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2022 Fantasy Baseball: Early ADP Data and SIscores for Hitters

Use these numbers as a baseline to prepare for your fantasy baseball draft.

As the calendar flips to January, it is time to research the player pool for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. Over the next six weeks or so, I’ll blast my way through all 30 major league franchises. The current lockout will put a hold on player movement and signings, but I expect the season to start on time.

After updating the data for the SIscores for 2022, I updated the data points for the final 2021 major league baseball player stats. I also pulled the early ADPs (average draft position) from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship to help jumpstart the learning curve for anyone looking to draft in January.

Over the next three months, players’ values will rise and fall based on news, injuries and performance in spring training. Once I have completed the research for all 30 teams, I will have the 2022 projections and the second round of SIscores.

For now, I’m going to take a quick trip through the offensive positions to show their ADPs, stats, and SIscores. 

Catcher

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The catcher pool continues to lack star power and depth. Salvador Perez had an all-time great season in 2021, helped by his 40 games at DH. His output was close to 50% higher than any previous season, while seeing a spike in his career-high strikeout rate (25.6). With an ADP of 33, Perez needs a 30/100 season to warrant his draft value.

Sep 16, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Salvador Perez (13) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium.

After his success over the past five seasons, J.T. Realmuto should be the benchmark to beat at catcher. Unfortunately, his power and batting average regressed in 2021, but he did have a spike in steals.

Will Smith has stud home run upside, but he needs the Dodgers to give him more playing time. His fly ball swing path projects well for power, and Smith continues to showcase strength in his approach in 2021.

Last year, Daulton Varsho was my breakout hitter. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks didn’t give him a starting opportunity until after the All-Star break. However, his ability to play other positions boosts his at-bats, and his final stats from last year projected over an entire season point to a winning asset at catcher. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Varsho finish as the most valuable fantasy catcher this season.

First Base

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When looking at top-tier first base inventory, Vladimir Guerrero and Freddie Freeman look to be a cut above the rest of the other options. Guerrero plays in an excellent young developing lineup with the pedigree to shine over the next decade. The most critical factor for his longevity of success is staying in shape. Freeman remains unsigned, which is reflected in his ADP (18.9). Once he signs, Freeman should gain value in fantasy drafts. Last year, he fell short of expectations in home runs and RBI, despite playing in a high scoring offense in the National League.

Matt Olson showed growth in his approach, leading to a jump in his run production. With further improvement, his batting average should climb while having a high ceiling in power.

Despite a career-low in his walk rate (9.9), Paul Goldschmidt regained his five-category edge at first base. Unfortunately, his steals don’t look repeatable this season, and his batting average should trickle back in the wrong direction.

Pete Alonso has beast upside in power with an improving approach. The Mets’ lineup fell short of expectations in 2021, but he still had 440 RBI chances. Alonso has been a disappointment in back-to-back seasons with runners on base after showing strength in this area in his rookie season (17% RBI rate).

Second Base

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SI Recommends

The second base pool has added depth in 2020, thanks to Trea Turner, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez qualifying at the position. Without a doubt, I’m going to treat Turner as a second baseman on draft day. His edge in speed helps develop team structure, and I see tremendous value at shortstop between rounds 4 and 6 in 12-team leagues. Turner should set a career-best in runs by a wide margin while providing help in four other categories.

Aug 8, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner (6) scores a run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at Dodger Stadium.

Ozzie Albies made the step to stud status at second base, despite his batting average. He plays in an excellent lineup and his approach points to better results in batting average. However, I’d like to see a few more walks to help his ceiling in runs.

I’m never a fan of buying a player off a career year, so I won’t be chasing Marcus Semien in any drafts. He has a nice, balanced skill set, and his spike in power does create intrigue.

Javier Baez almost looks like the same player as Marcus Semien, but he can be found 35 picks later in the draft. His skill set makes so much more sense as a second base option, plus his ceiling in power is extremely high. Runs and batting average project below the top players at his position.

Shortstop

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Fernando Tatis may have the highest ceiling in fantasy baseball due to his elite combination of power and speed. The addition of outfield eligibility helps a fantasy team with flexibility. His one strike for some fantasy managers is the health of his left shoulder, which led to three stints on the injured list in 2021.

An entire season of at-bats for Bo Bichette led to a breakout season. He has the feel of a .300-plus hitter with a developing 30/30 skill set. When adding in talent around him in the Blue Jays lineup, a fantasy manager has visions of a five-category stud.

The 2021 season didn’t go well for Trevor Story, leading to his ADP (36.3) drifting to the back of the third round in 12-team leagues. Over the previous three seasons, he ranked sixth, sixth and eighth by SIscore for hitters. This draft season, the wise guys will be looking to swoop him up as a value.

Drafting any Tampa hitter tends to be frustrating due to the Rays micromanaging their starting lineup. Wander Franco has the look of another Juan Soto at the plate, pointing to an electric batting average when he hits his stride in the majors. Unfortunately, his power looks to be trailing while his value in stolen bases is in question. For fantasy managers willing to bet on the come, Franco has the approach and tools to be elite in 2022.

Third Base

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At first glance, the depth at third base looks intriguing at multiple draft levels in the top 10 rankings by early ADP in the NFBC. Thanks to his high floor in power and speed, Jose Ramirez remains the edge. However, his fly ball approach hurts his once-higher output in batting average.

Adalberto Mondesi seems misplaced as a third base option, but his ability to steal a massive number of bases does bring difference-maker value if he stays healthy.

I could make a case for any other player ranked in the top 10, but I’ll wait until I do each team’s outlook before taking a stance on which players look the best based on their ADPs.

Outfield

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Last year, I took Juan Soto first overall in a pair of NFBC main events. He fell short of expectations, but I still believe in my evaluations. He has the approach and swing to lead the league in batting average, plus smash will over 40 home runs. In addition, his value in runs should be a given based on his high number of walks. Soto's missing link is his output in stolen bases compared to the other top players. I see more upside in speed, but my eyes are blurred by his overall greatness.

Juan Soto home run trot

It’s almost insane to fathom that a fantasy manager could start his or her team with Ronald Acuna and Mookie Betts or Mike Trout. Acuna is a top-five player, and his ADP (12.2) will jump once he shows that he is healthy in spring training. Betts was a bust last year, but he could easily have a massive rebound in batting average while regaining his lost value in steals. Trout hasn’t played over 150 games since 2016, and a calf issue seems to be one play away. No one questions his talent, but his injury risk puts him in the avoid column for many fantasy managers.

Cedric Mullins was a gift for anyone who invested in him last year. He was a reserve round dart in 15-team leagues or a free-agent pickup in shallow formats. His 30/30 stats in home runs and stolen bases look very attractive, but a fantasy manager must ask whether he is fact or fiction. I trust his speed more than his power, but my lure won’t come close to his name on draft day in 2022.

Top 400 hitters

Here are the top 400 hitters ranked by SIscore and sorted by position, based on 20-game position eligibility for 2022:

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Next, I’ll do a quick run through the top starting pitching and relief options before I start doing the outlooks for all 30 teams.

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