Yesterday, I went over the top 10 for 2022 fantasy baseball. Today, I throw out preconceived notions, drink some potions and lather up my body with lotions, as I sloppily slip and slide my way through a very precarious top 20 for 2022 fantasy baseball. This top twenty is a blind man playing Twister. Half the time, I’m grabbing for things not knowing if they’re there or not. I legit think this top 20 could go countless other ways. Is countless a widowed Countess? No, it’s not, it’s a confusing AF top 20 for fantasy baseball. All the positional rankings will live under the 2022 fantasy baseball rankings. Here’s Steamer’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. The projections in this post are, as always, mine. (But if you click on a player’s name, you see Steamer’s projections for that specific player. It’s magic!) Subscriptions are up and running, and you can already get Rudy’s Draft War Room. Anyway, here’s the top 20 for 2022 fantasy baseball:
NOTE: All 2022 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games, due to the CBA. Also, I’m going on the assumption the NL is getting the DH.
NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.
CLICK TO SEE TOP 10 FOR 2022 FANTASY BASEBALL
11. Ozzie Albies – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Harper. I call this tier, “You think avocado is too ethnic.” Here’s you at Chipotle, “Can you wrap my burrito in white bread?” After a brief moment of confusion, you clarify, “Oh, I know you only have those thin flat things — tortitos, I think you call them — so I brought my own Wonder Bread for you to use.” You wear a slicker everywhere you go for fear of it raining at any time. You watch airplane edits of movies even when you’re not on a plane because some of the words they say scare you. I understand you better than you understand yourself, which is why I made a tier for you. This tier is boring, and, ya know what, that’s okay. 2020 was a brutal year for everyone. 2021 was a brutal year for the top 20. There were more landmines than actual hits. If Princess Di was drafting last year, she would’ve died on a landmine, rather than secretly living in an Epstein island villa. So, I’m fine with you taking some risk off the table, and drafting from this tier. Just know you are getting safe vs. sexy upside. That’s not to say I don’t like Ozzie Albies. I love Ozzie Albies (and Freeman and Harper). Last year, Ozzie even went 30/20 with 40 doubles. Round numbers are boring! That’s why they call other numbers crooked! Crooked is fun! Devilish! Crooked numbers tiptoe into a room and pickpocket you. Albies went 30/20/.259, and I can’t even squint hard enough to get that any higher in any relevant way. How’sever, 30/20/.259 still got him 12th on the Player Rater last year, and that’s safe and boring and respectable and avocado is kinda ethnic! 2022 Projections: 96/32/94/.264/17 in 591 ABs
12. Freddie Freeman – When looking out over the horizon, you can see boats docked and the sun setting. A friendly dog barks at some seagulls. If Keith Morrison was walking through this scene, he’d call it idyllic. It wouldn’t be shocking if Bob Ross painted this very scene. Look! There, a group of children are opening a Wonder Bread stand to sell Wonder Bread for people complaining that tortillas are too spicy for their burritos. It’s a scene out of the 1950s. Wait, get closer! I see Freddie Freeman mussing the hair of one of the kids selling Wonder Bread. What a glorious scene of Americana. Freeman’s got that going for him for another year or two until he starts his slow decline into mediocrity and no one wants his kid’s Wonder Bread anymore, no matter how spicy their tortilla complaints get. Also, Freeman’s a free agent, so all of this is subject to change. I highly doubt it does though, which is why I projected him. After this, I don’t project free agents. Will talk more about this in the top 20 catchers, and other positional rankings in the 2022 fantasy baseball rankings.
UPDATE – Freddie Freeman signed with the Dodgers. Dodgers’ lineup is now Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, 1954 Willie Mays, John Cazale coming off The Deer Hunter, King Edward the Great and Gandhi. Watch out when they get Dustin May back! Okay, in reality, it’s not too far off.
