Top Fantasy Baseball Performers – Week 13
We are now officially halfway through the 2022 MLB season. Congratulation for making it this far, and I hope the team you root for or your fantasy teams are performing swimmingly. This point in the year is a great time to reflect on what your teams have done and how they might improve going forward. The same can be said for players, who may need to implement a significant change in approach to go off in the second half. That being said, we are only halfway through the season, meaning there is still so much that is going to happen and players can change the outlooks of their season drastically across the next three months. Hang on for the wild ride! Let’s check in on the top 10 hitters and pitchers from around the league during week 13, with honorable mentions and position-specific honors making sure that everyone is spoken for.
Rankings are based on Fantasy Pros player rater rankings from the 13th week of the season (6/30 – 7/6). The player rater is 5×5 rotisserie-based because that is the most universal format, making it easy to compare players across different sites. Position eligibility is listed according to ESPN. All stats via Fangraphs and Pitcher List.
*Note: You’ll notice new formatting beneath the weekly stats. I’ve added a running tally of each player’s weekly recognitions instead of mentioning them inside the blurb for each player. This will be a regular feature moving forward.
1. Patrick Wisdom – 3B/1B/OF, Chicago Cubs
Week 13 Stats: 33 PA, .286 AVG, 6 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 1.037 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Two, Week Seven
Conventional wisdom suggests that the player with the most combined homers and steals will more often than not be the most valuable fantasy baseball asset. This week, Wisdom turned on jets that I wasn’t aware he had, swiping a trio of bags and blasting a trio of dingers to bring his total to 17 on the season. The corner infielder is not your typical speedster, as he more than doubled his stolen base output for the season, giving him a career-high of five with more than half of the season still to go. At the plate, he still strikes out a lot (34.2%, the third-highest qualified rate), but he made enough contact this week to land as the top weekly performer.
2. Austin Riley – 3B/1B, Atlanta Braves
Week 13 Stats: 29 PA, .519 AVG, 7 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.552 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Eight
Rightly honored for his contributions at the dish, Riley finished the week with the second-highest average (min. 10 PA) and the highest OPS (min. 20 PA) while also mashing a few long balls. He boosted his season slash line to .273/.340/.543 (350 PA) with the hot week and there are many metrics that point to Riley having improved on last season’s breakout. Bringing his strikeouts within 1% of last year’s career-low rate has helped him stave off the inevitable BABIP regression that he’s experienced, but he’s offset his 30-point drop in average by hitting for more power (43-point jump in ISO to .270) and his 141 wRC+ is better than last year’s 134 mark because of the reduced offensive environment in 2022.
3. Kyle Schwarber – OF/1B, Philadelphia Phillies
Week 13 Stats: 25 PA, .333 AVG, 6 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.318 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Two, Week 12
We knew Schwarber was good in June (he was the cover boy for the monthly top performers article) in each of the last two seasons, but last year, he got injured just as July started, so we had no idea if he would be able to carry his early summer surge through the second half. The left-handed slugger has proven thus far that July is no different for him, so maybe this is just a case of a player enjoying months that start with the letter “J”. He led the Majors in homers in week 13, continuing the trend he set last month and placing his season total at 27 – the second-most dingers in baseball behind Aaron Judge’s 30.
4. Julio Rodríguez – OF, Seattle Mariners
Week 13 Stats: 25 PA, .348 AVG, 7 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, 1.270 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Four, Week Seven, Week 11
Excluding Wisdom, Rodríguez was the only player to send three balls over the fence and swipe multiple bags. He has been the premier power-speed threat in baseball throughout the season, despite the fact he’s making his Major League debut. Not only did he become the fastest player in MLB history to reach 15 homers and 20 steals to start his career, but he’s the only player in the Majors with at least 15 homers and 15 steals and he’s doing it all while batting .277 (339 PA) atop the Seattle lineup. A 115 mph max exit velocity (97th percentile) and a 29.6 ft/s sprint speed (97th percentile), reveal his raw talent, but his innate feel for hitting and putting his skills to use is what has made him the sixth most-valuable fantasy asset ($36.9) so far this season, according to the Razzball player rater, and has tied him for the most weekly selections among hitters.
