The Touts were asked to game into their crystal ball and answer:
Who (can be multiple) of the following current Top-10 fantasy batters has the best chance to end the season in the Top-10 and who will likely incur the greatest fall? The choices are Vlad Guerero Jr., Shohei Ohtani (consider as a hitter only), Whit Merrifield, Bo Bichette, Marcus Semien and Cedric Mullins.
Jim Bowden (Fantasy Alarm, @JimBowdenGM): Guerrero top 10 and Merrifield greatest fall.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Agree on Vlad; I think Semien takes a dive.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Agree on Vladito; second part–who gets hurt? That’s who falls. I hate myself for even thinking it, but that makes me guess Ohtani (and I hope I am wrong).
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Maybe I’m losing my grip, but I’ll throw the first curve and say I don’t see Merrifield going anywhere and will go out a limb and say he finishes ahead of Guerrero (with an injury to either taking it off the board). I see no reason why Merrifield won’t keep running. With limited bags, Vlad needs to maintain the otherwordly average, which will be tough. That said, both finish Top-10.
Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Vlad up Ohtani Hits, Pitches , Steals, Plays Field..Hard to imagine in todays day he doesnt go IL more than Once!!!! Trad him NOW
Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): It’s obvious, but Vlad top-10, Mullins most likely to fall off (most out of nowhere). But now that I see Andy Behrens agrees, do the opposite.
Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): As much as I hate to agree with Liss on fantasy matters, I do think Mullins is at risk of the greatest fall. Pretty much every trait he’s demonstrating this season is either new or greatly enhanced relative to any prior year. We also have solid reasons for his improvement, of course, and—for selfish reasons—I don’t want him to backslide. But we shouldn’t be shocked if he can’t approach his current pace in the second-half. Also, Lenny is a monster for suggesting that Ohtani is a must-trade. I’m outraged. Trembling. We can’t have it. My whole retirement plan involves Ohtani winning this MVP—t must happen. He’s not actually doing anything we didn’t know he was capable of, and it’s not like he’s been unusually lucky. I’m fully in on Ohtani as a top-10 rest-of-season fantasy play.
Chris Towers (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CTowersCBS): I think Vlad, Merrifield, and Bichette have the best chance to remain in the top 10, and I can’t imagine that’s a hot take. Guerrero seems all but assured to be there given the leap he has made, and Merrifield and Bichette’s all-around games make them decent bets to be in that range. Especially Bichette, who benefits from an absurd amount of counting stats at the top of that lineup. Semien and Mullins figure to cool down quite a bit, and Ohtani’s biggest concern is injuries. It’s not just that he’s had Tommy John surgery as much as it is that he’s got twice as many opportunities as any other player to get hurt. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a top-10 player.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Bo Bichette sticking in the top 10, simply because he owns the most sustainable combination of power and speed. The home runs are real, so it’s just a question of whether he’ll continue stealing bases at his current pace. He has the speed to do it and he hasn’t even been caught yet, so there’s no reason for him to stop. Cedric Mullins is likely to incur the greatest fall from the top 10 as he’s clearly the biggest surprise out of this group and he’s outperformed anything he’s ever done historically in the minors. He has also significantly outperformed his xWOBA, so there’s a clear mountain of good fortune he has enjoyed so far that isn’t likely to last.
Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): I think both Vlad and Bo have a great show of sticking in the top-10. Whit Merrifield seems fairly safe as well due to the way his compiles stats. My biggest concern to fall would be Shohei Ohtani, who I believe to be far and away the current American League MVP. At least as a hitter only as stated in the question. Injury history combined with the fact that he has more avenues to get injured in the future that others hitters simply do not.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): I’ll join the chorus singing Vlad Jr’s praises as the most likely to stay in the Top 10. I’ll say Ohtani the Hitter is the most likely to drop out of the Top 10 because he has several risk factors that the other candidates don’t have (AS HR contest could mess up his swing + he could suffer an injury as a Pitcher that would render him unable to swing a bat).
Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): I don’t think this is a hot take, but the Blue Jays hitters have the best chance of remaining in the top 10 both because of their skills and their team context. Mullins is the riskiest on merit and because of the lineup around him – if he merely hits .265 the rest of the way, his counting stats could turn into dust. Merrifield has a similar issue with the Royals, but he’s also more stable of a player, so his risk of falling is also lower.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): My vote is for Bo Bichette. I assume that the context is roto. There are a few things that I look for. 1) Should be a “many paths to value” player. 3) Should be one of the highest projected players for overall value. 3) Underlying skills should be stable, and not unlucky. Of the bunch, Bichette and Semien are the two players which are “many paths to value.” Both have a presence in 4 or even 5 roto categories. Second, highest projected values are Vlad and Bichette. Finally, looking at Bichette’s skills – they look strong other than walk rate. Power, contact have improved, and BABIP seems luck neutral for him. To me, he has the highest floor of the group in question – which is what you would want to bet on to project him as a potential top-10 hitter.
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I think Ariel hit the nail on the head — it’s Bichette, because of the value he brings with his speed. He’s in the top-10 without having overachieved at the plate so far, which makes him a good bet to keep it up. Also, hitting second in the TOR lineup is an easy path to massive R+RBI totals. On the low end, I have to agree with the masses and choose Mullins. His name sticks out like a sore thumb on this list.
Greg Ambrosius (NFBC, @GregAmbrosius): Bo Bichette will end the season in the Top 10 and will be a Top 6 pick in fantasy drafts next year. He has everything fantasy owners are looking for. Mullins has the greatest chance to fall, but you sure have to love what he’s done so far.
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’m going all Blue Jays here. Vladito will easily continue his Top-10 pace. Bo also is going to finish in the top-10 as he brings everything to the table, especially in the run category. As for the faller, it will either be Semien. In has returned to hitter he was in April, but without the steals. Springer has also returned so his time in the leadoff spot could be numbered.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): It might seem somewhat counterintuitive because he doesn’t run, but Vlad’s average is elite and will keep him in the top 10 even though he falls short in one category. As much as I’ve reaped the benefit from Mullins in some leagues I don’t think he will keep up this level of production and will slip in the second half.
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): In: Bichette, VladJr, Ohtani. Out: Merrifield (will this crazy SB pace continue?), Semien (a bit over his BA skis), and Mullins (love the player, believe in the non-switch-hitting thing, but have to think pitchers will adjust).
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): The toughest guess is which one will not get injured! If none do I think Vlad Jr. will have the best finish of the group. At the other end, it’s hard to think Cedric Mullins can continue what he’s done!
Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB): Merrifield has the best chance to stay in the top 10 since he gets value in so many ways. Ohtani and Bichette’s injury history are reasons they could fall out
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Best chance: Vlad. Everything about his 2021 surge is explained by stable reasons: In better shape, more loft, tremendous bat speed (via EV), everything works. The obvious choice to plummet is Cedric The Entertainer. .220 wOBA v LHP as a RHH in 2020, then in 2021 he jumps to .386 by batting lefty? It’s a great story but also the most outlandish of all the stories here. As an aside, I can see Merrifield losing value if he gets traded to a contender that doesn’t run as much as KC, i.e. anywhere but TAM and SD.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Best Chance is Vlad Guerrero. This is what we have all waited for since his minor league career. We can’t jump off the ship now. The greatest fall is Marcus Semien. He’s having a monster season but his 40 home run pace is just not sustainable especially with a elevated .324 BABIP. (He has a career BABIP of .296)
Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): Guerrero, Ohtani and Bichette getting knocked out of the top 10 would be have to be injury driven. Even as they begin to fall off current pace, those year-end numbers should end up among the top 10. The easy answer for the other part of this question is Mullins. I do think he’ll fall out of the top 10 but stick around in the top 20 and will be one of the cover boys of 2022 draft guides who discuss late-round breakouts: “Who is This Year’s Ced Mullins?”
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I never answered the falling out part of the question. Excluding last season (and I don’t know whi finished top-10), from 2015-2019, only five of the 50 top-10 hitters batted below .280. Even given the different environment, a rough way of looking at this is which hitters are most likely to drop below .280. Semien to me is the most likely so he gets my vote as most likely to end up outside of the top-20. Next is Mullins, though I don’t see his average falling that much. Jeff E. alluded to the main reason — runs and RBI. Mullins will need to maintain a silly HR and SB pace, along with a .300 average (which I think is the likeliest of all).