Top Fantasy Baseball Performers – Week 8
It was, yet again, an eventful week in the world of Major League Baseball. We witnessed another three-homer game, the continuation of hot streaks, and some dominant pitching performances. With the middle of the summer quickly approaching, offensive numbers will only continue to take off, so it’s interesting to see the pitchers emerging from the offensive downfall as true aces and the hitters emerging as persevering superstars. Let’s take a look at the top 10 hitters and pitchers from the eighth week of the 2022 MLB season, with additional honorable mentions and positional nominations included.
Rankings are based on Fantasy Pros player rater rankings from the eighth week of the season (5/26 – 6/1). The player rater is 5×5 rotisserie-based because that is the most universal format, making it easy to compare players across different sites. All stats via Fangraphs and Pitcher List.
1. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
Week 8 Stats: 30 PA, .417 AVG, 8 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB, 1.492 OPS
Finishing off his second number one placing in a top performers article in the past three weeks (week six), Goldschmidt continued his insane run with another hot week during which he extended his hitting streak to 23 games. The veteran first baseman led the Majors in average and OPS (min. 30 PA) while tying for the league lead in home runs and RBI. For the season, he’s sporting a .353 average, 11 dingers, and a 196 wRC+ to go along with a sub-20% strikeout rate and has even chipped in three stolen bases, making him the most valuable fantasy first baseman by far.
2. José Ramírez – 3B, Cleveland Guardians
Week 8 Stats: 26 PA, .286 AVG, 6 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB, 1.090 OPS
Switch-hitting is difficult, but Ramírez seems to find it to be a simple task and has enjoyed another MVP-caliber season, earning himself his third weekly top performer selection (week one, week seven) and second in a row. He did so by adding the stolen bases that were missing from his April line, and he’s now up to seven on the year to go with his .292/.393/.632 slash line and league-leading 52 RBI. There’s nothing to suggest that he will slow down any time soon, and if you roster him on your fantasy squad in a points league, you are reaping the benefits of his crazy 1.87 BB/K ratio.
3. Mookie Betts – OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Week 8 Stats: 34 PA, .387 AVG, 7 R, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 1.280 OPS
If the MVP award was decided by weekly appearances in this article, Betts would be leading the pack with a nomination in half of the weeks so far this season and now three in a row (week three, week six, week seven). In week eight, he tied for the MLB home run lead and racked up the most fWAR (0.9) thanks to his dangerous bat pairing with his Gold Glove defense on a nightly basis. What more is there to say about him? His 16 dingers lead the National League, his 3.5 fWAR leads the Majors, and his MLB-leading 51 runs put him on pace for more than 160 runs, a number that hasn’t been eclipsed since Lou Gehrig crossed the plate 167 times in 1936. Even 150 runs haven’t been achieved since Jeff Bagwell scored 152 times in 2000, and he was the first to do so since Ted Williams in 1947. It’s going to be a historical season for Betts no matter what.
4. Victor Robles – OF, Washington Nationals
Week 8 Stats: 25 PA, .304 AVG, 3 R, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 SB, .795 OPS
The fantasy hype was at an all-time high for Robles after finishing the 2019 campaign with 17 home runs and 28 stolen bases, but the 19 barrels he produced in that season seem to be a stark outlier, as has only produced 14 barrels in the rest of his career combined. He doesn’t impact the ball hard at all (career-low 15.7% hard-hit rate) and his offensive stats (79 wRC+) and Statcast metrics (.251 xwOBA) suffer for it, but what he can provide in fantasy is stolen bases. He tied for the second-most stolen bases across the past week and had a six RBI game, but I don’t think this means he’s breaking out and that you should go run to get him off the wire because he won’t be providing much else batting eighth or ninth in the Nationals lineup and he may even hurt you with his bat, while his 5.8% walk rate suggests he won’t be reaching base enough going forward to impact the SB category.
