Top Fantasy Baseball Performers – Week 1
The first week of the 2022 season is in the books, and with it, the first notable performances across the fantasy landscape have been noted. It is high time to overreact to small sample performances and get excited about rookie debuts and new faces in new places. Here are the top performers from a fantasy perspective across the first week of games: 10 each of the hitter and pitcher variety, with three honorable mentions on each side of the ball.
Rankings are based on Razzball standard 12-team rotisserie dollar values (listed in parentheses) from the first week of the season (4/7 – 4/13). The positions listed are based on Yahoo! eligibility.
1. José Ramírez – 3B, Cleveland Guardians ($68.5)
Week 1 Stats: 28 PA, .480 AVG, 5 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, 1.576 OPS
A first-round pick in every fantasy draft in the preseason, Ramírez is proving to be worth the early selection. He hit a grand slam on Tuesday as part of a three-hit performance and followed that up with another three-hit performance that included another dinger. That makes three games in which he’s combined three base knocks with a home run already this season, performances that have helped him lead all of baseball in RBI through the first week.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 1B, Toronto Blue Jays ($53.7)
Week 1 Stats: 24 PA, .391 AVG, 6 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.374 OPS
2021 AL MVP runner-up, Guerrero Jr., was on pace for a mediocre week before exploding in Wednesday’s contest against the New York Yankees. He took Gerrit Cole deep twice before tacking on a third home run in the 8th inning for the second three-homer game of his young career. With more performances like this, fantasy owners won’t be regretting foregoing speed in the first round to get a player of his caliber at the dish.
3. Owen Miller – 1B/2B, Cleveland Guardians ($52.7)
Week 1 Stats: 22 PA, .524 AVG, 8 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 1.593 OPS
Miller is easily the most unheralded player in this article, but he exploded for a few huge performances throughout the first week, including a two-homer game on Wednesday that extended his streak of multi-hit games to four in a row entering Thursday. One of the pieces of the Mike Clevinger trade at the 2020 deadline, Miller has shown a solid hit tool throughout his minor league career but didn’t do much upon arriving in the Majors for a 60-game sample last year. With full playing time on the right side of the infield, the right-handed hitter won’t keep this pace up, but he could provide solid value as a waiver pickup in 15-team leagues.
4. Nolan Arenado – 3B, St. Louis Cardinals ($48.2)
Week 1 Stats: 17 PA, .438 AVG, 5 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.659 OPS
The St. Louis Cardinals’ star third baseman has gotten off to a blistering start to the season and it may be a result of the work he did in the offseason to get back to his former MVP-caliber self. Arenado was apparently dissatisfied with his performance in his first year in St. Louis and put in a lot of work in the offseason to get his swing right. That extra work seems to be paying off as he already has a four-hit game under his belt and is one of just nine players with three or more dingers in the first week of games.
5. Myles Straw – OF, Cleveland Guardians ($47.8)
Week 1 Stats: 31 PA, .360 AVG, 9 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 SB, .884 OPS
As a player with little power but game-changing wheels, it’s not surprising to see Straw reap the majority of his value from the havoc he wreaks on the basepaths. The speedy outfielder hit balls into open holes, beat out infield knocks, and swiped a few bags to garner top-five fantasy performer honors in his first week of games since signing an extension with the Cleveland Guardians right before Opening Day. He should continue to hit atop the Cleveland lineup, and as long as he continues to get on base, he will keep swiping bases at one of the highest rates in the Majors.
6. Luis Robert – OF, Chicago White Sox ($45.6)
Week 1 Stats: 21 PA, .350 AVG, 6 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SB, 1.081 OPS
After an injury-marred 2021 campaign, Robert is looking to finally break out into the upper echelon of fantasy baseball stars with the help of his incredible combination of power and speed. He entered Thursday with a share of the Major League lead in stolen bases while mashing home runs in each of the previous two days. With more performances like this, Robert could easily be this year’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr; a player who was drafted outside the first round that finally breaks out, providing first-round value in the process.
Note: Razzball’s player rater had not updated White Sox player stats for some reason, so while I did put Robert’s updated stats through Wednesday, the dollar value does not accurately reflect his fantasy value so far.
