Last Updated: 3/11
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. José Ramírez (Cleveland Guardians) – I am not sure anyone has anyone else in their top tier for the hot corner. While he’s had some widely publicized slumps, there’s a good reason Ramírez is projected by ATC to be in the top three at his position in plate appearances, runs scored, home runs, RBI, and stolen bases. The question with Ramírez isn’t at all if he’s good or if he’s the best third baseman in fantasy—it’s how early you’re willing to draft him.
Before the lockout was over, J-Ram was routinely drafted somewhere between the fourth and sixth picks, along with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. While you can easily argue that it’s a very tight cluster, I think that there are several reasons you should strongly consider him once the top three players are off the board. In rotisserie leagues and deeper leagues, the 25-30 stolen base upside is almost impossible to pass up, and while he doesn’t have quite the same power as Vladito, he is one of few men alive who have a legitimate shot at 40 home runs and 30 steals.
I have yet to hesitate to draft Ramírez as early as fourth, particularly due to the fact that I’ve struggled with third base in some mocks while I’ve felt very comfortable with my approaches towards the outfield, shortstop, and first base (which are the primary positions of the other candidates at that point). You should feel very confident you’ve drafted the best third baseman in fantasy, and barring injury, I’d be stunned if he ends up as anything less.
2. Rafael Devers (Boston Red Sox) – It was fantastic to see Devers bounce back so thoroughly in 2021 after a mildly alarming plummet back to earth in late 2020. Apart from a brief struggle with strikeouts in early summer, Devers has blossomed into a power-hitting third baseman who can hit .280 or better and pile up a ton of counting stats in the middle of a veteran Red Sox lineup.
Perhaps one of the more surprising things to happen for Devers in 2021 was a revival of his stolen base attempts. He managed to swipe eight bases in the first two months of 2019 but ended the season with a miserable 50% success rate. Devers didn’t attempt a single stolen base in 2020, which made absolute sense given his lack of efficiency. Apparently, the Red Sox wanted to give Devers another try at running in 2021 and gave him 10 chances to steal. Unfortunately, Devers put up another disappointing effort, stealing just five bases on 10 attempts.
While I am fully on board with most of what the major projection systems foresee for Devers this season, I remain skeptical that the Red Sox will continue to send a 50% base stealer (teams generally want to have a 75% chance or better before sending a runner). I would prepare for zero steals as a very real possibility, and he’s probably maxed out at five or six. Oh, and close to 40 home runs and at least 200 combined runs and RBI with a high batting average.
3. Manny Machado (San Diego Padres) – Sometimes I forget just how long Manny Machado has been an elite baseball player. He ranks ninth in WAR among active players since the start of 2015, fourth in home runs, sixth in RBI, and has averaged nearly 10 stolen bases per season—and that’s including the shortened season!
Very little has changed in recent years when it comes to what Manny brings to the table: he’ll hit 30-ish home runs, pile up RBI, and swipe enough bags to move the needle for your team. He’s also extremely durable, playing at least 90% of games each season for seven consecutive seasons. Durability is a hard thing to pin down in terms of value, but however you do that calculus, you will end up realizing that Machado is as dependable a hitter as they come.
And yet, no one ever sees excited about him! Heck, even I wasn’t until I started writing this. His upside isn’t quite the same as Devers, as Machado’s power output is much closer to a 30 home run hitter than a 40 home run hitter. His ability to chip in up to double-digit steals is a pretty big deal, as there are few sources of reliable steals that are fun to roster in 10- and 12-team formats, but I still rank him below Devers if only because I would project Devers to beat Machado in three or four of the five standard roto categories, and the categories Devers loses will be close. That said, Manny is an excellent building block for your team, especially if you either have already or if you plan to soon take some riskier picks.
4. Austin Riley (Atlanta) – If you were one of the real ones who predicted that Riley could cut down his whiffs, you likely had a pretty nice season last year. While his initial debut in 2019 was filled with power and applause, we quickly realized that he struggled to make consistent contact in the big leagues. He made big improvements there in 2020, taking over 10 points off of his season-long strikeout rate, but he still did not have much success at the dish, batting just .239 in 51 games for a 88 wRC+.
