Hello and welcome to Hitter List, where every Wednesday I’ll be flawlessly 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 wise bullpen decisions from Gabe Kapler. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like… Christian Yelich monster dongs? 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=”30289″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: This past week, baseball gave us another aggressive reminder that the specter of death and decay is coming for us all by claiming Aaron Judge, Austin Meadows, Starling Marte, Harrison Bader (who returns today), Jean Segura, and Odubel Herrera. Their spots in the rankings take a hit as a result, though figuring out how much of a hit each should take was admittedly difficult, especially for guys like Judge who don’t have a clear timetable for return.
- Additions: Shohei Ohtani is someone I have shamefully overlooked to this point. He’s nearing his return, so he makes his triumphant debut on the list this week. Clint Frazier also makes his first appearance: The Judge injury and the fact that Yankee Stadium appears to have been built on an ancient Native American burial ground clears up any concerns I had about his long-term playing time. He’s made nice strides towards cutting down on his strikeout rate, and is worth an add in 12-teamers and deeper. Christian Walker, Jeff McNeil, and Shin-Soo Choo also make their debuts, though I’m admittedly a bit skeptical about all their hot starts.
- Christian Yelich makes the well-deserved leap into Tier 1 this week. If you haven’t checked out Michael Ajeto’s excellent piece on the changes he’s made the past two seasons, stop what you’re doing and read it — no pants required. I was skeptical that Yelich would be able to repeat what he did in 2018, but if that truly is his new baseline I think you can make the argument for him as the No. 2 player in baseball going forward. And even, dare I say it — first overall? No, I dare not… yet.
- Francisco Lindor is healthy now and deserves our attention. I’m still holding him outside the top-10 until I see that his legs still work and aren’t being held together by chewing gum and paper clips, but a few stolen bases over the coming weeks should launch him back up to where he likely belongs.
- This is shaping up to be the fourth straight season in which Joc Pederson has cut down on his strikeout rate, and he’s posting a .267/.385/.707 line with 10 homers despite a .200 BABIP. He’s a borderline must-add player in all formats for his potential to give you a decent batting average with 30 homers and a handful of steals.
- I’m souring quite a bit on Rafael Devers, who has been benched recently in favor of Michael Chavis. The high ground-ball rates and lack of hard contact make me think owners would be best off shopping him now while he still has some name value and the surface-level stats look palatable.
- Speaking of getting benched regularly, Jesus Aguilar has lost at-bats to Eric Thames and Yasmani Grandal (yeah, seriously) over the past few games, and seems to be sitting regularly against righties. I don’t think the Brewers are giving up on him completely this early, considering the year he had in 2018. I think they’re just giving him some space to get things right, and the peripherals look solid. But the fact that the hot-hitting Thames is still lingering on the periphery makes me a bit nervous, especially since he’s a lefty and would soak up the strong-side platoon at-bats if the Brewers go that route.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)
12 team OBP league – trade Winker for H. Dozier?
I’d hold Winker–the .125 BABIP will come up eventually and I think the Reds lineup will afford him more R/RBI opps than Dozier.
Puig seems a bit high, he’s got that potential (as always) but with the injury risk and poor start, 40s seems very generous for his RoS value
It probably is a little generous, but I think the numbers will be there by season’s end. I see an easy 20/20 season in the cards if he can stay healthy.
How the likes of Andrelton Simmons and Amed Rosario are ranked above SS such as Polanco and Kike is beyond me!
Rosario’s upside is what keeps him so high–he hit 9 homers and stole 24 bases in his first full season on the back of a very strong second half. Simmons and Polanco are close–high-average guys who can give you mid-teens homers and speed. Simmons gets the edge for his longer track record and safer batting average floor. As for Kike, I like him–but I see 20-25 homers with no speed and a subpar batting average, and I don’t think that’s all that special.
