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 has been to give you the most current rankings of who we see as being the top 150 hitters league-wide. Now that the season winds down toward playoff matchups, the list is necessarily going to be a little more unforgiving to guys who haven’t been producing up to high expectations; from here on out, it’s all about what a player’s capable of in the final month and not what we hoped his second-half value might become. Health, playing time and clutch hitting matter now more than ever. 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. They do not take the game action of 8/29 into consideration.
- Carlos Correa has jumped up further to No. 77 as he knocks out a minor league rehab assignment in Fresno. He should be available very soon to eager fantasy owners. Prepare for him to shoot right on up back to the Top 30 if he does indeed stay healthy, get reactivated and hit the ground running.
- Cody Bellinger thankfully seems on track to return to the Dodgers midweek after a minimum amount of time on the DL. His absence may have cost you some power last week, but he returns as a Top 30 threat to help you out with the remainder of this H2H matchup.
- Mookie Betts isn’t putting up elite numbers, and he needs to be properly billed as Not A Fantasy Superstar in 2017, even if it took us a while to come to grips with that reality.
- Trea Turner is also back from the 60-day DL effective today, much to the dismay of fantasy owners who’d forgotten he could make a relevant return from his HBP injury. He is a steals and run-scoring monster, as well as hitting nicely for average. Wilmer Difo is likely going to be relegated back to a bench role in favor of the talented Turner, but don’t be surprised if Washington is cautious with their young franchise star in terms of easing him back into the workload. He didn’t hit terribly well during his rehab assignment, but I’m not reading too much into that at the moment.
- Odubel Herrera should be back soon as well, since rosters can expand on September 1. Philadelphia is pretty stacked in the outfield right now, but Herrera and Aaron Altherr being back some point soon shouldn’t cut into Hoskins’ playing time as the Phillies will likely bench Tommy Joseph to keep the hot bats in the order.
- Bryce Harper and Michael Brantley still have lots of fantasy value, provided they can return to their 25-man rosters in time to do something explosive for you in the final weeks. The longer they are laid up, however, the further they will sink in these ROS rankings since time is of the essence.
- I’m through being patient with Jose Bautista and Eric Thames. They have had horrendous second halves, and they’re on the verge of becoming fantasy irrelevant to me this year. Realistically, they probably shouldn’t be in the Top 150 at all based on recent performance, but I’ll give them one last gasp to try and convince me why they should still be taken seriously. I’ve been far too lenient with both these guys and Miguel Cabrera, but with Miggy—provided he can stay healthy and avoid the seven-game suspension for his role in the brawl with Detroit via appeal—I have a little more faith he can finish the year with a little uptick in production.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Rhys Hoskins (39), Starlin Castro (84), Matt Chapman (129), Jayson Werth (139), Ozzie Albies (141), and Gerardo Parra (147).
- If you haven’t been paying attention to baseball the last three weeks, Hoskins has taken the league by storm as a bomb-dropping rookie phenom. He’s raising eyebrows with his power the way Gary Sanchez did last year. I’ve never debuted a player to the rankings so aggressively, but with the tear that he’s on and it being crunch time in the fantasy season, I’m comfortable endorsing his high-OPS, low-BABIP awesomeness. Add, deploy and enjoy.
- Castro managed to return to the Yankees lineup and immediately hit the ground running. I had been skeptical of the timetable of his return and whether he would retain fantasy value, but when healthy—provided he doesn’t reaggravate anything, fingers crossed—he had been one of the most valuable 2B in the game. He’s a no-brainer to throw into your lineup on a daily basis and should come through nicely with high-average hitting and consistent RBI manufacturing.
- Chapman has a .284 average with 14 runs, four HRs, 17 RBI and 11 walks over the past 30 days. Giddyup, let’s see what the young man can do as we head into September.
- Werth returned to Washington’s outfield for the first time since June 3 after recovering from a toe injury. When Bryce Harper gets back from his hyperextension and bone bruise, Howie Kendrick will probably be the OF whose playing time suffers the most. Werth has decent power and should be able to score a wealth of runs over the next month.
- Albies had an eight-game hit streak going until he went 0-3 yesterday at Philadelphia. The recent callup has 14 runs, 10 RBI and a pair each of homers and steals while batting .261 in the first 88 AB of his big-league debut. He’s worth a look.
- Parra has been thanklessly doing great things in Colorado and it’s time we all buy in. The Rockies are opting to use him as their DH in a series at Detroit so that speaks volumes. He’s hit safely in nine of his last 12 and has an awesome .342 average while ratcheting up the run-scoring of late. Parra is considered a good producer of RBI, so he’s rounding out the résumé nicely. He’s worth a fly as a UTIL or third OF if you need the average boost but don’t want it to come at a high cost.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Yoenis Cespedes (60), Michael Conforto (63), Mikie Mahtook (130), Orlando Arcia (135), Jedd Gyorko (140), and Delino Deshields (144).
- Cespedes has a six-week recovery timeline for his hammy strain, so he’s done for the year. Conforto similarly looks to be sidelined for months with a combination of a shoulder dislocation and a tear of the fluid capsule that lubricates the joint, although surgery has not been confirmed yet. Even though he throws with his right, he’s a LHB and rehab is going to be tough. Brutal for the Mets.
- Mahtook has tanked since starting the second half so promisingly. Two weeks ago, I added him to the rankings with the logic that his wOBA being 15th-best in the league was reason to heed what his bat was doing. I did caution about the unreasonably high BABIP, and then that demon reared its ugly head to see Mahtook go 6-44 and drop him to 40th-best in second-half wOBA. That kind of rapid decline in efficiency is nothing you need to associate with as the fantasy season winds down.
- Arcia has been severely struggling over the last three weeks, posting eight hitless outings. Since August 6, he’s managed just three RBI and seven runs. He’s not terrible by any stretch, but his relative inactivity has me thinking of him as a backend SS rather than the surefire starter we thought he might be to close the year.
- Gyorko also has a hamstring strain, and although it should end up being less severe than what Cespedes is up against, you can’t rely on him in the coming weeks to be healthy and producing in your lineup. I recommend looking to Paul DeJong, Javier Baez, or even unranked Yangervis Solarte if Gyorko’s absence has truly left a void in your roster.
- Carlos Gomez‘s return from the DL puts Deshields’ playing time at risk. He’s still a good bet for some steals because Texas tends to work him in as a pinch-runner, but I fear his at-bats may be just infrequent enough that it’s tough to firmly recommend starting him for fantasy until we see how the Rangers are going to utilize all their chess pieces.