Hitter List 8/11 – Ranking the Top 150 Hitters for 2021

Ranking the top 150 hitters for fantasy baseball every week of the year

Hello, and welcome back to Hitter List, where every week during the regular season I’ll be sharing updated rankings for the top 150 hitters in baseball. These rankings are geared toward standard, daily, 12-team H2H leagues, as that is typically the most popular fantasy baseball format. They will only factor in the five standard categories: Runs, RBI, Home Runs, Batting Average, and Stolen Bases.

First, let’s get some basics out of the way:


  • I would recommend not paying super close attention to the specific ranks of each player, and honing in more on the respective tiers that they’re in. Each tier represents a grouping of players that I think could arguably perform at a similar level, and/or carry similar levels of risk in terms of injury concerns or playing time obstacles. If Player X is ranked at #55 and Player Y is ranked at #65, but they’re in the same tier, it means that I personally like Player X a lot better, but think there’s a valid argument to be made for Player Y performing just as well.


  • Player movement (+/-) can be influenced by the movement of players around them in the ranks. You may see a player rise a few spots despite a poor performance, or drop a few spots despite a great performance. This can happen when players above them are moved below them, or vice versa. It could also be the result of injured players returning to the list after coming off the IL, or dropping off the list when they hit the IL. Just something to be conscious of if you see a change that doesn’t initially make a ton of sense.


  • Any player currently on the IL or not in the majors is removed from the list.


  • Hopefully it goes without saying, but these rankings aren’t an exact science. Every person’s rankings are influenced by their own biases, strategic philosophies, determinations of risk, and projections. It’s why no two rankings are ever exactly alike. My way of evaluating and ranking players has worked out well for me over the years, but it might not be a great fit for you. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and that what makes the game so fun. Please keep that in mind before eviscerating my fragile mental health in the comments.


And now a couple of notes on how I generally evaluate hitters before we dive in:


  • I’ve typically weighed stolen bases pretty heavily, but I’ve gradually learned to value the stat less and less over the years. I’m hoping to continue to move in that direction this year, with one caveat: I still think players with truly elite speed (e.g. Trea Turner and Adalberto Mondesí) are worth their weight in gold. As stolen bases have plummeted in recent years, and previous world-class speedsters like Mallex Smith, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Jonathan Villar currently find themselves with declining skillsets and/or no path to full-time at-bats, players who can swipe 30+ bags have become a true rarity. Getting that kind of stolen base output from one lineup slot allows you so much more flexibility in how you put together the rest of your team, and I think that can really give you an edge when it comes to roster construction.


  • Batted ball quality is huge for me (as I’m sure it is for most people). Every year the industry takes further strides in how it evaluates contact quality and its relationship with launch angle. Looking at quality of contact in conjunction with a hitter’s plate discipline, contact ability, spray charts, and batted ball tendencies is really where the meat of my player analysis tends to take place.


  • Considering the format that these rankings cater towards (standard 12-team H2H), I generally think streaming catchers is a viable strategy, and as a result I’m a bit lower than most on the mid-tier options. That said, a catcher like J.T. Realmuto is essentially in a tier of his own, and as a result I think rostering him gives you a significant edge over your competitors. With this position in particular, I weigh ceiling significantly more than floor.


  • I hate kids. As exciting as it is to own a young prospect right as he’s breaking out, I’ve found that trying to pinpoint which prospect will take off and when is a complete crapshoot, and can oftentimes result in spending a lot of playing time and FAAB on young players who don’t return much value. As a result, I tend to lean towards veteran hitters with longer track records.


  • If you’d like input on a player or have any feedback, your best bet is to reach out to me on Twitter (@JonMetzelaar). I try my best to respond to comments here, but Twitter is much more accessible for me, and the best place to get in touch for time-sensitive questions.


Ranking Notes

  • There’s a good bit of movement this week as highly-ranked hitters like Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, and Nick Castellanos made their returns. With about six weeks left to go in the regular season, we’re also entering the point in the year where recent performance starts to trump track record and pedigree. With only a few dozen games left, the prospect of getting burned by dropping a Moncada or a Yelich is diminished, and there’s actually a decent chance that streaming hot, lesser-owned bats the rest of the way will return more value.