Of course, then 2021 happened and Riley hit 33 home runs with nearly 200 combined runs and RBI and perhaps most shockingly, a .303 batting average. While Statcast’s expected stats suggest he may have had a bit of good fortune on batted balls, it’s worth noting that he improved his barrel rate and that his expected stats, while a bit inflated, still indicate that there’s a very good player swinging that bat.
With concerns about his role and playing time a thing of the past, the next question is whether Riley’s 70-grade power has another gear to help him reach the 40 home run mark. If it does, he could put up jaw-dropping numbers hitting behind Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies. If it doesn’t, you’ve still got a 30-35 home run hitter who should at least hit .250 to .260 most of the time, which plays in 100% of leagues that reward hitting the ball in some form or fashion.
5. Nolan Arenado (St. Louis Cardinals) – Arenado’s 2021 should finally put to rest the wild conjecture that pops up every time someone leaves Colorado. While it’s hard to keep a bloated batting average in stadiums not named after Rocky Mountain beer, he still hit a palatable .255 in an excellent bounce-back campaign where he tallied 34 home runs and 105 RBI.
Thanks to his solid power and strong defensive play, Arenado should be a key cog in the Cardinal machine all season long, and by all season long, I really mean all season long. In each of the last six 162-game seasons, Arenado has played no fewer than 155 games. He did miss a chunk of 2020 due to injury and the Rockies being really bad, but he showed no signs of breakdown in 2021.
As I mentioned before, Arenado no longer plays in Coors and instead plays in the pitching-friendly Busch Stadium. While I think he can still hit another 30 home runs and drive in 100 batters, I have a feeling that the batting average will stay in the .250 to .270 range. That’s a solid third baseman to pick up, and truthfully, he’s one of the very few reliable options left on the board.
6. Adalberto Mondesi (Kansas City Royals) – I’m not going to waste your time—you probably already know whether you’re one of the people who will take Mondesi or one of the people who won’t. Either you’re completely put off by the injury risk and .283 career OBP, or you’re in love with the fact he could go 20-50 and you want to shoot for the moon.
I’m not really going to try and change your mind right away, but I will say that your league’s IL rules are critical in determining Mondesi’s possible fantasy output in your league. In leagues with short benches or very limited IL spaces, he should probably be pushed down a bit. Ditto for those of you in points leagues due to the unattractive strikeout totals and the fact that few points leagues reward steals even half as much as roto does. In shallow leagues with a high replacement level or in medium roto or head-to-head categories leagues, you’re probably looking at the premium version of Mondesi.
The one thing I’m really not paying attention to are the comments by Royals leadership that they don’t see him as an everyday player. While that sounds like a condemnation of Mondesi’s skill, it’s actually just fact—Mondesi hasn’t appeared in 120 games in a single season since 2014 when he was 18.
Look, just do what you’re going to do with Mondesi. We know we can’t stop you.
7. Alex Bregman (Houston Astros) – Well what do you know—another player who many people already likely have strong feelings for either way. Two seasons removed from the giant scandal, Bregman has retained his superb plate discipline but has lost the power that made him so dangerous earlier in his career.
Projection models will have a hard time ignoring the three-year stretch from 2017-2019, where Bregman was a universal first-round pick in fantasy drafts. It appears most models think there’s a rebound of sorts in the works that could see him hitting 25 or more home runs with strong counting stats and ratios. I’m at least somewhat skeptical that the power Bregman had is coming back in terms of a 30 home run or higher kind of guy, but I do think his outstanding eye at the plate and a juicy spot in the middle of Houston’s lineup will have me watching him closely if he falls in any particular draft closer to his max pick.
Players in points and OBP leagues should be far more excited about Bregman’s outlook, though, because he’s probably still capable of an OBP around .380 and an OPS north of .850. The .260-.270 batting average won’t blow anyone away, but there’s probably still a very decent player in Bregman for fantasy, but the risk to find out how decent puts me off his current ADP just a bit.
8. Anthony Rendon (Los Angeles Angels) – Injuries have dogged Rendon all his career, though what really concerns me about Rendon isn’t his health as much as it was the combination of health and the lack of production we saw in 2021. Normally, Rendon misses games but performs at a high level whenever on the field. His lowest wRC+ from 2017-2020 was 140. Yes, that was the lowest.
