Last Updated: 3/14
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, deep leagues, or points leagues.
- We are more than happy to answer your questions, requests, and counter-points in the comments or on Twitter!
1. Trea Turner (Washington Nationals) – This ranking is the least surprising thing I’ll do all day (now that Fernando Tatis Jr. will be out three weeks with a broken wrist). He’s the consensus top second baseman and shortstop in our game due to his speed, his contact ability, his spot near the top of the Dodgers’ lineup, and his speed. I also want to make sure I mention that Trea Turner steals bases, as it’s a big part of his fantasy appeal.
Joking aside, it’s worth noting that the power surge we saw in 2020 continued in 2021. Turner didn’t just clear the 20-home run hurdle for the first time in his career, he darn near got to 30 (28 in 148 games). There’s a real shot at a 30-30 season (stolen base potential ages poorly, so 40 is probably out of reach), plus he has a shot to lead the NL in both batting average and runs scored. Furthermore, he’s not an awful bet to finish in the top five in all five roto categories amongst second basemen—RBI is the toughest to accomplish for a leadoff hitter like Turner, but the NL DH should help considerably.
Honestly, though, the best indicator of the fantasy community’s opinion of Turner is that drafting him first overall isn’t even all that controversial anymore. In fact, I bet it’s the new normal.
2. Bo Bichette (Toronto Blue Jays) – Does Bichette need another gear in terms of power or speed to deserve a spot in this top tier? No. Is it possible that a 24-year-old prodigy who has shown the ability to combine his physical abilities with strong pitch recognition has a second gear that takes him well over 30 home runs and 25 or more stolen bases? Yes, and that’s really cool.
Bichette was never considered a 40 home run masher as a prospect—most sites I’ve seen gave him between a 50 and a 60 in terms of power—but he has always been well regarded for his hit tool and ability to make contact. In his first full season in the big leagues, Bichette maintained fairly decent plate discipline, with an excellent 19.9% strikeout rate and a slightly below-average walk rate of 5.8%. That 19.9% strikeout rate is interesting, though, considering Bichette finished with the fourth-highest O-Swing in all of baseball, right behind Javier Báez, at a whopping 42.5%.
Shocking, right? Until I glanced over it on his profile, I never would have believed that Bichette chased so many pitches. This isn’t some kind of critical failure, though, and I think he’s more than capable of using that full year of experience and an offseason to refine his pitch recognition. In fact, you’ll find that a lot of talented hitters chase pitches out of the zone—Salvador Perez had by far the highest chase rate and other big names like Ozzie Albies and Nick Castellanos were inside the top ten—and Bo had a lower swinging strike rate than any of them.
And that’s why I think there’s more in the bat. He’s making good contact against bad pitches, and the next step of his development at the plate is probably becoming more selective so that he can maximize the damage he can do. He doesn’t need to become Juan Soto, who only swung at 15.1% of pitches outside the zone and only 35% of the pitches he saw overall, Bichette just needs to maybe take a little off the top of his own 57.8% swing rate (also the fourth-highest among qualified hitters).
A good example of a player who has made this precise type of change is Austin Riley. We wanted to see him improve his pitch recognition so he could focus on attacking balls in the zone. Here’s what happened, as described by a wonderful rolling chart:
As you can see, Riley’s best offensive production came when he became more selective, and his dips in production are mostly correlated with swinging at too many pitches. Bichette doesn’t have the raw power of Riley, but his hit tool is quite a bit better. I know we’ll see a 35 home run season from Bichette at some point, and it could be as early as this season.
And hey, even if he’s just the same guy he was in 2021, he’s still among baseball’s most promising young hitters.
3. Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox) – We now have four consecutive seasons from Bogaerts where he’s hit at least .285, slugged at least .493, and ranked inside the top 10 among qualified shortstops in home runs and RBI. Drafting a guy like Bogaerts isn’t about flash or growth, it’s about going to McDonald’s. No matter where you go in this crazy world of ours, you can always depend on the golden arches to deliver that very specific aroma and flavor that is the essence of McDonald’s.
