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ESPN Player Rater Retrospective

It can often be difficult to place into context how well (or how poorly) certain players have performed recently. A glance at ESPN’s Player Rater, which attempts to quantify a player’s overall fantasy value by analyzing their performance in each facet of the game, can focus targets for fantasy owners looking for help on the waiver wire. Of course, when dealing with small sample sizes, a player’s results can be fluky, but placement at or near the top of these lists could be indicative of a substantive change to a player’s profile. Here are the top 10 players at each position for the past 15 days, according to the ESPN Player Rater.


1. Gary Sanchez
2. Mike Zunino
3. Willson Contreras
4. Buster Posey
5. Salvador Perez
6. Yadier Molina
7. Robinson Chirinos
8. Chris Gimenez
9. Martin Maldonado
10. Tyler Flowers

Gary Sanchez has run a .333/.462/.524 line over the past week to reaffirm his spot atop the catcher rankings. Perhaps due in part to the sensational rookie season of Aaron Judge, Sanchez has seemed to fly somewhat under the radar despite a career 160 wRc+, but he seems positioned to be one of the best catchers in baseball for years to come. A Robinson Chirinos power spike has pushed him to No. 7 on the positional rankings, as he has four home runs in only 22 plate appearances over the past two weeks. Obviously, this kind of power spike is unsustainable, although Chirinos has shown legitimate power in the past and, given Jonathan Lucroy’s unexpectedly poor season, should Chirinos continue to produce, he may see increased time behind the plate in Arlington. For now, however, Chirinos’ spike does not appear to be particularly meaningful for prospective fantasy owners. Similarly to Chirinos, Chris Gimenez has hit four home runs in limited time recently, with four of his only five hits in that time being home runs. With a career .217/.302/.345 line and situated squarely behind offseason signee Jason Castro on the depth chart, Gimenez remains more interesting for his numerous pitching appearances for Paul Molitor this season than for any potential fantasy production.

First Base

1. Cody Bellinger
2. Edwin Encarnacion
3. Paul Goldschmidt
4. Trey Mancini
5. Logan Morrison
6. Travis Shaw
7. Jose Abreu
8. Daniel Murphy
9. Matt Adams
10. Anthony Rizzo

Cody Bellinger continues to rake, having run a .292/.379/.667 line over the past week to maintain his spot atop the Player Rater. Bellinger continues to hit an immense number of hard fly balls to right field. Bellinger’s BABIP is a sustainable .286, and while his season-long HR/FB rate over 32.4% cannot last, he seems to have established himself as one of the best first basemen in baseball, with outfield eligibility in some leagues only adding to his value. Logan Morrison has hit .326/.426/.739 over the past two weeks, with an 8:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio supporting that on-base percentage, and five home runs. Morrison has, to some extent, adopted a Bellinger-like approach, pulling nearly half of his balls in play with an extraordinary fly ball rate and a soft-contact rate below 10%. Morrison’s contact rate this season is slightly up, while his chase rate is slightly below his recent levels. Most notably, though, Morrison’s hard-contact rate this season sits at 43.9%, up ninepercentage points from the career-high mark that he set in that category last season. Morrison is currently in the midst of easily the best season of his career, finally combining consistent contact with power, and, with Tampa Bay embarking on a road trip to face some shaky pitching staffs in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, could be an interesting streaming play if he remains on the waiver wire. Travis Shaw has hit six home runs since June 13, propped up by a 30% HR/FB rate over that time. While Shaw has not been hitting fly balls at the same levels as some of the league’s elite power threats, he continues to make solid contact while also cutting his strikeout rate from last season. Shaw also added a stolen base to his total, and, although not a true speed threat, does add more in the stolen base department than many first basemen.

