Last Updated: 2/17
A couple of things to note before reading:
- These rankings are for 10- and 12-team head-to-head category leagues with standard scoring and a starting lineup consisting of 1 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS, 3 OF, 2 UTIL, and a shallow bench, and were created by Scott Chu with input from Nick Pollack.
- These rankings do not contemplate keeper or dynasty rules, nor do they consider whether there is an overall prize beyond the league itself (such as NFBC).
- Within the write-ups, we will call out individual players who would see value boosts or drops in alternative formats, such as rotisserie leagues, deeper leagues, or points leagues
- We are more than happy to answer your questions, requests, and counter-points in the comments or on Twitter!
41. Akil Baddoo (Detroit Tigers) – Akil Baddoo made headlines when he debuted in dramatic fashion last season, smashing the first major-league pitch he saw for a home run. After a hot start, Baddoo cooled off considerably, which made his late-season resurgence fly somewhat under the radar.
Yes, the 23-year-old strikes out a lot and was downright awful against southpaws (47 wRC+ against LHP vs. 127 wRC+ against RHP). But he also displayed some impressive plate discipline and should bring a walk rate around 10% into the 2022 season. With a bit of pop in his bat and both speed and aggression along the basepaths, Baddoo should be able to flirt with a 20/20 season on a Tigers offense that could start to click by late season as they start bringing up their young prospects. If Baddoo can improve his splits against lefties, he should get enough playing time to be extremely valuable in most fantasy formats.
42. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays) – Last season didn’t pan out for Gurriel quite like Toronto fans hoped, as the outfielder’s power dropped considerably. Even so, he still chipped in 21 homers and pulled his strikeout rate under 20% for the first time in his career. Last year’s 141 games were by far the most in the 28-year-old’s short MLB career, and while he might struggle to match his production of the short 2020 season (.308/.348/.534 slash line for a 134 wRC+) he should be able to improve upon last season’s underwhelming numbers, especially in what should be an electric Toronto offense.
43. Alex Verdugo (Boston Red Sox) – The 25-year-old Verdugo has settled in nicely in Boston, cracking the 600 plate appearance milestone last year for the first time. He spent over half of the year batting second in the order, which alongside his high batting average put him in a fair number of scoring opportunities.
Verdugo is the epitome of the boring but reliable bat—he’ll finish the season close to a .300 average with solid plate discipline, but won’t provide a ton of power or speed. Boston was a top-10 offense by most metrics last season and should continue to be competitive next year. Even if Verdugo only contributes 10-15 home runs, he should still provide some nice consistency for your team from the outfield position.
44. Andrew Benintendi (Kansas City Royals) – The former Red Sox outfielder is basically just a slightly older Alex Verdugo, with a bit more unpredictability mixed in. I think Benintendi has a good chance to finish with higher HR/SB totals than his Boston counterpart, but is unlikely to be quite as reliable with his batting average. Plus, even with Bobby Witt Jr.’s arrival pending, the Royals are unlikely to be a high-octane offense just yet. Benintendi’s job is plenty safe, but he’d need to look like his 2018 self and steal 20+ bags to get to a place where I’d be willing to get particularly excited.
45. Dylan Carlson (St. Louis Cardinals) – Carlson falls into a similar mold as the previous two outfielders, but simply by virtue of his age has a bit of extra volatility (but also potential!) mixed in. The 23-year-old finished his first full major-league season on a high note, posting a 127 wRC+ in the second half and falling just two shy of 20 home runs. His floor is a bit lower as he continues to adjust to major-league pitching, but he has a bit of a higher ceiling than Verdugo or Benintendi as well.
46. Adolis García (Texas Rangers) – One of the most exciting breakouts of 2021, the 28-year-old García exploded for 31 home runs and 16 stolen bases in his first real shot at an everyday major-league role. Unfortunately, after setting a torrid pace in the early season, the outfielder posted just a 69 wRC+ after the All-Star break.
