What can we learn from Yahoo's 2022 fantasy baseball MVPs?

·4-min read

With June almost complete in the fantasy baseball books, I thought it could be an interesting time to look at the Yahoo MVPs and see who’s moving the needle for us.

Here’s how we compute those Yahoo MVPs — they are the players most commonly rostered on the Top 500 Yahoo teams. Sometimes a player will show up on this list because of the reason he was added, not his actual production and contribution, but usually you need to play well to earn this spot.

Perhaps we can learn something from all this.

Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners (28.2 percent rostered on Top 500)

I suspect many of you could have guessed JRod would be here. He’s already a five-category contributor, and he’s finally starting to get respect from the umpires — remember all those out-of-zone pitches Rodriguez was being called out on in the spring?

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It’s funny how Jarred Kelenic hit Seattle with a pedigree to the moon last year, and did nothing with it (this year has also been a Kelenic mess, though he has hit in Triple-A). But Rodriguez has clearly been ready for his close-up. He might get into the first round next year, no later than a second-round pick.

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (25.6 percent)

I suspected Judge’s rookie year was going to settle in as his career season — and no disrespect meant by that. Those .284/.422/.627 slashes, with 52 homers — they don’t grow on trees. But Judge actually has a higher OPS+ this year, and he’s on pace to smash his career bests in every 5x5 category.

Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees has been a fantasy MVP
Aaron Judge has been playing like an MVP in both fantasy and reality. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

I thought Judge was perhaps misguided when he rejected the Yankees' monster contract extension, but it turns out he picked the perfect time to bet on himself. Judge wasn’t a giveaway in draft season, but with an ADP of 27.1, he provided plenty of room for profit.

Daniel Bard, RP, Rockies (23.8 percent)

The best fantasy managers can find saves on a budget. Bard might be pitching over his skis through the opening three months — his 2.12 ERA is far ahead of the 3.53 FIP suggestion — but he’s only blown two saves and his strikeout rate is still a plus. Look for Bard to be heavily shopped in the next few weeks, though he could plausibly close for a contender, too.

Nestor Cortes, SP, Yankees (23.6 percent)

He’s added a cutter this year, bumping his ground-ball rate a speck and inducing more weak content. And that pretty K/BB ratio is always going to play. Not every ace has to be a fire-breathing dragon on the radar gun; although Cortes has bumped his velocity a little bit, his average heater is still an ordinary 91.3 mph.

Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets (23.2 percent)

It’s not easy to be underrated in New York, but Alonso has found a way. Like Judge, we always suspected the rookie year was going to stand as the best Alonso year, but he’s bumped things up this season. Although Alonso can occasionally be induced into chasing a bad pitch, his contact rate is solid for a power hitter. His expected average and slugging are in line with his back-of-card stats.

Shane McClanahan, SP, Rays (22.4 percent)

Tony Gonsolin, SP, Dodgers (22.4 percent)

Starting pitchers are like fantasy football running backs — if you solve this position, you generally rule the world. It’s shocking to see Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson carry the Dodgers rotation, while Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw have dealt with injuries, ineffectiveness, or both.

Jon Berti, Utility, Marlins (22.4 percent)

This is more a triumph of vigilance than scouting — shrewd fantasy managers realized Berti offered versatility, good OBP skills and the willingness to run like crazy. It didn’t take that many bags before the early adopters crashed the waiver wire.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals (22.2 percent)

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote a wonderful piece describing Goldy’s intelligence and work habits. So much of player preparation is unknowable to us, but it’s reassuring when we know an athlete is doing all he can to maximize his ability. Goldy might be headed for his first MVP, a stunning development in his age-34 season. But it becomes less surprising when you read that Rosenthal piece.

Some others lower down the list, with quick takeaways (all players higher than 13 percent):

Jazz Chisholm, Tommy Edman, Dansby Swanson, Infielders

Perhaps I took batting slot too seriously in March.

Kyle Wright, SP, Braves

You never know when pedigree will kick in. Be proactive with this sort of pitcher.

Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Diamondbacks

We love catcher-eligible hitters who aren’t burdened with everyday catching work.

Carlos Rodon, SP, Giants

He was difficult to evaluate after the White Sox non-tendered him; what sort of health were we buying into? Rodon had a brief slump about a month ago, but he’s back to his lawnmower ways now.

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