I shouldn’t be too hard on Rendon, as he was injured and still managed to play 58 games and put up a 95 wRC+, but that’s not going to pay our collective fantasy bills. Heck, it barely buys a fair trade organic fantasy coffee! The plate discipline remained as strong as ever, but the drop in hard-hit and barrel rates in both 2019 and 2020 makes me wonder what a realistic power projection is. Obviously, hitting in the top half of the Angel lineup is an extremely profitable fantasy position to be in, but if Rendon appears healthy in early Spring Training games, I could see his value skyrocketing as if the prior injury was his only risk.
It might be too convenient to blame his 2021 struggles on just one thing, like injury, but with how good Rendon was during his four-year peak, it’s hard to think of any other explanations for such a drop-off. All we can hope is that whatever sapped his power in 2021 has been defeated and that he can go back to the 25 home run hitter with excellent ratios. Oh, and speaking of ratios, OBP leagues and points league players can be a little more aggressive with Rendon, as he’s put up seasons with an OBP above .400 in two of the last three years and in three of the last five.
9. Kris Bryant (Free Agent) – Maybe it’s Cub fan bias, but I am unapologetically a Kris Bryant homer and think he’s settled into being viewed as a perennially underrated hitter. Aside from 2020 (when he only played in 34 games), Bryant has never had a season with a wRC+ below 120 (or OPS+, if that’s more your thing). He’s dealt with recurring injuries that have clearly bothered him during stretches, like in 2018 when he only played in 102 games and finished with just 13 home runs.
If you take out those two injury-shortened seasons, however, Bryant has five MLB seasons under his belt, all with 25+ home runs, a batting average over .260, and an OBP over .350. Sure, he strikes out, but he walks plenty to make up for it. He’s actually one of the more consistent hitters out there, and last season, he even threw in 10 stolen bases for good measure. Whether he’ll be able to reach the heights of his first few seasons is unclear, but, health permitting, he offers a solid floor and could end up a steal at his going ADP. [Written by Dylan Burris]
10. DJ LeMahieu (New York Yankees) – When 2021 started, I had no idea I’d be dropping LeMahieu so far down my rankings in just one year, nor did I ever imagine I’d be talking about him as a risk, but here we are.
Let’s get one thing out of the way—LeMahieu played in 2021 with a sports hernia that has now been surgically repaired. While I am not a medical professional, I imagine that playing baseball without a sports hernia is easier than playing baseball with a sports hernia (I apologize, but I do not have a study I can reference on this topic so you might just have to take my word for it).
I can’t help but think that the power LeMahieu showed in 2019 and 2020 was very legitimate and that he can get back to 20 or more home runs if he is healthy. I mean, is it really a “fluke” if you are the best second baseman in baseball for two consecutive seasons? While I don’t expect a return to the top of the first or second base rankings, there is potential for a top-10 finish for sure hitting at the top of what should be a healthier and stronger Yankee lineup.
Remember how he was 16th as a first baseman? He’s 10th at third. That’s one way to talk about the difference in depth of talent between first and third.
11. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pittsburgh Pirates) – While 2021 was nowhere near as productive for Hayes as 2020, we at least got to see flashes of the gap power and speed we know he can bring to the table. Even though the young third baseman couldn’t muster much in the way of power, slugging just .373 in 96 games, it was encouraging to see him have strong plate discipline in the minors. While I’d really like to see something better than a paltry 5.1% barrel rate, I can hold out hope that the 25-year-old is able to make some adjustments as he did at the end of the season when he brought his strikeout rate to palatable levels.
Whenever I see a young player struggle, I try to isolate a few of the biggest concerns so I know what I need to worry about. For Hayes, it’s how often he hits the ball down instead of up. While he does have the wheel to beat out a few throws here and there, that exit velocity he boasts can’t do much for him if the ball hits the ground two seconds after he swings. The rolling chart below shows Hayes’ average launch angle (which can be a somewhat misleading stat but doesn’t appear to be here):
See that hin little red line at the top of the graphic? That’s the league average. Your physical tools don’t matter if the ball goes right into the dirt, which is why Hayes can be frustrating to watch. If you’re looking for rays of hope, one that some cling to are the strong exit velocity numbers Hayes has shown even in his down 2021. He’s also an outstanding defender and has pretty good speed, so he’s going to get all the playing time he needs on a fairly thin Pirates roster.
Hayes is an upside play, plain and simple. If he can get that ball off the ground, we’re looking at a 20/20 kind of player. If he can’t, he’s just a guy for fantasy purposes.
