Author’s Note: I realize that last week this was also listed as Week 16, but I accidentally messed up the numbering a few weeks ago so this is how I am fixing it.
Let’s get some basics out of the way regarding how to interpret these rankings. None of this stuff should come as any major surprise, but it never hurts to provide background:
- Once again, no changes.
- Corbin Carroll has slowed down a bit, but not enough for me to take him out of my Top 20. Keep in mind, though, that he’s never played a full 162-game season and the wear and tear is a real thing. If Carroll has a somewhat disappointing second half, it’s more likely due to that than it is talent regression.
- Whoa, a change! Yordan Alvarez moves up slightly as he gets closer to his return to the lineup.
- I can’t say it enough—this is not a “sell-high” window for Machado. It’s what Machado really is. I would not want anyone below Tier 4 (save for maybe Elly De La Cruz if I was a big EDLC fan) in exchange for Manny.
- Austin Riley was slumping a bit, but two home runs and a double in one night is exactly the kind of thing I needed to be reminded that he’s got huge power. I expect a big second half from Riley.
- Elly De La Cruz is going to be a roller coaster all season due to the still-in-development hit tool. You really have to take it one series at a time, as teams are going to keep giving him new looks until they figure out something that works. It’s cool to see him leading off, though!
- Nick Castellanos is struggling lately, but he still looks like Nick Castellanos. I don’t see him falling back into whatever horrible thing he had in 2022.
- No changes, but I’m still a firm believer in Josh Jung as a Top-50 hitter for the rest of the season. Yes, the 42.6% strikeout rate and measly 5.0% walk rate over his last 24 games is alarming, but that’s why he’s at the back of the Top 50 and not in the 30s. I believe the adjustment is coming and think this is a good buy-low opportunity.
- No home runs or steals for Luis Arraez this month, and his value is really dependent on your league and format. He’s a monster in points leagues, and would be 10+ spots higher if these ranks were for standard-ish points formats (not that there even really IS a standard anymore).
- Eloy Jiménez not going on the IL is almost as frustrating as a trip to the IL. His rank falls not because I think this specific injury will cost him much time, but because I grow weary of managing a guy who just can’t stay on the field consistently.
- Cedric Mullins is back on the IL with a groin issue. Expect his rank to move again when we get a decent timeline for his return.
- Teoscar Hernández is ice cold lately and I think we just have to accept that he’s going to be a really streaky power hitter at this point.
- Andrés Giménez is having an outstanding July, with three home runs and seven steals – it has nearly doubled his season total in both categories. I wasnt to believe this is the real Andrés Giménez, but with how bad he looked early on and how abrupt the stolen base surge was, I am going to be more patient before another move upward.
- Josh Naylor might be unlocking some of that power that for so long has been stymied by his high ground-ball rates. He’s kept a sub-40% ground-ball rate so far, and that’s key for a power hitter as your power doesn’t really matter when you’re hitting the ball into the dirt. Naylor isn’t likely to be a 30 home run guy nor is he likely to finish as a .300 hitter, but he should be a plus in both categories going forward. If the ground-ball rate jumps back to 45-50% again, though, my opinion will change quite quickly.
- Spencer Steer has been struggling, and the promotion of Christian Encarnacion-Strand puts pressure on Steer to keep producing, as there are only so many spots in the corners available and the Reds have a very crowded roster when it comes to corner infielders and outfielders.
- Bryan Reynolds, why are you continuing to break my heart like this? I believe a trade is very unlikely, but this seems like a guy who could use some kind of change to get him going.
- Daulton Varsho takes a big fall as he continues to look lost at the plate, but long term I think he finds a way to turn it back around. If it wasn’t for that catcher eligibility, he’d be off the list (the replacement level for outfielders in 12-teamers is just so much higher than catcher).
- Brandon Nimmo is walking again and striking out less, but the production is down too. What a strange season it has been for him.
- You knew I’d be excited about Spencer Torkelson, and if you didn’t, you know now. Torkelson hasn’t ever really had a discipline problem, just a quality of contact problem. With six home runs and 11 total extra base hits in his last 16 games (thanks in part to a 93.8 mph average exit velocity in that span), I think we are seeing Torkelson find ways to get the barrel of the bat on more pitches. I think he could still make a push to finish the season with 25 home runs, and he could threaten 30 as early as next season.
- Jeremy Peña might be more boring than I hoped, from a fantasy perspective. Maybe he’s just an 18-20 home run, 13-15 stolen base guy with bad ratios. There’s a place for that on lots of rosters in deeper formats, but not in shallow ones.