5. Starling Marte – OF, New York Mets
Week 8 Stats: 28 PA, .385 AVG, 8 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 1.159 OPS
This was Marte’s first selection since week two and it wasn’t a direct result of him racking up base thefts. He recorded a hit in all six games he appeared in this week to push his season average to .286. The big thing to note about Marte’s 2022 season is that, after sporting a career-high 8.2% walk rate in 2021 that led to career-best offensive numbers (134 wRC+) and stolen bases (47), he’s now walking at a career-low 3.5% rate in 2022, and while he’s still producing to the tune of a 124 wRC+ and has swiped seven bags, it will be difficult for him to reach last year’s ceiling if he’s not getting on base as much even if he does own his best ISO (.164) since 2019 (his final season in Pittsburgh).
6. Willson Contreras – C, Chicago Cubs
Week 8 Stats: 32 PA, .370 AVG, 7 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 1.247 OPS
This marks just the second time this season that a catcher has earned his way into the top 10 (Tyler Stephenson in week five) and is the second time Contreras has earned a mention (he was “Catcher of the Week” in that same week). Across seven games, Contreras recorded a hit in each and every one of them while tallying multiple hits in each of the final three to close out the week. He is now batting .277 with eight long balls and a 156 wRC+, and as I’ve mentioned before, it’s all thanks to a career-high 58.4% hard-hit rate and a career-low 19.8% strikeout rate.
7. Brendan Rodgers – 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies
Week 8 Stats: 31 PA, .385 AVG, 10 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 1.292 OPS
Rodgers was nowhere near qualifying for this list before exploding across a doubleheader on Wednesday in Denver during which he went 4/8 and crushed three bombs (all in the nightcap) while scoring five runs and knocking in four. It was a career day for the 25-year-old middle infielder, and he became the fourth player (Trevor Story, Josh Rojas, Joc Pederson) to produce a three-homer game. He led the Majors in runs across the past week and is now batting .266/.321/.422 with five home runs on the year as he takes advantage of his friendly home confines.
8. Austin Riley – 3B, Atlanta Braves
Week 8 Stats: 30 PA, .345 AVG, 6 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.160 OPS
The third player to tie for the MLB home run lead, Riley continued his quietly solid season, raising his dinger total to 13. He hasn’t been quite as good as last season, with a 43-point drop in batting average to .259 and a two percent jump in his K-rate to 27.5%, but in the current offensive environment, his wRC+ is only two points worse than the 135 mark he posted in 2021. Despite his falling back in contact categories, Riley has made up for it with career-high power metrics, sporting a 15.3% barrel rate and a 54.7% hard-hit rate that are two percent and 9.1% better respectively than his rates last year, portending a continuation of his power production.
9. Francisco Lindor – SS, New York Mets
Week 8 Stats: 27 PA, .348 AVG, 6 R, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB, .842 OPS
Lindor has morphed into an RBI machine across the past week, extending his RBI streak to 10 games to tie Hall of Famer Mike Piazza’s franchise record. His 10 RBI in week eight tied for the Major League lead and he didn’t even need any help from the long ball. He doesn’t have overwhelming numbers, with eight bombs and a .261 AVG, but he has been racking up counting stats like crazy and has been a well-above league average hitter across the board, as he has now crossed home 37 times while knocking in 43 runs with a 126 wRC+. This was his third weekly selection and second in a row (week two, week seven).
10. Kyle Farmer – SS/3B, Cincinnati Reds
Week 8 Stats: 23 PA, .450 AVG, 6 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 1.400 OPS
When I wrote out his name, I was tempted to include a question mark in parentheses because I did not expect to find him inside the top 10, but he was more than deserving with the second-highest OPS in the Majors (min. 20 PA). The majority of the damage from his bat was done in a 20-5 drubbing of the Cubs last Thursday during which he went 4/5 and had his first career multi-homer game. He tacked on another long ball later in the week and is now sporting a league-average .257/.313/.412 slash line with four homers and two steals, but I wouldn’t expect much from him going forward as he has never been better than a 91 wRC+ (2021) and bats in the middle of a light-hitting Reds lineup.
Honorable Mention: Christopher Morel
The Cubs rookie made his debut on May 17th and has been making a big impact on fantasy teams with elite speed (93rd percentile sprint speed). Morel (12th ranked hitter) batted just .241 (35 PA) with a .722 OPS and didn’t hit any dingers, but he led all of baseball with five steals and is definitely someone to keep an eye out for as he has some pop in his bat and has batted leadoff for the Cubs in each of his last nine starts while playing all over the field.