Is it the best? No. But it’s as reliable as anything I can think of, just like Xander. He’s going to hit around 25 home runs, and we know there’s upside for more. He’s going to steal about five bases, and we know there’s upside for more. We know he’s going to hit .285, and there’s upside for more. We know he’s going to slug .500, and there’s upside for more.
It doesn’t sound like much but it’s truly incredible to see the kind of consistency you need for us to feel so confident in that projection. It takes an absolute rock-solid level of discipline and talent to achieve what Bogaerts has achieved in Boston, and 2022 should just be another pleasant chapter in what has been a very strong story of his career.
4. Tim Anderson (Chicago White Sox) – Anderson is the spark plug of the White Sox offense, and as he goes, the team goes. His aggressive approach at the plate works thanks to his bat speed and athleticism, allowing him to hit for a high average and score a boatload of runs whenever he’s in the lineup. I think most folks, and also projection systems, would agree that a healthy Tim Anderson is a 25 home run, 25 stolen base threat who can hit .300 and score 100 or more runs atop the lineup in a high-powered offense.
This is sort of the one issue with Tim Anderson—we never quite get a full season from him. In 2019 and 2021, Anderson missed nearly a quarter of the season with various injuries, and he even missed 11 games in 2021’s shortened season. Thankfully, the injuries have had little in the way of lasting effects on Anderson, who is hitting .322 over the last three seasons with a 127 wRC+ and plenty of power.
In deeper leagues, this issue with playing time would be a lot more serious, as the replacement level at shortstop can look pretty dire. In 10- and 12-team leagues, though, you should have no problem finding a short-term replacement from time to time when he hits the IL, and the baseline he provides combined with the replacement-level value you got on the wire (or if you’re lucky, even better than that) feels like a lock to be a top-five shortstop overall.
5. Trevor Story (Free Agent) – I assume that Story will sign immediately after this publishes, but thankfully, where Story ends up really doesn’t matter to me in terms of projecting his stats. Story’s age-28 season was his worst since 2017, but he still finished at the 11th best fantasy shortstop thanks to his 24 home runs and 20 steals.
Story is all but certain to end up somewhere besides Coors field, which will likely result in a dip in batting average; however, as we’ve talked about with so many players (former teammate Nolan Arenado the most recent among them), leaving Coors does not mean you just take their road stats and stretch them out a full season. In fact, a move to somewhere that’s still even remotely friendly to offense, perhaps somewhere like Houston, could end up being a net-positive gain for him as he gets an improved team around him to boost his counting stats.
Ultimately, though, this rank comes down to the fact that I think 2021 is still more of the healthy floor for Story rather than a new baseline, and a 24 home run, 20 stolen base floor in the middle of a contending lineup should look awfully nice to just about any fantasy manager.
6. Marcus Semien (Texas Rangers) – Lots of people were burned in 2020, but it’s hard to imagine a better way to make it up to folks in 2021 than with career highs in almost every counting stat including a whopping 45 home runs and 15 stolen bases.
While some Statcast numbers suggest that Semien was rather fortunate in 2021 with his batted ball results, he was still able to improve his barrel rate. More importantly for the purposes of this blurb, though, is that my favorite analysis tool gives excellent insight on how the growth for Semien has played out the last three years:
While this chart doesn’t tell you EVERYTHING you want to know about Semien, it shows us the theme of his batted balls since the start of 2019 (which is when we really started to pay attention). Admittedly, I initially believed the change in plate discipline in 2019 was the source of his success, but after being even better in 2021 than he was in 2019, he’s clearly put a focus on elevating pitches. Now hitting the ball higher on its own wouldn’t do much for a guy with a below-average hard-hit rate, but if he also started hitting the ball harder, you’d expect a big breakout because hitting the ball higher and farther is good. Is that what happened here?
