Every week during the season, we have been 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, especially as the season winds down toward playoff matchups. The rankings 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 in the time you have left. Use this list to help understand what batters are doing and may be capable of. Gauging trade value can be a difficult beast to tackle, so feel free to comment with questions regarding potential transactions; the circumstances surrounding your roster may result in different advice or recommendations depending on your needs in your roto league. Also, I’m happy to explain any moves up or down should you be curious about my rationale, as some readers have voiced a desire to make sense of the fluctuations they see. Enjoy!
Note: These rankings have been made with H2H 5×5 12-teamers in mind.
- Got Carlos Correa back in the fray at No. 107, as his return could happen in as little as 10 days, provided an as-yet TBD rehab assignment goes smoothly. It will be pretty clutch for him to drop back into owners’ active rosters right as playoffs launch. It’s obviously tough to quantify future value weeks in advance, but I will be bumping him up slightly each week leading up to his return to reflect what he represents as the matchup where he can actually play approaches.
- Cody Bellinger to the 10-day DL with his ankle injury that had seemed like it would just sideline him temporarily with DTD designation. It’s a bummer and horrendous timing, since he had become a legitimate Top 25 hitter with his slugging abilities. I’ve sent him down about 20 spots from where I was going to have him to account for the lack of availability for this week at a minimum.
- Keeping an eye on Nicky Delmonico, Rhys Hoskins, Denard Span, Matt Joyce, Joe Mauer, Ben Gamel, and Gerardo Parra as guys who are in a groove at the dish and just outside my Top 150 as of this moment. Sky-high upside for the first two, cagey and productive veterans in Span and Mauer, while Joyce has also been rather efficient without anything too flashy over above the radar in recent weeks. Watchlist these dudes for some possible lineup ringer action.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are the aforementioned Carlos Correa (107), Rafael Devers (129), Howie Kendrick (131), Jorge Polanco (133), Byron Buxton (134), Max Kepler (138), Dexter Fowler (143), Delino Deshields (144), Scott Schebler (147), Nomar Mazara (149), and Kevin Kiermaier (150).
- Devers has been one of my favorite upstart storylines to watch unfold of late. Red Sox faithful are sure to be loving what he’s doing from the jump, especially at the Yankees’ expense. He’s been good for five multi-hit games and five taters over the last 10 days, meaning Devers is firing on all cylinders right at a time when you need a corner infielder to be producing.
- Kendrick is a nightmare for enemy pitching this year when healthy. That’s been the only thing that’s limited him, as far as counting stat totals, but 10 steals and a .342 average with a .909 OPS don’t lie even if he’s only had 202 AB with which to accomplish those things. Fire him up as a multi-positional, cross-category threat.
- Polanco, Buxton and Kepler are all big and blossoming reasons the Twins are in great shape to represent the AL Central in the Wild Card game in about six weeks’ time. As my colleague Ben pointed out, Buxton is playing like a changed man since getting called back up, and Polanco has been a quiet RBI machine this month, going 25-65 since the 1st. Kepler, meanwhile, has five homers in two weeks with an OPS of .973 in that span. All hitting their stride and recommended adds.
- Fowler and Deshields have also been unsung heroes, in my opinion. Fowler has had enough time sidelined where he’s not a qualified hitter, but he leads the Cardinals in triples and trails only Matt Carpenter on the team in walks. He’s an excellent fourth OF add. I feel as though I’ve treated Deshields as a perennial pinch-runner and useful role player for Texas but never really took him seriously for fantasy: well, that was clearly an oversight because his 25 steals rank eighth league-wide and he’s averaging .281. Low power and just 16 RBI, but limited value is his jam and I should have acknowledged that far sooner.
- Schebler was a consistent occupant of the Top 150 before getting dealt to the DL with a rotator cuff issue. I expect him to be a handy contributor down the stretch with above-average power.
- Mazara has been on a tear. He’s burned me before when I start to have faith, so he’s staying low in the list but an RBI per day for the last 15 days and a .607 slugging percentage this past week have me paying very close attention.
- Kiermaier should bring cheap steals to your doorstep, since many probably wrote him off with the long convalescence from his hip injury. Mallex Smith is back in Triple-A, and the guy he stood in for is back and ready to make waves. Kiermaier is 5-12 since his reactivation.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Willson Contreras (126), Starlin Castro (127), Matt Kemp (135), Hernan Perez (137), Aaron Hicks (139), Jose Pirela (142), Matt Chapman (144), C.J. Cron (145), Lucas Duda (146), Carlos Beltran (147), and Marcus Semien (150).
- Shaky timeline for the return of Contreras from his hamstring strain, and your best-case scenario is looking to be mid-September. As discussed last week, I probably should have omitted him entirely because his utility as a healthy fantasy asset has probably dwindled down to just the culminating championship week matchup in most leagues. There are absolutely 150 players who can provide more value—i.e. actually get you to that league title matchup—than what Contreras can do in his first seven days back. That’s the tough part about ROS value at this point: time is the one thing you don’t have, so even arguably one of the best catchers in the game is rendered almost worthless because of how little you can use him.
- Again, unclear timetable and a lengthy layoff for Castro has me feeling unsure that he gets re-acclimated to the pace of MLB gameplay quickly enough to be a substantially relevant factor in your fantasy postseason. And that’s assuming his rehab assignment that begins Friday goes smoothly with no setbacks. Tall task asking me to be that patient with a playoff matchup hanging in the balance, so goodbye we say to Sir Starlin.
- Kemp is healthy once again…for now. He was activated from the DL Saturday but with how he’s been nagged by injury this season, I can see Atlanta being conservative with how they deploy Kemp this late in the year with no need to push him to any physical limit too quickly. He’s gone an anemic 1-8 with a run since his return.
- Perez doesn’t look to have a starting job on lock anymore with Jonathan Villar somewhat figuring out how to finally hit a baseball again and steal bases. Perez has unfortunately become a benched low-end role player who’s got to give up his seat on the Top 150 bus for a more promising guy with playing time secured as we wind down.
- Hicks is batting .156 over the past two weeks. That oblique injury really seems to have messed with his head, and I can’t recommend trusting a guy slumping that hard when it’s crunch time for you to lock up your playoff seed.
- Pirela, Chapman, Cron, and Duda are all fellows who debuted last week toward the bottom end of the list only to come up woefully flat and make me question my existence and everything I hold dear. They’re fun guys to watch and perhaps stream in DFS formats, but it’s tough to passionately back up these 7-day stat lines for reliable roto use with your season on the line.
- Pirela: 5-19, R, RBI.
- Chapman: 5-20, R, HR, 3 RBI.
- Cron: 2-18, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI.
- Duda: 3-19, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI.
- Beltran has been serviceable but not elite by any stretch for basically the entire year. But as a DH, he’s homered just twice in the last 30 days and has just a singular run scored in the last two weeks. That’s what I call a steaming cup of Whole Lot O’ Nope.
- Semien is dealing with some flare-up from the scar tissue on the wrist injury that sidelined him for several months, and I just feel like worrying about day-to-day health of a guy who was already a fringe member of the list is the last thing you want to be doing as you set your lineup this week. He actually did have a nice hit streak going until an 0-4 showing Friday, but you have to be bullish and go for somebody you know is going to rake without any question marks.