Top Fantasy Baseball Performers – Week 14
The All-Star rosters have been revealed, denoting the best players from the first half, but it is still pertinent to rank the top fantasy players regardless of whether or not they will be honored in Hollywood next week. With just under three months to go, fantasy standings are beginning to solidify, painting the playoff picture and signaling managers outside the top tier to step things up before it’s too late. On the field, players are clawing their way across the line as they await a much-needed break before embarking on an exciting second half of the campaign that could bring with it massive comebacks and unforeseen breakouts. Let’s take a look at the top-10 hitters and pitchers from a fantasy perspective across the 14th week of the 2022 MLB season, with honorable mentions and position-specific honors helping to make sure there aren’t any snubs.
Rankings are based on Fantasy Pros player rater rankings from the 14th week of the season (7/7 – 7/13). 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.
1. Corey Seager – SS, Texas Rangers
Week 14 Stats: 28 PA, .429 AVG, 6 R, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.679 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
Making up for his absence on this list throughout the season, Seager led the Majors in dingers, going deep in five straight games to finish out the week. Those long balls helped him post the highest OPS (min. 20 PA) and fWAR (0.9) while also tying for the most RBI. He has had a bit of an up and down first season in Texas sandwiching a 119 wRC+ in May with identical 98 wRC+ months before exploding thus far in July with a 219 mark. A hot couple of weeks has brought his season slash line to .245/.321/.467 (371 PA) with a position-leading 21 homers and a somewhat underwhelming 121 wRC+, the second-lowest of his career in a season of at least 30 games.
2. Juan Soto – OF, Washington Nationals
Week 14 Stats: 28 PA, .429 AVG, 7 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.571 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
A first-round pick in the majority of fantasy drafts in the offseason, many fantasy managers have been a little bit disappointed with Soto’s season, as the All-Star slugger held a .216 (291 PA) average with 13 home runs following a doubleheader on June 17th after batting over .310 in each of the last two seasons. Since then, through his most recent doubleheader on Wednesday, however, the 23-year-old has added six homers in 21 games while batting .355 (85 PA) and has reached base at a .607 clip over his last 15 games, the highest OBP in a 15-game sample by any player this season. He earned his first weekly honor by tying for the most runs scored and the second-most dingers and RBI, finishing with the second-best OPS outright. A second-half surge is imminent for the young superstar who is batting .245 (376 PA) with 19 long balls and a 149 wRC+.
3. Leody Taveras – OF, Texas Rangers
Week 14 Stats: 19 PA, .471 AVG, 6 R, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB, 1.180 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
Rarely do we see 23-year-olds that have two seasons of prior experience in the bigs, but Taveras is a talented outfielder that has received opportunities to showcase his skill on the big stage at a relatively young age. He wasn’t too great in his first two stints, with a 94 wRC+ (134 PA) in 2020 and a 29 wRC+ (185 PA) in 2021, but in an even more limited sample in 2022, the switch-hitter has a 142 wRC+ (74 PA) and is showcasing the power (two HR) and speed (four SB) that compliments his exceptional glove. Swiping three bags in week 14, he tied for the second-most in baseball and despite his lack of power, he’s been able to make a larger impact with his bat because of the reduction of his swing and miss tendencies. Strikeouts held him back in his first two seasons (32.3% K% from 2020-21), but he has cut them down by 6.6% this year, allowing him to put the ball in play and impact the game with his wheels.
