Hey all, welcome back to the Hitter List! Scott is still away, and I have decided to get a tad spicy with the list. I vow to keep similar virtues and uphold the criteria. Although, fear not…there will be changes.
As the season is still in its incubation phase, we’ve started to get more injuries, prospects are showing up, and the player pool is vastly different than 30 days ago. Rather than start tossing names into the list, or getting too funky, the tiers played a bigger role in this week.
Let’s get some basics out of the way in terms of how to interpret these rankings. None of this stuff should come as any major surprise, but it never hurts to provide background:
- Ronald Acuña Jr. is swiping every base in his path. He needed to get up the ranks.
- Aaron Judge tumbles to the four spot. No, don’t worry. He’s still going to finish with an outstanding year but, at the moment, a few others deserve to be ahead. Surely, he’ll go on a heater after reading this and make me look foolish.
- Yordan Alvarez notched down one spot. The neck issue is somewhat troublesome. While we await an update, he gets the slightest knockdown.
- After the 5/5 night with every hit being of the extra base variety, Adolis García gets bumped up. Boy! He’s been really good and there might even be another level to him.
- Will Smith is still not back from his concussion, however, due to how weak the catcher position is, he’s not going anywhere. Once healthy, and back, I’d expect him to jump the other catchers in this glob.
- It took a lot of restraint not to move Matt Chapman up. I mean, he’s climbed the ranks quite a ton already. However, last week wasn’t elite and he struck out nine times in 21 ABs. Rather than penalize, he stays where he was last week.
- Kris Bryant’s maintaining a .303 BA but it’s awfully hollow. Due to the inadequate Rockies’ offense, the counting stats aren’t there and he’s showing very little power (.146 ISO).
- Corey Seager and Michael Harris II keep falling due to injuries. Will they keep dropping? Probably not anymore but both are likely weeks away from taking MLB hacks.
- Hunter Renfroe leads off the tier and could make the leap. We’re seeing him striking out less (18.2% K-rate) and walking more (10.1% BB-rate). Additionally, fewer whiffs are aided by making more contact in the zone. The question is, will it stick and for how long?
- Nick Castellanos might be unlucky as he’s swatted six barrels and been rewarded with only two HRs. However, he’s making less contact and the SwStr% is right in line with his career.
- Don’t let the red minuses fool you, this tier isn’t massive but it’s got talent. Furthermore, it’s led by Masataka Yoshida, who’s been a wrecking ball lately. We knew his plate discipline was very good but now he’s added another element. Power.
- Speaking of power, Max Muncy has already crushed 11 bombs. He’s punishing fly balls but only holding a 65% contact rate. Something has to give.
- Jorge Polanco is back and showing very little signs of rush. Since returning, he’s collected a hit in each game with five being of the extra base variety. Now, the big question is, will the stolen bases return as well after the injury?
- Jonathan India may not be the leadoff hitter for a proficient offense, but he gets the job done. His 21 runs are second in the MLB and he’s getting on base at a .390 clip. Not to mention, his four SBs are already more than his disappointing 2022 season.
- Apparently, Jorge Mateo is one of the best players in the MLB now. I think we can all agree that his 58% GB rate and 30% HR/FB rate won’t last. But ride his production while it lasts.
- Speaking of the hottest hitters on the planet? Insert James Outman. Coming into the year, we assumed Outman would compete for a platoon spot but he’s been anything other than every day. He’s touting the 16th-best xwOBA in the MLB (.434).
- MJ Melendez continues to whiff at a ridiculous rate. It’s hindering his batting average (.178) BIG-TIME! Until he starts making more contact, it’s going to be a BA sinkhole with some thump at the catcher position. Not exactly what you had in mind when drafting.
- J.D. Martinez is currently working out a back issue. He’s no spring chicken and that could be a little concerning as it’s not even May 1st.
- Javier Báez remains a complete wild card. His K% is under 18% and he’s swinging outside the zone less. Furthermore, his HC% is in line with career norms. The big issue is the type of contact, as he’s showcasing a 60.2% groundball rate.
- Bryce Harper has still been seen taking defense at 1B. If he comes back, it’s tough to see him staying outside the top 100.
- Ji Hwan Bae has been a pleasant find for speed. Indeed, he’s up to seven swipes on the season but will that be enough to keep the bat in the lineup as his K% teeters near 27%? He’s also grabbed 2B eligibility, which is huge for such a shallow position.
- Anthony Volpe has been a fixture atop the Yankees lineup and repaying the slot by getting on base at a .368 clip in the last seven days.
And here’s the Taxi Squad, presented in no particular order:
Dave – thanks for this. What caliber of pitcher would you trade for Luis Robert in a H2H Categories league?
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Hi Dave, just a couple questions because I noticed them right next to each other on the list! I’m curious about your thoughts on Verdugo (very hot start, probably the second best hitter on the Red Sox right now behind Devers) as well as Miguel Vargas (sure the walks are nice but he’s still not hitting and the advanced stats seem to be getting worse by the day). Thanks for the list!
Jarren Duran didnt even make the taxi squad?
Taylor Ward has not been good this year, outside of the first week, is the high ranking the lineup spot or do you believe his underlying metrics point to him being unlucky?
All due respect, it feels like a list that has limited use because it doesn’t properly account for how things have clearly changed over recent weeks. As an example, I want Abreu to succeed, but no shot anyone is going to give you Muncy, Bellinger, Kelenic, or Seiya for him any time soon. Bellinger looks clearly transformed and the idea that he’s equal to Brendan Donovan is a hard sell. Ward was hot early on, but he’s a far cry from a top-50 bat IMO. Across the board, drops and rises feel oddly conservative and although it is still April, I feel like we’re at a point where we have enough data to significantly shift valuations.
I’m just going to leave this here for you. I have a lot of trouble believing this is the 97th best hitter in baseball.