  • I was a little curious whether J.D. Martinez jamming his wrist back on June 5 was the reason his power has dipped in recent months. He’s hit nine homers in the 52 games since the injury–not bad at all, but not quite the 40-homer pace we’ve come to expect from peak Martinez. The good news is that, while his power and xwOBA dipped a bit immediately after the injury, it has since fully recovered, and everything seems to be in order. The bad news is, there are a lot of hitters around him in the rankings performing a lot better lately given that he’s homered just four times over his past 30 games with a .241 AVG. His drop this week is notable, but given how healthy his peripherals look, I wouldn’t be shocked if he started turning things around again soon.


  • Austin Riley is no stranger to this series. Like a cherished family member, we’ve been with him this year through his ups and downs. There was his April, where he surprised us with a new-and-improved 23% strikeout rate. Then there was his May, where the strikeout rate regressed to 31%, but he went on a home run barrage, smacking seven homers over 103 plate appearances. Then there was his June, where we saw the worst of both worlds, and he posted a 71 wRC+ while hitting just .238. Over his past 30 games though, he’s seemingly pushed things into a new gear, hitting .336 with nine home runs and 29 RBI. And it’s coincided with some encouraging stuff:

As you can see, there’s a nice, staggered progression in his Hard Hit rate over the past few years. The cool thing, though, is that he’s kept it hovering around 50% over the past few weeks. That’s also the longest he’s been able to sustain it at a level that high during his young career. Now peep this:

Not only has he sustained an elite Hard Hit rate recently, but he’s done it while also sustaining a strikeout rate below 20% for the longest period of his career. I think we’re finally seeing him develop into the hitter that was foretold in the prophecies–the one true King of Swing who would finally unite good contact ability with elite power under one banner. In simpler, less fantastical terms: I think Riley has a shot at being a .280 hitter with a 35-homer ceiling, and that pushes him into the conversation as one of the top bats in baseball.


  • Like a truly bad friend, I keep apologizing to Chris Taylor for ranking him too low, and then I just keep… not… ranking him high enough. He’s the #17 hitter this year according to Razzball’s Player Rater, and has hit .317 with seven homers and four stolen bases in his last 30 games. As someone who tries to rely on Statcast data as much as possible for predicting future performance, I still think I have to disrespect him a bit here. The middling xwOBAs against non-fastballs, the good-not-great Hard Hit rate, and the 31% whiff rate and average line drive rate all point to a guy who has performed significantly better than he probably should have. Yet he certainly wouldn’t be the first hitter to completely defy his peripherals for an entire season, and sometimes everything just breaks right for a player over a full year.


  • While I’m issuing apologies, hi Brandon Lowe. A few months ago I believe you thought I said you were “done,” but clearly you misheard me, because what I actually said was that you were “Dunn.” As in Adam Dunn, prolific slugger and former All Star? Yeah, no worries, common mistake. Over the past 30 days, Lowe has hit .280 with nine home runs, and dropped his infamously high strikeout rates down to about league average. He hasn’t been getting shielded from lefties either–the Rays have simply dropped him from the leadoff spot in games where a lefty is on the mound. Long-term I’m not sure how prudent that is–Lowe is hitting .164 against lefties this year with a near-40% strikeout rate. But the fun thing about fantasy is that, in daily formats, you can choose when he starts. And Brandon Lowe against righties is essentially Pete Alonso.


  • The fun thing about prospects during the early parts of their careers is watching them make adjustments in real time. Yes, veteran hitters do it too, and it’s probably confirmation bias, but it always seems much more apparent with prospects. Take Jonathan India, for example. He started the season hitting a lot of weak ground balls that, early on, were finding holes. The power never really manifested though, and it wasn’t really looking like it would, as his Sweet Spot rate sat at an atrocious 25% heading into mid-June. As he began taking more pitches though, and his walk rate shot up to an elite 15%, he started getting more pitches to drive. In recent months he’s seen his Hard Hit rate shoot up above 45%. But more importantly, he’s started squaring up the ball way better, as evidenced by his improved Sweet Spot rate. It’ll be interesting to see how teams adjust, but right now he’s looking like a really promising hitter with a great foundation.