4. Austin Riley – 3B/1B, Atlanta Braves
Week 14 Stats: 32 PA, .400 AVG, 6 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 1.271 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Eight, Week 13
One of the biggest All-Star snubs, Riley displayed his disagreement with being left off the roster by continuing to mash the ball, tying for the second-most dingers with the highest batting average among players that came to the plate at least 30 times. Not only has Riley been one of the game’s most dangerous power threats, but he doesn’t sacrifice contact ability and isn’t an all-or-nothing type batter. His .284 average (382 PA) on the season is the third-highest among players with at least 20 home runs, and with 25 long balls on the season, he is just eight shy of the career-high he set last year. Making quality contact consistently, Riley owns the third-highest hard-hit rate in the Majors (55.9%), trailing only Aaron Judge and Yordan Alvarez and ahead of the likes of Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
5. Wilmer Flores – 3B/1B/2B, San Francisco Giants
Week 14 Stats: 29 PA, .333 AVG, 5 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.268 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
The unsung hero and the glue that keeps the Giants together, Flores is underappreciated for his ability to provide above-league-average production on offense while playing all over the infield. This past week, his bat was well-above-league-average, as he went yard the second-most times in MLB while equalling the most RBI thanks in part to a two-homer game and knocking in a run in five of seven games, including six in a two-game span. While he is not a well-known star and doesn’t stand out with one attribute, he is having his best season in 2022, slashing .254/.340/.452 (324 PA) with a career-best 125 wRC+ while striking out just 15.7% of the time and walking at a career-high 9.9% rate. The right-handed hitter is just five homers shy of tying his career-high of 18 set in 2017 and matched last year.
6. Bobby Witt Jr. – SS/3B, Kansas City Royals
Week 14 Stats: 30 PA, .379 AVG, 4 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SB, .848 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week 10 (HM)
A successful rookie campaign is hard to come across, especially in this era of the largest gap between AAA and the Majors we have ever seen, but that hasn’t stopped Witt Jr. from having a fabulous season, especially in terms of fantasy value, and particularly in roto leagues. While not the ideal option in an OBP league (.295 OBP), his combination of power (12 HR) and speed (16 SB) with a serviceable hit tool (.248 AVG, 352 PA) makes him an invaluable asset to his fantasy teams. He added a quarter of his stolen base production in week 14, pacing the Majors in that category, and did 75% of that damage in a doubleheader during which he swiped three bags.
7. Teoscar Hernández – OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Week 14 Stats: 25 PA, .348 AVG, 3 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB, 1.096 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
One of three players with multiple homers and steals this past week, Hernández earned his first weekly honors with his wood and wheels, swiping two bags on Friday and crushing two bombs on Wednesday. A slow start because of an injury has held back Hernández’s season-long numbers but with a few hot weeks, he’s now sporting a .342 wOBA (266 PA) with 11 long balls and five steals with the help of a career-best 51.2% hard-hit rate that ranks inside the top-15 (min. 250 PA). The only problem with all those hard hits is that a majority of them are hitting the infield grass first, as the right-handed hitter is producing grounders (45.9%) at the highest rate of his career (min. 200 PA), so he’ll need to lift the ball more in order to tap into his impressive raw power.
8. Freddie Freeman – 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Week 14 Stats: 28 PA, .520 AVG, 5 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 1.491 OPS
Weekly Honors: Week Two, Week Three, Week 11, Week 12
Taking over sole possession of the most weekly honors by a hitter and tying Sandy Alcantara for the most in baseball (even though his selection in the third week was highly suspect), Freeman continues to be rewarded for his consistency from week to week. One of his most productive week-long stretches of 2022 came in week 14 where he led MLB in batting average (min. 20 PA), pushing that metric to .317 (393 PA) for the season, the second-highest mark of his career (excluding 2020). While he is walking less (-1.5% from 2021 to 10.7%), striking out more (+1.1% from ‘21 to 16.5%), and hitting for less over-the-fence power (12 HR), he has been a monster in points leagues because of his NL-leading 29 doubles and has helped out in roto and category leagues by swiping seven bags, just three short of his career-high from 2018.
9. Eugenio Suárez – 3B/SS, Seattle Mariners
Week 14 Stats: 24 PA, .300 AVG, 5 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.167 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
Last year was a disaster season for Suárez as his offense cratered with his move to shortstop and failed to recover when the experiment was halted, finishing the season batting below .200 (574 PA) but making up for it by hitting more than 30 bombs, culminating in the lowest wRC+ (85) of his career. An offseason trade landed him in Seattle where he has turned things around significantly. Last season, a .224 BABIP seemed like it would fix itself all season, but it never did. This season, that number is at .323 as his offensive numbers have benefitted, leading to a .240/.334/.446 (374 PA) slash line to go with 16 homers and a 128 wRC+ as well as his first weekly honor. He tied for the Major League lead in runs batted in, mashing a trio of dingers, although I’m not sure he can keep up this pace while striking out (31.8%) at the highest rate of his career.