— Razzball (@Razzball) March 17, 2022
So, Dodger Stadium became a launching pad sometime around 2017. My guess is Rob Manfred and Magic Johnson made a deal, and Magic said the Dodgers would spend $400 million per year, if MLB would supply them with Super Bouncey baseballs. You thinking MLB is above that chicanery is cute because of your naïveté. Hopefully, Manfred didn’t agree to also watch the HBO show about Magic and the Lakers, because that is painful. Here I thought John C. Reilly could do no wrong. Woof, mistaken there. Freeman was going to be great wherever he ended up, and LA is as good a landing spot as any. 2022 Projections: 103/34/113/.312/6 in 586 ABs
13. Bryce Harper – Not sure anything is more telling about Harper’s boringness than how much I always want to call him Bruce Harper. Bryce spikes his hair, and, between innings, while warming up, he plays catch with the Philly phans by tossing D batteries back and forth with them. Bryce calls reporter queries clown questions and wears Philly Phanatic embossed cleats. Bryce clubs his dad’s weak-sauce fastballs into the bleachers to win a Home Run Derby, and peacocks around the league as its biggest star. Bruce walks on four pitches and keeps his head down. Not sure when Bryce became Bruce, but I don’t think it was overnight. It’s been a slow progression into “obviously still solid, but this guy Bruce kinda makes me want to yawn a little.” At least he’s no longer hitting .245! In fairness to Bruce–I mean Bryce, his expectations were so sky-high that he would’ve needed to go 45/20/.330 to fulfill them. Sadly, he settled into a 35/12/.280 hitter. Happily, that should not be “sadly.” 2022 Projections: 97/34/102/.283/12 in 514 ABs
14. Mike Trout – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Betts. I call this tier, “Mr. Prorater is making house calls.” Does this tier mean Mr. Prorater is calling your house saying, “If you were to make a full stop at every stop sign, you’d be stopped in your car for 16 years, which means in Iowa, where the driving age is 14, you can be sitting at a stop sign for two years, if you’re born in a car at a stop sign.” Hmm, I don’t know about Mr. Prorater’s info. Also, this is not legal binding information for when you get pulled over for making a rolling stop. Mr. Prorater says to that, “I’d be an attorney if they counted towards my law degree all the time I watched Law & Order reruns.” Okay, Mr. Prorater has interesting ways of looking at things, and this tier is him looking at two guys and prorating them over the course of a healthy season. If Trout gives us 120 games of healthy baseball, I can’t imagine him not returning this value. Let’s do some prorating! In 36 games last year, he hit 8 homers — that’s like 35 homers in a full season. In 53 games the year before, he hit 17 homers, that’s about 36 homers in a full year. In 114 games in ’17, he hit 33 homers, that’s like 37 homers in a full year. If Trout has a full year, he’s going to hit 35 homers and .285. Oh, by the by, I’m considering a full season from Trout to be prorated at 130-ish games. Even his full year is prorated. “If Jake Lamb went by Jay Clam, losing that extra letter would save him 14 minutes a year when signing his name.” Oh, shut up, Mr. Prorater. 2022 Projections: 86/33/101/.286/7 in 461 ABs
15. Mookie Betts – Last year sucked for Betts. This whole tier (all two players) sucked last year. Betts wasn’t as bad as Trout, but was it the best Betts? Betts’er not be. “If a bee made the B sound instead of a buzz, it would be the only animal that could say its own name.” Mr. Prorater, that’s not even prorating. “I started as Mr. Hypothetical before a brand and name change.” Okay, so Betts worries me more than Trout, even though we saw him for 122 games vs. 53. Because Trout’s actually proven that he’s always great if he’s healthy, he’s just not always healthy. Betts? Well, I’m getting the feeling he’s not going to be healthy while still playing. He’s already said his hip was bothering him, but it will be fine for the new season. If I had a nickel every time I heard a player say they’d be healthy in time for the new season, I’d have–“45 cents.” Thanks, Mr. Prorater. I don’t fully trust Betts to be healthy, and am ranking him in a place where I doubt I’m able to draft him. You could say I’m hedging my Betts. 2022 Projections: 103/24/72/.272/13 in 514 ABs