5. Ramón Laureano – OF, Oakland Athletics
Week 13 Stats: 30 PA, .292 AVG, 7 R, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 1.225 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
A PED suspension kept Laureano on the bench for the first month of the season, and it took him a while to get into a groove, but with the calendar flipping to July, he’s finally been able to reintroduce some power to his game. He did so in a big way, tying for the second-most homers while also adding a stolen base for good measure to land on this list for the first time. I would call his return a success, as he’s sporting improved plate discipline (career-high 9.8% BB%, career-low 22.9% K%), leading to the second-best wRC+ (122) of his career that pairs nicely with his power-speed contributions (six homers, eight steals).
6. Justin Turner – 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Week 13 Stats: 27 PA, .542 AVG, 5 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 1.472 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
I was in on Turner as a middle-of-the-pack fantasy third baseman this offseason because I was enamored with his consistent efforts of well-above-average offensive production. Unfortunately, the 37-year-old has struggled at the plate all season, entering July with a .227/.298/.375 slash line (289 PA) and just six long balls. He turned everything around by leading batters (min. 10 PA) in average while matching half of his home run total from the previous three months. It’s going to take some time for the veteran member of the hot corner to turn his season-long numbers all the way around, but this hot week bumped his wRC+ up nine points to 99 and improved his season slash to .245/.313/.394 (313 PA), giving hope to fantasy managers that held on to him through the dark times that they will reap the rewards in the second half.
7. Whit Merrifield – 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals
Week 13 Stats: 28 PA, .375 AVG, 8 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 SB, 1.131 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Six
Whit made fans at the field merry with his offensive contributions across week 13. He was a menace on the basepaths and even chipped in his fourth homer of the year off cover boy Cristian Javier, all while improving his batting average 11 points to .239 (360 PA) and his wRC+ 12 points to 77. It’s been a disappointing campaign for the perennial fantasy favorite, as his numbers at the plate are the worst of his career. He’s made up for it by doing his usual thing on the basepaths, sitting with 14 thefts, but I think many fantasy managers have to be disappointed with what they’ve gotten from him. The only positive I can see right now is that his horrid April (.129 average [84 PA] with just three doubles) is dragging down his season-long line because, since the beginning of May, the right-handed-hitter is batting .270 (276 PA) with four homers and 11 steals, which is right in line with last season’s pace.
8. Daulton Varsho – C/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Week 13 Stats: 20 PA, .400 AVG, 4 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB, 1.150 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Seven
Daulton has Var-showed us all season-long why he was such a coveted catcher in fantasy drafts entering 2022. Not only does he provide a power-speed combination that is difficult to find among backstops, but he also plays more often than his contemporaries because he can start in the outfield and gets some opportunities at designated hitter as one of the better bats on his team. In week 13, he was adept at driving in baserunners, leading baseball in RBI while adding a couple of dingers and a swiped bag. He’s up to 12 homers and five steals on the season, has been just as good as last year (three points better in wRC+ ), and is showing more power (in terms of barrels [9.1%]) that will soon result in escalated over-the-fence pop because he is pulling the ball more than ever (56.9%).
9. Jorge Polanco – 2B/SS, Minnesota Twins
Week 13 Stats: 26 PA, .238 AVG, 5 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.156 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
Polanco missed the last couple of weeks of June with an injury, but he returned with a bang (no, not the energy drink). Four moonshots tied him for second in baseball and comprised 80% of his hits for the week. After the best campaign of his career in 2021, the middle infielder hasn’t been able to replicate last year’s success, but what he has done is completely alter his plate approach. He is swinging less often (-6.8% from ‘21 to 42.5%) because pitchers are afraid to attack him (career-low 39.3% zone rate), and he’s making less contact than ever (76.3%), but he’s made up for his career-worst strikeout rate (22.4%, 5.8% higher than his next-highest) by walking more than at any other point in his career (12.9%, 4.4% higher than his next-highest).