10. Thairo Estrada – SS/2B, San Francisco Giants
Week 14 Stats: 17 PA, .353 AVG, 5 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 1.353 OPS
Weekly Honors: N/A
Estrada is the quintessential Giants acquisition of the last few years – an unheralded, yet unproven batter that can play multiple positions and is just a tweak away from breaking out. Estrada fit that mold after struggling across his first two years in the Bronx and after showing what he could do subsequent to being put through the Giants cheating lab in 2021 (119 wRC+, 132 PA), he has fully broken out in 2022 with a little bit of power (nine HR) and speed (12 SB) while serving as the everyday second baseman and the backup at shortstop. He was the only player to hit three homers and add a stolen base and there’s no reason to think he’s going to fall off a cliff in the second half as his expected Statcast metrics (.261 xBA, .405 xSLG, .314 xwOBA) are right in line with his actual metrics across 287 plate appearances (.262 AVG, .426 SLG, .322 wOBA).
Honorable Mention: Aaron Hicks
It really took Hicks (13th ranked hitter) a while to get going, as he was slashing an abysmal .221/.340/.288 (248 PA) prior to July 6th when he smashed a grand slam and began a streak of five games during which he batted .467 (19 PA) with three homers and two steals. While that grand slam game doesn’t count for this week’s edition, he still batted .357 (18 PA) and was one of three players to go deep multiple times as well as recording multiple thefts prior to going down with a shin bruise.
Catcher of the Week: Ryan Jeffers
Whether it’s a result of fatigue or just the ebb and flow of the season, I’m not sure, but catchers had a tough go of it this past week, allowing Jeffers (47th ranked hitter) to secure his first “Catcher of the Week” honor with a .546 AVG (12 PA) and a couple of bombs despite barely landing inside the top-50 with that production. The 6’4” right-handed hitter has split time behind the plate with Gary Sánchez but has made significant improvements at the dish from his solid 2021 debut. He’s striking out nearly 10% less often (27.1%), walking 2.5% more often (10%), and is impacting the ball just as forcefully (15.2% barrel rate), leading to a 10-point jump in wRC+ (92, 210 PA) that should continue to climb.
1. Jon Gray – SP, Texas Rangers
Week 14 Stats: 2 W, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 17 K, 2.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week 11
Signaling that his adjustment to pitching outside of Colorado full-time may be complete, Gray is finally capitalizing on the potential that made him the third overall pick in 2013. Across his last seven starts (43.2 IP), the right-hander owns a 2.06 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP, and a 53/8 K/BB ratio, putting himself on the map of soon-to-be aces with the help of nearly a full extra tick on his four-seamer to 95.8 mph and a sweeping slider that has more than doubled its horizontal movement. His starts in week 14 featured a solid three-run, eight-strikeout outing against the powerful Twins before he took advantage of a matchup against the lowly A’s, allowing just one hit across seven frames and striking out nine. He was one of three starters with two victories, racked up the third-most punchouts, and had the best K/BB ratio among pitchers that made two starts of at least two innings apiece, helping him improve his season-long numbers to a 3.71 ERA (89.2 IP), a career-low 1.13 WHIP, and a career-high 27.3% K% after a slow start to the season dealing with injuries.
2. Shane McClanahan – SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K, 1.46 ERA, 0.65 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Five, Week 10
McClanahan is pitching like a runaway train – he can’t be stopped! The 25-year-old southpaw is having an incredible season and it just keeps getting better as he hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since April, pitching to a 1.29 ERA (83.2 IP) and a 0.83 WHIP in 13 starts since then while striking out 34.4% and walking just 3.9% of the batters he’s faced. He is one of just three players in MLB history to allow only 21 earned runs in 18 starts while striking out at least 147 batters, joining Luis Tiant (1968) and Pedro Martinez (2000). The All-Star leads qualified starters in ERA (1.71, 110.2 IP), strikeouts (147), WHIP (0.80), strikeout-minus-walk rate (31.1%), and CSW (36.6%). Just one run crossed home in each of his week 14 starts against the Red Sox and the Reds, while his 0.65 WHIP led all two-start pitchers. There is no pitcher even close to his level of dominance in 2022.