Yup! It’s exactly what happened, and we can even see what happens when it fails! What I love about these two charts is that it shows exactly how these pieces are working together. Launch angle and exit velocity have to work in tandem for the best results, and they have here. A move to Texas is far less appealing than his former position atop one of baseball’s most explosive lineups, but the sun is shining a bit brighter in Texas lately after some free-agent signings. A dip in power production from the move is likely as Dunedin was a very friendly hitter environment (second in home run park factor for 2021 according to ESPN) while Arlington is a bit below average, but I still expect a very strong campaign from the veteran middle infielder.
In short, the changes he has made are real, so the baseline of talent is closer to 2019 and 2021 than it is to 2020.
While he did struggle a bit late, it took very little time for him to find his groove, and towards the end of the season, he was blowing minds left and right with hit streaks and power and everything we hoped from the game’s top prospect.
While the quick initial adjustment is great to see and suggests that he has a long major league career ahead of him, it makes him awfully difficult to rank coming into his first full season in the majors. Many players are able to make initial adjustments, but stardom comes from being able to make the proper adjustments every single time the opponent tries to throw you off. Franco has passed those tests with flying colors in the minors, but it’s a different game at the top with more focus on opposing scouting reports and more pitchers who can throw a multiple of plus pitches.
I’m not at all trying to scare you or suggest that Franco will slump—I’m just saying that growth is neither linear nor constant, and drafting Franco means accepting that he may see extended slumps as teams give him new looks after having a whole offseason to get footage of him in the batter’s box. It’s a risk that, in shallow leagues, I’m very willing to take due to the upside. Few players possess the hit tool Franco brings to the table, and with his bat skills I wouldn’t put anything past him. He’s unlikely to turn into a major power source immediately, but 25 home runs, 15 steals, and a batting title is well within the range of 2022 possibilities.
8. Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego Padres) – With the devastating news that Tatis could miss up to three months due to a wrist injury, it’s easy for many to take him off their boards. In 15-team leagues and leagues with extremely limited benches and no IL, I can see why folks would be hesitant to take a shot on Tatis right now. That said, I am not one of those people, and if I can draft him within the first 60 to 80 picks, I’m absolutely going to. Why? Because if you cut Tatis’s production in half from 2021 and replace the rest with a top-15ish shortstop, you’re still looking at a player who can be a top-seven shortstop or better.
I mean, Tatis is a guy who is in the top 1% of the league in barrel rate and the top 4% in sprint speed. He’s the quintessential power-speed combination that fantasy managers drool over. This is a dynamic talent, and he keeps setting new baselines in production:
Just look at that. Tatis was at least 50 points in xwOBA above league average in basically every 100 plate appearance sample you pull. His slumps had xwOBAs in the .360s. A .360 xwOBA for a full season would be inside the top-50 among all qualified hitters. It’s mind-boggling that the worst 100 plate appearance sample from Tatis is still a top-50 hitter in all of baseball. For reference, Giancarlo Stanton, Nelson Cruz, Xander Bogaerts, and Bo Bichette all had an xwOBA under .360 on the season.
Sure, I’m worried about the injuries and all that, but there are zero players in baseball with the skills of Tatis right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I look back on this ranking in August and call myself a coward.
9. Javier Báez (Detroit Tigers) – Most people already know whether they are willing to draft Báez because of his meme-worthy lack of plate discipline, but I would encourage you to be open-minded to players who don’t fit the traditional mold we hunt for in fantasy baseball.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, he will swing and miss a lot. The Tigers fan in me desperately wants to believe that the fantastic batter’s eye in Comerica Park created by the dark green foliage and walls behind the pitcher will help Javy pick up the ball better, but realistically his problem is less of pitch recognition and more just general aggression. His bat speed and coordination, while not what they were a few years ago, still seem to be at a high level, and that should allow him to squeeze a little more production out of his remaining career.
