Last week, I posted my Top 500 dynasty players for average leagues, but I thought it would be a good idea to kinda dig in a bit more on the hitting side of things. Earlier this year, Greg Gibbons put out an excellent piece on his top 100 pitchers, which if you have not checked out, what are you waiting on?
These rankings are based on the next two to four years. Any longer than that and I’d just be throwing darts at a dartboard. Also, I went with a basic 5×5 Roto league; with AVG as a category. Obviously, if you play in an OBP-style league, the rankings will change, but I still think you can find this list useful and informative. Instead of just giving you a list of 100 names, I decided to put them into tiers. There were no ‘rules’ in how many hitters should be in each, and I just went down the list and stopped when I felt there was a drop-off of some sort. If you’re in a hurry/on the clock in a startup league and just want the full list (TL;DR), just scroll down to the bottom and the entire list will be there for drafting needs.
Dynasty Rankings by Tier
The fantastic four. Soto and the three Juniors. Whatever you want to call this group of four, these are easily the top four hitters from a dynasty standpoint. They are all young and should contribute to your team for many years to come. Acuña Jr. and Tatís Jr. have some injury concerns (torn ACL and shoulder instability, respectively) but their upside keeps them in this tier. Guerrero Jr. had the breakout year we expected since he was a prospect.
Tier Target: While it might be strange to say my target for the tier is the hitter at the top, but that is just how good Juan Soto is. His recognition of the strike zone is prime Joey Votto. His 82% contact rate and 15% O-Swing is prime Joey Votto. Sprinkle in 116.60 mph max exit velo and he could easily hit 40+ home runs for years to come. He should be in the discussion for MVP for the foreseeable future.
This is still a really great tier, but (obviously) not as good as tier one. Trea Turner has been going close to number one overall in redraft leagues this year, but his age and higher ground ball rate puts him below those big four. Mookie Betts dealt with hip injuries in 2021, which might be the first crack in the armor we see in his profile. Harper has been a nice addition for her/his fantasy manager since he made his debut, but his 69% contact rate in 2021 is not so nice, and he needs someone other than JT Realmuto on his team so he can rack up those RBIs. Bichette and Devers are more similar than I would have thought. Both have O-Swing rates over 35% (Bichette’s was 42% in 2021!) but Bichette makes more contact and runs more often, so he will get the higher rank here. The rest of the group (Ramirez to Franco) are all great hitters and most should give that awesome combo of power and speed.
Tier Target: It is pretty crazy to think that Ozzie Albies is only 24 years old. It seems like he has been in the majors forever. What I like about Albies is that he hits high in a potent Atlanta offense, has shown some more power, and still steals double-digit bases. I’ve heard some fantasy analysts wish that Albies would pull a “Cedric Mullins” and stop switch-hitting, but I don’t. 20 of his 30 home runs came when he was hitting as a righty, but he only had a .236 AVG. While the power was greatly diminished when he faced RHP, his average jumped way up to .323.
As we move into tier three, we see a big shift. This group is filled with your big power bats, and you’d be lucky to get a handful of steals from any one player. Most of these hitters, outside of Bogaerts and Freeman, have missed significant time sometime in the last couple of seasons. Alvarez is the youngest of the group, but recent knee injuries give me pause to rank him higher. In another year he might jump a tier if he remains on the field for the majority of the 2022 season.
Tier Target: I know Corey Seager is heading into a new stadium in Texas that is not hitter friendly, but he is my target in this tier. His max exit velocity of 115.30 mph ties Matt Olson for second place in this tier. He does have trouble staying on the field, but when he is playing, he is one of the best hitters, in my opinion. The Rangers also signed Marcus Semien this offseason and the Rangers should continue to spend and bring up some great hitting prospects within the next couple of years, which should help pad Seager’s stats.
This is where the list gets super fun. It is filled with a mix of young MLB hitters, known veterans, and also where we see our first MiLB talent on the list. Riley changed so much in his approach and had a breakout season in Atlanta. However, I think that might be his ceiling. 2022 is going to be a huge test for him. If he can keep producing like he did last year, I could see him sneaking into Tier 3. Pete Alonso has hit the most home runs in the majors over the last three years and saw his strikeout rate drop last year. He has been the first baseman I’ve been trying to get in all my redraft leagues. I’m a huge fan of Bryan Reynolds’ plate discipline. His 28% O-Swing with 11% swinging-strike rate should age gracefully, but I’m doubtful he will ever be the GUY on your team.
Bobby Witt Jr. leads the way on the prospect front. He should begin the season in Kansas City and could quickly move up a couple of tiers if he produces like he did in the minor leagues. However, I’m not sure if he will ever be a first-round talent due to his tendency to swing and miss. His first taste of the major leagues might be rough (a la Jarred Kelenic), but I still believe in the player. Lindor, Marte, Bellinger, Buxton, and Yelich have shown first or second-round talent and production, but their recent injuries really have me backing away from them in dynasty leagues.