  • Statcast metrics aren’t infallible, and they’re hardly predictive. Relying on them for evaluating hitters can definitely lead you astray. I will say, however, that more often than not, they are good to turn to when your patience with a hitter is waning. Much of what Dansby Swanson did during the first half of the season didn’t quite square up with his peripherals, and it really seemed like a turnaround was in the offing. Our collective patience has been rewarded in spades, as Swanson has hit .325 over his last 30 games with seven homers and three stolen bases. That’s effectively the home run and stolen base pace we hoped for from peak-Swanson. With him focusing a bit more on pulling the ball in the air this year, expect the power to stick, though it could come at the cost of the batting average long-term.


  • Guys like Avisaíl García and Javier Báez are so hard to evaluate, because their approach at the plate is so wild and undisciplined, yet somehow they manage to make it work despite it being a recipe for disaster for most hitters. The secret for García, at least, is that when he does swing, he makes it count. The 47% Hard Hit rate is great, but perhaps more impressive is that he swings at 81% of pitches in the zone–the league average is just 66%. That aggression when it comes to swinging at strikes has helped mitigate some of the problems that his high whiff and chase rates would otherwise have caused. García has been a top-60 player this year according to Razzball’s Player Rater, and he hasn’t slowed down, hitting .321 with five homers over his last 30 games.


  • Josh Donaldson and Andrew Vaughn are tough ranks this week. Donaldson has been sitting pretty regularly lately, presumably due to some nagging injury issues, though there’s been no confirmation of that. He’s been doing some good stuff under the surface, but the lack of recent performance and injury problems aren’t doing him any favors in terms of his future value. With Luis Robert back, it’s also tough to place how Andrew Vaughn will be used rest-of-season. I imagine Eloy Jiménez is shifted into the DH role and they continue to give Vaughn run in left field. But Tony La Russa loves Leury Garcia nearly as much as he hated Jason Motte, and I imagine Vaughn will be cycled out occasionally in the final weeks of the season. Vaughn’s talent and upside is incredible–I just hope we get to see it on a consistent basis.


  • Brandon Belt has always had excellent power, and it looks like he’s making a conscious effort to make the most of it this year, pulling the ball in the air more than he has in recent years. I feel like Belt tries to pull us in with a white-hot streak literally every single season, and it never seems to pan out long-term. But he’s homered four times this past week, and he has the plate discipline, power, and approach to win some matchups over the next few weeks if he can keep it up.


  • Brendan Rodgers should become a wedding officiant because he’s done a great job of marrying contact and power this season, striking out just 20% of the time while slowly ramping his Hard Hit rate up over the course of the year. He’s seen a steady diet of fastballs, but his .319 xwOBA against breaking balls gives he some hope he won’t be too hurt if pitchers scale back on the hard stuff. The 53% ground-ball rate is a bit high, and I think could hold back his power a bit, especially considering his penchant for hitting the ball primarily up the middle. But overall he looks to really be developing into the player people hoped he would become as a prospect.


  • While we’re on the topic of Rockies, let’s talk Sam Hilliard and Connor Joe. Hilliard has hit .306 with five homers over his last 15 games, and there’s some excitement here, as Hilliard hit 35 home runs and stole 22 bases in the minors in 2019. That speed hasn’t translated to the majors though over 306 plate appearances, and while he clearly has power, I’m just not super encourage he can put it all together while running a 40%+ whiff rate. Stream him as long as he’s hot, then feel free to drop him at the first sign of trouble. Connor Joe’s production has looked a bit more sustainable: good strikeout rate, good plate discipline, impressive 11% barrel rate propped up by an above-average Sweet Spot rate, and lots of line drives being hit to all fields. He’s struggled mightily against non-fastballs though, and it’s tough to pin down playing time for him as the Rockies continue to shuffle their lineup every game. In deeper leagues he’s worth a stash to see how things unfold over the next week or two.