The biggest knock on Báez, besides the plate discipline, is going to be the home park. Hitting home runs in Comerica Park is not easy thanks to the spacious dimensions (but hey, that could change!), but that effect is much less dramatic on pull-heavy right-handed hitters, with the park playing mostly neutral for that crowd since the left-field wall is closer and shorter than the one in right. Lucky for Javy, he’s become more of a pull hitter over the last two years, possibly due to some regression in bat speed that is requiring him to cheat a little more on fastballs.
It’s hard to project anyone to hit over 30 home runs in Comerica Park, but Báez has a shot thanks to his quality of contact numbers. I am penciling him in for about 27 home runs or so, as are most projection systems, but he should also threaten 20 steals again in the middle of an improving lineup with a manager who isn’t afraid to let players run (Detroit was a top-10 team for steals for 2021). It’s not as risky as it seems unless you’re in a league that penalizes strikeouts, so don’t be afraid to add him to your team in the earlier rounds to secure his power and speed.
10. Corey Seager (Texas Rangers) – The league’s last remaining Seager missed quite a bit of time in 2021, playing only 94 games, but managed to once again impress with his ability to put balls in play and hit for power. In 636 career games, Seager has an impressive .297/.367/.504, and over the last two seasons has shown he can hit 30 home runs if he can stay healthy.
Unfortunately, Seager has struggled to do that over the last four seasons, he’s playing in just 56% of his team’s games. Seager has plenty of talent, but his lack of speed puts more pressure on him to perform at the plate to be a top fantasy shortstop, and that’s hard to do from the IL.
While a move from Los Angeles to Texas is not ideal in terms of supporting cast, hitting in front of Marcus Semien means he’s not the only threat in the lineup. Expect a dip in counting stats, but a healthy Seager should always be in a starting lineup in all formats.
11. Francisco Lindor (New York Mets) – 2019 was not that long ago, but if you’ve rostered Lindor in 2020 0r 2021, it feels like a different generation. He’s slashed just .240/.327/.413 since 2020’s Opening Day, which is incredibly average for a guy who spent three straight seasons hitting over 30 home runs and averaging over 20 stolen bases. While it’s easy that he’s suffered from a lack of quality of contact, I’ve had a tough time pinpointing exactly what is going on. It’s clear he’s hitting the ball with less authority, and it’s happening to all types of batted balls and pitches, but I still don’t get it. It’s like he’s pulling his punches or something.
So what do we do with him? Well, even with 2020 and 2021 combined, it’s less than 200 games, and players can get into a funk for 200 games. Perhaps this offseason he takes a longer, harder look at his approach and swings to find something broken. Maybe he had a secret injury he never told us about and we won’t find out until he breaks back out.
Ranking Lindor in this spot is essentially saying that I think a return to close to his prior form is more likely than the bottom falling out, and at this point, taking a shot on Lindor to be better than he has been the last two seasons is worth it, as you can recover from this not working out thanks to the depth of the position in 10- and 12-teamers.
In 15-team formats and other deep leagues, I’d be a lot more hesitant to take this shot, but in leagues where I know I can use the wire to offset the risk I’m willing to roll the dice.
12. Jorge Polanco (Minnesota Twins) – I can’t say I ever thought Polanco had another gear to his power, but here we are looking at a 2021 season where he smashed 33 home runs and stole 11 bases as one of the few bright spots in a depressingly disappointing season for the Twins.
Unlike 2021, Polanco is coming in with the expectation that he’s going to hit third in the lineup every day, and while health is a massive concern for the Twins roster, the middle of that lineup can really get after pitchers on both sides of the plate. Polanco actually spent quite a bit of time hitting first and second last season, but considering that his stolen base success rate is well below ideal (he was only 11 for 17 last year), I am thinking I’d rather have the extra RBI that come with hitting third rather than seeing him thrown out at second.
