Fantasy Baseball Category Power Rankings 5/17

Power rankings for every fantasy-relevant category.

Whether it’s early in the season, the middle of July, or late in the year, it’s always good to know where you stand in your Roto league.

Of course, perusing your league’s standings accomplishes that fairly quickly. However, numbers can often be misleading. Is your team producing at the level it should be as a league leader compared to the vast majority of other Roto leagues?

Are there underperforming players on your team, or available via waivers each week that could help you significantly in specific, or multiple, categories moving forward? This column aims to, and will, answer all those questions on a weekly basis, regardless of league size.

Essentially, it’s an almanac for Roto leagues and NFBC or TGFBI leagues, showing you not only the watermarks your team should be hitting category-wise to be truly elite but also the specific players that will help you get there. What’s more, it’ll also cover the top performers in each category, as well as some under-the-radar options for each metric as well.




A couple of quick notes before we begin, for metrics like ERA, WHIP, batting average, and on-base percentage, only qualified or close to qualified pitchers and hitters (respectively) were considered, especially at this time of year with smaller sample sizes running rampant.

Additionally, all rostered rate numbers are via FantasyPros. Furthermore, in part due to NFBC leagues, all stats (as well as the rostered data) are via the previous week’s Sunday.

All the data in terms of Roto league production is from last year’s numbers.


Where You Should Be Producing In Each Category


Below is data for both 15-team and 12-team Roto leagues from last season and the average statistical totals that each placed team finished with. This is for the entirety of a season. Basically, if you want to do well in these two formats, these are the season-long watermarks to shoot for.

There’s also SGP data for both 15-team and 12-team formats.

Before we get any further, a massive thank you to Pitcher List Director of Data Analytics and Research Kyle Bland for getting a hold of the data.

And now, without further ado, the 15-team data, which comes from 2023 TGFBI leagues:


15-Team Leagues


(Quick reminder, the far left-hand column is where the team finished in the standings.)



And here’s the 15-team, SGP data:



12-Team Leagues



And now for the 12-team, SGP data:




Category Power Rankings


Batting Average (AVG)





Of Note: Jeremy Peña.

Pena has thrived at the plate to start his third Major League season, hitting .340 with a .384 on-base percentage in his first 164 plate appearances, while adding four home runs, 11 total extra-base hits, and a pair of stolen bases for the American League West club.

It represents the beginnings of a nice bounce-back campaign after Pena hit .263 with a .324 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, and 13 stolen bases in 634 plate appearances for Houston last season.

It’s just a shame the Astros lineup has struggled at times to score runs.

Generally a staple near the top of the league leaderboard in runs scored during the team’s run of success, Houston has been decidedly more middle of the pack in 2024, with 13 teams outscoring the Astros as of the beginning of play on Monday.

Ideally, Pena’s improved production would come hitting in a better overall lineup, especially as he’s recently moved from the bottom third of the order to regularly hitting among the first five spots in Houston’s batting order. If he can move from hitting after Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman to somewhere amongst the quartet of hitters, it’d raise Pena’s fantasy ceiling considerably from a counting standpoint.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Connor Wong.

There’s some real unsustainability to Connor Wong’s production so far. Yes, he’s hitting .348 in his first 95 plate appearances with five home runs, but he’s also doing so with an eye-watering .400 BABIP.

Lower walk and strikeout rates (3.2% and 21.1% respectively) certainly help the BABIP to a degree, but Wong’s strikeout rate might not be low enough to sustain this type of overall production. Just 15 qualified hitters logged a BABIP over even .340 last season, and while nine of them had strikeout rates above 20%, maintaining such a high BABIP for the entirety of a season isn’t the most common thing in the world.

Furthermore, Wong isn’t overwhelming with quality of contact metrics, and thus power production, to potentially help offset any drop in overall production should his BABIP even out.

The catcher’s xwOBA is hovering around .300 and he’s managed just a 5.7% barrel rate and a 34.3% hard-hit rate so far.


On-Base Percentage (OBP)





Of Note: Christian Walker.

Walker has arguably fantasy baseball’s best first baseman so far this season, which is notable both based on the depth of talent at the position in the form of established stars (Freddie Freeman and Bryce Harper) and breakout hitters (Alec Bohm, Josh Naylor, and Spencer Steer) alike having strong seasons, as well as the fact that Walker has been just that good so far.

Walker’s .265 average is right in line with his .258 metric from last season, but he’s drawing walks much more often, with a walk rate at 14.0% up from 9.4%. More barrels more often certainly helps from a fantasy standpoint as well. Walker’s 19 barrels and 17.6% barrel rate so far have him on track to easily top last year’s metrics (53 barrels and an 11.4% barrel rate).