  • Rowdy Tellez was a popular deep sleeper entering the year, as he has an intriguing ability to impact the ball while keeping the strikeouts well bellow average. He never got much of a foothold for playing time in Toronto, but has been getting fairly regular at-bats in Milwaukee, and is making it work. He’s hitting .340 with five home runs since joining his new team, and has a great all-fields approach at the plate. He’s been handling all pitch types well, and hitting for power without selling out for it, and I think there really could be something here long-term. He’ll likely be cycled out of the lineup to work Eduardo Escobar in occasionally, but there’s a lot to like here.


Rank Hitter Position Change
1Vladimir Guerrero Jr.T11B, 3B-
2Shohei OhtaniDH-
3Trea TurnerSS-
4Juan SotoOF-
5Bo Bichette
6Freddie Freeman1B-
7Rafael Devers3B-
8José Ramírez3B-
9Bryce HarperOF+3
10Matt Olson1B, DH-1
11Manny Machado3B, SS-
12Cedric MullinsOF+7
13Yordan AlvarezOF, DH+1
14Starling MarteOF+8
15Nelson CruzDH-2
16Jesse WinkerOF-
17Marcus SemienSS+3
18Kyle TuckerOF-8
19Xander BogaertsSS-4
20George SpringerOF+12
21Aaron JudgeOF-3
22Corey Seager
23José Abreu1B, DH+4
24Max Muncy1B, 2B+4
25Eloy JiménezOF, DH+UR
26Nick CastellanosOF+UR
27J.D. MartinezDH-10
28Jose Altuve2B-5
29Teoscar HernándezOF, DH-3
30Tim AndersonSS-
31Trevor StorySS-2
32Luis Robert Jr.OF+UR
33Ozzie Albies2B-12
34Justin Turner3B+1
35Joey Votto1B+1
36Franmil ReyesOF+1
37Randy ArozarenaOF+1
38Austin Riley
3B, OF
39Bryan ReynoldsOF+6
40Paul Goldschmidt1B-7
41Pete Alonso1B-10
42Giancarlo StantonOF, DH-2
43Chris Taylor2B, OF+15
44Nolan Arenado3B-3
45Trent GrishamOF-6
46Whit Merrifield2B, OF-3
47J.T. RealmutoC-3
48Mitch HanigerOF-2
49Ketel Marte2B, OF-
50Salvador PerezC-
51Tommy PhamOF-9
52Brandon CrawfordSS+1
53Willy AdamesSS+3
54Brandon Lowe2B+7
55Austin MeadowsOF, DH-7
56Joey Gallo
57Kris Bryant3B, OF+2
58Jorge Polanco2B+7
59Carlos CorreaSS-4
60Buster PoseyC-3
61Jonathan Schoop2B+3
62Yuli Gurriel1B, 3B-2
63Javier BáezSS-16
64Tyler O’NeillOF+5
65Trey Mancini1B, OF-11
66Wander FrancoSS-
67Michael BrantleyOF+3
68Dansby SwansonSS+24
69Jonathan India2B, 3B+16
70Jake Cronenworth
1B, 2B
71Jesús Aguilar1B+2
72Andrew VaughnOF-
73Will SmithC+2
74Josh Bell1B-3
75Cody Bellinger1B, OF+5
76Avisaíl GarcíaOF+13
77Jorge SolerOF+25
78Mark Canha1B, OF-2
79Adam DuvallOF+12
80Christian YelichOF+UR
81Adolis GarcíaOF-14
82Ryan McMahon1B, 2B, 3B+11
83Mike Moustakas2B, 3B+UR
84Harrison BaderOF-6
85Eduardo Escobar2B, 3B-1
86Andrew BenintendiOF-
87AJ Pollock
88Josh Donaldson3B-25
89Alex VerdugoOF-1
90Ty France2B, 3B-9
91Jean SeguraSS+6
92Yoán Moncada3B-2
93LaMonte Wade Jr.1B, OF+11
94Randal GrichukOF-
95Mike YastrzemskiOF-8
96Kolten Wong2B+2
97Luke Voit1B+UR
98Tommy Edman2B, 3B, OF+1
99Ke’Bryan Hayes3B+6
100Manuel MargotOF+9
101Max Stassi
102C.J. Cron1B+9
103Robbie GrossmanOF+13
104Jeff McNeil2B, OF-3
105DJ LeMahieu1B, 2B, 3B+1
106Rafael OrtegaOF+26
107Jarred KelenicOF+12
108Brandon Belt1B, OF+UR
109Wil MyersOF-14
110Brendan Rodgers2B, SS+37
1113B, OF-29
112Patrick Wisdom1B, 3B+5
113Jed Lowrie2B, 3B+1
114Eric HaaseC, OF-1
115Jo AdellOF+UR
116Charlie BlackmonOF-13
117Hunter RenfroeOF-21
118Dylan CarlsonOF-
119Amed Rosario
120Kyle Seager3B+17
121Josh Rojas2B, SS, OF+UR
122Luis Urías2B, 3B-10
123César Hernández2B+UR
124Rowdy Tellez1B+UR
125Sam HilliardOF+UR
126Willson ContrerasC-11
127David Fletcher2B, 3B, SS-6
128Dominic Smith1B, OF-2
129Jarren DuranOF+7
130Adam Frazier2B, OF-6
131Michael ConfortoOF-2
132Carson KellyC-2
133Austin HaysOF+5
134Luis Arraez2B, 3B, OF+6
135Lourdes Gurriel Jr.2B, OF-12
136Mitch GarverC+UR
137Lorenzo CainOF+UR
138Daulton VarshoC, OF-11
139Joey Wendle2B, 3B-5
140Alec Bohm1B, 3B-1
141Max KeplerOF-8
142Aledmys Díaz3B+UR
143Dylan Moore2B, OF-8
144Carlos Santana1B, DH-1
146Abraham Toro2B, 3B+UR
147Brian Anderson3B, OF-16
148Lewis BrinsonOF+UR
149Matt Chapman3B-5
150Nathaniel Lowe1B-25

