Hitter List 4/17: Ranking the Top 150 Hitters to Own ROS
Hello and welcome to Hitter List, where every Wednesday I’ll be unapologetically ranking the top 150 hitters in baseball from now through the end of the season.
To truly hate something, you must first understand it, so here’s a general overview of how I go about evaluating players so you can critique these rankings more thoroughly:
- I value stolen bases significantly more than home runs. The 5,585 homers hit in 2018 were the fourth-highest total in modern history. And the 2,474 stolen bases from last year were the lowest total since 1994 and the eighth-lowest total since 1969. In other words, stolen bases are a scarce resource getting even scarcer, like artic sea ice. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like… disappointing starts from Nick Pivetta? All else being equal, I’ll always take the guy with 15 HR/20 SB over the guy with 20 HR/15 SB.
- I’m generally not a believer in positional scarcity, so position eligibility only comes into play in two instances: as a tiebreaker when two players are fairly evenly matched, or if a player is eligible at catcher, because catcher is a barren wasteland this year filled with adrenaline-fueled maniacs playing guitar riffs while strapped to 18-wheelers. Wait, no, that’s Mad Max: Fury Road, but catcher is just as bleak and weird.
- I’m an old man who’s afraid of change, so I tend to be low on young players without major league track records.
- These rankings apply only to leagues using standard scoring (R, RBI, HR, SB, AVG). Adjust accordingly for other formats.
- These rankings are meant to be from today’s date through the end of the season. These are purely for redraft, so I’m not taking 2020 into account here at all.
- A player’s movement in the rankings can be just as much about where guys around them have moved as anything else. A player might move down purely as a result of someone below them rising, and vice versa.
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Harrison Bader, David Dahl, and Rougned Odor all take a tumble due to injuries of varying severity (say that five times fast) this week. Francisco Lindor is beginning a rehab assignment, which bodes well for his rest-of-season value but means the fantasy world will soon be robbed of budding superstar Eric Stamets. Gary Sanchez hit the IL, though it seemed more precautionary than anything else and doesn’t really dampen his value.
- Additions: Dansby Swanson, Niko Goodrum, Trey Mancini, Leonys Martin, Hunter Dozier, and Josh Bell are all making their first appearances on the list. All have gotten off to hot starts to the season, though I’m not convinced Dozier, Martin, or Bell have much staying power. Still, it’s hard to justify ranking Billy Hamilton, Danny Jansen, Yonder Alonso, Ryan McMahon, Tyler White, or Jake Bauers over them — they all fall off the list as a result.
- There was a good bit of movement this week as we start to get into the portion of the season where I’m a teensy bit more comfortable adjusting my preseason valuations. Jose Altuve and Ronald Acuna make a big leap and Jose Ramirez falls down a spot this time around. My main concern with Altuve this year had to do with his power: I thought he’d top out around 15 homers. Maybe that still happens, but with six homers over the past week it seems way more likely now that he eclipses 20 this year. As far as Ramirez goes, I still think he’ll be just fine —I just underestimated how bad the Cleveland lineup around him would be, so he falls slightly. I like the improvements Acuna has made to his contact rate so far, which is enough for me to bump him up a bit.
- It’s tough for me to fade Brian Dozier so much, because I still believe in my heart of hearts that he can get back to where he was in 2017. Still, a rough start to the year has seen him benched in back-to-back games in favor of Howie Kendrick. That’s not a great sign.
- I love what I’m seeing from Domingo Santana to this point. His SwStr% is nearly half his career rate at the moment and he’s showing improved patience and contact ability. This is a guy who went 30/15 two years ago despite his contact issues. If these improvements stick… watch out.
- It was a tough break for Cody Bellinger when he got hit with a pitch a few days ago — not literally a break, thankfully. I like that he’s been doing more damage up in the zone this year instead of depending on pitches in the lower half. Pitchers haven’t been hitting their spots away against him and I do wonder how he’ll fare once they do. But I do see something in the ballpark of 35 homers and 15 stolen bases for him this year and the contact rate improvements could spell an average above .280 if things break right. That puts him in vintage Paul Goldschmidt territory and makes him worthy of his new spot among the top 20 hitters.
- If you’re in deeper leagues, keep an eye on Scott Kingery this week. I’m usually not a sucker for #BestShapeOfHisLife propaganda, but these comments from Aaron Judge stood out to me in the preseason. He’s been on fire this year in limited at-bats — including a 5-RBI performance last night —and if Jean Segura‘s injury turns out to be serious he could get some run at shortstop.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)