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 quality starts from Jacob deGrom. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like Tampa Bay Rays with the last name Lowe. 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), and lean more towards rotisserie and H2H categories leagues. 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=”30641″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Clint Frazier, Anthony Rendon, and A.J. Pollock all fell IL this week. Frazier and Rendon should be back within the next week or so, but Pollock makes a substantial fall due to the nature of his injury. He has an infection in his surgically repaired elbow, and will need exploratory surgery to figure out what’s going on. That sentence alone conjures a mental image that makes me want to dry heave. I think you hold out to see what the surgery reveals before dropping him, but this doesn’t seem like it will resolve itself in less than a month.
- Additions: Michael Chavis, Nate Lowe, Carter Kieboom, and Ketel Marte make their first appearances on the list this week at the expense of Ryan Zimmerman, Mallex Smith, Delino Deshields, and Corey Dickerson. Playing time concerns tamp down Kieboom’s value a bit, though if Brian Dozier is still scuffling when Trea Turner returns they’ll likely give Kieboom the reins at second base. I like the power upside of Chavis, and don’t think Dustin Pedroia or Eduardo Nunez are going to steal many at-bats from him going forward. Nate Lowe seems like he could be a poor man’s Michael Conforto if things pan out, though comments from Kevin Cash indicate he may sit against some lefties, especially once Austin Meadows and a few of their other injured bats return. I’m not much of a believer in Ketel Marte breaking out this year, but I think a .260 average with mid-teens power and speed is moderately useful in most formats.
- The bump I gave Jose Altuve last week was probably a bit premature, and he had a rough week, so he drops a bit this time around. Coming off a season where he was nursing a knee injury and didn’t steal many bases, it’s starting to concern me that he only has one stolen base to this point (on three attempts). The nine homers are great to see, and the average will come up above .300 eventually, but if he fails to steal 20 bases again we’re not talking about the same Altuve that we’ve seen in years past.
- The steals artist formerly known as Raul, Adalberto Mondesi, moves up into Tier 3, and the longer he keeps up this level of production the higher he will rise. The .287 average isn’t sustainable, but his contact rate is up and his swinging strike rate is down, and his 14% barrel rate is incredibly impressive for someone in the 99th percentile in terms of sprint speed. He’s also managed to drive in 24 runs already batting second in a surprisingly potent Royals lineup, and all my fears that he would be Byron Buxton 2.0 are becoming lost in time like tears in the rain.
- Pete Alonso has a 49.3% Hard Hit rate and a 21.7% barrel rate, the latter of which is over three times the league average. Considering how much he demolishes the ball, the 13% SwStr and 71% contact rate he’s posting are actually pretty palatable, and he knows how to work an at-bat. I was roundly mocked for claiming he has a 30-homer floor on last week’s On the Barrel podcast, but I believe it is I who shall have the last laugh, and it shall be a full and hearty one.
- Joey Votto seems like he’s pressing, and it feels like the first time you saw your mom cry, because he’s always made us believe everything was under control. His pull rate, flyball rate, and SwStr% are all up, which paints a picture of a guy trying everything in his power to pop a few home runs at the expense of everything else. That’s not the Votto we’ve come to know and love though, and it concerns me that he seems to be getting so off track at his age. I’m not writing him off just yet, but I’d like to see him get back to spraying more line drives over the coming weeks.
- Nick Senzel is getting the call this week, and I think he’s going to be here to stay with Scooter Gennett still a few months out and the Scott Schebler swinging the bat the way a blindfolded kid with vertigo swings at a pinata. There’s 20/20 upside here if he can overcome the health concerns that have plagued him to this point in his career.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)
What are your thoughts on Brandon Lowe?
The 19% SwStr, 33% K-rate, and .385 BABIP make me think he could implode at any moment. I’m okay with milking his production while he’s hot, but I don’t like the long-term outlook.
I think you need to watch more Rays games. How you could prop up Gurriel (#114???) and ignore Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz is one of many curiosities on this list.
Agreed. Does Gurriel do anything?
Elite contact ability gives him a safe batting average floor, and hitting sixth in one of the best lineups in baseball will do wonders for his counting stats. I think a full season of at-bats could get him close to 20 homers, so I like the overall package.
Yandy has a history of insanely high groundball rates in the minors–close to 60%. That’s why he’s never hit more than 7 homers in a season. His current power outburst has been buoyed by a 30% HR/FB, which is completely unsustainable considering those groundball rates and the fact that he’s posting a 4-degree launch angle at the moment.
You can see my comment above RE: Lowe, but the peripherals speak to some painful regression coming. Add to the mix the fact that the Rays historically mix and match their hitters, which could cut into their long-term at-bats, and I’m just not interested.
Huh? His HR/FB% is unsustainable because he hits a lot of groundballs? It’s not a 30% HR/GB%…dude’s sporting a 10.5% barrel rate and is 17th in MLB in FB/LD EV. He’s clearly earned his power.
Oh yeah and he possesses elite plate discipline and bats only leadoff and cleanup.
This is not your list why are you arguing with someone that took the time to post this to you free of charge?
This is not your comment why are you arguing with someone that took the time to add data and context to a player deserving of attention free of charge? You’re welcome.
I do think leaving of Yandy was a mistake. People like him more than they probably should. But he will get counting stats, BA. Steals and HR may not be there, but he has improved his launch angle and ground ball rates each year for the past 4 seasons. I think he is top 150 now. Probably hits 15-20 HR for the season is my guess.