10. Nolan Arenado – 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Week 13 Stats: 26 PA, .500 AVG, 3 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 1.539 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week One
The hot topic of the season’s first month, Arenado has taken a while to reclaim the fire that lit his early-season success. After batting .375 (81 PA) with five dingers in April, the All-Star third baseman hit just .244 (230 PA) with nine dingers across the next two months. He has recaptured that April form with two noteworthy performances in week 13, hitting for the cycle to start the week and following that up as a member of the Cardinals’ back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers in the first inning the following game, during which he added another tater later on. Those historic outings resulted in the second-highest OPS of the week (min. 20 PA) and brought his season line to .295/.356/.534 (337 PA) with 17 long balls and a 150 wRC+, a top-15 mark among qualified hitters.
Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Schoop
While he may not have been the league’s most powerful hitter, batting .435 (25 PA) with six runs, no homers, a singular RBI, and a .958 OPS, Schoop (13th ranked hitter) did swipe three bags and had a perfect 4-4 game to give him his most productive fantasy week of the season. The second baseman has maintained an everyday role in Detroit despite batting just .209 (307 PA) with the lowest qualified wRC+ (57) in the Majors. He earned recognition this week because of his wheels, but it was a clear aberration, as the trio of steals in a week was more than he’s stolen in any season of his career.
Catcher of the Week: J.T. Realmuto
With Varsho earning a spot inside the top-10 as the number one catcher, Realmuto (25th ranked hitter) got a shot at recognition for the first time this season. In week 13, the veteran backstop batted .316 (21 PA) with four runs, a duo of dingers, five RBI, a steal, and a .965 OPS. He improved upon a dreadful start to the season that saw him post a .235/.314/.358 slash line (274 PA) entering the week and now sits with a wRC+ (95) five points higher than it was at the beginning of the week.
1. Corbin Burnes – SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 13 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 15 K, 0.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Eight
As a result of Milwaukee’s unwillingness to push their pitches for more than one start a week, Burnes has been adversely affected in these articles, and his total of weekly honors doesn’t accurately depict his status as the most reliable and established ace in the Majors. He had a nice week, tying for the lowest ERA and the second-lowest WHIP among two-start pitchers while racking up the fourth-most strikeouts. His four hits allowed were the fewest by a starter with at least two appearances. Those two outings came against the Pirates and Cubs, with the latter being the more impressive of the two as he shut the North Siders out across seven frames with double-digit strikeouts and a whopping 26 whiffs. According to Pitcher List, his 34.5% CSW across all of his pitches is the third-highest rate in baseball, and he has the fourth-highest dollar value on Razzball’s player rater ($30.3), painting him as an elite strike getter and baseball’s premier pitcher.
2. Max Fried – SP, Atlanta Braves
Week 13 Stats: 2 W, 13 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.69 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week 10
In spite of lower strikeout totals than the elite fantasy aces, Fried might be the most reliable starter night-in and night-out. Since his unfortunate Opening Day start, the left-hander has given up more than three earned runs just twice in 16 starts and owns a 2.21 ERA (101.2 IP) and a 0.99 WHIP while averaging more than six innings per start, but his 23.5% K% isn’t close to elite. Nonetheless, he shut down both the Reds and Cardinals, resulting in a tie for the lowest ERA in the Majors and his being positioned as just one of four starters with two wins across week 13. He was also one of two two-start pitchers that didn’t walk multiple batters. Avoiding the damage that comes with more contact because of his reduced strikeout rate, Fried excels at coaxing grounders (52.1%) and limiting free passes (4%), resulting in the 10th-best xwOBA (.260), according to Pitcher List.
