Hitter List 3/28: Ranking the Top 150 Hitters To Own ROS
Hitter List makes its triumphant return for 2018 on the eve of Opening Day. Every Wednesday during the regular season, I’ll rank the current value of the top 150 hitters for the remainder of the year. (It is extremely my brand to join a site called Pitcher List to exclusively write about hitters, but I digress.) Use these rankings to help get a sense of both a player’s expected performance and his trade value in your fantasy leagues moving forward. Take note: these are with 12-teamer, H2H, 5×5 leagues in mind.
This being my first go-round with the series, I welcome feedback in the comments. If anything here stands out to you as particularly odd or egregious, give me the chance to change your mind – or maybe you’ll change mine, and the following week the List will reflect that and eternal glory* will be yours. Below, you’ll find me stating my case on some rankings that might invite debate.
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- Yep, Aaron Judge ahead of Giancarlo Stanton. While I expect both to fall back to earth a bit from the lofty heights they reached a year ago, I have greater faith in Judge’s ability to stay healthy. Some of Stanton’s injuries were freak occurrences, but there have been plenty of soft-tissue injuries sprinkled in there – enough that last season was the first time since 2011 and only the second time in eight tries where he managed to play in 150 games. No fantasy owner is kicking either out of bed, though, particularly now that they’ve joined forces in a stacked Yankees lineup.
- Miguel Cabrera had a terrible 2017 and nobody’s going to claim otherwise. He’s also coming up on his 35th birthday and playing for a bad team. But are we being too quick to write off arguably the most bankable fantasy stud of the past decade? Miggy dealt with a ton of injuries last season, and he probably should have had more than one stint on the disabled list rather than playing through those issues. I don’t believe his skills have deserted him, though, and he’ll prove it as long as he can avoid the trainer’s room.
- Ozzie Albies is gonna be Jose Altuve when he grows up. There, I said it. The maturation process starts in 2018. I did my gushing in my Bold Predictions piece last week – to summarize, Albies is only 21, already proven he can handle the grind of a full season’s worth of plate appearances, has burgeoning power to go with his crazy speed and great bat-to-ball ability, and he’ll open the year hitting in front of Freddie Freeman.
- Joey Gallo has consistently shown the ability to adjust as a pro. He improved considerably upon repeating both Double-A and Triple-A, and showed similar gains across the board between the first and second half in the majors last year. He’s never going to be Ichiro, but even a 30% strikeout rate would be acceptable with his mammoth power. Given his batted ball quality and surprising speed, he should be able to do better than a .250 BABIP as well. Getting his average anywhere near “does not induce vomiting” range would make him a fantasy monster.
- I’ve stumped hard for Eugenio Suarez this spring. He quietly put together a solid season in 2017, hitting .260 with 26 HR, 87 R, 82 RBI, and 4 SB. Suarez has vastly improved his plate discipline over his three seasons in Cincinnati, more than tripling his walk rate during that time. And not for nothing, he’s expected to hit cleanup this season behind OBP god Joey Votto.
- Starling Marte might still be a top 12 outfielder, but I never found myself willing to pay to find out in drafts this year. One number keeps ringing in my ears: nine. That’s how many extra-base hits (excluding his seven home runs) Marte tallied in 79 games. He’s never been a slugger, but the fact that his contact quality cratered doesn’t inspire much confidence and could easily cap his batting average – he did post a career-low .275 mark last season. Add to that the durability concerns (only one season with more than 135 games played) and there’s enough to scare me off here.
- Billy Hamilton is a fantastic asset in a scarce category, but straight butt in all the others. “But he scored 85 runs last season!” you might point out. That was the first time he’d scored more than 72, and Bryan Price is already hemming and hawing about Hamilton and his career .298 OBP leading off.
- A quick scan of recent news on Daniel Murphy’s surgically repaired knee includes the phrases “has not progressed to running” and “rehabilitation has taken longer than expected.” He was always expected to miss the start of the season, but it’s beginning to feel like it could be a while before we see him on a major league field again. I don’t feel comfortable ranking him much higher than this until we get more clarity on his return timetable and see him in game action.
- Other guys whose place on the List fell as a result of injury: Justin Turner, Michael Conforto, Greg Bird. Love the talent, but anybody who’s guaranteed to miss at least a month is fighting an uphill battle. Turner and Conforto’s injuries are also fairly alarming ones for hitters (wrist and shoulder, respectively), while Bird’s foot is acting up again after completely wrecking his 2017.