading, as most of it is from guys who dropped like a rock down the list.
- This is where I have Mike Trout for now. If the rotational exercises go well, he jumps way up. If they don’t, well, let’s try not to think about it.
- Jeremy Peña is going through a rather ugly adjustment period, but that’s what it is—an adjustment period.
- Justin Turner will be a force when healthy, but it’s not clear how often that will be from now through September.
- Anthony Santander, at the time of writing, is on a 13-game hitting streak where he’s also hitting for power.
- Nelson Cruz probably has gas left in the tank but has no one to drive home anymore. You also have to wonder how much motivation he has to play for this team right now.
- When trying to time a Javier Báez hot streak, you’re looking for streaks of good plate discipline. It’s a sign he’s seeing the ball well, and it’s something he’s doing right now. In his 50 trips to the plate in the second half, he’s hitting .302 with a respectable 8% walk rate and 22% strikeout rate. The power is fine (he’s slugging .442), and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s smashing home runs and stealing bases for a little while very soon.
- Josh Rojas has been quite useful, and I kept thinking he’d drop off but instead he keeps hitting. The versatility and consistency are impressive and he looks like he could be a 10 home run, 20 stolen base player with a decent batting average over roughly 120 plate appearances.
- I still find Jurickson Profar to be an uninteresting fantasy piece in general, but he’s swinging a hot bat and is continuing to hit leadoff for the rejuvenated Padres. I do wonder if this changes when Tatis returns, but if it doesn’t, he could lead the league in runs scored the rest of the way.
- Alec Bohm is hot again, but I want to see if he can keep the magic longer than last time. What’s a bit more interesting this time is the power—he had four doubles, a triple, and three home runs in July. He wasn’t close to that kind of extra-base damage the first time he heated up.
- My patience ran out a bit more on Taylor Ward (who may be playing through an injury), Jared Walsh (who is simply struggling), and Alex Verdugo (just can’t take another step forward from mediocrity).
- Joc Pederson has been limited by concussions before, so we’re all hoping for the best right now. He’s been slumping, too.
- Jean Segura is on the list for now, but that middle infield in Philly looks pretty messy with Didi Gregorius and Bryson Stott in there as well.
- Harrison Bader could get a stat boost playing for the Yankees, but I worry he might not do much of that until late September. His timeline is hard to predict and the possibility of missing most of the rest of the year is very real.
- Lots of new faces because they’re interesting bats who are fairly hot right now. They’re all roughly Taxi Squad-level players, but they’re the ones I’m interested in right now.
- I added a few options if you’re looking for specific stats. Just look for the “Cheap” and you’ll find them.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List:
|Spencer Torkelson||1B||DET||Only hitting .195 in the first 10 games in Toledo. Yuck.|
|Ji-Man Choi||1B||TBR||He’s a decent platoon bat for fantasy. Stream against a bad RHP.|
|C.J. Abrams||SS||SDP||It’s a new team, but he’s not starting right now.|
|Kiké Hernández||2B/OF||BOS||Had a setback in his recovery. Valuable when leading off.|
|Connor Joe||1B/OF||COL||Points leaguers will be slightly more interested. Stream at home.|
|Gabriel Moreno||C||TOR||Being a rookie catcher is hard.|
|Garrett Cooper||1B/OF||MIA||Limited pop and speed, but consistent.|
|Josh Harrison||2B||CWS||Fills lots of roles, but this won’t last. Stream it.|
|Joey Votto||1B||CIN||Cheap source of RBI. Heating up a bit.|
