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.
[hitter_list_2019 list_id=”29848″ include_stats=”1″]
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)
Nice adjustments overall IMO. I am buying some of Bellinger’s improvement for what that is worth – I was probably the most adamant advocate for regression last year on the entire Internet, so that should mean something. The only thing I worry about is if he reverts back to his sloppier old setup, but really what he has done is simplify and that should be maintainable. Acknowledgment that something needs to change is tough for pro athletes that have tasted success and I think he did that over the off-season – kudos to him. If you watch the broadcasts, everyone who is watching him daily can see it. He has quite a ways to be go to be mentioned in the same sentence as vintage Goldy, but he is off to a great start. Goldy was good for 30 HR & .300 when HR were difficult to hit along with the SB.
Great points–I do like that Bellinger has been much less prone to whiffing and striking out this year, which should do wonders for his batting average if it sticks.
What do you think Tatis’s line looks like ROS?
Nobody is going to be able to give you a meaningful answer to that. You don’t know how it will go after the league starts to take him seriously.
My main concern is the batting average–he had strikeout issues in the minors, and hasn’t addressed them yet during his brief stint in the majors. I could see him putting up high-teens homers and steals the rest of the way though.
Why did Nimmo drop 14 spots? He just had an incredible line over the past week. I know he’s DTD with a stiff neck but that doesn’t sound too serious.
Hey Dan, some of that is the result of guys sliding above him in the rankings, some of it has been his poor contact rate and high strikeout rate to this point. I do worry that his penchant for striking out will hold him back, especially if the .351 BABIP from last year doesn’t stick.
I think Peraza needs to be dropped wayy down. He’s in a very bad slump, K rate way up, BB rate way down, and could honestly lose his job when Scooter returns if he keeps getting outplayed by Iglesias. He’s still ranked 80, and I’d honestly trade him for almost any player in the top 125 right now.
I definitely see why people are concerned on Peraza, but those stats are still a few weeks away from stabilizing, so I’m not putting a ton of stock in them–yet. He’s had an extended track record of good contact rates and I think he’ll come around.
It looks like he took a new approach to be more aggressive, which has led to an o-swing over 50%. Swing rates and K rates are stabilizing now, and his are both horrific. If you do think he’ll come around, I hope you’re buying him, because his owners probably are selling 30 cents on the dollar, and I think they should be.
No super utility guys like Pinder or McNeil? They are very helpful more so than a lot of the last 30ish.
Concur, especially for a 12-team daily head-to-head league.
Pinder’s an interesting one, I see an argument for him. McNeil, though, has some playing time concerns with Lowrie and Frazier coming back. I also think, as amazing as his hit tool is, if he’s going to struggling to give you even 10 HR and/or SB, he’s not a great fantasy asset, especially hitting towards the bottom of the Mets lineup.
Assuming Kiermaier stays healthy ROS and gets 500+ ABs, do you consider him a top 100 batter?
I do like Kiermaier, but I question whether he’ll ever actually be able to accumulate 500 at-bats. I see a 15/15 guy with an average that might hurt you over a full season, so while I think making the top-150 is in reach, top-100 is a stretch.
Who do you have as catchers ranked #7-8-9-10? I’m in a 10 teamer. 8 catchers were picked. I see 6 or 7 on this list. Curious to see who you would finish off the top 10. I know it’s not easy.
Hear, hear. A second catchers-only list would be helpful. Thanks for your hard work!
Would you put Carlos Santana ahead of folks like Like Voit and Pete Alonso in an OBP league?
I think I’d go Alonso, Santana, Voit at the moment.
At what point in the season, is it fair to say, “ that was last year, this isn’t last year anymore, i.e. Betts, Rizzo, JRam, et.al. and rank accordingly?
With guys of that stature, I think you’re waiting until mid-May at the earliest. Rizzo was one of the worst hitters in baseball at the end of last April too but he turned things around in the second half. Definitely don’t make any big decisions on those guys for another few weeks.
I think Hunter Dozier is having a legit breakout. He’s a lot more selective this year (37% swing and 25% o-swing) and he’s getting the power back after fracturing the hamate bone in his hand in June 2017. Brian Dozier, on the other hand is done as a starting MLB player. There’s no pop left in his bat – out of all regular hitters (>400 BBE’s) since the start of 2018, only Dee Gordon has a lower maximum exit velocity than Brian Dozier’s 104.8 mph.
I have an 8 team league with tons of value on FA but only 3 bench spots overall.
Lindor is taking 1 bench spot and looking to be back soon, the other is Moncada/Benintendi/Muncy depending on who’s hurt or has a game off and Tatis is my fill in SS. Should I swap out Tatis or Moncada for the likes of Anderson or D Santana? Or sacrifice one for a pitcher when Lindor comes back? Thanks!
What on earth is Wil Myers doing sitting at 33?
He’s tearing it up right now, and is one of the few guys in the game with a 30/30 ceiling. I’m a big fan and think he’s getting overlooked.
Is it safe to assume you forgot to throw Ohtani somewhere in there? He should be back soon. I wanted to see how he stacks up against G Polonco
Great catch, he definitely fell off my radar. I think I’d lean Ohtani, just because shoulder surgery is no joke, and it remains to be seen how it will affect Polanco’s swing.
Points league question:
Healthy David Dahl or Austin Meadows?
Can’t decide because both are injury prone top prospects with oodles of potential.
Crazy that Choo isn’t on the list!
Along with Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe, while Brinson, Cron, Hosmer still on it.