García undoubtedly has power and speed, but it comes with a mediocre hit tool and horrible plate discipline (even when he was smashing bombs, he maintained a strikeout rate north of 30%). An OBP below .300 is hard to get excited about, even with evident raw power and speed. You’re not going to find many options at this price that can guarantee a 20/10 season and even flirt with 30/15 but remember: there’s a reason he’s going so late in drafts after going 31/16 last year.
47. Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota Twins) – It’s hard to confidently project what the 24-year-old Kirilloff will look like this season. His debut season had its ups and downs, including injuries that kept him from getting into a true groove. The young outfielder logged just 231 plate appearances last season, showcased a bit of pop and solid hit tool but finished with a sub-100 wRC+.
The hope is that Kirilloff continues to settle in against major-league pitching. He’s got power potential for serious home runs, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable expecting more than 15-20 until he proves he’s fully ready for a major-league curveball—he slugged just .278 against breaking balls with a .208 batting average. Playing time will also be a bit of an issue in what will likely be a crowded Twins lineup.
48. Jorge Soler (Free Agent) – As we continue to wait for Jorge Soler’s postseason home run ball to finally land, the World Series MVP himself is likely more focused on where he’ll end up. The announcement of a universal DH should help improve the free agent’s market thanks to his sub-par defense in the field. At the plate, however, Soler—who turns 30 before the season starts—has established himself as a high-power, disciplined hitter. His average is never going to impress, but he makes up for it with a ton of pop and a solid walk rate.
I’d feel comfortable projecting around 30 home runs for Soler, though we’ve seen his potential (he smashed 48 over the fence back in 2019) and if he can keep his strikeout rate down as he did last year, it should help improve his overall production considerably. The final landing place for Soler matters quite a bit, but he provides a cheap source of power that is tough to find this late in drafts.
49. Eddie Rosario (Free Agent) – While Soler took over the final series, it was a different midseason acquisition who came through for Atlanta in the NLCS. After posting several years of consistent, above-average offensive stats with Minnesota, Eddie Rosario went through a whirlwind in 2021, starting the season with Cleveland before getting traded to Atlanta midway through. It was actually his worst offensive season since 2016, but he still provides some decent value. He finished with 14 homers and 11 stolen bases (the highest SB total since his debut season).
Rosario has a little bit of pop and a little bit of speed, along with a decent contact tool and low strikeout rate. Unfortunately, he pairs it with a low walk rate and doesn’t truly impress in any one facet of his game. He’s a useful outfielder, but his fantasy value will heavily depend on where he lands and whether he’s guaranteed a full-time everyday role.
50. Harrison Bader (St. Louis Cardinals) – Bader is a similarly solid, middle-of-the-road outfielder to Rosario, but a bit more well-rounded than the 30-year-old. He’s likely to finish with similar overall production to Rosario, perhaps trading a few homers for stolen bases.
His glove should keep him in an everyday role and he’s got the speed to rack up a significant stolen base count if he’s able to get on base consistently. On the other hand, he’s also largely stuck batting in the back half of the order. Bader is a safe pick who can provide you with a bit of speed along with a handful of home runs.
51. AJ Pollock (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Now 34 years old, the oft-injured Pollock is one of the most reliably unreliable fantasy players out there. When he plays, he should provide a good batting average to go with some decent pop and a bit of speed (though every year it gets harder and harder to count on those stolen bases). However, he’s eclipsed 500 plate appearances a grand total of one (1) time in his 10-year MLB career.
On a talented Dodgers offense, Pollock should provide great value for each plate appearance he has, but with his tendency for injury and competition for playing time, it’s unclear exactly how much production that will generate over the course of a full season. Pollock is perfect if you can afford to make daily moves and keep him on your bench when he’s not out there. If you’re forced to start him as an everyday player, however, it might come back to bite you.
52. Enrique Hernández (Boston Red Sox) – Apparently there’s something special about the air in Boston, as Hernández put together a respectable 110 wRC+ season in his first year with the Red Sox. He crushed his previous highs in plate appearances in a season, and the everyday play seemed to help him settle in at the plate. He should be able to repeat his 20-HR season and offers a bit of positional flexibility between 2B and OF. However, he’s likely to continue his career struggles against right-handed pitching. He’s a solid value bat with a locked-in leadoff role on a high-powered offense.
53. Seiya Suzuki (Free Agent) – Look, projecting Suzuki is next to impossible. The Japanese outfielder slashed .317/.433/.639 last season, smashing 38 home runs over 533 plate appearances, even chipping in nine stolen bases en route to cementing himself as one of the premier offensive threats in NPB. Oh, and he won his third straight (and fifth overall) Golden Glove award (which, yes, is what you assume it is), all at the ripe young age of 27.
So how will this translate into MLB? Honestly, nobody knows. It’s extremely difficult to predict how these transitions go, but Shohei Ohtani is a nice success story that’s difficult to forget when looking at Suzuki in 2022. While we don’t even know where he will land (or even if he’ll make it overseas, though all signs are currently pointing to yes), it feels safe to assume he’ll probably establish himself at the very least as an average bat and likely above-average glove, which is not a bad floor. What you’re drafting him for, though, is the potential: even as his slash line will surely decline against major league pitching, there’s plenty of room for Suzuki to pay dividends given the amount of uncertainty baked into his draft price.
54. Tommy Pham (Free Agent) – Pham is a few years removed from the 2017-2019 stretch where he put up three straight seasons with 20+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases (including two with 25 bags each). Unfortunately, after missing half of the 2020 season, Pham struggled in his return to everyday play in 2021, finishing with a .229/.340/.383 slash line.
The term “aging speedster” always gives me pause in fantasy drafts, but prime Pham didn’t rely fully on speed, instead offering a nice dose of power with the potential for 25 stolen bases to boot. Pham will be 34 by the time the 2022 season gets underway, and with his struggles at the plate last season, it’s easy to be down on Pham. However, even in a rough year, he finished with 15 homers and 14 stolen bases while maintaining great plate discipline—sure, he struck out plenty but he also had the 21st-highest walk rate in the league. A .229 batting average hurts, but 15/15 as a floor is pretty nice, and I tend to think his average should bounce back a bit to around .250 or so. As with many outfielders in our list, Pham’s value will fluctuate based on his landing spot.
55. Anthony Santander (Baltimore Orioles) – A .241 average and a 5.3% walk rate (yes, that’s an OBP below .300) doesn’t exactly scream “draft me!” but don’t write off Anthony Santander just yet. The plate discipline is brutal, but Santander makes his batted balls count—the 27-year-old ranked 21st in MLB in IPA%. Read more in our glossary here, but essentially IPA% tracks the “ideal plate appearance,” i.e. a plate appearance that ends with good contact. Even with the strikeouts and lack of walks, Santander is still great at hitting the crap out of the ball, which is why he still hit 18 home runs last year despite the atrocious plate discipline and logging only 110 games.
Santander should be primed to bounce back, but in a lot of ways, he’ll remain an average-at-best bat. He will, however, net you 20-25 home runs with the potential to hit 30 if all goes well. xStats aren’t the end-all-be-all, but he did rank in the 73rd percentile in xBA last season despite finishing at just .241, so there’s clearly at least some element of bad luck in his 2021 profile.
56. Ramón Laureano (Oakland Athletics) – After stealing eight bases in the first nine games of 2021, fantasy managers who drafted the young outfielder in the late rounds were ecstatic. Unfortunately, Laureano collected just four more stolen bases after April 13th, drastically curtailing his fantasy value.
