Hitter List 5/22: Ranking the Top 150 Hitters to Own ROS

Jonathan Metzelaar shares his weekly ranking of who will be the top 150 hitters in baseball through the end of the 2019 season.

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 be upset with 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 reasons to believe in Joey Votto. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like the number of people hollering for Yordan Alvarez to be promoted. 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.
  • I lean on track record more than recent performance, unless I see a significant underlying change in approach.
  • 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=”31528″ include_stats=”1″]

 

Now onto the recaps:

  • Injuries: Michael ConfortoDee GordonWillie CalhounAndrelton Simmons, and Ender Inciarte fell IL this week. Giancarlo Stanton‘s return appears to be on the horizon, assuming his recent setback is a minor one. We should see Elvis Andrus and Jose Altuve back within the week as well.
  • Additions: Willie Calhoun, Nicky Lopez, J.D. Davis, Scott Kingery, and Brendan Rodgers are new to the list this week. Jurickson Profar also makes his triumphant return after a nice bounceback week. Lopez has a clear path to playing time and a great hit tool, which he may be able to pair with mid-teens pop and speed to be a really interesting, under-the-radar pick-up. Rodgers is intriguing as well, though the Rockies have already benched him since his recall, leading me to wonder whether he’ll become yet another second base prospect whose development the Rockies botch. Davis and Kingery are without full-time roles at the moment. But their respective roadblocks—Todd Frazier and Odubel Herreraare scuffling. And if they seize on an opportunity, I think they both have top-100 upside.
  • Welcome to the top tier of hitters Cody Bellinger. Bellinger looks like a completely different player this year, and everything he’s been doing to this point seems totally legit. The hit tool was the one thing missing for Bellinger, and he’s made huge improvements to his contact and swinging strike rates this year without sacrificing any power. If his new floor is that of a .285 hitter with 35+ homer power and the ability to swipe 15 bases, he’s a bonafide fantasy superstar.
  • Nick Senzel swiped four stolen bases over the past week, putting to bed any concerns that his ankle injury from earlier in the year is still affecting him. I’ve been really impressed by Senzel’s plate approach to this point. So have the Reds apparently, as he’s been batting leadoff for them with regularity. I’d like to get a sense of where his batting average is likely to settle before bumping him up much higher, but I see a potential top-40 ceiling here.
  • Ask not for whom the Josh Bell tolls—it tolls for me. Bell’s 33-spot jump last week clearly wasn’t enough of a bump. As our own Ryan Amore pointed out in the preseason—and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs recently confirmed—Bell has simplified his batting stance and his swing and is reaping all of the benefits. He’s in the 98th percentile or higher in nearly all the quality-of-contact metrics this year, yet is still maintaining league-average contact and swinging-strike rates. I’m completely buying in on him as a top-50 hitter.
  • Willie Calhoun‘s quad injury is a bummer, because I was kind of buying in on him this year. He improved his plate discipline by leaps and bounds in the minors this year while flashing his patented elite hit tool with an impressive amount of pop. How legit the power is remains to be seen, but Arlington should help him out in that regard once he’s on the field again. Perhaps some playing time will open up for him while he’s on the mend.
  • I’m interested to see how sticky the strikeout rate improvements that Austin Riley made in the minors this year are. If he can replicate the 19% strikeout rate he was posting in AAA without giving back too much of his 70-grade raw power, he could be pretty special. We still need a larger sample size to make any informed judgments though. He’s certainly looked good thus far.
  • It’s nice to see the power start to come around for Byron Buxton, who swatted three homers this week. Buxton is posting the best hard hit rate of his career (41.7%), which is contributing to his excellent 9.3% barrel rate. Though he isn’t striking out as much as he customarily has, his contact rate and swinging-strike rate aren’t too far off his career norms. In other words, his batting average should continue to be volatile. Still, his elite sprint speed and improved quality of contact should help him flirt with 15 homers and 25 stolen bases by season’s end.

Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer and content manager with Pitcher List, and co-host of the On the Barrel podcast. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

29 responses to “Hitter List 5/22: Ranking the Top 150 Hitters to Own ROS”

  1. Avatar Nels Jensen says:

    What did Miggy do to warrant moving up in the rankings?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      That’s not a true move as much as it is a few guys moving below him in the ranks. That said, there are reasons to think he might start getting going soon. He’s still making a ton of hard contact (Hard hit rate in the 97th percentile) and his 12-degree launch angle is in line with his career averages. He’s also hitting a ton of line drives. And making league-average contact–not something you generally see from someone hitting the ball as hard as he is. I’m encouraged moving forward.