Last year, it should be noted, Walker hit 33 home runs, stole 11 bases, and added 86 runs scored and 103 RBI in 661 plate appearances.

And oh yeah, his xwOBA is very quickly approaching the .400 mark.

The first baseman has been a quality power hitter for years and is more than established at the Major League level, so tabbing this a “breakout season” doesn’t quite fit. More apt is the simple fact that Walker has gotten even better this season.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Jacob Stallings.

More of a deeper league option given the presence of Elias Díaz behind the plate in Colorado, Stallings has nonetheless been plenty productive in his first season with the Rockies. The veteran is hitting .326 with a .412 on-base percentage and a pair of home runs in 51 plate appearances. He’s also chipped in with four barrels and an 11.4% barrel rate on 35 batted ball events.

We’re still dealing with small sample sizes here with Stallings, but it’s worth noting that the catcher is hitting just .200 with a .050 ISO and a .542 OPS at home this season. It’s a 24-plate appearance sample size, but those numbers seem all but guaranteed to improve, especially if his home strikeout rate (29.2%) moves much closer to his season-long number (17.8%) and career number (21.6%).


Home Runs (HR)





Of Note: Brent Rooker.

Arguably baseball’s most in-form hitter, the slugger connected on five home runs in his first 44 plate appearances in May, while hitting .447 with an assortment of other gaudy metrics, including but not limited to a .474 ISO, a .601 wOBA, a 304 wRC+ and a .921 slugging percentage.

Rooker crushed 30 home runs last season, so the sudden power surge isn’t too surprising, but it’s worth watching as the season progresses if the A’s end up trading him. Of course, that’s all entirely speculative, but Rooker’s fantasy outlook would go from good to great in a better lineup in a more hitter-friendly ballpark.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Jo Adell

One of the season’s breakout hitters so far, Adell’s surface-level numbers don’t quite match up with his excellent quality of contact metrics yet. But that’s the operative word there. Yet.

The outfielder has been close to a top-100 overall player in a number of formats so far and has a real chance to finish near the top 50 if he keeps making this kind of contact. And if the first month plus of the season is any indication, he will, because the breakout looks very much legitimate.


Runs Scored (R)





Of Note: Luis Arraez.

Arraez’s recent trade from the Miami Marlins to the San Diego Padres probably didn’t do much to help his potential power production given the extremely pitcher-friendly nature of Petco Park. That he’s hitting leadoff regularly in San Diego probably limits his RBI upside as well.

And while solid production in those categories from Arraez is probably icing on the cake, fantasy managers probably drafted him for strong batting average and (to a degree) runs scored tallies. The trade to San Diego certainly doesn’t hurt either. In fact, it should help the latter in a significant way given how the Padres’ quartet of Fernando Tatis Jr., Jake Cronenworth, Manny Machado, and Jurickson Profar have performed this season.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Leody Taveras.

Taveras hasn’t quite been as molten-hot as Rooker has been at the dish lately, but he’s been reasonably close.

The Rangers outfielder hit .333 with a .435 on-base percentage, two home runs, and a pair of stolen bases in his first 46 plate appearances this month.

The hot streak certainly helped overturn a poor statistical start to the season, as the 25-year-old was hitting just .226 with a .280 on-base percentage and a 74 wRC+ prior to the calendar turning to May.

With overall quality of contact metrics that lean more league average than above-average, it remains to be seen if Taveras will continue this kind of form at the plate. And that’s all without mentioning how much his playing time will be impacted once Wyatt Langford returns from the injured list.

Regardless, Taveras makes for a solid streaming option in most leagues at the moment, he just might not be a long-term fantasy solution this season.







Of Note: Jake Cronenworth.

Speaking of the Padres’ best hitters, it’s tough to ignore just how impactful Jake Cronenworth has been for the National League West club this season.

Routinely hitting third for a lineup that has scored the fifth-most runs in the league, Cronenworth has kept that spot in the lineup despite Arraez’s arrival and subsequent entrenchment as the team’s leadoff hitter.

Hitting .285 with a .349 on-base percentage in his first 172 plate appearances, the infielder has a real shot at shattering his previous career high for barrels, which for reference, is 35.

The veteran already has 14 this season and is just two off of equaling his 2023 total of 16 from 522 plate appearances. Elsewhere, he’s sporting an xwOBA north of .370 with whiff rates and strikeout rates below 20% each. He’s a must-start moving forward for fantasy managers moving forward.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Luis Garcia Jr.