12. Matt Chapman (Oakland Athletics) – If defense counted for fantasy, Chapman would be higher on this list. He’s among the best defenders in the game, and it all but guarantees that a healthy Chapman will play every single day, which is good because Chapman can prove to be a streaky hitter due to his free-swinging ways.
A prolonged slump to start the season did fade for a bit in the summer as he went on one of his patented hot streaks, but as with most streaky hitters, hot streaks are followed by a crash, and it was the worst of his career, per the rolling chart below:
While it’s nice that the two hot streaks were also among the best of his career, the slumps took up far more plate appearances than the hot streaks, and that’s how you wind up hitting .210.
On the bright side, Chapman’s barrel rate of 13.7% was inside the top 15% in the league, and while he wasn’t able to curb the strikeout jump that began in 2020, he did post the highest full-season walk rate of his career, thanks in part to a big jump in patience over his last 159 plate appearances (17.0% walk rate) and some flashes. Of course, his strikeout rate was double that and his batting average was .200, and yet he still slugged over .500!
And maybe that’s what we need to view Chapman as—an excellent real-life player who has a big hole in his swing at the moment. He’s capable of ripping home runs as well as anyone at the position, but unless he can clean up the strikeouts, it will be hard for him to break into a higher tier (unless you’re in an OBP league, where he has more margin for error due to his walk rates).
13. Justin Turner (Los Angeles Dodgers) – In his age-36 season, Turner managed to tie his career highs in games played (151) and home runs (27) while getting extremely close in RBI and plate appearances. This was a dream season for most Turner fans, as there has been absolutely no question as to his ability with the bat when on the field, evidenced by eight consecutive seasons with a wRC+ of at least 123.
In fact, here’s a fun experiment—If I took the worst full-season ratios put up by Turner in Los Angeles, what would I have? Well, it’d be a guy with a .275/.339/.460 slash line, an 18% strikeout rate, and a 7.7% walk rate. A line like that coupled with a cozy spot in the 3-hole for a perennial powerhouse is a recipe for success, and it’s hard to see Turner as anything but a great back-end 3B.
Of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to Turner is the fact he’s a 37-year-old with a balky hammy and a long injury history. That’s…problematic for those in deeper leagues or who are stretched a bit thinner with corner infield spots in addition to the regular field positions.
It’s somewhat bizarre to think of such a steady, consistent player being described as risky, but that’s what injuries do. I think he’s an excellent contingency plan if you missed your first target at third, but in 10- and 12-teamers I’d suggest you have one or two targets ahead of him (like maybe the healthy-yet-inconsistent Ke’Bryan Hayes or the probably-going-to-rebound DJ LeMahieu first), because if Turner is your first target and you miss, it could get ugly quick.
14. Yoán Moncada (Chicago White Sox) – If it feels like Moncada has been in the league a long time, it’s because he has been! He debuted as the top overall prospect with the Red Sox before being traded to the White Sox in the Chris Sale deal (along with Michael Kopech) and really broke out in 2019 when he became just a tad more aggressive on borderline pitches.
Unfortunately, though, the last two seasons have been an anti-breakout (a break-in?) thanks to a rough bout with COVID. While 2021 was certainly better than 2020, he still only managed 14 home runs and 61 RBI in 144 games—not nearly what we’re looking for, especially considering the strength of the lineup around him.
The return of Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez for what is hopefully a full season should help bolster Moncada’s counting stats, but he’ll have to do better than a 29.6% fly-ball rate to push for 25 home runs again.
If you believe that being one more year removed from his COVID issues and having a clean bill of health from his teammates make him undervalued, I totally get it. I find his value to be more appropriate than too high or too low due to the risk of both injury and ineffectiveness, but he does make a strong corner infield candidate in all formats and is also much more appealing in OBP formats due to his double-digit walk rates.
15. Josh Donaldson (Minnesota Twins) – Donaldson is not a complicated guy in fantasy. He’s an excellent per-at-bat type who fights through a lot of injuries. If he plays 100 games in a standard or OBP league, he’s great—you’ll get a .500 slugging percentage and decent counting stats (they can’t possibly be as bad as they were last season). If he plays a full season, you’ll probably get a top-10 or better third baseman. If he plays 50 games, you wasted your time.
Donaldson is never a guy I plan to draft, he’s a guy I end up drafting due to the composition of my team, either because I missed on my earlier third base targets or because I have some risk appetite left and want to add power.