3. Beau Brieske – SP, Detroit Tigers
Week 14 Stats: 2 W, 12.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2.19 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
Weekly Honors: N/A
It was a career week for the 24-year-old right-hander, as he was one of just three starters to claim three wins, securing two-thirds of his career victories in his outings in Kansas City and on the South Side of Chicago. Against the White Sox, he failed to allow a run and permitted just three baserunners, while his start against the Royals wasn’t as impressive, but it featured just three runs allowed and was deemed a quality start. He made his way onto this list because his WHIP was the second-lowest among two-start pitchers, but he likely won’t make many, if any, more because he doesn’t fan batters (15.9% K%) and doesn’t make up for that with any other redeeming qualities, which is why his xERA sits at a monstrous 5.56 mark compared to his 4.19 ERA (81.2 IP). He could get roughed up in his next start in Cleveland right before the All-Star break.
4. Logan Webb – SP, San Francisco Giants
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 14 IP, 11 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, 0.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week One, Week Six, Week 10
In spite of what his three weekly honors might suggest, Webb wasn’t at the top of his game at the beginning of the season but has been lights since mid-June, recording a 1.13 ERA (40 IP) across his past six starts, culminating in his placement on the week 14 list of MLB standouts. Not only did he toss the second-most innings, but he also posted the league’s lowest ERA by holding the Padres to one run in San Diego prior to keeping the Diamondbacks off the board while whiffing eight batters. After his breakout 2021 campaign, there was skepticism that the Rocklin High School product wouldn’t be able to replicate his success because it relied heavily on the feel of his secondaries. In some ways, he hasn’t been able to duplicate those efforts, striking out 5% fewer batters, but in other ways, he’s been better, sporting a career-low 2.82 ERA (111.2 IP) and a WHIP identical to last year at 1.11.
5. Ross Stripling – SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 12 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
Weekly Honors: N/A
Just when you think Stripling is hitting a cliff, he turns things around to earn his first weekly honor. A four-run start against the Rays last week was not his best work, but he made up for the stumble by allowing just a pair of runs across five frames in Seattle and shutting out the Phillies across seven innings while recording a 38.3% CSW. Since his move north of the border, Stripling hasn’t been as good as he was in Hollywood, but this year has been a different story, leading to a 3.03 ERA (74.1 IP) and a 1.08 WHIP. He is more of a command artist than a strikeout machine, as he walks just 4.7% of the batters he faces, but he may be able to squeeze more out of his repertoire if he turns to his changeup more than a quarter of the time because the pitch induces swings and misses (20.9% SwStr%) at the 19th-best rate in MLB, according to Pitcher List.
6. Jordan Lyles – SP, Baltimore Orioles
Week 14 Stats: 2 W, 13 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Weekly Honors: N/A
I’ll take “pitchers I never expected to earn a weekly honor” for $500, Alex. Lyles has been a mystery to me all season, pitching effectively without any redeeming qualities other than his ability to eat innings. In week 14, he continued to flummox me and scarf down outs, finishing as one of three starters with two wins, holding the Angels to one run and tossing seven, two-run frames on the North Side of the Windy City. The reason I’ve been so confused with his success is that he strikes out less than 19% of batters, doesn’t get a lot of grounders (41.9% GB%), and allows plenty of hard contact (39.5% hard-hit rate), but he owns a cromulent 4.37 ERA (105 IP) nonetheless.