Second Base

1. Jose Ramirez
2. Trea Turner
3. Dee Gordon
4. Ian Happ
5. Jonathan Schoop
6. Chris Taylor
7. Daniel Murphy
8. Ian Kinsler
9. Brandon Phillips
10. Scooter Gennett

Thanks to only two strikeouts over the last week, Jose Ramirez followed up his award-winning week with a .346/.414/.577 line over the past week. Ramirez hit only one ball softly over the last week, continuing to spray line drives and ground balls across the field. Ramirez makes a ton of contact and limits weakly-hit balls, so he should continue to hit for a high batting average, while his placement in the middle of a strong lineup should enable him to rack up high runs scored totals. Ian Happ’s calling card as a high draft choice and top prospect was his bat. Instead, Happ’s season-long strikeout rate as a rookie has been higher than Aaron Judge’s. Happ has instead compensated by homering every 16 plate appearances, including five over the past two weeks. Happ has made solid contact and hits near the top of a still-potent lineup, but he lacks good speed and, unless he can refine his feel for the strike zone (his chase rate currently sits at 34%), he likely will continue to hit for a relatively low batting average, relying on an unsustainable HR/FB rate to maintain his fantasy value. Brandon Phillips has hit well recently for Atlanta, potentially boosting his trade value in the process. Phillips has done so by avoiding strikeouts and making solid contact; he has also hit six doubles and three home runs over that time. His batted ball profile this season looks much like the one that he ran in his prime, and, while his defense has continued to decline from his heyday, he looks like a solid average contributor, and a trade to a contender could inflate his runs scored and RBI totals enough to make him a worthwhile reserve option for fantasy purposes.

Third Base

1. Jose Ramirez
2. Travis Shaw
3. Chris Taylor
4. Justin Turner
5. Adrian Beltre
6. Anthony Rendon
7. Matt Davidson
8. Paul DeJong
9. Matt Carpenter
10. Jedd Gyorko

Matt Davidson’s home run barrage has continued over the past two weeks, as he added six over that time. That comes from a fly-ball heavy approach that has produced hard contact at a fantastic 58.1% rate. While neither his hard contact rate nor his 37.5% HR/FB rate over that time are sustainable, Davidson’s power is unquestionably legitimate. Unfortunately, that approach has come at the complete expense of opposite-field contact and an astounding 2:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that time. Davidson could make for an intriguing power flyer for teams in need of home runs, but his complete lack of production in other categories makes him a niche player only. Paul DeJong has hit .319/.327/.617 since June 15, although, much like Davidson, that production has come with a less than stellar strikeout and walk profile. DeJong has struck out 15 times and drawn only one walk. Instead, he has been propped up by an unsustainable .379 BABIP and 25% HR/FB rate. DeJong has shown some encouraging traits at the plate this season, most notably power on contact, but his chase and contact rates this season have not been good enough to make him a must-add in all leagues.


1. Trea Turner
2. Corey Seager
3. Andrelton Simmons
4. Elvis Andrus
5. Carlos Correa
6. Xander Bogaerts
7. Jedd Gyorko
8. Eduardo Escobar
9. Orlando Arcia
10. Manny Machado

Trea Turner’s speed continues to prove an asset, as he has stolen 11 bases over the past two weeks to keep him atop the shortstop rankings. Turner has, encouragingly, struck out at only an 11.8% clip over that time, while making lots of decent ground-ball contact. Given his speed and ability to use the whole field, his .317 season BABIP seems rather low (especially considering that he is limiting pop-ups and making more contact this season compared to last), and, as his line drive rate picks up nearer to the levels that he ran in the minor leagues, he should hit for a higher batting average than the .274 mark he is sporting to date. As a top-of-the-order contributor in an elite lineup with positive statistical indicators, Turner seems poised to be one of the top fantasy producers of the second half for the second consecutive year. After I cast doubt upon Orlando Arcia’s ability to continue to produce last week, he ran a .450/.476/.800 line to remain on the Rater. Once again, this mark was BABIP-driven (he had a .571, to be exact) but was this time supported by stronger contact. Arcia is hitting solid line drives at a rate that cannot be expected to continue, but he does appear to be showing signs of making strides as a hitter in his age 22 season. Unfortunately, he still seems reluctant to steal bases at a rate that could make him an asset at a shallow position once his batted balls start finding gloves once again.