Catcher of the Week: Alejandro Kirk
With Contreras earning a top 10 placing, Kirk (14th ranked hitter) gets the opportunity to shine thanks to a .444 average (19 PA), a 1.363 OPS, and a multi-homer game. While he has been splitting duties behind the plate with Danny Jansen, he’s gotten a few more starts at designated hitter as his bat has started to heat up, and he’s definitely a catcher to add if he’s still available as he’s been walking (11.4%) more than he’s striking out (8.7%) while batting nearly .300 (.292).
1. Aaron Nola – SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Week 8 Stats: 2 W, 14.1 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 15 K, 3.77 ERA, 0.70 WHIP
One of just two starters to earn two wins in week eight, Nola racked up the most innings in the Majors thanks to his wonderful start in Atlanta in which he pitched into the ninth inning. He struck out 10 batters on 15 whiffs and only allowed one run but was not as great against the Giants, where he surrendered five earned, but salvaged the outing by surviving six frames and grabbing the win with help from his offense. He struck out the third-most batters across the week and is holding a strikeout rate north of 30% for the only time in his career other than the COVID-shortened 2020 season, but his 3.92 ERA is less than savory and would most likely be much better if he had any defense backing him up, as his 2.74 xFIP suggests positive regression in that category through the summer.
2. Martín Pérez – SP/RP, Texas Rangers
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 14 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 0.64 ERA, 0.64 WHIP
The cover boy for the most recent monthly top performers article, Pérez continued the incredible run that has seen him allow no more than one earned run in each of his last eight starts beginning on April 23rd. In week eight, Pérez shut down both the A’s and Rays, allowing just one earned run across both starts combined, leading to him posting the lowest ERA and WHIP amongst pitchers to make at least two starts. He should be started in every league until he falters twice because right now, he is unstoppable with precision accuracy on his sinker, changeup, and cutter combination helping him own an MLB-leading 1.42 ERA. This was his second weekly selection (week four).
3. Devin Smeltzer – RP/SP, Minnesota Twins
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 13.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1.32 ERA, 0.66 WHIP
Smeltzer? I hardly even know her! The 26-year-old left-handed starter didn’t make his 2022 debut until halfway through the month of May, but so far, he hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in any of his appearances. His best performance of the season came against the Royals last Thursday during which he shut them out for seven frames while striking out six with an even 30% CSW across all of his pitches. His start against the Tigers on Tuesday was also impressive, as he lasted six frames and only surrendered two earned runs, maintaining his sub-2.00 ERA (1.50), but he may not have a spot in the rotation much longer with Joe Ryan returning and he faces the Blue Jays next, so he’s not the smartest pickup in fantasy at the moment.
4. Tarik Skubal – SP, Detroit Tigers
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 14 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1.93 ERA, 0.64 WHIP
If anyone was still doubting Skubal’s breakout, week eight was the week to put that to rest as he quieted both the Guardians and Twins with seven-inning outings. His 0.64 WHIP across the pair of starts tied for the MLB lead among starters with at least two appearances, and he now sports an elite combo of a 2.15 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and a 27% strikeout rate. His changeup has turned into his best pitch, inducing a 23.4% swinging-strike rate, giving him five pitches (four-seamer, slider, sinker, curveball) to turn to at any given moment. He previously earned top performer honors in week five.
5. Frankie Montas – SP, Oakland Athletics
Week 8 Stats: 0 W, 14 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 16 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
Frankie Montas deserves more love, especially from his offense. He wasn’t able to secure a win despite two seven inning performances, the first of which he struck out 11 Rangers with 20 whiffs, only allowing one run, and the second of which he earned a loss against the Astros despite giving up just two earned. He finished the week with the second-most strikeouts and was able to secure a spot on this list without the aid of a win, a feat that has not occurred yet this season. His 3.20 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP, and 28% strikeout rate are ace caliber, and he will hopefully be rewarded with more wins going forward, possibly on a new team by the trade deadline.
