2022 Fantasy Baseball Initial Top-250 Hitter Rankings
It’s been over two weeks since the end of the 2021 season, which means one thing: it’s time for 2022 fantasy baseball prep! It’s sad to see the season come to an end, but, now, we have the chance to start off fresh. In fantasy baseball, there truly is no offseason. With that in mind, let us take a look at my first top-250 hitter rankings. These will be updated throughout the offseason, but consider this a first rough draft at how I believe 2022 drafts should shape up, at least from the hitter’s side of things.
Before we get there, though, let us take a look at each position group, examining their depth, top targets, and where the strengths of the position group lie. This will give us better insight into an ideal draft strategy, which may be as important as the rankings themselves. Without further ado, it is time to get right into dissecting the 2022 fantasy baseball hitter pool!
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Catcher is never a particularly strong position, and this year isn’t an exception. Should you want to draft Salvador Perez, considered the consensus top catcher, you’ll have to spend a third-round pick in 12-team formats, which is quite the price to pay.
With that in mind, I’d look towards the middle tier of the catcher position to find my starter. Daulton Varsho is someone I consider a cheat code in fantasy baseball, as he’ll split time between catcher and outfield. Thus, he’ll get more playing time and deal with less wear and tear than normal catchers, yet still comes with the same eligibility. I’d be comfortable spending a 7th-round pick on him, while Yasmani Grandal and Willson Contreras aren’t poor options either.
If you are unable to draft one of those three players, youngsters Keibert Ruiz and Tyler Stephenson may offer some value. Both appear to have the clear starting role behind the dish and come with notable prospect pedigree. Ruiz, in particular, has strong projections after a high-end season in Triple-A last year, while Stephenson showcased plate discipline and untapped raw power in his rookie year. If you cannot draft Varsho, waiting for one of these two players may be your best play.
As usual, there are plenty of strong offensive producers at the first base position, starting with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Freddie Freeman at the top. At the end of the second round, I actually see some value with the latter as a consistent, reliable performer, though it’d be hard to invest an early pick at the position based on the overall depth present here.
Matt Olson and Pete Alonso, coming off excellent 2021 seasons, are good bets to produce at a high level in 2022. However, there is reason to believe you can wait further at the position. Max Muncy, for instance, is going to provide you with power, runs scored, and runs batted in playing for a terrific Dodgers team, while he has first base and second base eligibility. Yet, you can wait until the beginning of the 8th round to draft him.
Then, there is Rhys Hoskins and Joey Votto, who can be selected in the double-digit rounds of fantasy baseball drafts. However, both will provide you with a lot of offensive production in a friendly home ballpark. Adding onto that, Josh Bell, Ryan Mountcastle, and Brandon Belt are all strong targets as well. Simply put, there is a lot of value to be had at first base.
Ozzie Albies is considered the top pure second baseman for many, but Marcus Semien ends up as the top second baseman, outside of Trea Turner, in my hitter rankings. His approach change, as discussed here, to gear to power will allow him to consistently overachieve his expected stats, and he’ll likely be the leadoff hitter for whichever team signs him. Buy into him before it’s too late!
Jorge Polanco is another player who increased his pull rate significantly and appears to be an expected power overachiever, making him a strong value in the 8th round, along with Muncy. That’s the area I’d be looking towards drafting a second base if you can land Semien, as the depth is strong.
If you cannot draft a second baseman early or need a bench stash, Brendan Rodgers is going to provide you with average and offensive production playing in Colorado. Furthermore, Chris Taylor, Ty France, and Jake Cronenworth all provide positional flexibility and multi-category contributions. Long story short, you won’t have trouble finding a productive second baseman this year.
The same cannot be said about third base, which may be the thinnest position in the draft, even more so than catcher. Thus, if you need to pay up for Jose Ramirez, Rafael Devers, or Manny Machado in the early rounds, I recommend doing so.
If not, Adalberto Mondesi will provide you with plenty of speed, while Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, and Anthony Rendon are all reliable offensive contributors. Those three might not come with the highest ceiling, yet their floor may be worth chasing given the lack of depth here.
If you need to take a flier at third base, Eugenio Suarez may be worth a look. Yes, the 30-year-old struggled mightily last year with an 85 weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+), but he was recovering from shoulder surgery and has a strong resume of being a productive slugger. This might be the lowest his stock is, which means it might be time to buy the dip. If not him, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Abraham Toro, and Jeimer Candelario are other third base options that may provide value in the later rounds.
Looking for a shortstop? Don’t worry; this position is as deep as any position can be. Fernando Tatis Jr., Trea Turner, and Bo Bichette will all be first-round picks, so this is a position you may address in the first round.