Tier Target: I chose Will Smith as my target for this tier before Rob Manfred announced both the MLBPA and owners “agreed” to add the DH to the National League. His combination of contact (80% contact rate) and great eye (25% O-Swing and 8% swinging-strike rate) at the catcher position is chef’s kiss. The Dodgers have always been able to put together a great lineup, so there should be plenty of RBI in Smith’s future.
As we head into Tier 5, we start to see more of the older veterans who we love in redraft leagues. Merrifield and Marte have been a reliable source of those precious stolen bases, but as they head closer to their mid-30s, how much longer should we expect them to run? Max Muncy and George Springer hit in the heart of some potent MLB lineups, but their recent injury history has me backing away. With Lowe’s inability to consistently hit LHP, Semien’s move to a worse stadium, and Marte’s age, I had to put them into the 50-plus range. Adames and India had breakout seasons in 2021, but I’m not sure that we can expect more out of them.
Tier Target: Yoan Moncada, in my opinion, is the perfect buy-low player in this tier. His age, team context, and potential upside have me believing we will see the 2019 version of him again. He had a rough time recovering from COVID in 2020, and I believe it somewhat lingered into 2021. However, his HH/PA% recovered from a low of 19% in 2020 to 24%.
As the list goes on, you will start to notice more and more prospects entering into the discussion. Davis is really close to debuting with the Cubs and he has All-Star potential. However, it could be a bit rocky (a la Jo Adell) due to his swing and miss issues. Abrams and Carroll bring everything to the table, but are coming off injuries where both of them missed significant development time last season. If they can show they are healthy, they could shoot up the list. I’m a bit worried about Baez’s move to Detroit as it is a much bigger ballpark and I’ve never been a fan of his (lack of) plate discipline. I love Franmil, but unless he plays enough to get OF eligibility in season, he can be a tough player to roster.
Tier Target: With Ke’Bryan Hayes underperforming last year, this might be a good time to acquire in a trade. With his slick defense, there is no way that the Pirates are going to take him out of the lineup. Also, until some of the Pirates prospects make their debut, he and Bryan Reynolds should be hitting towards the top of the lineup at PNC Park. While his max exit velocity is lower than you’d like to see for a “target,” I could see Hayes leading the league in doubles, which should help his runs and RBI production. He also has a good feel for the strike zone, which should age very well. Hopefully, those wrists can remain healthy, as he has struggled with them throughout his professional career.
This tier is chock full of the steady, veteran type hitters without a job. As of this article, there have been rumors that the Rockies are interested in Kris Bryant and/or Kyle Schwarber. If either of them land in Denver, their stocks tick up, especially Schwarber. Ryan Mountcastle had a great park prior to Camden Yards moving the left-field fence back, so he could easily take a step back this season. However, Baltimore’s team is on the rise; well, in a few years they will be. Goldy had a good bounce-back season, especially in the stolen base department, but that was after three consecutive years of decline. Arenado is steady and kinda boring, but moving breweries (Coors Stadium to Busch Stadium) saw his power and extra base hits tumble. Tyler O’Neill finally put it all together last season, but he still has a high strikeout rate and low contact% (31% and 65% respectively). We could have seen his career year and that profile typically doesn’t stick around the league long.
Tier Target: After talking badly about all those Cardinals, let me tell you about my target in this tier, Dylan Carlson. He has an excellent approach at the plate. He has above-average contact percentage and below-average O-Swing%. We also saw his FB% tick up to 34% and IFFB% decrease so, in theory, if he gets in the weight room with teammate Tyler O’Neill, maybe some of those fly balls will leave the park. He did hit 31 doubles, so I’m telling you there is a chance … or maybe he can just take advantage of Great American Smallpark, like in the GIF below.
Now, we get to the final tier. I was surprised with Jared Walsh’s season last year. However, he has the hardest time with left-handed pitching, and that second-half swoon has me scared he could just be a platoon player. I was super bummed learning that Josh Jung is going to miss most, if not all, of the 2022 season after tearing his labrum, which required surgery. If he had stayed healthy, he would have seen time in Arlington this year. Alas, we have to wait another year. DJ LeMahieu took a massive step back in 2021. Was it because of injury? Deadened baseball? Bad luck? Who knows, but I’m willing to take another gamble with him as he should still be hitting at the top of the Yankees lineup.
Tier Target: Trent Grisham broke out in 2020 and the breakout looked legit until he hurt his heel in May, which required a stint on the injured list. After returning, he never really was the same, which could make him one of those buy-low guys. His 19% O-Swing is about 10 ticks below league average and his contact% (of 78%) is above league average. He, like Carlson above, doesn’t hit the ball as hard as you would like, but both hitters are projected to hit at the top of their respective lineups. His Home to 1B time of 2.78 seconds is only bested by Bryon Buxton and Bradley Zimmer so, in theory, those stolen bases could be on the rise this season.
The Final List
Photos by Russell Lansford, Nick Wosika & Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)
Not high on Oneil Cruz, or did ya just forget him?