3. Cristian Javier – SP, Houston Astros
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 12 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 21 K, 4.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Seven, Week 12
Following up last week’s 13 strikeout outing as part of a combined no-hitter, Javier was somehow even better in his first start of week 13 against the Angels. He topped last week’s performance by striking out a jaw-dropping 14 batters, tying Sandy Alcantara for the most strikeouts in a single game this season, and earning three more whiffs (23) while sporting an elite CSW 13 points higher (43.4%) than his hitless start, with his only blemish being a Shohei Ohtani leadoff home run. A five-run start against the Royals later in the week held him back from taking over the number one spot, but he revealed his sky-high ceiling with his two incredible starts, finishing the week with four more strikeouts than anyone else and the lowest WHIP among two-start pitchers. The right-hander now owns a 3.01 ERA (74.2 IP) and the fourth-highest strikeout rate (34.1%) in the Majors (min. 70 IP).
4. Spenser Watkins – SP, Baltimore Orioles
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 12.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1.42 ERA, 0.71 WHIP
Weekly Honors: N/A
Watkins had batters waiting in suspense(er) for him to unleash his cutter that earned 10 whiffs combined in his starts against the Twins and Rangers. In each of those outings, he didn’t allow more than one earned run or more than five baserunners as he lowered his season-long ERA and WHIP to 4.15 and 1.38 respectively (47.2 IP). The 29-year-old second-year starter struggled to an 8.07 ERA (54.2 IP) in 2021 and has struck out a minuscule 12.6% of batters this season, leading me to not buy into his solid week. Nonetheless, he earned his moment in the sun in week 13 and will forever be able to lay claim to the honor.
5. Sandy Alcantara – SP, Miami Marlins
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Three, Week Seven, Week Eight, Week Nine
He’s done it! With his fifth weekly honor, Alcantara moves into sole possession of the most weekly mentions so far this season. He earned his chart-topping selection by being the best one-start pitcher of week 13, shutting out the Angels in a masterful outing during which he induced 18 whiffs while punching out double-digit batters for just the second time this season. Allowing just two baserunners across eight frames, Alcantara had the lowest WHIP among starters and placed his season-long numbers in elite territory. His 1.82 ERA is the third-lowest among qualifiers, his 0.91 WHIP is the fifth-best mark among qualifiers, and he has pitched 12 more innings (123.1) than anyone else in baseball. His most impressive feat right now is probably the fact that he’s gone at least seven frames in each of his last 11 starts while only giving up more than two earned runs in one of those outings, sporting a 1.33 ERA (87.2 IP) and a 0.74 WHIP with a 19.1% K-BB% during that span.
6. Merrill Kelly – SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 9 K, 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Five
Prior to his first weekly honor, Kelly was holding a 1.27 ERA (28.1 IP) through April, which dropped nearly half a run in the week he was recognized, and then fell precipitously in his starts leading up to this week. In between this week and week five, Kelly posted a 5.57 ERA (42 IP) revealing that the rhythm he had with his changeup early on and his increased heater velocity weren’t going to last throughout the entirety of the season. He bounced back in a big way in week 13, however, with an impressive seven-inning one-run start in hitter-haven Coors Field before racking up his second-most whiffs (15) in a start this season in his matchup against the Giants, combining for the second-most innings in MLB across the outings. As I stated in my previous blurb about the right-hander, Kelly is more of a roster-filler because he doesn’t secure tons of strikeouts (20%) and doesn’t make up for it with standout skills in any other category or overwhelming pitches, but he will eat innings and produce a sub-4.00 ERA (3.42 ERA, 97.1 IP).
7. Luis Severino – RP/SP, New York Yankees
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.75 WHIP
Weekly Honors: N/A
I was legitimately surprised to find out that Severino has yet to make one of these articles, as he has been pretty spectacular in his return from Tommy John surgery, as he owns a 3.11 ERA (84 IP), a 1.02 WHIP, and a 27.9% strikeout rate. His two starts in week 13 both lasted 18 outs but also saw him fail to strike out more than four batters in each of them, the first time this season he’s failed to do so in consecutive outings. His slider and changeup just failed to get whiffs, but that hasn’t been a problem for him all season long as he owns the 16th-best swinging-strike rate (12.8%) among qualified starters, but even without swings and misses, he was still good enough to earn his first weekly honor. In his next start against the lowly Reds, Severino will be set up wonderfully for a game with loads of whiffs to get him back on track in that department.