  2. Avatar theKraken says:

    Thanks for the rankings. As usual, a few thoughts.
    Trea Turner on his way to where he doesn’t belong again. He has ended up there once, but people flush the resources to acquire him every year. At some point we can skip the part where he just keeps getting ranked too high. Sure, maybe he gets there but nobody else is as consistently overvalued. Odd to me that the overvalued players often play for the Nats. I feel like that is everyone’s sleeper team that isn’t really a sleeper. Probably because a zillion people live in the region and they don’t have any banners hanging, yet they are a competitive team that spends money. They really are not an underdog, but they kind of are… I can only imagine how quickly the bandwagon would grow if they could put some wins together. I’d rather have Freddie Freeman for sure!
    Jose Abreu – two weeks in a row with a downer? Hes good if hes healthy and I think he is.
    Haniger seems like he should not be ahead of lots of sluggers below him.
    Buster Posey is hitting better than I think most people have noticed as of late.
    Re Bell: Everybody tries to simplify everything all the time. It’s not really news or analysis, but more of an observation that will be true of everyone going well.
    Buxton is a great base runner, it isn’t just his sprint speed – that metric is absolute trash. You can see it in the real outcomes of SB and CS. You don’t want him hitting for power, its a bonus that he has some but just not striking out will work for him. Its trying to hit for power that gets him in trouble to some extent. He isn’t looking over-matched so health pending (not likely) he should be an elite SB source.
    On a Twins note, put Sano on your radar. Not advocating for him, but his upside is elite. If things start to look good he will need a +50 real quick.
    I’m kind of surprised that LeMahieu is not ranked. I guess he doesn’t particularly run or hit HR, but he is good at everything else. Not going to win you any cats on his own, but a very startable player in most formats. He has an underappreciated skill set.
    Sorry, a bit more ranty than most weeks but I guess I am bit bored today. Keep up the good work.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting–I look forward to your thoughts every week.

      I love Trea Turner, because he possesses a skillset that I think is unparalleled right now in the game. Potential 20-homer power and 50 stolen-base speed is game-changing, especially in H2H leagues, so I don’t think his value is overstated.

      I would definitely read the Fangraphs article on Bell if you have a moment. It wasn’t so much simplifying his stance as it was making it more consistent–he changed his stance drastically over and over last season. I think having one approach this year and sticking to it is going to work wonders for him.

      Finally, I’m mostly down on Posey due to the nature of the hip surgery he underwent. He’s talked about potentially needing a hip replacement soon, so I worry that the injury will continue to impair him going forward, and would like to see him produce at a high level again before giving him a big bump.

      • Avatar theKraken says:

        I did read the Fg article on Bell. Thanks though – if I hadn’t read it I would appreciate it a lot. That is why I said that everyone is trying to simplify all the time. Its an observation that you can make of anyone enjoying a true breakout. The reason people have multiple stances/approaches is that the game is too fast for them and they are getting caught. Nobody would ever try to be inconsistent. Things have to slow down enough for a player to their repeat mechanics. Everyone would employ a repeatable swing if they could – I think it is more mental. Its nothing more than observing the stats or distances of HR as its core. When a player has success (or failiure) the “analysis” starts to come out of the woodwork from those with no involvement in the process. A single approach and sticking to it would benefit everyone – I doubt that isn’t anyone’s plan. Inconsistency is struggle.

        I know you love Turner haha. I am just felt obligated to say something when there was a +20.

        I didn’t know that Posey is still having hip problems. Poor guy was on an easy HOF trajectory but I worry that the end could be bad enough that it might cast some doubt. That’s being a catcher for you! You have to have respect for the Pudges and Yadi’s of the world… but Posey’s peak was really special. No data, but I would think that Posey’s peak was only rivaled by Piazza in my lifetime. Well, I guess Pudge was there but that was an era where everyone hit 50 HR, whereas Posey did in in a very offense suppressed environment. I just want Posey to succeed I think.

  3. Avatar Roy says:

    Big fan of this weekly article. Really helps give perspective when it comes to evaluating trades.

    What do you make of Nick Castellanos? Is this his new baseline or should we expect a rebound more towards last year’s production?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks, I appreciate that.