7. Seiya Suzuki – OF, Chicago Cubs ($43)
Week 1 Stats: 21 PA, .400 AVG, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.524 OPS
Suzuki could not have gotten off to a better start in his stateside debut with the Cubs. The NPB All-Star walked in his first MLB plate appearance and later recorded the first hit of his career in that same game. He turned it up a notch later in the week, belting his first Major League dinger Sunday before notching his first multi-homer game in his very next appearance on Monday. That is a good way to gain the good graces of the hometown fans.
8. Ji-Man Choi – 1B, Tampa Bay Rays ($40.1)
Week 1 Stats: 21 PA, .562 AVG, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 1.729 OPS
Choi was on the bench for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Opening Day, but he made up for lost time by going off the rest of the week. He recorded a hit in each of his starts and took things to another level on Tuesday with a three-for-three performance that included a home run before tacking on another long ball on Wednesday. There is no way he keeps up this pace, but it’s awesome to see such a likable player have success early on.
9. George Springer – OF, Toronto Blue Jays ($39.7)
Week 1 Stats: 29 PA, .370 AVG, 5 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 1.118 OPS
There has never been any doubt surrounding Springer’s ability, it has always been a matter of whether or not he can stay on the field for a full season. Last year, he began the year with an oblique injury that kept him out for the first two months of the campaign, so it’s a good sign that he is healthy to start the year. As the leadoff batter for one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball, Springer should have many run-scoring opportunities in his future.
10. Josh Bell – 1B, Washington Nationals ($38)
Week 1 Stats: 30 PA, .346 AVG, 7 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 1.048 OPS
With what might be the quietest top-10 fantasy performance of the week, Bell made this edition because of his consistency. The hulking first baseman rattled off a hit in each of the Washington Nationals’ games this past week and added a couple of bombs for good measure. Hitting behind the likes of Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz should continue to provide him with plenty of opportunities to drive in a boatload of runs.
Honorable Mentions: Steven Kwan, Wander Franco, Alex Bregman
Kwan ($35.6) was the most talked-about player throughout the league as a result of his sensational streak of 116 pitches without a swing and miss to start his career. His elite eye helped him bat .526 (29 PA) last week, as he set multiple records for most times on base through his first “X” number of games and he didn’t strike out for the first time in his career until Wednesday. Switch-hitting phenom, Franco ($32.1), continued what he started last season and is slowly proving that he is the real deal, batting .440 (27 PA) with a 1.084 OPS. He has an amazing eye for someone his age, and after signing a huge contract extension in the offseason, is going to be a superstar in the Tampa Bay Rays’ lineup for years to come. After starting off scorching hot in the power department, Bregman ($30.3) has cooled down a little, but his torrid start did earn him AL Player of the Week. That was enough to land him an honorable mention as there were so many players to choose from, but his .333 AVG (24 PA) and .994 OPS were more than deserving of a spot on the list.
1. Tylor Megill – SP, New York Mets ($39.9)
Week 1 Stats: 2 W, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP
Starting on Opening Day for a team that employs Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt was enough to get Megill noticed on the national stage, and he did not disappoint with two amazing starts to begin his season. Improved mechanics have helped the tall 26-year old add a couple of ticks to his fastball (94.7 mph in ‘21, 96.5 mph in ‘22), resulting in two scoreless starts (@WSH & @PHI). The change to his windup and the resulting uptick in velocity have many believing that Megill is breaking out into more than just a solid Major League starter, giving the New York Mets an abundance of riches in their stacked rotation once deGrom returns from the IL.
2. Clayton Kershaw – SP, Los Angeles Dodgers ($39)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP
The legendary lefty was part of one of the most controversial moments of the young season when he was pulled after tossing seven innings of perfect baseball with 13 strikeouts with his pitch count sitting at 80. The performance itself was undebatably magnificent, but whether or not Dave Roberts should have let him go out for the eighth inning was heavily debated on social media Wednesday evening. The future Hall-of-Famer has dealt with a countless number of injuries throughout recent years, but there are very few instances in which a pitcher gets this close to perfection, so it’s pretty disappointing to not see Kershaw get the chance to push himself for what could have been just the 24th perfect game in the history of baseball.
3. Jhoulys Chacín – RP, Colorado Rockies ($32.5)
Week 1 Stats: 2 W, 4.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.23 WHIP
Easily the most surprising addition to the list, Chacín secured his spot by vulturing two wins out of the bullpen. In each of his appearances, he logged at least five outs without allowing a hit. The veteran righty should continue to fill the role of swingman in the Colorado Rockies’ pen, but he won’t be accruing a win in every appearance going forward.