8. Luis Garcia – SP, Houston Astros
Week 13 Stats: 2 W, 11.2 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 4.63 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Weekly Honors: N/A
Another Luis that has been great all season yet hasn’t earned a weekly selection? I’m shook! Garcia didn’t even have that great of a week, but he was one of four starters with two victories and had a top-five strikeout total. A start against the Yankees early in the week was his peak and his placement on this list was depressed by a five-run outing in an easier matchup against the Royals later in the week. I think Garcia had his schedule mixed up. While he hasn’t been as good as he was in his rookie campaign, he still owns a 3.81 ERA (82.2 IP) and a 1.09 WHIP with a 25.7% strikeout rate that should climb because he induces swings and misses at the eighth-highest rate (13.8%) among qualifiers.
9. Brad Keller – SP, Kansas City Royals
Week 13 Stats: 2 W, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 8 K, 3.09 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Four
The third of three players to make this list in part because of a duo of wins, Keller dominated the Tigers before a less-than-stellar start against the mighty Astros. It’s hard to imagine that he makes too many lists in the future, given his 15.4%/8.1% K%/BB%, 194th in baseball 23.4% CSW (according to Pitcher List), and his inability to limit hard contact (38.3% hard-hit rate), but he makes up for his misgiving by eating innings and forcing batters to hit the ball into the ground 54.5% of the time, which has helped him to a 4.37 ERA (90.2 IP) and a 1.33 WHIP. He lines up for a cushy matchup against the Tigers in his next outing, so he may get another shot at a productive start before his team heads to Toronto.
10. Aaron Nola – SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Week 13 Stats: 1 W, 14.2 IP, 14 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 4.30 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Eight
How do you mitigate a 4.00+ ERA across a week? Pitch the most innings in baseball while sporting a serviceable-enough WHIP. Nola gutted out at least seven frames in each of his starts, earning 16 whiffs and a 37.3% CSW against the Braves before surviving 23 outs against the Nationals. He has pitched through a terrible defense behind him, sporting a 3.15 ERA (111.1 IP) that could even improve because of his ability to strike batters out (27.8% K%), limit free passes (3.5% BB%), and steer clear of hard-contact (32.1% hard-hit rate). While his four-seamer (.166 xAVG) and sinker (34.4% CSW) have been incredible offerings, his curveball has been absolutely insane, earning the sixth-highest rate of swings and misses (21.3%) and the 18th-best CSW (39.8%), according to Pitcher List.
Honorable Mentions: Cole Irvin
Without a weekly mention all year, I felt Irvin (18th ranked pitcher) was deserving after he tossed the best outing of his season, holding the dangerous Blue Jays to just one run and four hits across eight frames with four punchouts to earn the win. He is not a standout among starters but as one of the few Major League caliber players on the last-place A’s, he has earned his spot inside the rotation by being a consistent source of innings while not dolling out free passes (5.3% BB%), leading to a satisfactory 3.35 ERA (83.1 IP) and a 1.15 WHIP despite a middling 16.5% K%.
Reliever of the Week: David Robertson
Earning his first “Reliever of the Week” honor in what could be one of his final weeks with the Cubs, Robertson (20th ranked pitcher) saved three games, tossing 4.1 innings, allowing three hits and two walks, while whiffing six batters. The hot week brought him to 12 saves on the season, his highest total since 2017, and he stunningly owns the second-highest CSW (36.2%) in baseball (min. 30 IP), doing the majority of his damage with a 46.7% CSW slider, helping him to a 1.89 ERA (33.1 IP), a 0.96 WHIP, and a 33.3% CSW that will surely make him appealing to a multitude of contenders at the end of this month.
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