A deep-league waiver wire option nearly a month ago, Garcia Jr. is still rostered in far too few leagues. His rostered rate was at 3% on April 20. It’s at 10% now.

Realistically, it should be both those numbers added together. Multiplied. Multiplied then add the 3% and the 10% again.

Because all he’s done is continue to produce.

Do you play in a standard-scoring league? Garcia’s got you covered there with a .297 batting average. What about leagues where on-base percentage is utilized? Garcia Jr. has you there as well, with a .346 number. He’s provided both quality stolen base (seven) and RBI (20) tallies while also posting a 10.6% barrel rate to go along with a hard-hit rate (47.9%) that’s ever so close to 50.0%.

What’s more, he’s also routinely hitting in the top half of the Nationals lineup as of April 15 onwards. And while the Nationals’ lineup might not be as prolific as those in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or San Diego, more plate appearances can only be a good thing for Garcia Jr., particularly if he’s hitting anywhere Jesse Winker (.350 on-base percentage) and CJ Abrams (.857 OPS, 138 wRC+).


Stolen Bases (SB)





Of Note: Will Benson.

Benson, per usual, is walking at a double-digit rate, though his overall (.285) on-base percentage isn’t quite on par with his .365 metric from last season. A .313 BABIP that’s staring at a similar gap when compared to his 2023 BABIP (.391) is probably playing a part here.

And while Benson’s 39.6% strikeout rate might hinder a sudden, BABIP-induced bit of positive regression where his batting average and on-base percentage are concerned, the outfielder is making the most of his time on base this season, with eight stolen bases already, close to half of his 2023 total (19).

The strikeouts are concerning, but if Benson can pare back the strikeouts and see his BABIP rise, his stolen base totals should only benefit.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Trey Lipscomb.

Like Benson, Lipscomb has taken full advantage of his time on the base paths (and his playing time in general) to make an early impact for his club.

The 23-year-old is hitting .237 with a .318 on-base percentage, a home run, and seven stolen bases in 111 plate appearances for the National League East franchise. He’s a bit like teammate Jacob Young, but only with infield fantasy eligibility, in that, he’s a solid source of stolen base production, isn’t going to strike out a lot (16.2% strikeout rate), but isn’t going to hit for significant power (one barrel, 29.6% hard-hit rate) either.

With that in mind, he makes for a quality streaming option for fantasy managers in deeper leagues, particularly Roto formats, where he can add value with stolen bases. Just don’t expect too much production in other categories.




Strikeouts (K)





Of Note: Michael King.

King has looked excellent at times this season, throwing at least six shutout innings on three different occasions, and reaching double-digit strikeouts in an outing twice. The former Yankee’s recent outing ticked both of those boxes, as he scattered three walks and a couple of hits in seven shutout innings while striking out 11 Los Angeles Dodgers batters en route to posting a 44% CSW rate. It marked the second straight start in which King hasn’t allowed a run, earned or otherwise.

The flip side of that coin is that the hurler has struggled immensely at times in other outings. From April 12 through April 28 he pitched to a 6.23 ERA and a 7.01 FIP in 21.2 frames of work spanning four starts. He surrendered 22 hits, 15 earned runs, 10 walks, and eight home runs during that span, including two starts in which he allowed three home runs each.

In fact, that four-start stretch actually included one of King’s best starts as a member of the Padres so far. King struck out 10 in 7.2 innings in Milwaukee on April 17, allowing two hits, two walks, and an earned run.

As of now, King is still an option to start most outings in head-to-head formats, but his struggles make for a slightly more tricky proposition in Roto leagues where a handful of poor outings can significantly hamper a team’s fantasy championship aspirations.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: MacKenzie Gore.

One of fantasy baseball’s most underrated starters so far, Gore is quietly in the midst of an excellent season for the Nationals. We’ll get to the surface-level stuff in a moment, but the starter’s ability to both miss bats at an elite rate while limiting walks gives him a strong fantasy floor.

Gore, among starters with a minimum of 40 innings pitched as of Sunday night, was one of just 13 starters in the league to post a strikeout rate above 26% and a walk rate south of the 8.0% mark. (For reference, the Washington starter’s respective strikeout and walk rates are 29.0% and 7.4%).

The other starters? Cole Ragans, Shota Imanaga, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Bailey Ober, Chris Sale, Tarik Skubal, Pablo López, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Jack Flaherty, Tyler Glasnow, Jared Jones, and Garrett Crochett. Pretty good company to keep.

Extend that criterion to include a FIP below the 3.00 mark (which Gore has at 2.76) and the list pares down to the Nationals hurler plus Glasnow, Flaherty, Ryan, Gray, Skubal, Sale, Imanaga, and Ragans.