If not, there are plenty of other options. Trevor Story, Xander Bogaerts, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Tim Anderson, and Wander Franco are all strong options to draft in the third or fourth round, as all of them provide contributions in multiple categories. Even if you wait, Jorge Polanco has shortstop eligibility, Carlos Correa is a high-floor option, while Bobby Witt Jr. has a very enticing ceiling with his power/speed combination if the Royals put him on the opening day roster.
Looking for a sleeper? What about Oneil Cruz of the Pirates. The 6’7″ shortstop posted a 158 wRC+ in the minors last year, and has insane raw power: he registered a 99th percentile max exit velocity (118.2 MPH) and had elite batted-ball numbers in the minors. There are some plate discipline concerns here, but it’s hard to not take a chance on the power/speed combination. This is the exact type of player you want on your bench in shallow leagues, and he’s well off the radar in fantasy drafts currently. While that’s the case, take full advantage.
Outfield is always a deep position in fantasy; it combines three positions, after all! Whether your league requires three or five outfield slots, you should feel comfortable finding key contributors at the position, starting with the likes of Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper.
The best time to target an outfielder? The end of the third round or fourth round. Aaron Judge is someone that appears to be completely undervalued in drafts with the ability to hit for average, power, score runs, and drive runners in. After him, there’s Yordan Alvarez, Teoscar Hernandez, Tyler O’Neill, George Springer, Nick Castellanos, and Byron Buxton, all of whom provide value at the current draft spot.
Two sleepers in my hitter rankings would be Anthony Santander and Lane Thomas. Santander provides power and runs batted in for the Orioles, while Thomas is the leadoff hitter for the Nationals; his plate discipline skills will allow him to get on base, score runs, and steal bases. Right now, both can be had essentially for free. I’d throw Giants outfielder/first baseman Lamonte Wade Jr. as an undervalued asset in drafts right now, based on the skepticism he can repeat his strong rookie performance last year.
Top-250 Hitter Rankings
|2||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SD||SS, OF|
|3||Trea Turner||LAD||SS, 2B|
|5||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||TOR||1B|
|7||Shohei Ohtani||LAA||DH, P|
|8||Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||OF|
|14||Marcus Semien||FA||2B, SS|
|21||Cedric Mullins II||BAL||OF|
|36||Whit Merrifield||KC||2B, OF|
|41||Ketel Marte||ARI||2B, OF|
|51||Javier Baez||FA||2B, SS|
|53||Jorge Polanco||MIN||2B, SS|
|56||Daulton Varsho||ARI||C, OF|
|57||Kris Bryant||FA||3B, OF|
|62||Bobby Witt Jr.||KC||SS|
|63||Tommy Edman||STL||2B, OF|
|77||DJ LeMahieu||NYY||2B, 1B, 3B|
|78||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||TOR||OF|
|80||Jazz Chisholm||MIA||2B, SS|
|81||Jake Cronenworth||SD||2B, 1B, SS|
|88||Chris Taylor||FA||OF, 2B, SS|
|92||Ty France||SEA||1B, 2B|
|93||Brendan Rodgers||COL||2B, SS|
|110||Eugenio Suarez||CIN||3B, SS|
|115||Tyler Stephenson||CIN||C, 1B|
|127||Jonathan Schoop||FA||2B, 1B|
|128||Eduardo Escobar||FA||3B, 2B|
|129||Ryan McMahon||COL||3B, 2B|
|130||Enrique Hernandez||BOS||2B, OF|
|131||Luis Urias||MIL||2B, 3B, SS|
|132||Abraham Toro||SEA||2B, 3B|
|133||Alex Kirilloff||MIN||OF, 1B|
|139||Lamonte Wade||SF||OF, 1B|
|158||Gavin Lux||LAD||2B, SS|
|160||Jeff McNeil||NYM||2B, OF|
|164||Jonathan Villar||FA||3B, SS|
|165||Josh Rojas||ARI||2B, SS, OF|
|167||Wil Myers||SD||OF, 1B|
|173||Mike Moustakas||CIN||2B, 3B|
|188||Andres Gimenez||CLE||2B, SS|
|203||Luis Arraez||MIN||2B, 3B, OF|
|204||David Fletcher||LAA||2B, SS|
|205||Garrett Hampson||COL||2B, OF|
|208||Yandy Diaz||TB||1B, 3B|
|212||Tommy La Stella||SF||2B|
|214||Darin Ruf||SF||1B, OF|
|216||Michael A. Taylor||KC||OF|
|227||Pavin Smith||ARI||OF, 1B|
|236||Joey Wendle||TB||3B, SS|
|246||Wilmer Flores||SF||1B, 2B, 3B|
|247||Edmundo Sosa||STL||SS, 2B|
Also check out these 5 Under-the-Radar Hitters Who Could Hit 30 HRs.
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