16. Corbin Burnes – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Cole. I call this tier, “Sipping on your daiquiri.” The tier name refers to your activity during your draft when these guys go off the board. They’re already long gone in all leagues, so you’ve likely already sipped on your daiquiri, and are already feeling tipsy, but, neverthehoo, if they’re available, take a pull on your crazy straw and ignore these guys. If you’ve been following my rankings for a minute, and not an actual minute, but an Urban Dictionary minute, which is actually a long time, you know I’d never draft a starter in the top 20. So, yes, I’ve chosen to only rank two starters in the top 20. If you want to bemoan my low ranking of these two starters, then bemoan away. Just remember, a bemoaner sounds a bit to me like, “U be a boner.” Here’s what I’ve said previously about ranking starters in the top 20, “Before you say, ‘Grey, you’re handsome AF, and super smart. You rub-a-dub places I thought only ladies could rub and/or dub. Yet, you say you’d never draft a starter in the top 20, but you’ve ranked Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole in the top 20. Should I not draft Burnes or Cole if they’re available? Thank you for your time, you are a real pleasure.’ This always drives me crazy. Not the compliments, those are nice. If you’re following my rankings, Devers, Acuña, Luis Robert, Albies, Freeman, Tucker, and more are ranked higher than their ADP and where others are ranking them (for the most part; there’s exceptions, obviously). So how on earth did you get to pick 17, and have no one else available to you but Burnes or Cole? Are you in a league with sixteen me’s? Otherwise, there’s guys available to draft I like more than Burnes. A companion piece to this question is the guy (and, let’s be honest, it’s always a guy), who says, ‘Only players available were Burnes and Trout and I didn’t want to draft Trout, so I went with Burnes.’ So, you don’t want to listen to me on who to draft in regards to Trout, but you want me to say it’s okay to draft a guy I’ve ranked later who I’ve said not to draft? Okay…*places traffic cone on head, kneels down in driver’s ed course, gets slammed by pimple-faced teenager’s Sebring* So, why even rank Burnes 17th overall if I wouldn’t draft him here? I gotta rank him somewhere! What, I’m gonna rank him 450th overall next to Miles Mikolas?” And that’s me quoting me! I changed some names and numbers from last year to this year, but that’s still completely applicable, so please appliqué!
As for Burnes, I love him. Have absolutely no qualms with anything to do with Burnes. If we’re talking about drafting pitchers, I’m actually surprised he’s being drafted after Cole in some leagues. Burnes is a chef’s kiss from the top of Gheorghe Muresan’s head to the bottom of Muggsy Bogues’s toes. Burnes had a 12.6 K/9 with a 1.8 BB/9. A 12+ K/9 plays with a 4+ BB/9, forget a 1-something BB/9. That’s basically the best peripherals I’ve ever seen. Burnes’s xERA last year was 2.01. That’s legit ridiculous. The next best was Zack Wheeler with a 2.78 xERA! Since 2006, the only pitcher ever to pitch in a 162-game season and have a better xFIP than Burnes’s 2.30 last year was Clayton Kershaw. That’s it. One guy. Burnes’s 1.63 FIP last year was the best by a starter since 1999’s Pedro Martinez. The only thing separating Burnes and Pedro Martinez in his prime is a dead dwarf. 2022 Projections: 17-6/2.51/0.93/264 in 191 IP