If anyone in this column exemplifies as an immediate, priority add, it’s Gore.

Overall, the 25-year-old has logged a 3.38 ERA and the aforementioned 2.76 FIP in 40 innings, but he’s been even better than the ERA would suggest. Furthermore, and in fun fact news, Gore also ranked in the top six in the league in both Stuff+ and Pitching+ prior to the start of play on Monday, per FanGraphs. Only four other starts could claim the same: Jones, Dylan Cease, Corbin Burnes, and Glasnow.







Of Note: Jordan Hicks.

The high strikeout tallies haven’t followed Jordan Hicks from the bullpen to the rotation. He’s struck out just 7.33 batters per nine frames in his first eight starts (43 innings). However, Hicks’ ground ball rate is, to loosely quote Talking Heads, same as it ever was. The 27-year-old is posting a 55.8% ground ball rate so far this season, down just 3.1% from his 2023 metric.

That sky-high ground ball rate has helped keep runs off the board, as well as keeping the ball in the yard. Hicks’ home-runs-per-nine-inning rate sits at a pristine 0.21 after 43 innings.

He doesn’t quite have the stellar walks-per-nine innings rate of George Kirby in years past, but he’s similar to Kirby in years past in that the current Giants starter can help season-long ERA and WHIP numbers in Roto leagues down, especially when paired with higher strikeout starters.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Cooper Criswell.

Criswell probably hasn’t been quite as effective as his ERA might indicate. He’s gotten a bit lucky on batted balls (.258 BABIP) and has logged just a 20.8% whiff rate while allowing an 8.6% barrel rate. There’s also a 3.91 FIP.

Still, Crisewll is doing well enough in terms of limiting walks (5.0% walk rate) and quality contact (.299 xwOBA, .371 xwOBAcon, 37.1% hard-hit rate) to be more than just a useful streaming option moving forward. He should be rostered in all 14-team (or larger) leagues and most 12-team leagues.


Wins (W)





Of Note: Reed Garrett.

Garrett was mentioned in this column last month for sitting atop the next leaderboard. More specifically, that was on April 26. Since then, Garrett has continued to rack up fantasy-relevant counting stats while also chipping in with above-average strikeout rates.

In 8.1 innings since April 26, Garrett has a pitcher win and three holds in eight scoreless appearances, striking out 10 of the 32 batters he’s faced in 8.1 innings.

With an overall 42.7% strikeout rate and a 43.4% whiff rate, the fact that he’s yet to allow a barrel this season, and the constant wins, holds, and occasional saves, Garrett might be fantasy’s best non-closing reliever at the moment.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Logan Allen.

Similar to James Paxton, Logan Allen’s pitcher win total has benefited immensely from the run support of a top-1o, run-scoring lineup. Allen was excellent in his most recent game, scattering six hits and a walk in six shutout innings while striking out three batters in a win over the Chicago White Sox.

The only thing to note here with Allen is that three of his four pitcher wins have either come against the White Sox or A’s, two teams that sit in the bottom third of the league in runs scored. The White Sox entered play Monday having scored 17 runs fewer than the next lowest-scoring team.

With a 5.56 ERA, a 5.25 FIP, and a .337 xwOBA against this season, Allen is only a streaming option in the right matchups for fantasy managers in deeper leagues at the moment.


Quality Starts (QS)





Of Note: Cole Ragans.

Cole Ragans‘ last start was… not good.

The right-hander was tagged for eight hits and seven earned runs in 6.1 innings against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing a home run and a walk in 6.1 innings while striking out three. It was the second time this season that Ragans has allowed seven earned runs in a start.

They’re different pitchers with different pitch arsenals, but it is starting to feel a bit like Kevin Gausman last season in that Gausman was hit hard in a handful of starts but was stellar in the rest.

The same has been true of Ragans so far. In his other seven outings, the starter has allowed two earned runs or fewer six times. The only time he didn’t give up two or fewer runs in a start in those outings… he gave up three.

Ragans has also struck out at least seven batters five times, topping out at nine strikeouts in a pair of starts.

That Angels start may have actually come at an ideal time for some fantasy managers looking to acquire Ragans. The manager with Ragans on their roster might not be entirely enthused after another seven-run outing (technically the second in his last six starts). If that’s the case, now’s the time to begin trade discussions, because Ragans at worst should be a top-20 fantasy starter the rest of the way.

Did I mention his 2.64 FIP? Yeah, now’s the time to work out a trade.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Brandon Pfaadt.

It turns out that limiting walks is good for starting pitchers. Who would’ve thought, right?