6. Sandy Alcantara – SP, Miami Marlins
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 K, 1.13 ERA, 0.50 WHIP
This week’s top one-start pitcher is Alcantara after he mowed down Braves hitters in his third straight start of at least eight frames and no more than one earned run. The 14 Ks tied his career-high and he earned them on the back of a whopping 28 whiffs and a 37% CSW. He was one of just two pitchers to strike out double-digit batters while issuing no free passes, and his season is just now taking off even though he already owns even marks in his 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP as his 24% strikeout rate will skyrocket with more starts like this one. This was his third weekly nomination and second in a row after he previously earned a spot on week three’s and week seven’s articles, giving him the most weekly awards among all pitchers.
7. Kyle Wright – SP, Atlanta Braves
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 10 K, 2.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
A breakout season is normally defined by a player doing something right leading to a new level of performance, and this starter is literally named after that notion. Wright earned his first weekly selection since the inaugural article of the season by holding the Phillies to three runs into the seventh frame and shutting out the Diamondbacks across six innings. While his strikeouts are down and his walks are up from the beginning of the season, Wright has still been able to make things work by riding his 40.4% CSW curveball and 1.5+ mph upticks on his sinker and four-seamer, helping him maintain a 2.41 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 27.5% K% across 59.2 innings on the season.
8. Corbin Burnes – SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP
Universally considered the best fantasy starting pitcher at the moment, Burnes is backing up his 2021 NL Cy Young Award campaign with another excellent season in 2022, sporting a sub-2.00 ERA (1.95), a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.82), and a National League-leading 31.8% strikeout rate. The seven-inning, 11-punchout outing he had in St. Louis continued to improve those numbers, as he racked up 16 whiffs and a 39.4% CSW in the start. Somehow, and very surprisingly so, this was Burnes’ first weekly selection despite his incredible season-long numbers and strong pedigree, but it’s most likely due to the fact that the Brewers are wary of letting their starters pitch twice in one week or deep into games.
9. Carlos Carrasco – SP, New York Mets
Week 8 Stats: 2 W, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 12 K, 4.22 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
This is precisely what earning two wins in a week can do for your fantasy value, as Carrasco’s numbers across his two starts were pretty poor, yet he earned the weekly nomination because he was one of only two starters to earn two wins. His first start was much worse than his second, however, as he allowed all five of his runs for the week to cross the plate in his one start against the Phillies before he shut out the Nationals across five frames. With injuries, a cancer diagnosis, the COVID-shortened season, and age-related regression, Carrasco hasn’t surpassed 80 innings since all the way back in 2018, but at 35-years old, he’s been a serviceable enough starter for the Mets this season with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
10. Jameson Taillon – SP, New York Yankees
Week 8 Stats: 1 W, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP
Racking up strikeouts has not been Taillon’s goal in 2022, and it seems to be working out as he’s sporting the lowest FIP (3.04) of his career. He’s punching out less than 20% of batters for the first time in his career in a season of at least 50 IP, but it doesn’t seem to matter because of his career-low 2.5% BB%, a rate that is tied for the MLB lead. His 0.25 WHIP in his start against the Rays was the lowest among starting pitchers across week eight, and if he continues throwing his pitches for strikes while displaying his effective new cutter, he should only see slight regression to his 2.49 ERA.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Ashby
If you haven’t witnessed what Ashby (20th ranked pitcher) can do, look no further than the four-inning save he secured just two weeks ago during which he struck out eight of the 13 batters he faced with a 42% CSW while not allowing a single baserunner. Now that he’s in the rotation, he’s featuring four dominant pitches (sinker, slider, changeup, curveball), and was beastly against the Cubs this week, striking out 12 batters on the way to a six-inning win with just one earned run allowed as he induced 21 whiffs and a 39% CSW. If he’s available in your league, pick him up!
Reliever of the Week: Trevor Megill
The older brother of Mets legend Tylor Megill, Trevor (24th ranked pitcher) was a dominant long-relief arm in the eighth week of the season, tossing multiple scoreless frames across each of his three appearances. He racked up nine punchouts and a win along the way and might be someone to consider in leagues that limit the amount of pitching starts you can use.
From a traditional closing perspective, Josh Hader (25th ranked pitcher) would have earned top relief pitcher honors if not for Megill’s hot week, as he saved three ball games and continued his 16.2-inning scoreless streak to start the season.
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