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 earlier in the week. Our objective has been to give you the most current rankings of who we see as being the top 150 hitters league-wide.
Playoff time is upon us. There is no more time to be patient or hopeful. After churning through recent stats, slumps and surges, and projections for the remaining teens of games each player has left to play, this is my best crack at a true Top 150 of who I’d like to have on my roto league roster for matchups in the fantasy postseason. It’s not like an All-American 1st-team, 2nd-team, and so on, so there’s not one player for each position spaced out every 24 spots or anything like that. I also have not separated guys into positional lists based on eligibility. I’ve simply employed a method with which I’d rather have Guy A over Guy B, Guy B over Guy C, and so forth all the way on down from 1 to 150. It’s almost certainly going to deviate from a lot of other ROS rankings out there, as it’s my subjective synthesis of prioritizing quantitative apples and oranges for roto viability.
This is the result of me making value judgments about guys who might be studs in, say, three categories (e.g. Dee Gordon with his BA, SB and R) and trying to stack them up against players who have exceptional numbers in one category and acceptable yet mediocre numbers in two others (e.g. Albert Pujols, with his RBI, HR and BA, in that order). It comes down to what I feel all these guys could potentially contribute to a 5×5 team in these final two weeks of the season: a little bit of extrapolation, a dash of gut, a dollop of hunch, consideration of 7-day, 15-day and 30-day data, and what we have here is a big ol’ mega-list of guys who should hopefully guide you to glory. Feel free to tear into it with constructive criticism, or just appreciate all the weighing I’ve done and start one guy over another if you’re so inclined. It’s up to you. And again, at the risk of beating a dead horse, these are not final power rankings of who the best players were all year long.
Note: These rankings have been made with H2H 5×5 12-teamers in mind. They do not take the game action of 9/15 into consideration.
Honorable mentions have to be made before diving into the nitty-gritty.
- Last week’s HM began with Yandy Diaz, who is still a decent flier, but I’m leaving him off the list still. Diaz is an average booster right now with a tendency to score runs. He stays relevant as long as Jason Kipnis is still sidelined.
- Matt Joyce is still fringe-viable if you need a desperation UTIL play (3-11, 3 R, HR, RBI) that’s neither good nor bad.
- Roberto Perez is another one of my Cleveland Indians that’s feast-and-famine lately: 2-9, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI over the last week, also known as a shot in the dark embodied.
- Neil Walker is slumping, and I don’t recommend pinning your hopes on him these next couple of weeks.
- Lucas Duda is still too anemic of a bat right now for me to fully endorse, but he’s come up with several hits to just barely stay afloat in fantasy conversations.
- Brian McCann is purely a boost to your batting average only right now, as he’s not padding his counting stats at all lately.
- This week’s HM begins with Hernan Perez has gone 6-15, 4 R, HR, 6 RBI over the last week. He’s somehow still managing the odd multi-hit game here and there despite Milwaukee being crowded for playing time in both the infield and outfield.
- Kyle Schwarber has miraculously gone 9-29 with four homers over the last 15 days. That’s an extremely small sample size, but you might catch him when he’s hot despite the abysmal season average. Not enough for me to recommend as a Top 150, but worth a stab if you will do anything for some last-minute power.
- Same goes for Eric Thames. His power and run-scoring are nowhere close to where they were early on, but I have to believe he’s got something left in the tank while Milwaukee attempts to compete for an NL Wild Card spot.
- Robbie Grossman has six hits and five runs during the preceding week. He usually matches up against righties for Minnesota and is spelled occasionally by alternate DH Kennys Vargas, but Grossman could be a passable UTIL play in the odd one-off BVP matchup.
- Adam Frazier has a five-game hit streak going, but he doesn’t figure to get everyday starts with Pittsburgh right now so you’d have to do your homework to stream him when he’s used. His counting stats aren’t anything to write home about—48 R, 48 RBI, just five HRs—but Frazier is a .285 hitter on the year.
- Randal Grichuk is another one of those who’s been solid in real life for St. Louis but difficult to get jazzed about consistently in fantasy. To illustrate his streakiness, he’s 9-36 over the past 15 days with four homers. And yet only three of those hits and one homer have transpired in the last week. He’s got 55 RBI on the year and is a .238 hitter. You probably understand my reluctance to go full-bore on recommending him, but he’s been known to have flashes of brilliance.
- Teoscar Hernandez has been mashing for Toronto. He gives way to Ezequiel Carrera at times, but he’s been hugely productive over the past two weeks and is almost assuredly available.
- Willson Contreras and Adrian Beltre have miraculously made it back in time to be relevant for the playoffs. I thought there was no chance either would sneak back in to make an impact, and yet here we are.
- Not feeling what Josh Donaldson, Carlos Correa, or Corey Seager are bringing to the plate right now. They are hands down top-15 fantasy players when healthy and in a groove, but they have been neither more often than not lately. I’m just trying to be brutally honest and not allow name recognition and blind faith to guide these rankings for your final matchups.
- Certain hitters from the Dodgers, Rays and Royals have been letting me down. Chris Taylor has regressed as far as his everyday cross-category versatility goes during L.A.’s peculiar slump. Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison, and Steven Souza, Jr. all seem to be lost at the dish. Evan Longoria isn’t doing much lately either. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez are also shells of their former selves right now. Whit Merrifield and Eric Hosmer seem to be carrying this Kansas City team. Separately, Mark Reynolds and Travis Shaw have also been brutal to watch down the stretch. All these guys mentioned have experienced demotions while still having hope for upside as the season winds down.
- Mookie Betts represents a bit of a quandary. He could finish strong, and I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt during this last gasp of the season. Betts has plated 10 RBI in the last week after just one the previous eight days, but he seems to be in all-systems-go mode as the Red Sox compete for supremacy in the AL East. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit .270 and stole a couple bags for you this week.
- Yes, Rhys Hoskins is aggressively high in the rankings. No, you’re not crazy for questioning it. But he is tied with J.D. Martinez for most homers over the last month (15), and he leads the league with 34 RBI over the same span. I’ve referred to his performance in 2017 as the equivalent of what Gary Sanchez was to 2016. He’s averaging .318 this week and has shown no signs of cooling off. I am sticking my neck out saying he is the real deal and if he’s going to regress, I think that may happen next season. Ride the wave right now. Matt Olson has stats that rival the productivity of Hoskins, so I’ve promoted him in a big way as well.
- Nick Williams is another guy surging for Philly right now. These guys have nothing to lose, and they’re becoming more entertaining to watch by the day because of it.
- I don’t get it, but Jose Reyes is also coming up huge. Just go with it and plug him in.
- Dee Gordon is suddenly the guy who might (read: should) win the steals race, with Billy Hamilton and his 58 SB sidelined indefinitely with a thumb that was surgically operated upon this week. Gordon’s value at securing steals for owners during these next couple of H2H matchups is greater than ever as he pushes for the 2017 crown, plus he scores and should boost your BA, as mentioned in the introductory paragraph above. Trea Turner doesn’t have enough time/games to catch up with Gordon but could keep pace with him in terms of marginal production from the dynamite Washington lineup. I like Turner to be a more dynamite producer because he brings a little more of a power threat and chance to plate RBI, plus his OBP (i.e. finding ways to steal besides hits) is a solid .036 better than Gordon’s.
- Miguel Cabrera is still being shunned for making me believe in him all year long. Miggy is just .200 in September with two homers and three RBI (not to mention the suspension that kept him unusable for seven games).
- Bryce Harper is basically included as a formality at this point. His value is elite, but I don’t know if he can get back in time for fantasy contention. I struggled with this one: it doesn’t feel right to dump him, but it also is impossible to gauge his ROS contributions for you. He’s No. 150 as an emeritus/honorary fantasy demigod.
- I don’t know how to make sense of the Jonathan Villar–Keon Broxton situation. I’m openly admitting I am confused by how Villar had apparently nudged Broxton out, then he slumped, and now he hasn’t started a game in a week with Broxton back atop the depth chart. I don’t really trust either one at this point, but at least Broxton is scoring some runs and getting playing time. Villar’s gone, Broxton’s low.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Willson Contreras (75), Jose Martinez (96), Michael Taylor (105), Adrian Beltre (113), Mitch Haniger (118), Tim Anderson (137), Mike Zunino (143), Matt Kemp (148).
- Talked about the unexpected returns of Contreras and Beltre. Tough to take stock of how their clubs will comfortably deploy them to avoid reflashes of their injuries, but they’re top-notch hitters when healthy. I have ranked Beltre super conservatively because he’s going to be utilized a lot as a DH, which leads me to believe the Rangers are being secretly cautious. I’m just skittish and don’t want to jinx the guy by anointing him back into the Top 40 out of the blue after I’d written him off. Contreras is liable to go yard even as a pinch-hitter, so I’m more comfortable throwing him back up the List; he also had a lot more time to get right, which is either good because he’s fresh or bad because he’s out of the flow. God help us all.
- Martinez is my favorite new addition. I’m not really sure how I managed to overlook him until this List, but he’s been mashing the baseball like a demonic presence lives in his bat. He’s hitting .393 with 13 runs, four homers, and 12 RBI over the last 30 days. Honest oversight on my part to have missed his stat lines. To clarify, he owns the third-best average in the second half among batters with 100+ at-bats (.356), outranked by only Odubel Herrera and Charlie Blackmon. Get him added and started.
- Taylor comes up with an inside-the-park slam over the weekend and has five hits since then. He’s been added with ferocity in both Yahoo and ESPN leagues recently as people recognize all over again what a hot Taylor boomstick can accomplish for them in the playoffs. He’s occasionally a threat to steal a base on top of his RBI upside.
- Haniger is bookending his lamentable majority middle-of-the-season with an excellent start and an excellent finish. He too has been added enthusiastically based on his late push. He’s hit safely in 12 of his last 13; eight of his 23 hits in September have been XBH, including three HRs, all equating to a .745 slugging percentage for the month. Nine runs and eight RBI have come for Haniger during these two weeks. Like Hoskins, like Michael Taylor, like Reyes: enjoy it while it lasts if you’re able.
- Anderson’s wOBA of .343 over the last month is tied with that of Nelson Cruz. He has five SB, three homers, 15 runs and 12 RBI while hitting .308 in that span. Sounds good to me.
- Zunino can’t be denied. A 7-day OPS of 1.432 has me inclined to think you could use him at what’s been a razor-thin position all year long. Even in standard leagues, he could be worth taking a chance on to stream depending on the BVP matchup: he’s hit .277 against southpaws for the year.
- Kemp is a bit of a liability so just know that going in. The power has come through nicely when he’s managed contact, but he’s had a tough time reaching in general. The recent average woes may make you hesitate, but his positioning as Atlanta’s cleanup man offers RBI hope regardless of the type of XBH he manages.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Billy Hamilton (46), Miguel Sano (84), Carlos Gomez (111), Jonathan Villar (135), Joe Mauer (143), Dexter Fowler (146), Curtis Granderson (148), and Nomar Mazara (150).
- Made mention of Hamilton’s surgery in the paragraph about Dee Gordon. No designation as anything beyond being relegated to the 10-day DL but it might as well be the 60-day.
- Sano should make a return soon, but I’m not going to back on it happening in time to be a viable boon to his owners’ fantasy lineups. The Twins need him healthy for the aforementioned WC push, and Eduardo Escobar is raking right now as his backup so he’s experienced a tentative promotion while he has the playing time.
- Gomez is dealing with a high ankle sprain and I don’t see him being viable to help you out either. Delino Deshields benefits from increased opportunities in the OF while he’s sidelined, hence his boost up through the List.
- Mauer has average going for him lately but lacks power recently. You can probably do better, but if you want to pad your stats with the occasional handful of runs or RBI, have at it. He’s just not popping off the page at me right now. Including him last week felt like a little bit of a reach anyway. He’s a backup 1B at best.
- Fowler’s dealing with a knee contusion. The Cubs have no real reason to rush him back with expanded rosters of September affording them the depth they need while he convalesces and avoids the 10-day DL. I’m dropping him out of the rankings though, because that sort of DTD uncertainty is something you don’t have time for.
- Granderson is back to being garbage, unfortunately. He’s struggled mightily as a Dodger and is now part of a platoon with Enrique Hernandez who sees inclusion in lineups against RHP. Batting .098 over the past 15 days is not anything you need a piece of right now.
- We also talked about The Villar-Broxton Dilemma, which also sounds like it could be an album title for The Mars Volta. Nomar Mazara gets the boot because of Broxton’s runs, but they’re basically equal as far as meaningful potential in the coming weeks.