Top Fantasy Baseball Performers – Week 5
We are getting into the full swing of the MLB season, as breakouts are starting to emerge and solidify themselves while huge busts are beginning to drop off fantasy rosters. Now is a crucial time in the fantasy season, so keeping up with the top performers is the key to keeping fantasy managers at the top of their games. Here are the top 10 hitters and pitchers from the fifth week of the 2022 MLB season, with honorable mentions and two additional player of the week categories.
Rankings are based on Fantasy Pros player rater rankings from the fourth week of the season (5/5 – 5/11). The player rater is 5×5 rotisserie-based because that is the most universal format, making it easy to compare players across different sites.
1. Manuel Margot – OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Week 5 Stats: 16 PA, .500 AVG, 4 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 SB, 1.705 OPS
Despite just 16 plate appearances last week, Margot did enough to secure the number one spot on this list, leading all players in stolen bases while mashing a trio of bombs. Entering the week, he had yet to hit a home run on the season, but broke out with a dinger in three straight games. He followed up that hot streak with a two-steal showing on Monday, bringing his season total to five, before missing the final two games of the week with right hamstring discomfort, halting his mid-career offensive breakout in its tracks.
2. Jean Segura – 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
Week 5 Stats: 24 PA, .579 AVG, 7 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 1.719 OPS
A slow start to the season had some fantasy managers cutting bait on Segura, as the veteran middle infielder was batting just .231 with two homers and a 76 wRC+ entering this past week. He took off, leading all batters (min. 10 PA) in AVG and OPS, putting to rest any doubts that he was beginning to slow down in his age-32 campaign. Similarly to Margot, he had three straight games with a long ball, pushing his 2022 wRC+ to a 140 mark and proving that it is still too early in the season to be making final judgements on players.
3. Colin Moran – 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
Week 5 Stats: 30 PA, .259 AVG, 7 R, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB, 1.074 OPS
The home run and RBI leader from week five was none other than Cincinnati Reds offseason acquisition Colin Moran, getting hot at just the right time, as he is prone to do. The left-handed masher was the premier power hitter thanks to a week in the friendly confines of Great American Ballpark during which he did all of his damage in a four-game span, as the Cincinnati offense caught fire. On Sunday, he belted two dingers in a six RBI performance, getting his swing right and setting himself up for another home run the next day and one more in a 2/4 performance on Wednesday.
4. Tyler Stephenson – C, Cincinnati Reds
Week 5 Stats: 27 PA, .440 AVG, 7 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 1.242 OPS
The first catcher to land inside the top 10 this season is another Cincinnati Red. Since returning from a concussion, Stephenson has been red hot, recording four mutli-hit performances across the fifth week of the season to bring his AVG on the season up to .322 to lead all catchers (min. 60 PA). He also tacked on a stolen base for good measure, his first since high-A ball in 2018, so don’t expect many more swipes going forward. Don’t forget that he was my breakout pick for catchers entering the season.
5. Bryce Harper – OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Week 5 Stats: 26 PA, .417 AVG, 6 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 1.253 OPS
Similar to last season, when Harper isn’t mashing a home run in every game, he takes it upon himself to make a difference on the offensive side by swiping as many bags as he can. His trio of stolen bases this past week brings his season total to six (13 in ‘21), matching his home run total. 21 swipes is his career high for a season, and that came all the way back in 2016, so while it’s a possibility he eclipses 20, he will most likely settle into around fifteen as he starts rounding the bases more often.
6. Brandon Drury – OF/2B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
Week 5 Stats: 34 PA, .346 AVG, 9 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.192 OPS
The third and final Red to secure a spot on this top performers article, Drury is having a renaissance season after a few years of mediocrity. He is currently sporting a career-high 151 wRC+, thanks to his team-leading six home runs, but he’s accruing most of his value by being an everyday player in a favorable ballpark. The most notable change has been his increased patience at the plate, as the right-hander is sporting a walk rate 4.4% higher than his career mark entering the year, affording better pitches to hit later in at bats and providing him additional opportunities to cross home plate (he led the Majors with nine runs in week five).
7 Mike Trout – OF, Los Angeles Angels
Week 5 Stats: 23 PA, .421 AVG, 6 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.469 OPS
Baseball is better when Trout is healthy, and he’s been exactly that in 2022, proving himself as the best hitter of his generation. This past week, he crushed a trio of dingers in back-to-back games, one of which was an absolute moonshot off of outfielder Brett Phillips in a two-homer performance. Somehow, the future Hall of Famer has a career-high and league-leading 247 wRC+, which is nearly 40 points better than the runner up in that category.
8. Christian Yelich – OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Week 5 Stats: 32 PA, .357 AVG, 7 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 1.188 OPS
Yelich made history, hitting for the cycle for the third time in his career, becoming just the sixth player to accomplish the feat in MLB history and the first to do so against the same team (Reds) all three times. The former MVP is looking to get back on track after a couple of down seasons, and the cycle and his inclusion on this list are good signs, as he is the only hitter to secure a spot on this list in back-to-back weeks in this edition. While he’s not hitting quite at the rate he was during his peak, he seems to be tapping back into the power he lost and is sporting the third-highest wRC+ (136) of his career as well as his second-best xwOBA mark (.418).