17. Gerrit Cole – I overrated 2020 last year leading me to say Gerrit Cole was overrated last preseason. Technically, he was overrated. Technically, Part II: Technically, It’s A Sequel, Cole still is overrated, but he wasn’t the Towering Inferno-disaster film I expected. His velocity bounced back last year after 2020, and, while I predicted he’d be a big little baby about Spider Tack being banned, it wasn’t the end of him, as I also expected. He struggled at times (3.23 ERA), but he didn’t fart into his hand to try to grip the baseball and have his worst year ever. There’s still those years with the Pirates when Ray Searage tried to make him pitch to contact, which is still funny five years later. God Bless Ray Searage and his ability to spot a 13+ K/9 guy and make him a 7.5 K/9 ground ball pitcher. God Bless Gerrit Cole for not literally committing a homicide in Pittsburgh. With some distance since the Spider Tack crack down — Spider Crack Down? — we can see Cole’s spin was affected, but, if you would’ve seen his numbers year-over-year and didn’t know about the Spider Crack Down, you’d think very little of Cole’s spin changes. His numbers were down a little across the board with strikeouts (comparing him to 2019, because 2020’s number are just dumb) and Whiff%, but he’s also 31 years old. Could he have one more year left of elite? I believe so. Would I draft him? Nah, dude, welcome to the site. 2022 Projections: 17-7/2.73/0.99/271 in 204 IP
18. Yordan Alvarez – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the end of the top 20 for 2022 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “A History of the Backend of the Top 20 for Fantasy Baseball.” Opening the historical textbook, A History of the Backend of the Top 20 for Fantasy Baseball, and reading from the first chapter, titled, “At Least Grey Didn’t Rank Adalberto Mondesi in the Top 20 Again.” The historical text starts, “Grey, in a rather empty display of knowledge, and because he has nothing else, will fall back on saying things like, ‘Remember, this is for this year, not what a player just did.'” All right, this is kinda harsh. Who wrote this book? *turns to the front cover, “Written by Future Grey Albright.” AHHHHH!!! It’s by me. From the future! Unless. Dot dot dot. It was written by someone named Future Albright with the middle name Grey. *intern whispers in ear* Being told, no, it is written by a future me. This is freaky and/or deaky! The purpose of us flipping through this historical textbook is to better understand why my top 20 rankings veer towards the upsidey at the end of them. Remember, this is for this year, not what a player just did. Oh my God, future me knew I was going to say that! Seriously, you can go safe with Starling Marte or Manny Machado. But they didn’t pass the sniff test, and the sniff test was graded with a P.U. There’s Marcus Semien, Teoscar Hernandez and dozens of starters. There’s a lot of players who can be in the top 20, but they’re not for me, because I’m grabbing the two guys I want in every league, and jumping the gun on them by about a round or two. This is like how I ranked Bichette around 12th overall last year and Tatis around that spot the year before. Guys you want on your team, you need to be a round early on. Will Yordan be drafted around a round (stutterer!) later than this? Prolly. He might be drafted two rounds later. Hey, if you think you can get Yordan around pick 40, then take someone else here and Yordan at pick 40. Be my guest, be my guest, put my love to the test. This is roadmap for drafting. Ideally, you will draft, say, Bichette in the 1st, Luis Robert around here, then Yordan around pick 40. All I know is I want Yordan on every team.