1. Cody Bellinger
2. Jose Ramirez
3. Keon Broxton
4. Michael Taylor
5. Trea Turner
6. Eddie Rosario
7. Carlos Gomez
8. Andrew McCutchen
9. Trey Mancini
10. Lonnie Chisenhall

Another player succeeding on the back of authoritative contact despite an untenable strikeout rate, Keon Broxton has managed to produce at a slightly above-average overall level despite an extremely low contact rate. Broxton is using the entire field this season, although he has gotten more pull-happy during his recent hot streak. Over the past two weeks, he has run a .326/.408/.721 line despite a 32.7% strikeout rate because of an unsustainable home run rate and BABIP. More encouraging for fantasy owners than his performance in the batter’s box may be his four stolen bases over that time. He has shown solid plate discipline throughout his brief big-league career and may be showing signs of developing into a strong base stealer, but he is unlikely to ever contribute in the way of batting average despite an enviable set of tools. Michael Taylor is, in many ways, a lesser version of Broxton. A toolsy outfielder with power on contact, Taylor’s contact rates, although stronger than Broxton’s this season, are no better than his career rates, and he is actually chasing pitches out of the strike zone more frequently than ever this season. Taylor, more recently, has seemingly adopted a fly-ball approach and has hit five home runs partially as a result, although it has seemingly come at the expense of some contact, paired with a 14:1 strikeout-walk rate extreme even by Taylor’s standards. Washington has every reason to continue giving Taylor playing time to determine if this power surge is real, but Taylor seems like a streaky play given his troubles with contact, albeit one with enough power and speed upside to warrant a stash in deeper leagues.

Starting Pitchers

1. Max Scherzer
2. Corey Kluber
3. Chris Sale
4. Jose Quintana
5. Gerrit Cole
6. Clayton Kershaw
7. Jon Lester
8. Jacob Faria
9. Jacob deGrom
10. Jose Berrios

Perhaps the most unsurprising list this week, the starting pitchers consist almost entirely of players who have had top-of-the-rotation status before in their careers or were featured here last week. After a poor start to the season, Jose Quintana has rebounded, allowing only two earned runs on two solo home runs over his last 20 innings. Quintana’s strikeout and walk rates have both been solid but unspectacular over that time, but he has generated an uncharacteristic amount of ground balls. The ground ball uptick may prove to be fleeting, but Quintana’s improved results immediately preceding the trade deadline may somewhat increase his likelihood of being moved within the next month. A move away from Guaranteed Rate Field and a White Sox offense that has supplied him with numerous no-decisions over the years may prove beneficial for fantasy owners. Gerrit Cole has gone at least six innings and allowed exactly one run in each of his last three outings. Largely, however, this success has come on the back of some batted ball luck, as he has not returned to the strikeout artist that he was in his heyday, nor has his command been pristine. Encouragingly, Cole has generated an extreme amount of weak contact, particularly on the ground, but until he finds a true strikeout offering (his slider, while still above-average, is not getting chases or whiffs at the rate it was getting when it was a dominant offering back in 2015), he remains more of a middle-of-the-rotation option than an ace.

Relief Pitcher

1. Kenley Jansen
2. Fernando Rodney
3. A.J. Ramos
4. Kelvin Herrera
5. Corey Knebel
6. Brad Brach
7. Yusmeiro Petit
8. Kyle Barraclough
9. Roberto Osuna
10. Jim Johnson

The reliever rankings inherently rely on miniscule sample sizes and save opportunities, not coincidentally paralleling many of the hottest teams in baseball. Kenley Jansen, Fernando Rodney, A.J. Ramos, Brad Brach, Kelvin Herrera, Corey Knebel, Roberto Osuna and Jim Johnson have all jumped onto the Rater thanks to strong saves totals. Yusmeiro Petit has been a key piece in a surprisingly dominant Angels bullpen this season and has been unhittable recently. The owner of a 9:0 strikeout-walk ratio, Petit has induced a large number of weak fly balls. Despite his success, he is still not a dominant strikeout pitcher and seems likely to continue in the long relief role in which he has thrived for many years.

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