9. Jared Walsh – 1B/OF, Los Angeles Angels
Week 5 Stats: 29 PA, .357 AVG, 5 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 1.094 OPS
Walsh was off to a slow start to the year (.235 AVG, 3 HR, 98 wRC+) entering this week before doubling his home run total and boosting his average and wRC+ by 30 points. Now he’s sitting pretty with a more than serviceable season line and seems to be on pace for a season equally as fantastic as he had in 2021. Hitting in the middle of one of the best lineups in baseball will continue to afford him plenty of RBI opportunities, and as long as he keeps the ball in the air and avoids his dastardly struggles versus left-handed pitching, he should continue to produce as an above-average fantasy first baseman.
10. Josh Naylor – OF/1B, Cleveland Guardians
Week 5 Stats: 22 PA, .368 AVG, 4 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB, 1.304 OPS
Gracing headlines across the MLB landscape was Naylor’s massive performance (and epic celebration) Monday against the White Sox, during which he became the first player with two 3+ run home runs in the ninth inning or later, and the first player with eight or more RBI in the eighth inning or later. Proving the career-game wasn’t just a one night fluke, he followed up that monster performance with a homer in a two-hit night on the next day. He is flaunting a minuscule 13% strikeout rate, which is incredibly impressive coming from a man with this much power (and fire) in his bat.
Honorable Mention: Ronald Acuña Jr.
Not missing a step in his return from an ACL tear, Acuña (11th ranked hitter) reminded everyone of the impact he can have on a baseball game by swiping three bags, crushing two bombs, and posting a 1.484 OPS (18 PA) across the fifth week. He is currently dealing with a sore groin, forcing him to miss the final game of the week, but he is nonetheless putting the league on notice that he is in fact back and ready to rake.
Catcher of the Week: Willson Contreras
In an effort to allow catcher performances to be noticed amongst the slew of offensive onslaughts from the rest of position players that receive more at bats than backstops, I am adding a new section to honor the top catcher from each week.
This week, Tyler Stephenson made this extra honorable mention pointless by earning his way into the top 10, so I decided to give the nod to the second best fantasy catcher from week five. Contreras was incredible, eclipsing the .500 AVG threshold (26 PA) with room to spare, while adding on a couple of home runs to boot. He is currently having his best offensive season thanks to a career-low 17.4% strikeout rate that is 7.2% lower than his career rate entering the year, helping him extend at bats as he’s making more contact on pitches outside of the strike zone (+14.5% O-Contact% from ‘21 to 61.9%).
1. Shohei Ohtani – SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 13 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 16 K, 0.69 ERA, 0.77 WHIP
As I predicted in week two, Ohtani will make this list at least once a month, and this time it wasn’t even with his added offensive value, as he was clearly the best starter across two electric outings. He destroyed the Red Sox with seven scoreless and 11 strikeouts, setting the season-water mark for strike percentage in an outing by a starting pitcher (81/99 pitches, 82%), before taking on the Rays and looking somewhat human, going six frames of one run ball with five punchouts. His 16 strikeouts tied for the Major League lead across this past week, and he is now the owner of a 2.78 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP to go along with his elite 35.4% strikeout rate.
2. Shane McClanahan – SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 16 K, 1.46 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
This is McClanahan’s first mention in a top performers piece, but that’s not because of a lack of performance. He tied Ohtani as the weekly strikeout leader by holding the Mariners to two runs across 5.1 frames with five Ks, prior to taking on Ohtani’s Angels and putting up his best start of the year; a seven inning, four baserunner, 11 strikeout masterpiece. His 58 strikeouts on the season are an MLB-most and he looks like he is breaking out as one of the game’s top aces thanks to decreased usage on his 97.6 mph four-seamer and increased emphasis on his litany of effective secondaries.
3. Tarik Skubal – SP, Detroit Tigers
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 13 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
Skubal is scuba diving amongst the sharks, pitching like a top-tier ace throughout 2022, and after a week in which he handled the Astros with ease (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K) and took advantage of his start against the lackluster A’s offense (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K), he’s finally living up to his prospect pedigree. The left-hander was a top-50 prospect according to MLB Pipeline as recently as 2020 while Fangraphs listed him as a top-25 talent when he graduated off prospect lists in 2021. His success seems to be rooted in throwing his sinker and four-seamer at more similar rates while adding a couple of ticks to his secondaries.
4. Miles Mikolas – SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Week 5 Stats: 2 W, 12.2 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
The only starter to be credited with multiple wins in week five, Mikolas has continued his solid string of starts, as he has been trusting his defense to field all of his balls in play cleanly. The veteran righty was a top fantasy performer in week two (#8), and earned his spot this week by holding the Orioles to just one run across seven innings after doing the same to the Giants across 5.2 frames, setting down three batters via the strikeout in each of those outings. The three indicators of good luck (BABIP, LOB%, and HR/FB) are all in his favor right now, but he is making the most of the elite defense behind him, while leaning on his curveball and slider more often, and is seeing the results in a 94th percentile, 28% hard-hit rate against him.
