With less than half the season left to play, there is still plenty of time to make big surge in your league standings. That means there is also plenty of time to throw away a lead that you have worked so hard to build. The second half is a different animal, dealing with the trade deadline, September call-ups, and decreasingly vigilant fantasy managers. Above all else, KEEP CHECKING YOUR TEAM!
These updated rankings should be a good refresher for anyone in any format league. The criteria for these rankings are a bit different than in the past, but they generally apply to any scoring or league type. The specific format they are based on is a 6x6 rotisserie league, with OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, R, NSB for batters and ERA, WHIP, IP, K, QS, SVHD for pitchers. There will be a more in depth article on why I believe this is the best format. The biggest differences are OBP and SLG instead of BAA, NSB (SB - CS) instead of SB, QS instead of W, and SVHD (SV + HD) instead of SV. Position eligibility is based on the ESPN standard. Certain players benefit from certain scoring types, so consider how differences in your league affect these rankings (For example, leagues without HD should generally not own non-closer RPs).
Here’s a brief overview of some notable players. If you want more in depth analysis on any specific players or have any other questions, let me know on twitter, instagram, or facebook @beattheshiftBP (u/beattheshiftBP on reddit)
Fernando Tatis Jr. (#4 SS, #18 overall)
Tatis is here, and in half a season I think he’s answered any questions we had about him entering the season. 55 games in, the 20 year old has a slashline of 327/393/620 with 14HR and 13SB. Even baking in some regression from a .419 BABIP and 29.8% HR/FB, he’s still on a 30HR 30SB pace for a full season and his pure hitting ability and speed suggest he can sustain a high BABIP. I believe he will be a first round pick for many years to come.
Yordan Alvarez (#12 OF, #32 overall)
This is the second aggressively ranked rookie on the list, but it’s for similar reasons as Tatis. I do not expect him to maintain a .400 BABIP and 31.8% HR/FB, but if anyone can its this 6’5” 225lb 22 year old monster. Hits in the middle of one of the best lineups in baseball, has an 11% walk rate consistent with his minor league numbers, and has power that can dwarf any ballpark. Similar to Tatis, minus the speed, this guy will stay at the top for a long time.
Shane Bieber (#9 SP, #39 overall)
Technically a break from rookies on this list, this 24 year old sophomore’s performance is better than anyone could have hoped. His 31.5% strikeout rate and 5.1% walk rate are among the best and his improved velocity and command are responsible. If anything, his ERA should be even better than the 3.45 he currently holds. The All Star Game MVP has an exciting future as a potential ace of an already stacked Indians rotation. Insert obligatory Justin Bieber song reference here.
Whit Merrifield (#7 2B, #18 OF, #62 overall)
This established fantasy stud is one example of a player who ranks worse on this particular list than in most leagues. The biggest reason is that the usually impressive batting average is not directly factored and his OBP is fairly pedestrian. He is also one of the few high end SB sources, but he’s actually only accumulated 6 NSB (13SB - 7CS). In a traditional roto format, he’s in the top 3-4 rounds for sure. But in any points leagues or more advanced categories leagues, he’s just pretty good.
Dansby Swanson (#16 SS, #99 overall)
One of the most underappreciated storylines in baseball is the emergence of the former #1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson. The 25 year old has notched 17 HR at the All Star break, which is already 3 more than his previous highest 14 HR last season. What’s most impressive is that he’s made this leap without sacrificing his plate discipline. He hits second for the Braves every day, steals some bases, and now possesses 30 HR power.
Taylor Rogers (#12 RP, #113 overall)
Another undervalued player in most leagues is Taylor Rogers, or as I like to call him, Josh Hader lite. He has taken over the closer role for the Twins, if you didn’t already know, and he still throws multiple innings out of the pen. He has a 31.9% strikeout rate and 4.4% walk rate to go along with 21 SVHD (12 SV + 9 HD). Even if the Twins acquire another closer at the break, Rogers will provide high quality innings and still rack up the holds at the very least.
Brendan McKay (#53 SP, #180 overall)
Starting pitcher has been one of the worst and most difficult positions to rank this season. By this point, you are already dealing with shakey guys like Robbie Ray and Marcus Stroman, so you might as well take the hard throwing lefty Rays prospect because they seem to have a pretty high success rate. McKay has had very good minor league numbers this season and, as an added bonus, he’ll probably take some at bats at DH. Don’t expect much from the bat, but a 2-way player is a 2-way player.
Zac Gallen (#65 SP, #237 overall)
Very similar to McKay, but he is especially relevant since the Marlins announced he will stay in the rotation to start the second half. Nice and clean AAA numbers this season and he pitches in a very pitcher friendly home park. Look for plenty of quality starts from Gallen, but have caution with him if your league uses wins because the Marlins are… well you know.
Chance Sisco (#15 C, #261 overall)
Catcher is the worst position in baseball and we are well past the must start tier, but I wanted to include 30 catchers in my top 300 for the niche 2 catcher league crowd. Sisco has a Chance to become a top catcher though and has flown under the radar so far with a .394 OBP and .667 SLG this season. He could be a real difference maker seeing his playing time increase and recent hot streak. It’s not impossible that the former top catching prospect has figured things out.