He’s worth rostering in any league with plenty of DH or bench spots, as well as OBP formats of all sizes. He’s more of a second utility or bench bat in Yahoo standard formats due to the lack of demand (lineups don’t use middle or corner infielders), but he’s definitely someone who needs to be drafted. The upside is too high to leave him out there forever.
16. Eugenio Suárez (Cincinnati Reds) – 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).
17. Ryan McMahon (Colorado Rockies) – Honestly, I think last year is everything McMahon had to offer for fantasy managers. It’s not a bad thing, as he finished with 23 home runs, 86 RBI, and six steals, making him the eighth-best third baseman in all of fantasy for 2021. I really worry, though, about the quality of that team and just the fact that it’s Colorado and they have a long history of doing it all wrong.
I wish his batting average was better due to the giant outfield in Coors that lets a lot of doubles hit the ground, and ultimately, I just find what he does generally underwhelming for standard leagues. While I think that there might be more power in that bat after seeing his early-season explosion, the latter parts of the are a bit concerning as the power seemed to all but vanish based on this rolling chart of his ISO:
But it’s not all negative. If you seek safety and some potentially explosive homestands, McMahon is here to be your dreamboat. If you’re looking for flash, though, look elsewhere.
18. Eduardo Escobar (New York Mets) – I still think this was a weird signing by the Mets, but I guess that’s par for the Mets course. An unbelievable 2019 was followed up by an abysmal 2020, and of course, just to be difficult, Escobar put up a strong 2021 campaign. He hit .253/.314/.472 with 28 home runs, 167 combined runs and RBI, good plate discipline, and his fourth healthy season in a row.
I should just come clean and say I don’t really have much faith in Escobar as a long-term performer. He has a limp 34% hard-hit rate, and he started pulling the ball much more than ever before in 2021 (47.9% last season, 41.6% career). I think the thing that bothers me is that there’s nothing he does particularly well, as you can see below:
I realize he’s hit plenty of home runs in recent years, but it just screams to me that he’s a streaky and only slightly above average hitter. Combine that with the rough home park and widely inconsistent lineup (that could get crowded in a hurry) and you get someone that I’d draft in theory, and yet always somehow talk myself into someone else at a different position.
19. Luis Urías (Milwaukee Brewers) – Going from a 1.3% barrel rate in 2020 to a 9.3% barrel rate in 2021 is probably the easiest way to quantify his breakout in a single stat. Simply put, Urías went from a guy who made contact to a guy who made some good contact, and that’s meaningful! Some of the improvements appear to come from being more aggressive on the first pitch (18.3% swing rate in 2020, 30% in 2021)
It’s probably not great that he’s pretty rough defensively (bottom 1% of the league in Outs Above Average) and that he doesn’t really have a loud skill, and that’s what has him at the bottom of this tier. While hitting 20 home runs and stealing five bases with good plate discipline is pretty neat, I suspect he’ll spend a fair amount of time in the bottom third of the order on a Brewers team that doesn’t look nearly as fearsome offensively as recent iterations of the roster.
Urías is a fine replacement-level player in most 10- and 12-teamers, and players in deeper leagues will appreciate the plate appearances and secure role. His upside is lower than others in this tier, though, and that’s why he’s at the bottom.
20. Jeimer Candelario (Detroit Tigers) – Switch hitters who bat cleanup get plenty of chances to accumulate, and that’s something Jeimer can do in his sleep. Over his last 201 games, Jeimer has a respectable .278/.356/.458 while only striking out twice for each walk.
I really wish I could gas up one of my dear Tigers, especially one who has stepped up in a big way over the last two seasons and who will have a shot to drive 80 or more runners home if he can stay healthy. His upside remains capped, though, with a complete lack of speed and home run power that probably caps out in the high-teens. He’ll accumulate and pad your ratios, but not much else.
21. Alec Bohm (Philadelphia Phillies) – Post-hype sleeper much? Well, maybe, but maybe not. Bohm really struggled to get things going in 2021, finishing with an ISO south of .100 and just seven home runs in 115 games played. It’s hard to find a lot of good things Bohm was doing in the box last year, though by virtue of being the team’s third baseman of the future, he should start enough to maybe fill in on deeper 12-team leagues for a few weeks while you get your guys off the IL.