That’s what’s been the key to Pfaadt’s success so far. At times he’s missed bats at a quality rate, striking out at least six batters in four of his eight starts, including an 11-strikeout performance in Seattle against the Mariners.

Other times, like, specifically, the other four starts, he hasn’t missed as many bats. In those four outings, Pfaadt has 12 punchouts in 23.1 innings, including an outing in Baltimore in which he didn’t strike out a single batter and registered a 4.5% swinging strike rate.

The underlying theme, though, has been a lack of walks.

Pfaadt has just a 4.0% walk rate so far. In 47 innings of work, he’s walked eight more batters in the Majors this season than you have. It’s a tiny number. And it’s also one key reason why Pfaadt’s FIP (3.37) is so low. There’s also an identical 3.37 xERA as well. At any rate, he’s been better than his 4.60 ERA would indicate.

With a low walk rate, a bloated and misleading ERA, and a home-runs-per-nine-inning rate at just 0.96, Pfaadt makes for an ideal trade target who could pay significant dividends later in the season for fantasy managers.


Saves (SV)





Of Note: Kyle Finnegan.

Fellow Nationals reliever Hunter Harvey looked like an ideal early-season trade candidate for fantasy managers due to not only the fact that he was pitching well, but that Finnegan, Washington’s current closer, seems like a candidate for some regression in the near future.

It’s nearly a month later, and a lot of that thought process still applies.

Look past Finnegan’s 1.65 ERA and 12 saves and you’ll see a 4.23 FIP, a .114 (!) BABIP, a 13.1% walk rate and 1.10 home runs allowed per nine innings.

It just seems incredibly unlikely that Finnegan’s ERA will stay this low. And yet, he’s scattered three walks and no hits in his last 11 innings as of the end of play on Sunday.

The ideal move would be to trade Finnegan and a bench bat for the next player mentioned after the following table and an upgrade elsewhere on your roster.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: James McArthur.

McArthur’s lower rostered rate is, in a few words, too low. That he’s lingered on this specific leaderboard is slightly odd, all things considered. He’s had his poor outings like any closer, but the 27-year-old looks locked in as the Royals’ closer, and with saves in such high demand, you’d expect McCarthur’s rostered rate to be circling more around the 60% mark than what it is now.

A 4.42 ERA won’t overly excite, but a .358 BABIP, a 14.1% swinging strike percentage, and a 51.8% ground ball rate provide plenty of optimism here. As long as the Royals continue their winning ways, McCarthur has top-12 upside at the position.







Of Note: Goerge Kirby.

Like so many starting pitchers, or just pitchers in general, one or two bad outings can mar season-long metrics for weeks or even months after the fact.

That looked like it could’ve been the case with Kirby, who was tagged for 18 hits and 13 earned runs in his second and third starts, striking out just five batters in 7.2 total innings.

For a pitcher who’s never overwhelmed with strikeout numbers, it was an unideal pair of starts. Placed early in the season, it may have caused some initial panic.

Those starts both came in the first half of April. More than a month later, there’s not really any cause for further panic. Quite the opposite actually. Thanks to a strong run of form in his next five starts, Kirby has lowered his season-long FIP to 2.97. He’s struck out 32 batters compared to just three walks allowed in 29 innings of work from April 15 through May 8, once again reaffirming his status as a top-15 fantasy starter.

The window to try and make a trade with a fantasy manager nervous about Kirby’s uneven second and third starts is probably closed, but the Mariners hurler looks to be officially back.


Rostered in 50% or Fewer Leagues



Of Note: Spencer Turnbull.

Spencer Turnbull’s name surfaces here largely due to the fact that he was dropped in a significant number of leagues after the Phillies moved him to the bullpen.

If you’ve got the bench space to spare, now’s the time to add Turnbull for later. He should still provide enough useful innings out of the bullpen to chip in with strikeouts while keeping ERA and WHIP totals down, but the real upside here is once the former Tiger returns to the rotation.

Whether it’s due to injury or ineffectiveness, or the Phillies being comfortable with giving Turnbull more innings as a starter, he’s simply too good not to return to starting at any point this year.

The 31-year-old logged a 1.67 ERA and a 3.13 FIP as a starter while holding batters to a .226 wOBA and a .489 wOBA. His strikeout and walk rates as a starter are, for the time being, 28.3% and 7.9%, respectively.

Starters with that type of fantasy impact potential usually only appear on waiver wires in deeper leagues in the first week or two of the season before they have a track record of just how effective they are. Particularly if options are thin on the ground in terms of available pitchers, now’s the time for fantasy managers to add Turnbull.



Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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