- Would it really be that odd if Carlos Correa exploded in the second half to make us all fall in love again?
- Francisco Alvarez has even more power than I realized, and he’s made adjustments much more quickly than I thought he would. Some slumps are still likely to come, but this hot streak and the impressive power Alvarez has shown during it leads me to believe that he has a top-five catcher ceiling.
- Henry Davis may not catch enough to earn that eligibility in 2024 (which is a bummer), but he’s got it right now and that’s what matters. Davis’s power doesn’t quite measure up to Alvarez, but it’s still quite prodigious, and also Davis has some wheels! The plate discipline has improved dramatically of late (see below), and I think Davis is a tweak or two away from unlocking more of that power and being a solid starting catcher down the stretch.
- Ezequiel Tovar is in a bit of a slump, but he’s still making some contact so I’m willing to be patient for a while longer because the combination of hit tool, speed, and Coors Field is very intriguing to me.
- Brandon Drury is progressing a little more slowly than I thought.
- Ezequiel Duran has struggled mightily in July, slashing just .175/.190/.300 with a 40.5% strikeout rate and a 2.4% walk rate. While I wasn’t concerned enough about similar plate discipline with teammate Josh Jung, I am with Duran because Duran doesn’t have even close to the same upside with the bat as Jung, nor does Duran hit in the heart of the lineup.
- CJ Abrams is being allowed to run, which kind of comes out of nowhere as the Nationals didn’t seem that interested in letting him do that for most of the season. He has eight steals in his last nine games (he had just nine steals in the 77 games prior) along with 10 runs scored and a .351 batting average. Abrams was a highly touted prospect at one point (he was a key piece in the Juan Soto trade), and while he’s yet to live up to that hype, I am thrilled to see Abrams making contact, leading off, and stealing bases. There’s risk here that the hit tool falters again and leads to too much weak contact, but there’s just as much of a chance that Abrams is finally adjusting to MLB pitching and will be able to slap the ball well enough to make an impact.
- Well, let’s see how long Jarren Duran can keep it up! He’s leading off now, and while there’s a possibility that Alex Verdugo will go back to that role and Duran will be sent to the bottom of the order, that hasn’t happened as of yet so we can hold out hope that it doesn’t.
- You can stop scrolling, you found the Christian Encarnacion-Strand write-up you were looking for. It’s hard to pass too much judgement yet, as it remains to be seen exactly how often they can get CES’s bat in the lineup. Strand struggled in Triple-A throughout June, but really turned it on over his last 13 games prior to the call-up, showing excellent plate discipline along with a 1.117 OPS. On a per-plate-appearance basis, I think Encarnacion-Strand has a chance to be a Top-12 to Top-15 first or third baseman right out of the gate, but it will require him to quickly adjust to MLB pitchers to avoid strikeout rate spikes (something he struggled with at times in the minors). Until we see a path towards playing in 80% or more of his teams games, though, it’s hard to rank him too high overall due to the fact that he might have 80-100 fewer plate appearances than his peers.
- Giancarlo Stanton came out of the break hot, but it might have just been Coors.
- Christopher Morel’s strikeout issues are back.
- Mickey Moniak is putting up great results, but it’s hard to continue with those kinds of results when you have such rough plate discipline. I believe the batting average is being propped up by a high line drive rate (25.2%, a difficult number to sustain) and his extreme fly ball nature will likely make that batting average a tough pill to swallow. He can hit home runs and is in a good lineup spot, though, so he’s worth streaming to see if Moniak can keep producing when the line drive rate regresses back to a sustainable number.
- Anthony Rizzo did not appear to make an adjustment over the break, unfortunately. How was he so good in the first two months and so bad lately? Yikes.
- Ty France has a much lower ceiling than Rizzo, so this felt like a good place to park him for now.
- Ryan Mountcastle has been held out of the lineup a few times lately, but with Mullins hitting the IL he may get to play a bit more.
- I never liked Marcell Ozuna that much anyway. Just stream him on and off the roster if you want to use his power.
- TJ Friedl is finding the batted ball luck can’t last forever, and I’m not sure he has enough ability to overcome bad or neutral luck.
- Kerry Carpenter is a platoon guy right now, but the power is real and he’s a good streamer against vulnerable righties.
- Oswald Peraza is up and leading off. The Yankees are dying to find someone to keep that role this season, so hopefully Peraza gets a long leash.
And now, once again, it’s time for the Hitter List: