THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2022 TOP 125 DYNASTY LEAGUE OUTFIELDERS, #21-60
Continuing with our highlights of the league’s top Outfielders, as judged by our collection of industry experts, below are the 21st through the 60th ranked players in the league.
21. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 6)
After writing up the following ten guys, I would be quite pleased to have a starting outfield of any three going into this season and the next couple. While drafting one of the top 20 outfielders is quite doable, supplementing them with a couple of these ten should work out quite well for your team. Now, onto Yelich.
The bad for Yelich, the 2018 NL MVP, over the past two seasons, is league average (using OPS+). That speaks to how great he was in 2018 and 2019 that league average is such a letdown; especially for Brewers fans as well as fantasy managers that used first round picks on him. A busted kneecap ended his 2019 season, and back problems put him on the IL multiple times in 2021. He played all but 2 games in 2020, and I have little problem writing it off; but 2021 was a different beast. Nine home runs and the same number of steals with only 121 runs + RBI simply will not do. His walk rates stand out to me, as in 2020 was 18.6% and 2021 of 14.7%; the highest two totals of his career. His batting eye is still aces; he was in the 98th percentile of the total MLB. Whether or not you are in on Yelich depends on if you think the back problems and knee issue are behind him. If you do, see if you can add him to your team on the cheap. (Phil Barrington)
22. Nicholas Castellanos, Free Agent (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 22)
Castellanos is coming off his best season as a professional; a first time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner, the former Reds and Tigers outfielder also finished 12th in the NL MVP race. A good time to enter free agency, Castellanos will slot into the third or fourth position in the batting order and be expected to drive in 100+ and hit 25-30 home runs.
He fractured his right wrist when hit by a pitch and missed time on the IL in 2021; though since 2017 he has played in 150+ games and 60 in COVID-shortened 2020. My favorite stat from 2021 was his career best 20.8% strikeout rate; drafting or inquiring on Castellanos to be an outfield cornerstone is a solid move. (Phil Barrington)
23. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 55)
Winker was ranked 72nd in 2020, and continues the climb up our outfield ranks; Winker had a productive 2021, finishing as the 93rd overall player on the Razzball player rater, and that is only 110 games. I wrote up Winker last season, and I did not think the power would come; combine that with no speed, I was not a fan. Well Winker brought the boom stick in 2021, hitting 24 home runs with a .949 OPS. Now, he has my attention.
We have to pause though, as injuries have been a past issue, and in 2021 an intercoastal strain ended his season effectively on August 15th. The most games he has appeared in a single season is 113, suffering from a shoulder injury that ended his 2018 season and a neck strain that cost him time in 2019. In 2020 he was healthy, but also was the DH 37 times. The DH coming to the NL can only help Winker. He is danger of being platooned, as he performed terribly against lefties to the tune of a .176 batting average, with a career .188 batting average against them. With that being said, Winker is a solid target in OPS leagues (dynasty or annual) with daily moves, and should outperform his current NFBC ADP of 109 overall. (Phil Barrington)
24. George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 19)
Of course, injuries are the first thing we think about when we talk of George Springer, so it is quite interesting that Steamer has him projected for 150 games and 678 plate appearances this upcoming season. My rankings do not, nor, it appears, do many of my fellow Dynasty Gurus, because if they did, he would be a top-15 outfielder for sure. He should be good for at least 120 games, and appeared in more than 140 games in three seasons in Houston, and 51 of 60 games in 2020.
Springer showed power last season, hitting 22 home runs in only 299 at-bats (one every 13.5) which is quite good. As he does not steal more than a handful of bases (raise your hands if you remember salivating at his near 40/40 minor league season back in 2015) home runs and runs + RBI is where he is going to assist your dynasty team. Hitting atop one of the majors’ best lineups, the opportunity to surpass 200+ runs + RBI is there, as well as 30+ home run power in his bat. For a win-now team, Springer is a target; or, if you are in a rebuild, now is the time to move him. (Phil Barrington)
25. Kris Bryant, Free Agent (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 11 at 3B)
The future was once so bright for the 2016 NL MVP; now he is ranked in the 20s and is still only 30. He should be in the midst of his prime, but it seems like he is already on the decline. I do not think this is true. His 2021 was quite productive, with 25 home runs, ten steals, 159 Runs + RBI and a slash line of .265/.353/.481, good enough to be the 75th overall player on the Razzball player rater.
Where he signs will have the greatest impact on his Runs and RBI totals; when the Cubs were good, he was consistently above 180 combined. In leagues where he qualifies at first base and third base, he can be quite the useful utility knife, and those are the leagues that I would target him in first and foremost. If his floor in last season (and for me, it is), then a line of 180 Runs + RBI, 30 home runs, ten steals a slash line of .275/.370/.500 is very attainable. Sign me up. (Phil Barrington)
26. Austin Meadows, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 17)
A brutal 2020 turned into a less brutal 2021 for Meadows’ stat lines, but an oblique injury that led to an IL stint is a prime factor to blame for 2020, and, looking under the hood, 2021 was not as bad as it seemed. Meadows still finished 83rd overall on the Razzball player rater; 27 home runs and 185 Runs + RBI will yield that. His .234 average though, after a .205 average in 2020, will not do. His BABIP in 2021 was a quite low .249; expect that to climb up in 2022, dragging his batting average upwards with it. My biggest concern with Meadows is the shift; he hit all but one of his 27 home runs to right field, and 20 of his 29 doubles went to right field as well. He also showed weak power (three homers) and contact (.198 batting average) against left-handed pitching; that will keep him in an everyday role for the plug-and-play Rays.
In NFBC drafts Meadows is being taken as the 128 overall player, around names like Myles Straw and Lourdes Gurriel Jr; I would bet dollars to donuts (that has to be a Homer Simpson bet, no?) that he outperforms them pretty handily in 2022. Meadows has tumbled a bit in our rankings, but still has name value, so still may cost more to acquire than his current rank, but maybe not. If his current manager is fed up after the past two seasons, an opportunity may present itself for you to add him to your team, a very prudent move indeed. (Phil Barrington)
27. Starling Marte, New York Mets (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 21)
Marte finished 10th overall (that is not a typo) on the Razzball player rater in 2021, bringing tons of value to his fantasy teams, mainly in the form of steals, 47 of them. Yes, yes, Phil, we knew he can steal bases, you say, and then you say, and he’s going to be well into his 33rd year on this earth to begin 2022, so he has to drop off, right? My answer is…probably? The newest member of the New York Mets, they signed him to create havoc on the basepaths from the leadoff spot, and that is what he is suited to do. Father time catches up with all, but a win-now team will utilize Marte to win their league and worry about the future later. If you are not winning this season, move him now, before the Mets ruin him (I kid, I kid, Mets fans). (Phil Barrington)
28. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 5)
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? That will tell me how you feel on the future for 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger (Is it weird that three former NL MVPs are in this 21-30 group? Inquiring minds want to know). His 2021 was beyond awful; typing out his numbers depresses me. So, let us be optimists; in twelve 2021 playoff games, he began to show signs of life with five steals and a slash line of .353/.436/.471, albeit only one homer. It is quite difficult to say he is finished, and that is unlikely; but recommending acquiring him is also something I cannot do. If you have Bellinger on your dynasty team, you must hold him, and hope for a bounce back. (Phil Barrington)
29. Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 18)
Carlson only played 18 games at Triple-A after 108 in Double-A, both in 2019, before 2020 came calling and the Cardinals needed him. If 2020 was a normal season, Carlson would have spent most of the season honing his craft at Triple-A, so it is not a shock he struggled in 35 games in 2020. In 2021 he joined the Cardinals core for good, appears at all three positions in the outfield and finishing third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. There is a ton to like about his profile, with 55-grades in hitting, game power, raw power and fielding (according to Fangraphs). A solid walk and strikeout rate support those profile numbers as well (2021 BB rate: 9.2%, K rate: 24.6%).
Carlson ended 2021 on a high note; from September 1st on he hit five home runs to go with a 32 runs + RBI and a .293/.339/.515 slash line in 110 plate appearances. He moved around the batting order in 2021, hitting at the top in the first half, and moving down to the 5th and 6th spots later in the season. He is penciled in as the fifth hitter currently, where plenty of RBI opportunities await. Carlson will be a sneaky good value at his current NFBC draft spot as the 40th outfielder off the board in annual leagues; for Dynasty leagues he is a target of mine in all leagues, and should be for you as well. (Phil Barrington)
30. Brennen Davis, Chicago Cubs (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 38)
Davis was ranked 61st in 2020, so he just continues the climb up our outfield ranks as any good prospect should. Davis started 2021 playing for the Single-A+ South Bend Cubs, staying only eight games before heading to Double-A Tennessee for 76 games, then earning a promotion to Triple-A Iowa for 15 games. Across the three levels he accumulated 416 plate appearances in 99 games, hit 19 home runs, stole eight bags, 119 runs + RBI, and a very productive slash line of .260/.375/.494. His Dynasty value is nearing a peak, as many lists have him in their top-10.
Throughout his minor league career, Davis has maintained a 10%+ walk rate, 20% K rate, and a high BABIP. The Cubs do not have much at the major league level to stand in his way; depending on how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement shakes out, the Super 2 deadline may be history, and a hot Spring could lead to Davis starting the 2021 season in the grass at Wrigley Field. Though, as a Cubs fan, I will have to temper expectations, and will expect his 2022 season to be spent at Triple-A as he works on his contact and perfects his swing, and be ready for a true 2023 breakout. (Phil Barrington)
31. Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 46)
Corbin Carroll made just 29 plate appearances in the past two seasons, thanks to the pandemic in 2020 and a season-ending shoulder injury suffered last May. Though a seven-game sample is far too small for the 1.465 OPS he posted to mean anything, he was able to show off all the tools that have scouts so excited about him. He has great speed, advanced feel to hit, and more power than you’d expect from a 5’10″, 165-pounder.
Carroll’s shoulder injury was significant and adds some risk to his profile, but the upside outweighs it. Stolen bases keep getting scarcer, and players who can produce them in bunches without hurting you in any other categories are fantasy gold. If he stays healthy, he should move quickly through the minors and could even make his MLB debut late this season. (Ben Sanders)
32. Trent Grisham, San Diego Padres (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 16)
Grisham produced 10 HR and 10 SB during the shortened 2020 season, which would prorate to 27 of each over a full campaign. His production was similar for the first half of 2021 as he slashed .274/.357/.491 with 11 HR and 8 SB in 63 games. Then he fell off a cliff, hitting just .211/.296/.333 with 4 HR and 5 SB after the break. Statcast metrics don’t point to bad luck as a factor, as his xwOBA was lower than his actual wOBA.
On the bright side, Grisham’s strikeout and walk rates didn’t change much during his slump. He missed time with hamstring and heel injuries early in the season, and it’s possible one or both lingered the rest of the way. The Padres’ late-season collapse probably didn’t help matters either. Whatever the issue, Grisham is only 25 and has a good chance to get back to being a five-category fantasy force. (Ben Sanders)
33. Joey Gallo, New York Yankees (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 30)
Joey Gallo was having one of his best seasons when Texas traded him to the Yankees near the deadline. It sure seemed like a move that would help his fantasy value, but that was not the case as Gallo hit just .160 in pinstripes. That dropped his season average to .199, making it two years in a row under the Mendoza line. He did keep piling up the home runs, finishing with 38 on the season.
Gallo should benefit from Yankee Stadium and its short porch in right in the long run. His slump last year was just something that comes with the territory of being an extreme three-true-outcomes hitter. That profile also makes his fantasy value vary wildly between formats. He gets a massive boost in OBP leagues, but proceed with extreme caution if your scoring system penalizes strikeouts in any way. (Ben Sanders)
34. Kyle Schwarber, Free Agent (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 61)
You may remember Kyle Schwarber going on a little hot streak last June. From June 12-29, he hit 16 home runs in 18 games, sending fans scrambling to the stat archives to see if anyone had ever had such a torrid stretch before. He then injured his hamstring at the start of July, and when he returned in August things were much different. He had been traded from the Nationals to the Red Sox, and pitchers were now terrified of him. The home runs were replaced by walks – his BB-rate soared to 19.6%, and though it’s not as much fun as a crazy power bender, it’s hard to complain about the .291/.435/.522 slash line he put up in Boston.
Where Schwarber lands in free agency will affect his value somewhat, but the arrow is pointing up regardless. He’ll never top last June, but he’s clearly made strides as a hitter, and that may help extend his career. He’s never been anything more than passable in the outfield, but Schwarber won’t have trouble finding 1B or DH work well into his 30s if he keeps hitting like last season. (Ben Sanders)
35. Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 6 at 1B)
Andrew Vaughn’s power output as a professional has been disappointing. He slugged just .396 in his 2021 MLB debut, and his 2019 minor league marks weren’t much better. He hits the ball hard enough; his max exit velocity of 115 MPH and average of 91 are proof of that. His 9.7 average launch angle is a little low, and he could also stand to pull the ball more. Vaughn hit just 22 pulled flyballs in 2021, and six of them were homers. A few more of those would get that SLG up where it should be.
It’s fair to give Vaughn a pass for his struggles so far. No minor league season in 2020 threw off his development, as he made just 245 PA in MiLB, skipping right over Double-A and Triple-A. He also dealt with injuries and a position switch last season. His plate discipline numbers have been solid at every level, so I wouldn’t panic yet. Expect some progress and maybe even a breakout in 2022. (Ben Sanders)
36. Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 20)
Jo Adell quietly made a lot of progress in 2021. He hit 23 homers in just 73 games in AAA, a much better performance than he had there in 2019. His MLB line of .246/.295/.408 wasn’t very exciting, but his OPS was almost 200 points higher than it was in his ugly 2020 debut, and he nearly halved his K-rate from 41.7% to 22.9%.
But while his game is slowly improving, his ranking is declining, falling for a second straight year. It’s important to remember that he didn’t arrive at the MLB level extremely polished like Wander Franco, the only player ahead of him in our 2020 prospect rankings. Adell was valued more for his freakish athleticism and power, and it’s not surprising he’s taken some time to adjust. He’s only 22 and still has star potential. He could also still bust, but it’s far too early to give up on him. (Ben Sanders)
37. Michael Conforto, Free Agent (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 15)
Michael Conforto picked the wrong time to have an off year. He was one of MLB’s most dependable hitters from 2017-2020, but slumped to a .232/.344/.384 line last season, just in time for free agency. That will cost him a lot of money, as teams must wonder if his power will bounce back all the way to previous levels.
Conforto can still expect a nice contract. His .350 xwOBA last season, compared to a .322 actual mark, points to some tough luck on batted balls. He also got better as the season went on, slashing .272/.372/.457 over the final two months. He’s too good of a hitter not to return to form, and the down year and uncertainty about his future home could create a nice trade opportunity in dynasty. (Ben Sanders)
38. Luis Matos, San Francisco Giants (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 76)
Luis Matos couldn’t have had a much better debut in full-season ball. He earned Low-A West MVP honors while leading the San Jose Giants to the league championship. He slashed .313/.358/.494 with 15 HR, 21 SB, 84 R and 86 RBI in just 109 games. Even with the excellence across all five fantasy categories, perhaps his most impressive number was the 12.4% strikeout rate.
Any prospect in the lower levels comes with some risk, and perhaps Matos has some flaws that will be exposed as he works his way up the ladder. Right now there’s not much to complain about. If he continues to hit the way he did last season, Matos will keep rising in the rankings. (Ben Sanders)
39. Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 105)
Mitch Haniger had a monster 2021, producing 39 home runs, 110 runs and 100 RBIs. Those numbers exceeded expectations even if you assumed he’d stay healthy – a terribly unsafe assumption for a player who missed most of 2019 and all of 2020 due to injury. We probably just witnessed his career year – a .253/.318/.485 slash line doesn’t usually lead to triple-digit runs and RBIs, so even if he hits as well it may not have the same fantasy impact.
Haniger has been consistently good when in the lineup since 2017, and it sure didn’t look like his past injuries had any lingering effects last year. He’s now 31 and missed what should’ve been some of his best years, but there’s probably a few more big power seasons left in that bat. (Ben Sanders)
40. Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 25)
Alex Verdugo posted an impressive .308/.367/.478 line in 2020, but the way he did it was suspect, with a .371 BABIP and a K-rate over 20%. Baseball Savant gave him an xBA of .238. The good news is that he cut his K-rate to 15.9% in 2021, and his production now looks much more sustainable. The bad news is that it’s nothing special. He slashed .289/.351/.426 with 13 HR and 6 SB. I’m not dying to have that in my lineup.
Verdugo has a 50% groundball rate, and it’s possible swinging for the fences more often could help. But as a lefty in Fenway Park, he’d be aiming for fences that are far away. He might be best off continuing to focus on contact. A .300 batting average is within reach, and 100 runs might be too if he can secure a spot near the top of the Red Sox lineup. His floor is high, even if his ceiling might not be. (Ben Sanders)
41. Zac Veen, Colorado Rockies (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 53)
Zac Veen oozes offensive upside and his first full season of pro ball did nothing to temper that. Drafted as a power bat in 2020, he hit 15 home runs as a teenager in Low-A ball. His .201 ISO coupled with his .301 batting average at this early age only encourages the dream of his monster bat being unleashed at Coors Field in a few years.
There’s some concern with Veen’s approach, but the 13.4% walk rate early on in his development helps put some of that to bed. Also, don’t bet on the 34 steals to continue, let alone double digits when he reaches the Majors (in roughly 8 years knowing the Rockies’ front office). Veen’s lean 6’4” frame has plenty of room for more bulk, therefore more raw power and less speed. This means likely an average-at-best runner on the base paths. But who cares about steals when this guy is a future 30+ homer bat and plus hit and approach. (Chris Knock)
42. Robert Hassell III, San Diego Padres (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 91)
Another teenage bat from the 2020 draft, it’s apt that both Veen and Hassell ended up ranked next to each other. Robert Hassell is somewhat the inverse of Veen. He has a contact-oriented bat with plus speed and cautious optimism for in-game power as he fills out.
Hassell played at both Low-A and High-A in 2021 and at both levels, he lived up to his billing. The majority of the season was spent at Low-A, where he graduated the level with .323/.415/.482 line while hitting 7 homers and stealing 31 bases (in 37 attempts). Even better was that as a teenager he maintained over a 13% walk rate and a 17% strike-out rate. The kid can put the bat to the ball when it’s in the zone.
After his promotion to High-A, his K% increased along with an understandable decline in AVG. While he was facing the advanced competition, he was able to show some of that power potential and hit 4 home runs in only 18 games. Assumedly he’ll repeat the level to start so it’ll be great to see how he adjusts in his age 20 season. (Chris Knock)
43. Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 60)
Alek Thomas is a top-of-the-order bat not far from the majors. Playing the majority of the season in Double-A, he had his best offensive year yet – 10 homers and 8 stolen bases while batting .283/.374/.507. So it was a no-brainer for the Diamondbacks front office to give him a shot in Triple-A.
Thomas played even better after he was promoted for the final 34 games of 2021. In the small sample, he hit 8 home runs and stole another 5 bases while batting .369/.434/.658. Yes, those are unsustainable and that’s evident in the .439 BABIP. But the fact he kept his K rate at 20.5% and walked at a 9% clip shows he wasn’t only getting lucky. He was just doing what he does best – and that’s a little bit of everything with the baseball bat. Thomas is another riser in the OF ranks, be ready for your last opportunity to buy this low. (Chris Knock)
44. Jesús Sánchez, Miami Marlins (Age: 24, Previous Rank 118)
Jesús Sánchez is a player who feels to me like he’s been a prospect forever, despite only losing rookie eligibility this past year and entering his age 24 season. He actually has progressed well through the Rays and Marlins pipeline, with a steady level ascent year after year since 2015.
The biggest concern with Sánchez is his ability to put his bat on the baseball. In 2019 this started to really become problematic when facing more advanced Triple-A pitching, and that year his K-rate jumped to over 28%. Those concerns didn’t die down during an abysmal 10 game cup of coffee at the end of the 2020 season or even last year. Getting 250 plus plate appearances in 2021, he still stuck out 31.1% of the time – whiffing on almost a quarter of his swings versus anything that wasn’t a fastball.
But when he does make contact, Sánchez hits the ball with authority. He hit 14 home runs last year in only 65 games. His Max EV was 113.9 last year and he had a HardHit rate of 42.7% so the raw power is legit. Additionally, despite not being able to hit breaking balls, his strike zone recognition is acceptable. His walk rates help make Sánchez a neutral contributor in OBP leagues and along with his prodigious power, he is definitely worth the ranking inside the top 50 outfielders. (Chris Knock)
45. Ramón Laureano, Oakland Athletics (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 36)
After a break-out 2019 season, Ramón Laureano was a redraft favorite entering 2020. He had a relatively down season during the COVID sprint but turned it around for the first half of 2021. On pace for a 20/15 season, Laureano was busted for PEDs in August. He’ll start the 2022 season out for 27 games to finish up the 80 game suspension. This gives him plenty of time to recuperate from a sports hernia surgery that he had in late September.
When he’s back, expect roughly 5 months of 5 category contributions from Laureano. The pace he was on last year is a reasonable expectation, and public projections basically agree with this. He may not end up being the stat sheet stud we hoped after his break out, but he’ll be an all-category contributor and would fit well into any win now or win later team build strategy. (Chris Knock)
46. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 29)
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. dropped in our rankings compared to last year. This shouldn’t surprise many as he didn’t actually start hitting the baseball with any sort of power until mid-May. Looking only at wRC+, 2021 was Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s worst full season to date where he finished with a 107 wRC+. But if we adjust the season slider to start on May 12th, from that point on he had a 129 wRC+ which is better than his career 115 wRC+. Those first 30 games were brutal, I won’t even dive into how bad they were because they’re the outlier in his otherwise consistent career.
Looking at Gurriel’s 2021 season, this time in its entirety, he hit 21 home runs while batting .276/.319/.466. His career slash line is .282/.324/.492. He’s as consistent as they come and provides a strong 4 category presence. He bats within the heart of a powerful lineup and is just entering his peak years. Give the rough 2021 start a pass and enjoy the fact that he dropped to this low of a ranking. (Chris Knock)
47. Seiya Suzuki, Free Agent (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Seiya Suzuki will be the next Japanese slugger to transition to the MLB when he signs with a team, and hopefully soon too (come on owners, get it together; I know all 30 of you read The Dynasty Guru. Manfred probably doesn’t, unsurprisingly). Back to Suzuki. I’ve only seen him in clips via Twitter but per the TDG team’s ranking banter, he packs big-league power paired with strong discipline. He’s entering his prime so regardless of where he signs he’ll be a very productive player for a number of years. Sounds like a clean-up hitter or maybe a 5 or 6 batter depending on the team he ends up with. Any of those line-up spots should result in plenty of counting stat opportunities and plate appearances. If you’re drafting early in a FYPD and looking to compete in your league, Suzuki is a great piece to be able to get – even as high as the first pick. (Chris Knock)
48. Akil Baddoo, Detroit Tigers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 181)
Akil Baddoo was a Rule 5 pick via the Twins following the 2020 season and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Prior to the selection, Baddoo was known as a light-hitting, blazing-fast outfielder with potential for power. Jumping from High-A to the majors because of the R5 stipulations, Baddoo needed to hit the ground running, and did he ever. He hit home runs in his first two games, including the very first pitch he saw in the majors. Then in his second game not only did he hit his second homer, but he also hit a walk-off single in extra innings.
Baddoo eventually came back to reality, although he also maintained relative success considering his development path. While not a strong contact hitter overall, his power especially fell victim to left-handed pitchers (.031 ISO) compared to righties (.222 ISO). The Tigers started platooning him for a while mid-season but occasionally gave him opportunities to succeed outside of the platoon. Because he’s still so young and has a regular role, watch his K% as an indicator of growth; as long as he can keep it sub-30%, the Tigers likely will give Baddoo plenty of at-bats to develop more confidence and power. (Chris Knock)
49. Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 63)
After consecutive years of dwindling production, Andrew Benintendi just had his best season since 2018. Moved to Kansas City prior to the season, Benintendi was hoping his nagging rib injury was also left back in Boston. Alas, in mid-June he again suffered another rib cage hairline fracture and missed about 2 weeks.
Breaking his 2021 season into 3 separate parts surrounding the injury, Benintendi’s ribs were clearly impacting his performance. From the start of the season until the mid-June injury, he had 8 home runs and 7 stolen bases in 241 PA, while slashing .283/.340/429. He returned on the Fourth of July and through the end of August (169 PA), he hit 4 homers, stole a base, and batted .219/.244/.369. At that point, the rib must have healed as the remainder of his season was a return of the Super Benintendo. In just over a month he had 5 homers in 128 PA plus a .342/.398./.570 batting line.
All year he maintained a K-rate less than 20% while his advanced power numbers were near career highs as well. The annual 20/20 results we hoped for after 2017 may never return happen again but 20 homers with .280 and top-half of the order counting stats are quite good for a player many have dismissed. (Chris Knock)
50. Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 93)
In 2021, Josh Lowe got the classic Tampa Bay cup of coffee – 2 games where he made 2 plate appearances and was able to steal a base after getting a walk. Luckily, his 2021 Triple-A season was remarkable and his small taste of the bigs wasn’t due to any fault of his own. In the minors last season, he hit 22 homers and stole 26 bases while hitting .291/.381/.535. He has strike-out issues, but he’s consistently been in the mid-20s throughout his time in the minors. While facing the advanced Triple-A pitching last year, he struck out in line with his career norm at 26.2% which bodes well for him going forward. He balances the swing and miss with a great feel for the zone and his 13% walk rate was consistent with his history as well.