Thanks Jonathan! What are your thoughts on Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe as they haven’t cracked your rankings, but they’re currently ranked at 98 and 82 (respectively) in H2H category leagues.
Personally I prefer both over Cron or Martin.
Thanks for reading! Diaz is a guy who has to learn to elevate the ball to be fantasy relevant, IMO, and he hasn’t done that so far this year (3 degree average launch angle). That tells me the power isn’t sustainable, and I don’t see a ton of value in a guy who will struggle to reach 20 homers. Lowe is a great guy to grab while he’s hot, but the 33% strikeout rate and 20% swinging strike tell me he’s going to fall off hard, so I don’t like his long-term outlook.
Personally, I’d rather have Yandy than 30-40 of these guys; barrels everything, walks as much as he Ks, good splits – uses the whole field, hits 3rd/4th in that lineup … plays in a lot of AL East band boxes, vs mostly mediocre divisional SPs… he’s breaking out. Buy while you can.
He’s points league gold too.
You have 7 catchers in the top 150! I’m in a 10 teamer & myself and another guy have no catchers yet!!
I’m curious to know if you were able to add catcher #8-9-10, who would they be?
Where they would rank doesn’t bother me, I’m just curious to see who you like next & please don’t say Danny Jansen! lol
Danny Jansen. Haha.
In all seriousness, catcher is rough once you get outside the top 6 or 7 guys. Guys I like after that are Mitch Garver (strong Statcast numbers, and he’s one of the few catchers batting leadoff on occasion), Austin Barnes (great plate discipline and double-digit power and speed potential), and Willians Astudillo (playing time concerns, but an elite contact hitter who will help you in average). I also do think Jansen will come around eventually (he’s been better over the past week).
Ender Inciarte? 71? What on earth? Guy shouldn’t even be owned let alone 71st.
Gotta disagree with you there–at least on your ownership point. He had 10 homers and 28 stolen bases last year, and has demonstrated elite contact ability. The upside is there for a .290 hitter with 10 homers and 25-30 steals. That’s essentially Lorenzo Cain.
He’s hitting 8th it 9th in the lineup. He stole a lot of basses the first half of the year then got caught stealing a lot of bases the second half of the year. I just don’t see it. .255/8/12.
Would you drop Billy Hamilton for Ender? By your rankings, I think you’d say yes. This is for a bench spot. H2H, standard 5 plus OBP and SLG. I usually save Billy for light days or on Sunday if I am behind in steals. I just think that Ender could maybe give me more in the hitting department. Thanks!
Ketel marte was a nice sleeper pick this year. Would you hold him as a reserve of/mi in a 12 team league or cut him. I have jorge polanco filling that role along with g polanco as another OF now. His obp has been awful but he has a couple hr, sb and 16 rbi but has been pretty much all or nothing so far. I’d be looking to add another starting pitcher with upside like soroka. Thanks
Never any love for ketel marte? He deserves to be in the bottom area somewhere. Higher than goodrum
Wil Myers’ ranking is bizarre. He’s a replacement-level bat in fantasy.
I couldn’t disagree more. There are maybe 6 or 7 guys in the game with 30/30 upside and Myers is one of them. The main concern is health, not talent.
I came to the comments just to make this comment. I immediately went to the league page and checked our points to figure out what I’m missing. Turns out I wasn’t missing anything. He has been in the majors for 7 seasons, and in those only 2 came close to the fabled 30/30. And in those two seasons he did enough other ‘good’ things his OPS+ was only 114 and 107.
Even if he goes 30/30, he can’t return much value can he? I understand this ranking is for 5×5, but he seems to be marginal value in any format, and a total drop in points.
I know you highly value steals over homers but could you make a case in taking Joey Gallo over Tommy Pham ROS if the team already has a considerable amount of speed and good AVG? He is younger, and on pace for 60 dingers with AVG trending up, he could be a poor man’s Khris Davis if he keeps it up and Pham’s injury history is a cause for concern.