IMaybe it’s the steals that are over-valued (I admit, the scarcity of them does makes sense) but the fact that Jose Pereza is 90 after the way he has played is proof that the “hitter list” lacks some much needed clarity. Does this list go off of obp leagues, avg leagues, or ops leagues? Maybe it’s Points leagues it’s based off of, or 5×5, or 6×6… who knows?
Peraza has quietly had a really good week (.350 avg with a homer and 2 steals) and I’m pretty confident he’ll turn things around. They’ve also slid him back into the leadoff slot recently.
There’s a section at the top that outlines my ranking philosophy–it mentions this list is geared more towards standard 5×5 roto/h2h category leagues.
Schoop is nearly unplayable right now. Top 100? Wow.
He’s been an above-average hitter to this point (110 wRC+), though his underlying plate discipline numbers are admittedly concerning. I still think there’s 25 homers and a .270 average there, with upside for more.
Eric Hosmer is a top 150 bat. He was trash last year and still finished as the 103rd hitter on ESPN’s player rater. Carlos Santana needs to be moved up w/ how he has been playing this year .316/.430/.463. Same w/ Semien as the lead off guy for a great offense having his best year .311/.388/.475
I don’t know what kind of settings your league had, but he wasn’t even in the top 250 in a standard yahoo 5×5 league last season. And he’s still trash this year too. Imagine caping for Eric Hosmer.
Anyway you can explain the thought process behind ranking Muncy over Gallo? Gallo has historically smoked the ball harder than Muncy, plays in a more favorable ballpark, definitely carries more pedigree, and seems to have considerably higher job security.
The underlying skillset for Muncy points to a guy who could hit .260 with 35 homers, and I think the 30 points in batting average is worth more than the 5-7 additional homers you’d get from Gallo. That being said, Gallo is doing some things differently this year, and if the changes are real and he’s more of a .250 hitter now he’ll definitely jump up substantially in the rankings.
Why the big drop for Scooter?
This was more of a correction from last week–he suffered a serious lower-body injury, and won’t be back for a few more months, so he was a bit too high last time around and needed to be dropped lower.
Why so low on Voit and Alonso?
Alonso I think is ranked fairly appropriately at the moment. For rest-of-season rankings, I have to factor in some regression for a rookie who the league is sure to adjust to a bit in the coming months. I’m buying his production for the most part, but have a hard time believing he maintains this pace all year.
Voit you make a good point on, he’s really turned things around after struggling a bit out of the gate and should be higher next time around.
Thanks for the work, I always enjoy these. I don’t have time for a nevel right now, but I will offer a few quick thoughts:
I think Puig is way too high. I like him, but it doesn’t look like CIN is helping him find any consistency.
I think Ozuna probably could be a bit higher.
I am looking to move Domingo Santana shares where I can. I think the package is tantalizing, but I don’t want him over tons of guys after him.
Dee Gordon is very valuable if healthy and he is. He is the only legit speedster doing what he is supposed to, no? I didn’t research that at all.
I would have Moncada higher. One of these years he might become a top 10 overall and he is hanging tough right now.
The gap between Ender and Dee should be a lot bigger than it is. Ender is the WAR posterboy, but not a great FBB player unless he is on fire, which he usually isn’t. He accumulates all of his value in a month typically, which doesn’t help your fantasy team as he probably starts the streak on your bench…. or kills you most of the year.
Braun has been terrible. I like him but I am not sure he is top 150 today.
I think if you like speed, then Buxton should probably be ahead of Ender.
Pollock should be off the list. That issue he has sounds career-threatening. An infection in a surgically repaired joint… replacing the hardware! We get all excited about fractured jaws and throwing behind hitters, but that sounds like a true nightmare!
Andrus probably should be quite a bit higher.
Thanks, always appreciate your feedback. I wanted to wait and see what the prognosis was on Pollock until after his surgery, and now that they’re saying they’ll be replacing the hardware in his elbow I’m likely to drop him off the list next time around, and I don’t see that coming with anything less than a 3-month recovery period. I tend to be pretty patient with guys who have longer track records of success, which is why I’m keeping guys like Puig and Braun up there despite their struggles.
Ender isn’t producing for my H2H points league, and wonder why he is so highly ranked…I guess over the course of a season his category stats will be good? Thinking I should pick up someone else…
Jonathan….thank you for the great work. One name jumped out at me (probably because I have him on my NL-only team). I realize many people thought Javier Baez was due for serious regression this year given his plate discipline issues but he looks like the same guy who beat those projections last year. Maybe he just won’t regress to the mean because he’s an outlier like Vladimir Guerrero (Senior) was when he played (I do realize they are different players but people often thought Guerrero would suffer regression because he would swing at everything like Baez does). In any event, you mentioned that you valued sbs more than hrs (which I agree with wholeheartedly). This just makes the case for Baez even stronger. When I look at some of the guys ahead of him on your list (Freeman, Harper, probably even Goldschmidt), I can’t help but think that I’d take Baez over those guys. The numbers from both last year and this year back it up. I’m just curious as to why Baez is ranked so low. Do you believe he’s still due for regression or is it something else? If regression, at what point do you start considering someone an outlier who’s not subject to “the rules”? Some guys just don’t follow the norm. Thank you.
I’m surprised to see Gregory Polanco ranked so low after last year’s breakout. Are you worried about his power due to shoulder surgery? Seems like he should be ranked around 50th, if last year is his new norm. Winker seems quite low to me too. Thanks for making the list.
marcell ozuna so low ? behind guys like tim anderson, max muncy and puig?