2022 likely will result in more coffee for Lowe, although likely it’ll be an up and down year if a new CBA doesn’t inspire Tampa to stop manipulating service time. The Rays outfield is relatively full as well, so unless trades are made there will be a competition for playing time. When Lowe gets the chance for consistent at-bats in the majors, watch out for that tantalizing power/speed combination. (Chris Knock)
51. George Valera, Cleveland Guardians (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 66)
The pure beautiful left-handed stroke from the Queens, NY native is starting to turn heads. Long has it been said that this is one of the best looking swings in the minors but it just hadn’t come to fruition until the 2021 season. Valera is currently the number one prospect for an interesting group for the Guardians. The stat line for the 2021 season was a .260 Average, .405 On-Base Percentage and a .505 Slugging with 19 Home Runs and 11 Stolen bases. With a 66/88 walk to strikeout ratio Valera is showing how to control the strike zone. The strikeout percentage is a bit high for my taste coming in at 30 Percent but with the walks and the power this will be a controlled approach and I would say he is sitting on “His” pitch to come a bit too often. He is only 21 through the majority of the 2022 season but we may see a late season call-up to the majors as long as he keeps the bat hot. This is one of my favorite prospects and to be honest the Guardians are gonna need all the help they can get in the outfield. (Brian Shanks)
52. Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 94)
We might be one of the few outlets to move Duran this far UP our lists after the 2021 season. Reports from the alternate site in 2020 were nothing short of glowing, and he was cast as America’s darling last offseason. His Triple-A performance to open the year showed some holes, but enough promise to earn a promotion to the big league club. Some folks may feel that “heartbreaking” would be too strong of a word to describe his initial showing, but those folks are certainly not Boston fans. With his helium, anything short of the second coming of Johnny Damon was going to disappoint.
Around those holes that got exposed last year, there are still the solid-to-elite skills that had scouts and fans drooling just one year ago. Duran hit 16 home runs and stole 16 bases in just 60 games in the minors. He had a double-digit walk rate in Triple-A with a strikeout rate under 24%. According to The Athletic (https://theathletic.com/2917387/2021/10/29/nine-red-sox-prospects-who-could-play-a-big-league-role-in-2022/), he will be heading back there to start 2022 for that final bit of seasoning, but he could easily tap into his immense potential for the Red Sox this year and make good on the hype soon. (Aaron Cumming)
53. Jorge Soler, Free Agent (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 41)
Soler might possess the league’s most powerful bat. He has posted a max exit velocity above 114 MPH every year that Statcast has existed. He slugged 48 home runs in a season while playing in one of the worst parks for power in the league. In last year’s World Series, he hit one of the most impressive home runs I have ever seen. He doesn’t have “light tower” power; he has “lightyear” power, because I’m pretty sure that ball ended up in outer space.
The biggest issue with Soler (and it’s a big issue) is that his season with those 48 home runs accounted for more than half of his career total across 7 seasons entering 2021. This past year didn’t do a lot to assuage those concerns, either, because he was injured and inconsistent yet again. But boy oh boy, when he got rolling in the second half, he was a monster. As one of the most interesting remaining free agents, there’s just as much speculation where he will land as there was where his World Series home run landed. (Aaron Cumming)
54. Austin Martin, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 32)
Austin Martin was drafted in the 1st round, number 5 overall in the 2020 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Coming out of Vanderbuilt, Martin’s hit tool was his best graded attribute and in 2021 it did not disappoint. Tasked with being placed directly in Double-A, Austin Martin had a .281 average in 196 at-bats before being traded to the Minnesota Twins along with Simeon Woods-Richardson for Jose Berrios. The average dropped just a tad when he arrived at the Twins Double-A affiliate but it still came in at .254. Splitting time between Centerfield and Shortstop so far, I love the potential of him having dual eligibility. Uber athletes sometimes don’t translate to the baseball field but this is a baseball player in an athlete’s body, not an athlete trying to play baseball. Not sure we will see a high power output from Martin as he only hit 14 in a 140 total games in college but could see low double digits with some good stolen base numbers and a really nice batting average. We could be looking at a perennial all-star that is never gonna hurt your fantasy team. (Brian Shanks)
55. Avisaíl García, Miami Marlins (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 127)