5. Zach Logue – SP, Oakland A’s
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 12 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
One of the key members of the Matt Chapman deal with the Blue Jays, Logue made the first two starts of his Major League career this past week, and if his placement on this list is any indication, I’d say he had a great first week. His first start, in Minnesota, was underwhelming, as he went five innings, allowing two runs, and striking out five, but his second start is where he proved why the A’s were interested in acquiring him, as he shutout the Tigers across seven frames with six strikeouts. The 26-year-old lefty features a common four-pitch mix that includes a four-seamer (90.2 mph avg. velocity), a slider, a curveball, and a changeup, and so far, his two breakers look like his best pitches, as they both have induced whiffs more than a third of the time.
6. Kyle Hendricks – SP, Chicago Cubs
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.46 WHIP
In recent seasons, Hendricks has been pretty boom or bust from start to start, and this week, he had everything working. He absolutely shut down the Padres, narrowly missing out on a complete-game shutout, but he nonetheless took home the win with his best start of the season. It’s hard to tell what will happen next given his reliance on pinpoint control, but he has a favorable matchup against the Diamondbacks on the horizon that could pay similar dividends to this outing if he can carry over his momentum from this spectacular start.
7. Alex Cobb – SP, San Francisco Giants
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 2.61 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
A highly discussed player following the contract he signed with the Giants in the offseason, Cobb has been the lights out when healthy this year thanks to increased fastball and splitter velocity. He didn’t pitch past the sixth inning of either of his starts, but he allowed no more than two earned runs and struck out at least six in each of them. With a pitch named “The Thing” and a coaching staff that has excelled at getting the most out of veteran starters, Cobb should continue to flourish in San Francisco, and so far, his career-low 2.27 xFIP and career-high 31.5% strikeout rate are clear indicators that this is the case.
8. Robbie Ray – SP, Seattle Mariners
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 15 K, 4.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
Ray has not had the season he or the Mariners envisioned when he signed a five-year, $115 million contract shortly after winning the 2021 AL Cy Young Award, as he sports a 4.22 ERA on the season. To star, his fastball velocity and ability to throw his pitches down the heart of the plate have not been the same this year, but in week five, he was able to harness last year’s excellence, pitching into the seventh against the Rays on Thursday and then striking out 10 Phillies on Tuesday. If he can regain his fastball velocity and some of his strike rate losses, he could return to form, but even without those improvements, he will still be a worthy innings eater with strikeout upside.
9. Reid Detmers – SP, Los Angeles Angels
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.11 WHIP
At 22-years old and in just his 11th Major League start, 2020 10th overall pick, Reid Detmers, threw the 12th no-hitter in Angels franchise history, etching his name in the history books. While he didn’t induce many strikeouts, his signature curveball was unhittable as he called on help from the BABIP gods, securing 25 outs in the field. Obviously, this is most likely the peak of his season, but the sky is the limit for the young lefty as he looks to solidify himself as one of the game’s top young starters. Congrats!
10. Merrill Kelly – SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Week 5 Stats: 1 W, 13.2 IP, 14 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 12 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Kelly has sort of been the identical twin of Mikolas all season, as both of them have survived on balls in play with mediocre pitch repertoires. Not to rain on Kelly’s parade, as the veteran right-hander held his ERA below two and led the Majors in innings pitched across week five with an incredible near-complete game against the Rockies that included eight strikeouts before a solid outing against the Marlins on Wednesday. I’m not sure Kelly can keep this up, as he doesn’t have eye-popping strikeout numbers or an overwhelming pitch mix, but I think he can still be a solid workhorse that limits the damage in his outings.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Bradish
After two starts with mixed results to begin his Major League career, Bradish broke out in a big way with a double-digit strikeout performance across seven innings in St. Louis on Tuesday. The 6’4”, 24-year-old, right-hander could be a reliable starter for the Orioles going forward as he features a deep repertoire alongside a mid-90s fastball that helps his secondaries play up. The #10 prospect in the Baltimore system, according to MLB Pipeline, could be one of the most underrated adds in fantasy right now because of his unheralded prospect pedigree, the unappealing nature of the Orioles franchise, and the new, friendlier dimensions of Camden Yards.
Reliever of the Week: Brooks Raley
Similar to “Catcher of the Week”, I want to highlight the top weekly relief pitching efforts from around the league, as they can get buried in fantasy player raters by the volume starters provide. Therefore, I am also adding a new section to honor the top reliever from each week.
No pitcher collected more than two saves in week five, so Raley, with four perfect innings and a 4/1 K/BB ratio, secured the first reliever of the week award as the 11th most valuable pitcher in fantasy circles in week five. He is quickly approaching a share of the closing duties in Tampa Bay with Andrew Kittredge and is definitely someone to keep an eye on if you’re in desperate need of saves or are in a league that limits starts, as he has been quietly effective with the 22nd-best K-BB% (28.9%) in the Majors (min. 10 IP).
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