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.
Depending on the league, playoffs may have already started for you. From here on out, the list is necessarily going to be a little less forgiving to guys who haven’t been producing from here on out, as it’s all about what a player’s capable of in the here and now regardless of hype or name. Health, playing time and clutch hitting matter now more than ever. This is not a keeper list either, so do not interpret these rankings as having scope beyond what the remaining action of the regular season involves for fantasy viability.
Note: These rankings have been made with H2H 5×5 12-teamers in mind. They do not take the game action of 9/6 into consideration.
- Right off the bat, let’s do some honorable mentions. Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, Roberto Perez, Brian McCann, Yandy Diaz, and Matt Joyce are all performing well and may actually appear in the rankings next week if they can keep up their impressive recent form.
- Carlos Correa is back up to No. 29. It’s a good sign he was able to score, plate and steal in his first game back from the thumb ligament injury. He should be overwhelmingly helpful in your lineup, barring any re-aggravation or yips related to reluctance or swinging without conviction. My feeling is that he won’t stumble during a robust September.
- To reiterate from last week: 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 came back and has already stolen three bases since his return. He’s a threat to score even if he reaches base by getting walked, so don’t underestimate him just because of his .272 season average, his 6-29 showing since reactivation, or the infrequency of his power
- Bryce Harper and Michael Brantley still have some fantasy value, but the longer they are laid up, the more it vanishes. Harper has not gotten close to being able to run as part of the rehab back from his hyperextension and bone bruise. The Nationals are obviously going to want him healthy for the postseason, so don’t hold your breath for anything rehab-wise to get rushed. Brantley is also yet to be able to run properly on flat ground, even though he is working out on non-load-bearing equipment. It’s not looking promising given the time crunch we are all under. Harper is getting demoted weekly until a reactivation, and Brantley is off the list entirely with the indefinite layoff.
- I’m kind of surprised Corey Seager has avoided a DL stint at this point, as he hasn’t started a game for L.A. in 10 days with elbow inflammation. I have him in a Yahoo league, and it’s gotten frustrating to have him benched day-in and day-out. I’ve demoted him down to No. 40 from No. 26 because I just can’t see the Dodgers pressuring him to play full games unless he is truly and fully healthy, which means your window to use him is closing. If and when he is 100% and producing like the exceptional talent he is, then he is a no-brainer Top 20 player in fantasy.
- Jay Bruce was slumping while healthy, is currently nursing a minor neck injury, and will experience a push for playing time with the roster expanding September 1 to now include a reactivated Lonnie Chisenhall. I’ve sent him down from No. 43 to No. 61.
- God knows why I was conservative with the promotion of a healthy Starlin Castro. Not having him on the list because of the lengthy DL stint made sense, but then it was tough to trust that he would stay healthy, so I am cutting myself a little slack on the re-introduction of Castro from unranked to No. 84. But he’s a dynamo of a 2B when he’s good to go, so he’s back up in the top 60 again after a week with eight hits and six RBI.
- There are some notable tumblers who are still talented players, but it’s undeniable they have been aggressively defecating the bed as the regular season winds down. Among those I’m referring to are Salvador Perez, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Carpenter (who is admittedly fighting through injury), Andrew McCutchen, Travis Shaw, Zack Cozart, and Ian Kinsler.
- Keon Broxton might have lost his claim to an everyday starting job. He has a grand total of two hits since August 23, and the Brewers have been turning to other role players to fill the voids Broxton is habitually leaving. He, too, has fallen drastically in the rankings.
- Making a fresh appearance on the Hitter List are Welington Castillo (119), Yolmer Sanchez (124), Robinson Chirinos (128), Jose Reyes (133), Delino Deshields (134), Jonathan Villar (135), C.J. Cron (136), Jacoby Ellsbury (139), Eduardo Escobar (140), Joe Mauer (143), and Matt Olson (144).
- Castillo has hit upwards of .350 during the last 30 days with eight homers. His counting stats are on the lower side (40s for runs and RBI) because he hasn’t been healthy the whole time, so that may have been why I’d inadvertently overlooked what he has accomplished in the short- and medium-term. He’s turning in one of the better second halves of all catchers across the league at a time when the position is really thin.