13. Carlos Correa (Free Agent) – I’m sure we’ll find out where he intends to sign any minute now, but his talent level suggests that where he calls home really isn’t the issue. Correa’s issue still is his health. If I knew Correa would play a full season on an above-average team, I’d pencil in 25 home runs, 190-200 combined runs and RBI, and a .275 batting average. That’s excellent stuff when you can get it, but as you likely well know, it has not been easy to keep Correa healthy.
If there’s anything to hang your hat on with Correa, it’s that he’s been mostly healthy now for two straight seasons (one of which being the shortened season) and that the power outage we saw in 2020 appears to be just a blip on the radar in what was a very weird offensive season for the Astros.
If you’ve managed to avoid injury risk up to this point in a draft, I think it’d be wise to slide a guy like Correa up your board a bit for the upside. If you’ve already taken on injury risk, you might want to wait a little while and see if you can land the other guys in the next tier or two, as you don’t want to overload on injury risk early in a draft.
14. Willy Adames (Milwaukee Brewers) – I’ll keep it simple: I liked everything I saw from Adames after he put on a Brewers uniform. His plate discipline, power, and stolen base ability all played up as part of the Brew Crew, and there are reports out there that Adames really disliked playing in Tropicana.
Part of me wants to raise Adames up in these ranks based on the 99 games in 2021, but I suppose I also have to accept that Adames has mostly been a fantasy afterthought throughout his career. Adames has been a target for me in every draft where I whiff on shortstops early or if I’ve taken on too much risk to buy into a guy like the players ahead of him in this tier, and I think he should be for you as well.
15. Jazz Chisholm Jr. (Miami Marlins) – There’s 30-30 potential in Jazz; I’m not the only person who thinks so. For 12-team leagues, it’s hard to rank a player with that kind of tangible, one-tweak away upside much lower than this. In many early iterations of this list, Jazz came in ahead of Tommy Edman because of the upside, but then I had to grapple with the severely low floor for Jazz due to the strikeout potential.
That’s really the name of the game here, as Jazz has enough power and speed to be valuable with a .240 batting average and .300 OBP, but it leaves very little margin for error. Another season with a strikeout rate over 30% would likely push his batting average so low that he would become tough to roster, but a 25% strikeout rate and all of a sudden he’s a fantasy champion!
It’s always a stretch to base a player’s outlook on one stat, but it’s a great temperature check that should also be at least somewhat apparent when Spring Training starts again. Make sure you have batting average covered if you take the risk, but I’d also say that you’re allowed to enjoy the raw potential.
16. Bobby Witt Jr. (Kansas City Royals) – Witt absolutely dominated in double-A and triple-A during 2021, hitting 33 home runs and stealing 29 bases in just 123 games while batting well over .285 with good plate discipline. It’s hard to ask a 21-year-old kid to do a lot more than that, and that’s why people are so excited about him having the chance to play in 2022.
As of today, Roster Resource pegs Witt as the starting third baseman for the Royals, and from a talent perspective that makes a lot of sense. Adalberto Mondesi has durability issues (to put it mildly) and a move to a part-time DH role for him makes a lot of sense in terms of staying healthy. That opens up at-bats for Witt, but the business of baseball being what it is, it’s tough to pinpoint exactly how much exposure they’ll give Witt in a year where they have little shot at contending in the AL Central.
In 10- and 12-team leagues, you can’t rely on Witt to be your starting shortstop or third baseman—I think it’s simply too much to ask from a guy with zero major league at-bats to be your starter in a position with this much elite talent. That said, I think he makes a great gamble for players who were a bit conservative early in drafts and have the risk appetite to take on a young player like this.
17. Jake Cronenworth (San Diego Padres) – He just is a weird fit in 12-teamers, you know? In deeper leagues, his ability to play in the corner and middle infield gives him great versatility, and he performs comfortably above the replacement level.
In leagues like the Yahoo standard format, though, where teams don’t need a corner or middle infielder and instead have two open utility spots and two fewer outfield spots and IL spots, Cronenworth ends up in this sort of purgatory where he’s just about exactly replacement level at most positions, and therefore the lift his versatility provides is somewhat pointless.