7. Dylan Cease – SP, Chicago White Sox
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 17 K, 0.77 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Four
There won’t be an outing this season where he ceases to strike somebody out. He really ceases to amaze me with his ability to be effectively wild. Wordplay aside, Cease is one of the premier strikeout pitchers in baseball, and even though he hasn’t limited walks this season like many predicted would happen, leading to a momentous breakout, he has been superb regardless. In fact, instead of decreasing his walks, he’s handing out even more free passes (+1.5% to 11.1%, the highest rate in MLB), but he has made up for it by striking batters out more often (+2.5% to 34.4%, the second-highest qualified clip in the Majors), leading to an improved K-BB% (23.2%) and a 1.60-run drop in his ERA to 2.30 (97.2 IP). Racking up the third most strikeouts of the week, he limited the measly Tigers to one run at the beginning of the week before going to Cleveland and striking out nine batters without surrendering a run, recording all 19 of his whiffs via his slider. He will make one more start in Minnesota right before the All-Star break, from which he was unjustly snubbed as the 73rd pitcher ever with a sub-2.50 ERA and over 120 strikeouts in 17 or fewer starts before the All-Star break, but the first to not be named to the All-Star team.
8. Gerrit Cole – SP, New York Yankees
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 13 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 18 K, 3.46 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Six
A five-run start against the rival Red Sox began Cole’s week on a sour note, but he bounced back by striking out 11 Reds across seven scoreless frames in his next outing, adding up to the second-most strikeouts in the Majors across the past week. The All-Star is one of the most consistently dominant starters in baseball thanks to his ability to earn strikeouts (31.9%) at an elite clip, but he can sometimes be bit by the long ball and occasionally loses his command, leading to blow-up outings. A 3.05 ERA suggests he has been effective again in 2022 and it has been a result of an upper-90s fastball that sports the second-best CSW (37%), according to Pitcher List, pairing with a plethora of nasty secondaries.
9. Carlos Rodón – SP, San Francisco Giants
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Two, Week Three, Week 11
If you go back and read my articles or watch my podcasts from the offseason, you’ll find out that I was rightfully skeptical of Rodón’s 2021 breakout, that is, until he signed with the Giants, who have become well known for getting the most out of their veteran starters. Rodón has proven my change in tone to be correct as he has replicated his breakout and has been a co-ace in San Francisco. He made just one start this past week, finishing what he started in San Diego and fanning 12 batters, earning a 40.2% CSW and a whopping 27 whiffs, somehow inducing 20 whiffs on his four-seamer alone. While his rate stats haven’t been better than 2021, they are still incredibly impressive and he should surpass the 132.2 frames he survived, as he’s already at 100 to go along with his 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 31% K%. An All-Star spot should’ve been awarded to him from the beginning, but the mistake was remedied when he was added as a replacement on Tuesday.
10. Shane Bieber – SP, Cleveland Guardians
Week 14 Stats: 1 W, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP
Weekly Honors: Week Nine
Bieber’s declining heater velocity has been widely discussed and pegged as a reason to be suspicious of his performance and is the key reason many believe he will fall off in the second half. The right-hander has avoided any downfalls by leaning on his slider 25% more often than in his 2020 Cy Young campaign, and it has paid dividends, keeping batters guessing and earning whiffs 22% of the time. It was on full display again versus the White Sox, earning seven whiffs, as Bieber tossed a complete game and allowed just three baserunners. He likely doesn’t have a shot at factoring into the Cy Young conversation again because he no longer strikes out more than 30% of batters (24.9%), but he still owns a magnificent 3.24 ERA (105.2 IP) and a 1.13 WHIP that will augment in any rotation.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Cueto
I’m not quite sure how he’s doing it, but Cueto (20th ranked pitcher) has been almost unhittable in his time with the White Sox, allowing more than three earned runs just once in 11 starts, sporting a 2.91 ERA (68 IP) and a 1.15 WHIP, despite striking out less than 20% of batters and giving up boatloads of hard contact (42% hard-hit rate). The 15-year veteran continued his roll in week 14, shutting out the Tigers across eight frames, permitting only five hits while punching out five batters to nab his third win of the campaign.
Reliever of the Week: Scott Barlow
Earning his first “Reliever of the Week” selection, Barlow (15th ranked pitcher) was a shut-down closer for the Royals this past week, securing one win and converting two saves across four innings, allowing just two baserunners while striking out four. He hasn’t been as dominant as in years past, featuring a strikeout rate that is down nearly 5% from the previous three seasons to 25.1%, but he has been able to do his job nonetheless, with a 2.16 ERA (41.2 IP), a 0.88 WHIP, and 15 saves revealing his ability to adapt on the mound.
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