Okay, whatever you want to call Yordan Alvarez, whether it’s Captain Woo Cubano, Yordong, or Arrested For Saying “Yordong,” it’s up to you! I don’t make the rules. Okay, I make the rules. First rule is we must make love visually to the stats of a player in the top 20. You just have to look at their slashline and think, “I’d like to see that SLG% naked.” Yordan Alvarez does this in abundance. His slashline is the Abundance. A dance where we’re just drooling at looking at Captain Woo Cubano’s stats. Yes, I do my own projections, but Steamer projections for him are basically 40/.280, and I think that’s the floor. He had a top 10 Barrels/PA%; top 17 Max Exit velo (116.4 MPH); top 8 average Exit Velo (93.2 MPH); top 7 for Hard Hit%; top 14 xSLG; and a 21.4% HR/FB, which is solid, but could easily be 25-ish for a guy like him. He hit “only” 33 homers last year. His stadium is great, but he would’ve had 48 homers last year if he called Camden home. Captain Woo Cubano might have the sneakiest sexiest something-somethingiest numbers from any player this year that seems way off everyone’s top 20 radar. Well, he’s on mine. Sure, he might not steal any bags, but his one steal vs. Vlad Jr.’s four steals are that big of a difference when they might be equal in every conceivable way? Captain Woo Cubano is 24 years old and just had a top 40 season on the Player Rater. Get ready for the top 10 season. Also, one additional note, if the NL adds the DH, which I am expecting, then Yordan won’t even have to play the field in interleague games. Less chance for injury, more chance for at-bats. Finally, as A History of the Backend of the Top 20 for Fantasy Baseball, says in the chapter titled, Get a High Floor Without Sacrificing A Beautiful Ceiling. “A 24-year-old 6’5″ slugger with 60-homer upside might peak at the age of 26, get in now, suckas!” 2022 Projections: 94/42/112/.282/1 in 566 ABs
19. Wander Franco – Turning to Chapter 2 in A History of the Backend of the Top 20 for Fantasy Baseball. The historical text starts, “Grey is a big dummy who loves guys who are five-category threats.” Future Me is really tough on Present Me.
Future Grey, “You’ll get over it.”
Present Grey, “I knew you were going to say that.” Me thinking about me, “Maybe I am you. ”
“Easy for you to say.”
Listen, I see you wondering on Wander, did I rank him too high? Am I wandering around mumbling to myself like a lunatic, who thinks he can talk to his future self? Let me turn it around on you, why are you scared? Are you scared of Wander because Acuña, Tatis, Juan Soto, and literally every other 20-year-old disappointed? Here’s the thing: A player is not being promoted at the age of 20 if he can’t handle it. Players coming up at an early age because they’re going to be fantastic. By the by, I did a googling to see the youngest players ever in MLB, and there were 16-year-olds playing in the majors in the 1940s. “Listen, kiddo, the wife’s gotta go to the factory, I gotta go fight the Nazis, and you gotta go play for the Phils. All right, Putsy?” Any hoo! Wander came up last year and had a 12% strikeout rate and hit .288. At 20 years of age! The power hasn’t even fully formed yet. We don’t know what we have completely, but it’s going to be special, and at worst it’s going to be 25/10/.290. So, the worst case scenario is J.D. Martinez’s previous year with 10 steals (Just Dong went 28/0/.286). The best case scenario is. Dot dot dot. *travels to Vatican City, stands in line to see the Sistine Chapel, gets in after a five-hour wait, looks up* That’s Wander’s ceiling. 2022 Projections: 94/27/89/.297/12 in 583 ABs
20. Teoscar Hernandez – Ya know what’s kinda funny about projections, mine included in some instances. If they didn’t believe in a guy before, nothing is changing that. People just throw out gains like Garth Brooks threw out Chris Gaines. Teoscar went from a 30% strikeout rate guy to a 24.9% last year; two years straight of hitting .289 and .296 and Steamer is like, “Yeah, this guy is a .259 average drain.” Hol’ up! Hol’ up! Why? Is there a reason? I had reasons to worry about him last year, but Teoscar’s last two years xBAs were .294 and .282. He hits everything hard. He was 9th in the league in line drive rate; bottom thirty in the league in soft contact; the dip on the Launch Angle worked to maintain the solid average. Don’t love that his fly balls were down, due to that swing change, but he’s still a 36.1% fly ball rate guy. Couple that with 20% HR/FB, which he’s very capable of, and that produces roughly 170 fly balls or 34 HRs. Get into a few lucky ones, and he’s hitting 40 with just a hot streak. That’s with a .280+ average. Had real question marks about him last year, but I’m sold on Tesocar like Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Oscar on eBay. 2022 Projections: 87/34/102/.282/9 in 563 ABs