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. These rankings do not take games from 8/15 into account.
- Hated seeing Willson Contreras and Bryce Harper go down with injuries this week. Harper really dodged a bullet when Sunday’s MRI revealed no ligament or tendon damage had occurred, but it is obviously still a blow to owners who had been relying on him for second-half statistical excellence. Because it’s not season-ending, Harper still has significant value to come in handy for playoff time but has seen a demotion to reflect his lack of availability in the coming weeks. Contreras, on the other hand, had initially been ruled out indefinitely but now could stand to return mid-September. I’ve been aggressive with his demotion for several reasons: a) he has to be inactive for two weeks before even being re-evaluated to then give shape to his rehab program, b) the best-case scenario would probably be a mid-September if no setbacks occurs, and c) then owners would basically only get him back for the week that the championship of most leagues is taking place, assuming their team progresses that far into the postseason. Realistically, I should probably omit him from the rankings given that context, but let’s remain optimistic for the time being since he’s been such a second-half stud.
- I cannot deny Giancarlo Stanton top-3 standing any longer. His power surge has been one for the ages, and the fact that we are realistically talking about the possibility that he might hit 60 homers on the year only underscores his soaring fantasy value. Over the last 30 days, Stanton ranks first in RBI and second in runs scored on top of the ridiculous HR production he’s been providing. With that kind of cross-category domination, he could honestly be a .215 hitter and I’d still recommend him as an elite play. The reality is that he’s a .283 hitter on the year: literally his only drawback is that he doesn’t steal. He’s a monster and I envy you if you own him.
- Waiting in the wings just outside the Top 150 are my honorable mentions that could see inclusion in the list any given week now if they can keep up their respectable work at the dish. Max Kepler, Dexter Fowler, Neil Walker as a Brewer, Howie Kendrick as a National, Gerardo Parra, Rafael Devers, Wilmer Flores now that Walker is no longer taking up playing time as a Met, and Randal Grichuk are all guys that warrant some attention for plugging some holes in your fantasy rosters if you need help from guys beyond the 150 listed here who may very well be available in a lot of leagues.
- Michael Brantley to the DL with an ankle sprain. Not a crazy injury to have to rehab from, so his demotion was pretty modest; he’ll still be clutch late in the year for you raking from Cleveland’s 3-spot upon reactivation.
- Josh Donaldson, Tim Beckham, Odubel Herrera, Andrew Benintendi, and Eugenio Suarez stand out to me as guys who have reawakened as extremely efficient second-half hitters. Consequently, they have moved up the rankings in a serious way. A newly reactivated Michael Taylor has also seen a promotion back to where he should be post-rehab.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Eddie Rosario (125), Manuel Margot (129), Mikie Mahtook (131), Curtis Granderson (134), Javier Baez (136), Aaron Hicks (139), Kolten Wong (141), Jose Pirela (142), James McCann (143), Matt Chapman (145), and C.J. Cron (145).
- Rosario has seen his ownership in ESPN leagues spike by upwards of 30 percentage points as people take note of what the red-hot Minnesota OF has been up to lately. He’s hitting .356 with 11 runs, 12 RBI, five homers and a steal in August. No reason to think he can’t provide value for you with both a .296 season average that’s ever increasing and a recent power surge.
- Margot has been on the fringe of my fantasy radar for about a month now because he had a moderately solid July (hit .310, 4 HR, 4 SB) but just didn’t quite have the run production I was looking for or perhaps hoping for. Just halfway through August, he’s already got four more HRs while being just one run and one RBI shy of tying his July totals of eight in each category. Average has dipped slightly, but he’s doing a pretty good job of keeping it in the .270s regardless.
- Mahtook has the 15th-best wOBA of the second half thus far of all qualified hitters across the entire league. Only seven players in MLB have scored more runs than him since the All-Star break. He’s absolutely worth a look, even if the .425 BABIP he’s enjoyed in that span gives you a moment of pause.
- Granderson is usually a low-average guy, but he is admittedly hitting .278 this month with 10 runs and 10 RBI to go along with five homers. With the departure of Jay Bruce for Cleveland, he’s even more cemented in an everyday role at RF and should be able to keep producing decently in fantasy lineups as well if he remains a Met for the rest of the year.
- Baez has gone on a tear lately, too. Going 15-46 with 10 runs, 14 RBI and five jacks over the first two weeks of August definitely has caught my attention. His July was respectable from a BA standpoint also, just with less power and run manufacturing. Baez is heating up at the right time as the fantasy regular season looks to wind down.
- Hicks is healthy and finally steps back into the Yankees outfield just as Clint Frazier departs for the DL with an oblique injury of his own. Hicks is easing back into the flow of things, but he’s made his 5-22 hitter’s profile in August a meaningful one since he’s homered twice, scored four times and gotten you three RBI on top of a couple SB. I expect him to heat up further, as he’s riding a three-game multi-hit streak as of today.