Of course, it looks like he just might bat third this season between Tatis and Machado, which should do wonders for his counting stats. If he can balance those out by hitting third or fourth, I could see him sliding up these ranks slightly.
18. Dansby Swanson (Atlanta) – This ranking is probably quite low compared to many of my peers, but that’s simply because I consider what Swanson brings to the table to be only barely above replacement level at shortstop. It sounds crazy, but as you’ve been reading through this, you might see what I mean.
I’ve got Swanson projected for something like 25 home runs, 10 steals, and a .250 batting average with counting stats dependent on what spot he can secure in the lineup. He’s never scored 80 runs in a season, and even with his breakout 2021, he fell short of 90 RBI. It may sound like I’m being overly harsh, but that’s because a .250 batting average just doesn’t cut it at this position. The other players ranked above him with that kind of batting average usually do something else, like steal a whole bunch of bases. Swanson doesn’t.
That said, I really like Swanson as a backup pick for someone like Tatis, Lindor, or Correa to sort of hedge their bets. He’s still a top-150 player and well worth using in your utility spot or middle infield spot, and in 15-team formats, he’d probably be in the earlier tier for his dependability.
19. Brendan Rodgers (Colorado Rockies) — It’s finally his time. After being drafted third overall back in 2015, Rodgers finally got an extended stay in the big leagues and did not disappoint, slashing .284/.328/.470 with 15 home runs in 102 games. He also worked hard in the minors to clean up his strikeouts, and that practice paid off to the tune of a 20.2% strikeout rate.
If Rodgers had speed or a single tool that I could point to as a difference-maker, he’d be in the tier above this one. But as it stands, he looks a lot like a playing giving good batting average with replacement-level power and counting stats in 10- and 12-team formats, with upside to be a top-12 option at second if he can find another power or batting average gear (he’s not a runner, and the Rockies aren’t good enough to help him find big RBI or runs scored totals).
20. Eugenio Suárez (Seattle Mariners) – A strong September has me back on the trolley one more time. He had a massive 220 wRC+ for the last month of the season, and more broadly, a 121 wRC+ in the second half along with an improved walk rate and a .524 slugging percentage.
I’m not terribly interested in starting Suárez at third or shortstop—he strikes me more as a middle or corner infielder with convenient versatility—but it’s a classic risk/reward scenario. You can go after Suárez and his 40 or more home run upside that he flashed in September (seriously, his 1.268 OPS is mind-boggling), but you also have to know that it can also come with an impossibly painful average that often slips below the Mendoza line.
I actually like Suárez in drafts where I feel a little power-light or need a back-up infielder, especially in H2H-categories formats where his batting average hurts you less (because he’ll be hot some weeks and clean it up for you and when he’s cold you know the batting average resets on Monday morning).
21. Chris Taylor (Los Angeles Dodgers) — The universal DH and good ol’ fashioned attrition has finally put us in a place where Taylor can be projected for 140 games or more. In the three seasons where he has played 140 games, he’s averaged 19 home runs, 87 runs scored, 69 RBI, and 13 steals, which also happens to be in line with his 2022 projections.
Coincidence? Probably not. I’d feel very comfortable with those projections and value him accordingly. I’d probably expect the runs scored and RBI to maybe get a little closer to each other as he’s more likely to hit sixth than anything else now that Mookie Betts and Trea Turner are at the top, but hitting sixth for a perennial World Series contender is a pretty sweet fantasy gig.
22. Luis Urías (Milwaukee Brewers) — Urías played quite well in his first full season. Urías was never much of a power hitter other than for a stop in Triple-A back in 2019, so hitting 23 home runs at the highest level really surprised me.
Urías is pretty good at making contact and should do just enough to clear 150 runs + RBI in a full season along with five steals and 20 dingers. That’s really great in deep leagues and reality, but it doesn’t move many 10-or 12-team needles. His floor is probably higher than Escobar’s, but the ceiling is also quite a bit lower.