22. Cavan Biggio (Toronto Blue Jays) – Power, speed, takes walks, and multi-positional eligibility? It was that kind of brochure that got me heavily involved with Biggio in 2021, and it turned out to be as rough as a timeshare.
In a perfect world, Biggio would be blowing us away with a .375 OBP and 20-20 seasons hitting out of the two-hole, but alas, it was not to be. Biggio now finds himself in a likely platoon with whatever right-handed player they can finagle into the lineup that day, but the depth of the Blue Jays batting order should still give Biggio a chance to shine if he can find the talent he displayed in 2019. As you can see by my initial ranking, I’m not holding out much hope for anything above 15 home runs and a small bucket of steals, and really those will only be useful to those in very deep leagues or ones that use OBP, as his .224 batting average in 2021 is far from an anomaly for a guy with his profile.
23. Luis Arraez (Minnesota Twins) – I didn’t get to rank Arraez, who has always been a favorite of mine, at second base but luckily third is so thin at the bottom that I can basically pick whatever names I want! In all seriousness, Arraez is a very niche player to roster—he excels in points formats and batting average formats due to his insane contact ability, and while he probably doesn’t have double-digit power or speed, he can get close while scoring plenty of runs in a Twins offense that should be better than it was in 2021.
He certainly doesn’t need to be drafted in most 10- or 12-team leagues, but I always keep a guy like Arraez or David Fletcher on my watch list due to their versatility and, in most cases, reliability due to their ability to make contact and put the ball in play nearly every time they go up to the plate. The positional versatility can be really nice as well, especially in the heat of the summer as more and more roster attrition begins to make an impact.
24. Gio Urshela (New York Yankees) – 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.
Don’t get too excited, as he’ll hit ninth behind (gulp) Gary Sánchez, who hasn’t exactly been overly familiar with first base in recent years, but some key hits at the right moments along with some struggles from teammates like Gleyber Torres or health woes from Aaron Hicks could open up a higher spot in the order for Urshela, and with it, the keys to an RBI kingdom.
25. 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.
26. Yandy Díaz (Tampa Bay Rays) – His biceps are as big as cantaloupes, he walks as much as he strikes out, and he plays for one of MLB’s most successful organizations in recent history, but he’s stuck down here in the gutter until he gets that darn ball off the ground. We’ve been waiting on this for years.
27. Mike Moustakas (Cincinnati Reds) – I guess he’s healthy? Very little news on Moustakas, except of course for the fact that the defensive misfit may have found a home as a part-time fielder and part-time DH. If healthy and playing, Moose should clear 20 home runs with modest counting stats. It doesn’t do much for you in shallower leagues, but deep leaguers will likely enjoy this kind of value.
28. Hunter Dozier (Kansas City Royals) – After his 2021, Dozier’s breakout 2019 season where he posted a .279/.348/.522 slash line while smashing 26 home runs feels like a distant memory. The strikeouts got worse, the walks did too, and the now 30-year-old looked lost at the plate at times.
I still think there’s some upside with Dozier, with a good chance of beating his 16 home run total from last year. I also think he can bump up his .216 average, though I highly doubt he’ll hit the .279 he did in 2019. However, as long as he continues striking out over a quarter of his plate appearances, his ceiling will be relatively limited.
One note of optimism: after a brutal 56 wRC+ in the first half, Dozier posted a 109 wRC+ in the second half. A thumb injury at the beginning of the season led to changes in his swing, and it took a while for him to re-adjust. It could mean Dozier is a bit of a bounceback candidate, if not necessarily of league-winning caliber. Increased average and home runs will make him much more valuable, but he’ll remain capped by his strikeout woes. [Written by Dylan Burris]
29. Brian Anderson (Miami Marlins) – We didn’t see much of him in 2021, but Anderson has previously been as steady as they come in the middle of the order for a bad team. Nothing really blows you away, but he’ll rack up counting stats because someone in Miami has to play third. Modest power, decent contact ability. Nothing wrong with that.
30. Patrick Wisdom (Chicago Cubs) – Put him on your watchlist and see if he hits a bunch of home runs over the first week. If so, add him. If not, unwatch him. Wisdom isn’t likely to succeed the way he did in 2022 due to his extreme aggression at the plate, but every once in a while, guys like this catch fire (like he did in 2021) and start swatting. I’m there for it in deep leagues, I suppose.
Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)