      So Castellanos is still crushing the ball this year, and a lot of his contact and quality-of-contact peripherals are as good or better than they were last season. But what allowed him to flirt with a .300 average last year was his elite line drive rate, and this year he’s traded those line drives for flyballs. Generally this would at least give him a boost in power, but he’s not pulling the ball as much as he did last season, and he’s not getting the HR/FB luck he’s generally gotten (7% this year compared to 13% the past three seasons). I do think the HR/FB luck corrects a bit considering how hard he’s hitting the ball, but I’m not sure he hits above .280 this year. So maybe a .275 hitter with 22 homers and around 80 runs and 80 RBI is what I’d peg him for.

      • Avatar PitcherList Superfan says:

        With that being said, would you drop Castellanos for someone like Buxton or Ohtani in an 8 teamer? They’re both ranked higher than him and are available on my waiver wire.

        • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

          Yes, in a league that shallow I think you have to target upside and both Buxton and Ohtani have higher ceilings.

  4. Avatar ashtray says:

    I didn’t realize until this ranking that Hoskins went 1/20 last week.

  5. Avatar Patrick Barnhart says:

    Hunter Pence has gotta be in the top 150!

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I had him in there but swapped him out for J.D. Davis at the last second! Older players are having quite a renaissance this year (Choo, Sandoval, Alex Gordon, etc.). I can see an argument for including him considering everything he’s doing seems pretty legit to this point. It’s just so hard to believe a 36-year-old who hasn’t been relevant in five years is suddenly back to being a star.

  6. Avatar Ryan says:

    Thanks for the list. The one thing that sticks out to me is Sanchez. His batted ball profile is absurd and at a scarce position nonetheless. Could make a real argument he is more valuable to a fantasy team than machado at this point.

  7. Avatar Brad R says:

    How would you rank Rodgers, Lopez, and Kingery in OBP/SLG points leagues (points for total bases and walks) that penalize Ks ROS?

    I need to find a replacement for Simmons

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I’d go Lopez, Rodgers, Kingery in that format. Lopez gets a big boost in that format due to his ability to avoid strikeouts and the fact that he has a full-time job.

  8. Avatar BG says:

    As a Padres fan I will say you are still way to high on Myers. Also Machado will get 10 steals in SD, is he really still a top 10?

    • Avatar Michael says:

      I agree completely on Myers but by his stated metrics of valuing steals highly and with Myers capable of 20/20 fairly easily it actually makes sense on this list. It’s odd seeing him above so many better performing players (like Alonso as an example) but in this regard its understandable.

      • Avatar Nels Jensen says:

        As another Padres fan, I also believe Myers is too high. While he is capable of a 20-20 season, his track record of streaks and injuries is now well established. He’s not even starting every day now while he’s healthy. He’s fine as a potential high reward roster spot but really is more of a luxury/gamble than something you can count on.

        • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

          Yep. Been beating that drum here for weeks. He’s not a starter in either of my leagues, has been added and dropped a few times. There’s really no reason to expect him to continue to steal bases at his rate from years ago at 28.

          • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

            Particularly if somebody offered me any of Alonso, Robles, Ozuna, Conforto, Senzel, Muncy, Carpenter, Polanco, Ohtani, Franmil, Devers, Santana, or about a dozen other guys for Myers I would accept in a heartbeat.

  9. Avatar Michael says:

    I’m actually surprised because of that that Lindor, Story and Turner aren’t 6/7/8 respectively. The elite speed on top of excellent to decent power would push them above guys like JD I would think. Imo Lindor should be behind only the top 5 at this point as he appears fully healthy.

  10. Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

    Why is Albies rising?? He’s got a .483 OPS the last two weeks and since May 1st 2018, over the last year plus, he has a measly .711 OPS.

    • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

      And Muncy is down 11 spots with an .890 OPS the last two weeks and increasing playing time? These changes do not seem to correspond to reality.

      • Avatar Ron says:

        agreed was coming with the same comment. albies moving up is laughable. can’t respect a list like this.

      • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

        Some player movement is attributed to guys rising above or falling below them in the rankings. Albies “rise” was more of a result of Hoskins and Khris Davis falling–my opinion on him hasn’t really changed. Muncy is admittedly more of an oversight, though about half that movement is related to Tatis Jr., Senzel, Buxton, and others moving ahead of him this week.

  11. Avatar Ben Gurner says:

    Alex Verdugo… 2B???

  12. Avatar theKraken says:

    Yelich is an 80 hit with 60 power

  13. Avatar Rob says:

    Eduardo Escobar ranked 120 and Villar at 51. I’m not sure that Escobar isn’t better than Villar. What am I missing?

  14. Avatar Rusty says:

    You forgot Hosmer

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