23. Oneil Cruz (Pittsburgh Pirates) – The 6’7″ shortstop was excellent in the minor leagues in 2021 and based on his scouting reports has a legitimate 20 home run, 20 stolen base upside if he can play most of a season. Much like the previously-mentioned Bobby Witt Jr., though, it’s not entirely clear how much time he’ll get on a team with absolutely no shot at contending in the NL Central. That point can sort of be used to argue either side for his playing time, but I have a feeling that they might not give him more than 120 games or so.
I’d probably project something closer to 15 home runs and 15 steals as a good result, with a mid-range projection being more like 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases. The counting numbers will be pretty rough as well, but there’s a lot to be excited about with Cruz.
24. Gleyber Torres (New York Yankees) – The power has absolutely collapsed since his 38 home run performance in 2019, though it’s interesting to note that he stole more bases in 2021 (14) than he had in his entire major league career up to that point (12).
The plate discipline appears fine, but it seems that he just can’t put any power behind his fly balls, dropping his home run to fly ball rate to roughly 7% over the last two seasons. That’s inexcusable from a guy who plays half his games in Yankee Stadium. I have to think he can get closer to 20 home runs this season, but at this point, I’m too afraid to commit to anything with how baffling bad he’s been.
25. Amed Rosario (Cleveland Guardians) – I think 2021 gave us a pretty good idea of what Amed Rosario is at this point in his career—a guy who can hit 15 home runs, steal 15 bases, and hit .270. That’s not all that impressive in a 12-team league, and probably isn’t worth drafting, but deeper league players should pay attention to him later in drafts, and those who found their draft to be especially light on steals may want to watchlist him to stream him against exploitable batteries for steals.
26. Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants) – What a weird breakout, and it was made even weirder by Statcast supporting the results pretty well. This ranking anticipates the 35-year-old Crawford turning back into a pumpkin in 2022, but weirder things have happened before, I suppose. If nothing else, he plays every day and can be an acceptable injury replacement in certain stretches, especially against righties.
27. Gavin Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers) — It’s easy to forget that this was a blue-chip prospect as recently as a year ago. He was given a 70-grade future value over at Fangraphs (they only gave that high of a grade to one prospect in their most recent version of THE BOARD).
You’re banking on a breakout if you draft Lux, because what we’ve seen so far has been a major struggle, and even the universal DH can’t coax L.A. into giving Lux more plate appearances unless he fixes some of his defensive woes or starts hitting like we know he can.
28. Gio Urshela (Minnesota Twins) – I almost don’t believe it now, despite seeing it in front of me on the screen while I also type it out, but over the last three seasons, Urshela has hit .292 with a .480 slugging percentage. He doesn’t get the ball in the air as often as I would like (just 29.8% of the time), but perhaps a combination of health, bouncier baseballs, and a little bit of a rhythm can help Urshela show us his upside in a full season.
It’s still too early for me to know exactly how he’ll squeeze into this infield, as it’s a lot more crowded than it ought to be for a team with such an awful 2022 record, but as we get closer to the season, we should learn a lot more.
29. Jonathan Villar (Free Agent) – I’ll keep it short and sweet: This is a purely speculative play until he signs. In some places, he could be a 20 home run hitter with 25 steals. In others, he’s a seldom-used bench guy and pinch-runner. I imagine I’ll be updating this quite a bit based on where he signs, but I hope it’s somewhere he can run wild.
30. Nicky Lopez (Kansas City Royals) – After moving to the 2-spot in the Royals lineup on August 6, Lopez hit .329 with 14 steals on 15 attempts. There’s very little power to speak of, and this likely isn’t his true talent. That said, he’s capable of being an impact player in 12-team leagues for maybe a month or so given the right matchups and opportunities, so I’ve listed him here so you don’t forget his name when looking for a source of steals.
Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)