Man, I love Avisaíl García. After dropping down to 127 in our rankings prior to the 2021 season, the dude went out and ATE this year, putting up a delectable .262/.330/.490 slash with 29 ding-dongs and 154 combined runs and RBI. Why yes sir, I’d like another helping of that, yes I very much would. And you know what’s even better? I think it’s sustainable! He may lose a few homers now that he’s down south in Miami and I know steals are a crapshoot, but between an excellent max exit velocity (116.7 mph) and a solid barrel rate rebound (career-high 12.2%), I think García’s laying the groundwork to be an absolute steal in drafts this year. (Taylor Case)
56. Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees (Age: 19, Previous Rank: 28)
Okay, first off being ranked in the top 50 of pretty much every prospect list before he had even swung a bat on U.S. soil, I gotta say I was massively skeptical. I watched really closely all year to see if the hype was legit. I was not impressed. I can’t help but think of a quote from Braveheart when I think of over-hyped prospects, “So I’ve heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he’d consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse.” Now all of this doesn’t mean Jasson had a BAD year. In 186 at bats at the single-A affiliate for the Yankees at 18 years old he had a respectable .258 Average and a .346 On-Base Percentage. Yet when I really dive into what he did I see the strikeout percentage sitting at a whopping 36 percent and a slugging percentage of .398. I was turned off by the hype to start off and the first year stats have me backing away slowly. But remember he is only 19 years old and this is the beginning of a novel and not a magazine. I would preach patience, lots and lots of patience, if you are a believer. Just try not to read too much into the Yankees hype train. (Brian Shanks)
57. Brandon Marsh, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 69)
First off, we should be rooting on Brandon Marsh for his unbelievable amount of confidence. I mean, any sort of wind in Anaheim and that beard’s liable to flab right up over his peepers with a fastball on the way. Truly a bearded man’s hero. Anecdotes aside, I think Marsh has real sleeper appeal heading into 2022, despite the (perhaps true) notion in the industry that sleepers don’t exist. At the very least, he could solidly veer right (into our hearts) when everyone’s drafting left.
First off, he appears to be cemented in the Angels lineup, one I consider to be above-average when healthy. Good start. Second, he’s a solid defender, further solidifying that lineup spot. Sign me up. Third, that healthy beard. I mean, come on. Fourth, his max exit velocity was solid last year, he showed a willingness to steal some bags, and looking at his walk rates over the last few years, I’m confident he can get on base at a much better pace. All the pieces are there for a mini-breakout. With just a dash more upwards launch angle, I think Marsh could have a 15/15 season. (Taylor Case)
58. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 34)
Much like Chris Taylor a spots from here, Ian Happ is well-prepped to outperform his current NFBC ADP of 180. There are absolutely holes in his game (hello, 29.2% strikeout rate!), but season-long statline doesn’t tell the whole story here, which led me to rank him quite a bit higher than the consensus at #44.
His first half was bad. No doubt about that. A .183 batting average and .626 OPS with one (1) steal across his first 269 plate appearances is pretty stinky. But like a phoenix, this dude rose from the fricking ashes after the All-Star game. He out on an absolute power show over his next 266 PA’s, smoking 16 over the fence while stealing 8 bags. I’ll take it! I know first- to second-half stats are not always perfect tells when it comes to predicting future success, but color me intrigued. (Taylor Case)
59. Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 77)
Hays is a tantalizing athlete that has been teasing fantasy players and Orioles fans since his debut in 2017. Still only 26 and coming off of a semi-breakout year, expectations have pinnacled at the same time the organization’s tolerance may have reached a breaking point. His overall statline was solid, but he really showed what he can do in his 72 second half appearances. He clubbed 13 home runs, stole 3 bases and hit .264. That paces out to almost exactly what Avisaíl García (#55 on this list) did last year, and Hays is 4 years younger. The Orioles have a few young, exciting outfield prospects, but it seems unlikely that they will displace Austin any time soon. He was firmly entrenched in the top half of the Baltimore lineup in September, and even if they struggle, he could get enough at-bats to rack up 170+ runs and RBIs combined. (Aaron Cumming)
60. Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 39 at SS)
Chris Taylor is a fine fantasy baseball player. And I mean that in a very good way. I, for one, and after further review, am appalled at where I ranked him this year (all the way down at #80). He does just about everything a dynasty manager could want, and he does most of those things well, evidenced by his .254/.344/.438 slash with 20 homers, 13 steals, and a cool 165 runs and RBI.
The elephant in the room was an atrocious month of September, but my guess is that was related to the pinched nerve injury we heard about later in the season. At around pick 150 in drafts right now, Taylor is well worth targeting in both redrafts and dynasty leagues as a potential 5-category contributor well off the beaten path. (Taylor Case)