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

6 responses to “Hitter List 8/11 – Ranking the Top 150 Hitters for 2021”

  1. Bob says:

    Moustakas is back. Where would you slot him considering the platoon?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Ah, thanks for reminding me. I slide him in around 83. I have to imagine he grabs a decent chunk of Suarez’s playing time considering how his season has gone.

  2. Hitter List SuperFan says:

    Hi Jonathan, another great article this week, thank you!

    I was hoping to have a bit of a discussion about catchers with you. I have Contreras in my one-catcher league, but man, has he been disappointing lately (not to mention the fact that the Cubs offense is even worse now after the trade deadline). He’s dropped a bit in the rankings this week and you now have Stassi ranked above him, who is on waivers in my 10 teamer. I picked up d’Arnaud today and have also considered rolling with Farmer as well, as he has catcher eligibility on Yahoo. With us entering the point in the year where recent performance starts to trump track record and pedigree, would you drop Contreras in a standard 5 x 5 10 team league for either Stassi, d’Arnaud or Farmer? If so, which one do you lean? I’m currently in 1st place by 3 games and already a lock for the playoffs if that makes a difference.

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks, as always, for the kind words.

      Yeah in 10-teamers I usually advocate for streaming the hot hand when it comes to catchers if you don’t have one of the top-tier guys, so I’d be totally fine dropping Contreras there. It’s fairly close for me between d’Arnaud and Stassi. I’d lean d’Arnaud for the lineup/batting order edge, and the longer track record of success. The only risk you run there is that lots of guys can be a bit rusty immediately after coming off the IL, so brace yourself for the possibility of him getting off to a slow start.

      Best of luck–hope you bring home the championship this year.

  3. Jesus no help me hit curveball says:

    In my Yahoo league, Teoscar Hernandez is the 6th ranked player (Hitters & Pitchers) over the past 2 weeks, where over the past 54 AB’s he’s amassed 21 H, 12 R, 3 HR, 18 RBI, and a .421 OBP.

    This is the second week in a row you’ve dropped him. What does the man need to do in order to get some respect?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      He dropped two spaces due to Eloy and Castellanos being added back to the list, and one space due to George Springer moving past him, so he really hasn’t moved for me since last week. Teoscar was the first featured hitter for this article back in April, so I’ve been a fan of his for awhile.

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