- I wrote about Sanchez the other day in a Batter’s Box article. He also has respectable stat lines recently that can be deceptively missed if you’re looking at season-long stats and writing off guys who are close to 400 at-bats without 60+ runs/RBI or more than 15 homers. Sanchez has been adequately creative at the plate for the White Sox and can absolutely be streamed as a UTIL without worry.
- Chirinos’ fantasy stock has risen since the trade of Jonathan Lucroy to the Rockies. He was already having a decent season as a backup, but he brings an extremely hot bat to your C spot if you decide to grab him for a playoff run.
- Reyes has scored 12 runs in his last eight games. Again, this is about value now and parsing through the clutter of low season averages to find the guys who are doing extremely well with a myopic lens applied.
- Deshields is back on Hitter List mainly because Texas needs him as a starter with the departure of Adrian Beltre to injury. With Joey Gallo consistently at the hot corner, Deshields and his awesome speed have plenty of playing time in the outfield with which to satisfy your roto needs.
- Well, Villar has strung together some solid multi-hit performances and may have bumped himself back atop a position on Milwaukee’s depth chart. Last year showed what he’s capable of, and it’s been a tumultuous season of plummeting back down to Earth. I’m tentatively giving him a short leash and hoping that he can go off in the final month now that he’s got some hot-bat leverage for playing time.
- Cron has as many second-half RBI as Anthony Rendon. He’s low in the Angels’ lineup and keeps finding ways to plate dudes. He has XBH potential, which helps that cause, and I’m a fan of what he’s been up to lately so take a chance on him as a streamer.
- Ellsbury is way past his concussion issues and is not in a bad situation for playing time with both Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks being sidelined. His bat has heated up of late, so the average in the short term could be decent, but rely on him primarily for speed and runs.
- Escobar and Mauer are the unlikely heroes making their debuts here this week. Escobar is doing a fine job of playing understudy to an injured Miguel Sano, and retains fantasy value as a decent hitter while he is starting at 3B for Minnesota. Mauer has a hit streak that’s extended into a double-digit number of games, so his current groove and affiliated run-scoring ability from the 2- or 3-spot have caught my attention.
- Olson has come through with some consistent 5×5 production lately for Oakland. Power has been a consistent feature of his game over the last few weeks, and he’s plating teammates with regularity. Not a bad FA grab to stream against weak pitching.
- Falling out of the Top 150—with their previously held rank in parentheses—are Adrian Beltre (20), Howie Kendrick (107), Josh Harrison (115), Miguel Cabrera (120), Rafael Devers (131), Michael Brantley (133), Jayson Werth (139), Jose Bautista (143), Eric Thames (144), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (146), and Michael Taylor (150).
- The season is almost certainly over for Beltre and Harrison. We talked about Brantley already.
- Kendrick is facing the business end of a platoon in the outfield with the return of Trea Turner to the Nats’ infield. Werth has been terrible since his return, so even in spite of him probably getting more starts than Kendrick, I’ve dropped him back out of the rankings too.
- How the mighty have fallen: Miggy, Joey Bats, and Eric Thames—the KBO transplant that flamed out too soon—have all thudded out of the Top 150.
- Cabrera is suspended until Saturday for his role in the brawl with the Yankees, so that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, on top of him being garbage at the plate lately. It seemed like heresy to drop him to waivers last week, but he was literally just taking up space on my points league roster.
- Bautista has hit .156 with a meager 18 RBI in the second half. Yikes. I almost feel sorry for you if you’ve put up with that nonsense for seven homers during the same span.
- Thames has also been awful since his early-season power surge. Jesus Aguilar and Neil Walker are worth a look for 1B streaming in Thames’ place, as they’re gobbling up most of the playing time in Milwaukee.
- I don’t trust a recently-healthy JBJ right now. His numbers since the All-Star break weren’t great even when he was 100%, so I’m taking my outfield in a different direction if I’m trying to make a deep run into the postseason. With Dustin Pedroia back, that means Eduardo Nunez is shifting back to his more regular role and putting Rafael Devers out of a starting gig for the time being, so that’s the rationale there.
- Taylor hasn’t done much of anything since flashing some midsummer brilliance, before he of course succumbed to injury. He was 150th last week, and we don’t have time to mess around with a five-hit, single-homer week. The power and speed he possesses could flare back up, but I’m not taking the risk that he picks the next two to three weeks as the timeframe in which that happens.