4. Kyle Gibson – SP, Philadelphia Phillies ($32)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.29 WHIP
Gibson got an appealing matchup in his first start of the season, taking on the depleted Oakland A’s lineup, and he did not disappoint. The veteran right-hander shut down the A’s across seven innings while notching double-digit strikeouts for just the fourth time in his nine-year career. He gets another juicy matchup against the Miami Marlins on Thursday, but from there, he’ll need to bear down as he heads to Coors Field in Denver.
5. Sean Manaea – SP, San Diego Padres ($29.4)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 13 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 1.39 ERA, 0.54 WHIP
Manaea has gotten off to a great start in a San Diego Padres jersey. He made it through seven hitless innings in his debut in Arizona on Friday and followed that great performance up with another one, going six strong and allowing just two earned in San Francisco. The Padres have a plethora of aces in their rotation and Manaea just adds to the list as he backs up his solid 2021 with more great pitching performances in 2022.
6. Kyle Wright – SP, Atlanta Braves ($23.9)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP
Since being drafted fifth overall in 2017, Wright has gotten plenty of looks in the big league rotation, but he has never stuck long enough to really show what he’s made of. This might be the year he finally gets to stay in the rotation for a full year and break out in full. He turned a lot of heads by shutting out the Cincinnati Reds across six innings in Atlanta on Saturday, and he has enough talent to keep adding to that performance, setting him up to be a reliable addition to the Braves’ rotation throughout the year.
7. Chris Bassitt – SP, New York Mets ($23.2)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
In his New York Mets debut, Bassitt was at his best, holding the Washington Nationals scoreless and allowing just four baserunners through six innings of work. The veteran righty backed up his 2020 breakout with an All-Star selection in 2021, and he looks to be getting off to an equally adequate start this year. As previously mentioned, the Mets have a loaded rotation but will be counting on Bassitt to be an innings-eater as the team is already dealing with injuries to deGrom and Taijuan Walker. A start against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his next turn will be a solid platform for him to continue his success.
8. Logan Webb – SP, San Francisco Giants ($23.2)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 14 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP
Webb broke out with a remarkable three-month run at the end of last season, making him one of the best up-and-coming aces in baseball. So far, in his first two starts of the season, he has continued that trend. On Opening Day, he pitched six solid innings against the Miami Marlins but only racked up three strikeouts, allowing just one run and six baserunners. Wednesday versus the San Diego Padres, however, he was amazing, with an MLB single-game high of eight innings pitched, as he held the Friars to just one run and four hits with seven whiffs.
9. Michael Lorenzen – SP, Los Angeles Angels ($22.5)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.33 WHIP
Former two-way reliever, Lorenzen, has started just five times since he started 21 games in his 2015 rookie season. In his debut as a starter for the Los Angeles Angels, he turned in a more than solid performance, keeping the Miami Marlins’ bats at bay for 18 outs. His fastball sat at 95 mph and his secondaries were working well in tandem, but he may not have as much success next time out as he faces the mighty Houston Astros.
10. Dylan Bundy – SP, Minnesota Twins ($20.4)
Week 1 Stats: 1 W, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP
In his first start as a member of the Minnesota Twins, Bundy quietly shut out the Seattle Mariners across five solid innings. Impressively, he only allowed two baserunners, keeping the basepaths quiet and earning his first win of the season. He turned to his fastball a little too much, however, leading to the low strikeout total and making it difficult to buy into the possibility of him pitching at this level in his next start, which will come Monday against the Boston Red Sox.
Honorable Mentions: Garrett Whitlock, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Romano
He may end up in the rotation by year’s end, but Whitlock ($20.2) made two quality relief appearances this past week. In his second outing, he covered the final four innings of the game, keeping the Detroit Tigers hitless and securing the win. Wainwright ($19.2) continues to evade father time and proved that his 2021 campaign wasn’t the only renaissance season he’ll have to close out his career. The 40-year old right-hander pitched six shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day, setting the tone for the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation. Toronto closer, Romano ($18.9), led baseball with four saves in the first week of action, holding opposing teams scoreless across his four appearances. In his first year closing in 2021, he saved 23 ballgames, and he should be able to easily surpass that number this year as he enters with no competition for the job on one of the best teams in the Majors.
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