|Jake Burger||3B||CWS||Had a hot 2-3 weeks, not so good the rest of the time.|
|Aaron Hicks||OF||NYY||Worried about his durability and the crowded outfield.|
|Jorge Alfaro||C/OF||SDP||The strikeout rate is catching up to him.|
|Jorge Mateo||SS/OF||BAL||Speed streamer.|
|José Iglesias||SS||COL||Points league streamer when he’s at home.|
|Yonathan Daza||OF||COL||Points league streamer when he’s at home.|
|Avisaíl García||OF||MIA||Rebound/hot streak candidate.|
|Esteury Ruiz||OF||SDP||Might not get a chance to crack the lineup in Milwaukee.|
|Luis Rengifo||2B/SS||LAA||Making a ton of contact and hitting in the middle of the order.|
|Mike Yastrzemski||OF||SFG||Just a guy, for 12-team outfield purposes.|
|Wilmer Flores||1B/2B/3B||SFG||Flexible and dependable, usually.|
|Eric Hosmer||1B||BOS||Curious about what the heck is going on.|
|Bryson Stott||2B/SS||PHI||Keeps going up and down but is good for points leagues.|
|Nick Pratto||1B||KCR||Not the greatest debut but there’s a lot of talent here.|
|Matt Carpenter||OF||NYY||Still think he should platoon with Donaldson, who ain’t hitting.|
|Jo Adell||OF||LAA||Trading Marsh away gives him playing time – can he perform?|
|Ozzie Albies||2B||ATL||If you have plenty of IL room, keep him.|
|Aledmys Díaz||INF/OF||HOU||Playing a lot right now and hitting well.|
|Randal Grichuk||OF||COL||Maybe someone in your league thinks he’s better than this. I don’t.|
|Sean Murphy||C||OAK||Volume catcher who can hit for some power sometimes.|
|Josh Donaldson||3B||NYY||He’s just not that interesting.|
|Travis d’Arnaud||C||ATL||He hits fifth for a good team.|
|Triston Casas||1B||BOS||They’d need to send Dalbec down, and I’m not sure they will.|
|Jarren Duran||OF||BOS||Still leading off, but still not hitting well.|
|Jonah Heim||C||TEX||Premium streaming catcher.|
|Yasmani Grandal||C/1B||CWS||He had a good second half last year, I guess.|
|Edward Olivares||OF||KCR||Injured. Power and speed if healthy and if the Royals keep him up.|
|Brandon Belt||1B||SFG||He’s a streamer when he heats up, but rarely healthy.|
|Darick Hall||1B||PHI||Looks like a regular ol’ power hitter.|
|Tyrone Taylor||OF||MIL||If he gets back to the top of the lineup, he’s worth a look.|
|Yuli Gurriel||1B||HOU||He hits in a good spot for a good team.|
|Jarred Kelenic||OF||SEA||Still looks awesome, just needs a spot to open up. Premium stash.|
|Luis Garcia||2B||WAS||Bat heating up again, too bad everyone is gone.|
|Franmil Reyes||OF||CLE||The mighty has fallen. He could get his mojo back but don’t wait up.|
|Keibert Ruiz||C||WSH||Being a rookie catcher is hard.|
|Cavan Biggio||1B/2B||TOR||Hitting well of late, albeit with very limited power.|
|Elias Díaz||C||COL||Stream him on those homestands.|
|Alex Kirilloff||1B/OF||MIN||Injured again.|
|Andrew McCutchen||OF||MIL||The scrappy vet can go on runs and is sometimes useful.|
|Nicky Lopez||2B/SS||KCR||This team needs to steal even more bases than before.|
|Jon Berti||2B/3B||MIA||How much will he play when he returns, and how much will he run?|
|Ha-Seong Kim||2B/SS||SDP||Days are numbered but hitting and the lineup is awesome.|
|Thairo Estrada||2B||SFG||Let’s see how quickly he bounces back from a concussion.|
|Donovan Solano||2B/3B||CIN||Hot corner eligibility and a .326/.379/.465 line is intriguing.|
|Joey Wendle||2B/3B||MIA||Do-everything infielder has been hot, but best used in points leagues.|
|Gio Urshela||3B||MIN||Playing time is safe, but mostly just provides batting average.|
|Isiah Kiner-Falefa||SS||NYY||Cheap steals.|
|Mark Canha||OF||NYM||Cheap OBP.|
|Nick Madrigal||2B||CHC||Cheap batting average (hopefully).|
|Hunter Dozier||1B/3B/OF||KCR||Someone has to drive in the Royals runners…right?|
|Joey Gallo||OF||LAD||I’m rooting for him, and he has a chance to play.|
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)