Laureano’s first two seasons in the league were dramatically better at the plate, while injuries and a PED suspension kept him from topping 400 plate appearances in 2021. There’s decent reason to believe he’s likely to top his offensive numbers from last year, with a good chance of hitting 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but he’s solid at everything, which can be a great way to round out your outfield in later rounds. Keep in mind that Laureano’s 80-game suspension will roll over into the start of the 2022 season, causing him to miss the first month of play. He could end up a great value for the rest of the season, but there’s always a risk when a player isn’t allowed to get into their timing and rhythm at the start of the season.
57. Ian Happ (Chicago Cubs) – As someone who was extremely high on Happ heading into 2021 (for those following along, I’ve already outed myself as a Cubs homer), the season ended up a brutal roller coaster. Happ finished with an extremely underwhelming .226/.323/.434 slash line and a 103 wRC+. He did contribute 25 home runs and nine stolen bases, but with a strikeout rate just shy of 30%, it seemed like the promise he had shown the previous two years wasn’t quite panning out.
The final stat lines don’t quite tell the full story, though. Happ’s monthly splits throughout the season showcase how the term “roller coaster” wasn’t an exaggeration—the 27-year-old posted wRC+’s of 44, 156, 32, 59, and then closed out the season on a high note with a 124 wRC+ in August and a 167 in September and October. It translates to a 73 wRC+ over the first half and 133 over the second. Throughout, Happ maintains an elite walk rate which can keep him valuable even when he goes through a slump.
Happ has the tools to hit 30 home runs alongside a handful of stolen bases, and while the batting average will never be very impressive, his ability to get on base is. He might retain a bit of inconsistency, but he should produce at a higher level than he did last year. It burned me last year, but once again I think Happ has the potential to be a league-winning value based on his current ADP.
58. Austin Hays (Baltimore Orioles) – Like his teammate a few spots above, Hays has a terrible walk rate but makes up for it with power. He put 22 balls over the fence last season and looks primed to do it again this year. He offers a bit more consistency than Santander (he should repeat his performance from last season with a .250+ batting average and .300+ OBP) but without the same raw power ceiling. Still, consistency is valuable in the later rounds and that stability could keep you alive if some of your higher-risk picks don’t pan out.
59. Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta) – A broken finger and domestic violence investigation sidelined Ozuna after fewer than 50 games into last year, a huge letdown after a dominating performance in the short 2020 season where the slugger slashed .338/.431/.636 and 18 home runs in 60 games. Regardless of how you feel about Ozuna, he’s been given a “time served” retroactive suspension and with the adoption of the DH is likely to settle into the full-time DH role for Atlanta.
Ozuna struggled in limited action last year, slashing just .213/.288/.356 over 208 plate appearances. Largely normal plate discipline metrics, however, suggest that Ozuna could easily have just had a slow start that his limited sample size was never able to rectify. While the chances of him duplicating his 2020 success are essentially zero, he should certainly finish a more productive player than his brief stint last year reflects. 25 home runs and a batting average over .250 is plenty useful, even if the struggles last year concern you.
60. Myles Straw (Cleveland Guardians) – Realistically, there’s only one thing I need to say about Myles Straw to grab your attention. 30 stolen bases. As in, tied for fourth in all of baseball in 2021.
Straw was traded from Houston midway through the season, and while there was a minor uptick in his stolen base rate in Cleveland, the bigger deal is the batting order: Straw moved from a fixture of the end (mostly hitting eighth with the Astros) of the order to the very top in Cleveland, thanks to his .271 batting average and 10.5% walk rate. It should set him up nicely to log quite a few runs in 2022.
Solid on-base skills, a terror on the basepaths, leadoff hitter—why isn’t this guy higher up?! I’ll give you four reasons: each of his home runs. Four home runs in a full 638-PA season is brutal in fantasy outfields, even with his huge value at SB. I mean, the guy’s OBP finished higher than his SLG. Still, 20-30 stolen bases are extremely difficult to find, particularly this deep down the draft board. Considering he doesn’t kill you in AVG like some speed specialists, Straw has lots of value even with the complete and utter dearth of power.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)