- Wong is batting .409 this month for St. Louis and has scored 12 runs and plated 10. Not much power to speak of, but he’s clearly in a groove with his current eight-game hit streak.
- Pirela is averaging .302 this month and owns an August OPS of 1.063 and yet somehow remains owned in just 23.9% of ESPN leagues and 14% of Yahoo leagues. The guy has been quite valuable for San Diego, and he boasts both 2B and OF eligibility.
- I’ve been speaking McCann’s praises recently, since he offers you consistent playing time as the main dude in Detroit with Alex Avila now playing for Joe Maddon’s Cubs. He has seven hits over his last four games and hit a grand slam this past week. The position is super thin with Contreras and Salvador Perez out, and McCann is serviceable enough with his .259 season average and 11 homers to be a stopgap measure if you have run out of options.
- Chapman has a low average of .221 but has been a boon for Oakland’s offense lately all the same. He only has 140 AB but has managed eight homers, 20 runs and 22 RBI since his call-up in June (with a short DL stint shortly thereafter). He’s off to a good start in his MLB debut and could be ratcheting up his fantasy stock for next season if his recent production continues.
- Cron had bounced back and forth between the Angels and their Triple-A affiliate earlier on, but he has righted the ship following his most recent call-up in early July. He’s hit 25-74 since then, with 12 runs, 18 RBI and seven bombs. Not bad at all, and he could definitely provide some nice depth if your league uses a corner infielder (1B/3B) spot.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Ian Desmond (84), Brandon Belt (105), Justin Bour (118), Matt Adams (121), Matt Holliday (137), Kevin Pillar (141), Hunter Renfroe (143), Mitch Moreland (144), Maikel Franco (148), Evan Gattis (149), and Mallex Smith (150).
- Indefinite timeline for return for Desmond from his calf injury means that I can no longer trust he’ll be rushed back into the Rockies lineup upon first availability, and with the season dwindling, his value ROS is unfortunately a complete mystery at this point in time. Remember when we thought for sure David Dahl would be back by the All-Star break? Just trying to learn from our mistakes here.
- Belt is similarly dealing with a very tricky situation surrounding his concussion symptoms. The Giants aren’t playoff contenders, so with his history of head injuries and with the setbacks that have sent him from the 7-day DL to the 10-day DL, I’m not holding my breath that Bruce Bochy is going to be desperate to get him back in the lineup until he is a firm 100% healthy. I’m not counting on him being back in any significant way at all in August, and they’ll still probably be careful to ease him back in to the order even when he is reactivated.
- Bour’s best-case scenario is resuming baseball activities and commencing rehab a week from now. Unfortunately, that means you have to move on and assume he can’t do much for you even come playoff time. It’s all about timing this late in the year when estimating fantasy value ROS, particularly with the dreaded oblique injury.
- Adams is on the wrong side of playing time when Matt Kemp gets reactivated this week, since Ozzie Albies has been called up to man 2B and Brandon Phillips has taken over duties at third as Freddie Freeman returns to his natural station at first. With Adams relegated to the outfield and struggling in his new role, I’m not feeling great about his role moving forward.
- Holliday had been slumping in late July and now is DL-relegated with a back strain. Not expecting him to be back any time soon, and who knows how long his mechanics and swing will take to get back to full form for him to offer you any fantasy advantage.
- Pillar has hit .215 with just two homers over the last 30 days. I’m all set on having that in my lineup, as many other OF are doing way more. Plus, he calls hitter-friendly Rogers Centre home so there’s no excuse for that kind of inefficiency.
- Renfroe is a 20-HR guy, sure, but he’s averaged just .220 with no bleacher bombs and just a solitary RBI in August. I need some consistency from a low-average hitter who is supposed to provide me power after that kind of slump before I can feel good about using him or even recommending such.
- Moreland toys with my emotions. Going 4-19 with a singular run over the last week has me disappointed all over again when I thought he was turning it around.
- Ditto for Franco. He’s gone a measly .211 with just two homers, five runs and five RBI in August. Hard pass…for the moment until he figures it out all over again.
- Gattis has no timetable for the resumption of baseball activities, and thus we have no idea when to expect him back from his concussion. Houston is really in a tough spot with Brian McCann also being sidelined at the moment, and it’s difficult to preach patience at this point for either guy when you’re facing crucial matchups in the coming weeks.
- Smith has cooled off big time in the second half. Even with Kevin Kiermaier on the 60-day DL and Smith’s playing time not being question for the remainder of the season, he isn’t producing like he was before the All-Star break and so I am wavering on my excitement about what he’s capable of from a fantasy standpoint.