Hitter List 5/29: 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 competent relievers on the Baltimore Orioles. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like reasons the New York Mets should fire Mickey Callaway. 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=”31828″ include_stats=”1″]

 

Now onto the recaps:

  • Injuries: George Springer, Charlie Blackmon, Robinson Cano, and Khris Davis fell IL this week. Giancarlo Stanton also suffered a minor calf strain while on a rehab assignment, and Jose Altuve is having his surgically repaired right knee looked at. Yoenis Cespedes also fell into a hole or something and is done for the year. That last one isn’t really relevant to this list—I just felt like reminding everyone of how bizarre it is to be a Mets fan.
  • Additions: Cavan Biggio, Dansby Swanson, Eric Hosmer, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. all make their appearance on the list this week at the expense of Odubel Herrera, Leonys Martin, Jeff McNeil, and Travis Shaw.
  • I find Cavan Biggio really intriguing, as I love prospects who have shown elite plate discipline in the minor leagues. I think a refined knowledge of the strike zone really raises the floor for young players in their first season in the majors, and Biggio has posted a 15% walk rate in over 1,500 minor league plate appearances. Not only that, but he significantly cut down on his strikeouts this year, and has flashed 20/20 upside the past two seasons. I’ll be watching him closely over the next few weeks, as I feel like he could be poised for a big jump in the rankings.
  • Avisail Garcia has been raking over the past two weeks, with five homers, four steals, and a .295 average in his last 15 games. He’s finally pulled his groundball rate down to a manageable level that’s allowing him to take advantage of his customarily excellent hard hit rates (43.8% this year, and 40% for his career). Statcast metrics back up everything he’s been doing to this point, and he’s even in the 90th percentile in sprint speed, meaning he should easily eclipse double-digit stolen bases if he can stay healthy. I’m all-in on Garcia right now.
  • Given that I tend to rely pretty heavily on track record when evaluating hitters, it sometimes takes me awhile to come around on players who appear to be breaking out but never had much success in the past. Ketel Marte is a prime example. High groundball rates and middling hard contact really capped both his power and batting average potential in the past. But he’s pulling the ball in the air more this year, and doing with authority, which has helped his barrel rate jump up to a really impressive 11.6%. I think there’s 20-homer power here with a .275 average and 10 stolen bases.
  • Keston Hiura has been walking a tightrope since he was recalled a few weeks back. He’s performed perfectly fine as far as the surface stats go, but he’s currently sporting a 41% strikeout rate, 2.2% walk rate, and .409 BABIP. It’s a small sample, obviously, but he looks outmatched so far, and I would not be surprised if he’s demoted in the near future.
  • Odubel Herrera‘s personal issues have opened the door for Scott Kingery to take over as the Philadelphia Phillies‘ full-time center fielder. Kingery’s quality-of-contact and plate discipline metrics have been pretty pedestrian this year, so I wouldn’t be banking on much more than low-teens power and an average around .270 over the course of a full season. But his trademark speed should be useful for a middle-infielder, and I think he’s worth a gamble in 12-teamers.
  • Eric Hosmer is continuing his odd-year magic this season, and though I have a tough time really buying in, he definitely deserves a spot on the list for his performance to this point. His high groundball rates make his batting average and power output very volatile, and though he’s not sporting the -1.2 degree average launch angle he did last year (no, that’s not a typo), he’s still not elevating the ball. The result is a pedestrian 6.3% barrel rate despite an excellent 45.6% hard hit rate. I think he ultimately settles in as a guy with 20-homer power and a .270 average with a handful of steals. Which is fine, but nothing worth getting excited over.
  • I know some people will be clamoring for Austin Riley to be ranked higher considering his recent performance, but I see a lot of red flags here in an albeit very small sample. The plate discipline and contact gains he appeared to make in the minors this year have completely evaporated so far with the Atlanta Braves, and though he’s been demolishing the ball, I can’t help but wonder where he’ll settle once pitchers adjust and the BABIP gods are no longer smiling down upon him. There’s also the question of where he plays once Ender Inciarte returns further down the line.

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."

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

  1. Avatar Jim says:

    Poor La Stella, Fletcher, Dietrich…when will their production be enough you think?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      To be honest, I think all three turn back into pumpkins by the end of the year. La Stella and Fletcher are batting average assets without another standout tool. And Dietrich’s quality-of-contact hasn’t changed–he’s simply elevating the ball a bit more this year and getting the most out of it thanks to an absurd 36% HR/FB. That will come way down, and though I know people are looking at his BABIP and thinking he’s actually gotten unlucky to this point, keep in mind that homers aren’t factored into BABIP and that half his hits to this point have been homers.

    • Avatar Dan Doherty says:

      And Alex Gordon!

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    What’s your rationale for putting Rizzo below Pham after the absolute tear of a month Riz has been on?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I wouldn’t read too much into one spot in the rankings–you could easily flip those two in my opinion. I personally prefer Pham because his quality-of-contact is significantly better than Rizzo’s despite comparable contact rates, and he could swipe 20 bases by season’s end.

  3. Avatar Greg says:

    Miguel Sano still not making the list despite his hot start?

    • Avatar theKraken says:

      Easy fix – Sano can have M Franco’s spot. PHI is committed to ensuring that Franco is not part of their long-term plans and that is rearing its head right now as it usually does. They are just waiting for him to struggle and they are taking full advantage of the opportunity to bury him. He isn’t worth owning until someone gets hurt or he is traded. Sano is trending the opposite direction.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      The five homers are nice, but I’m going to have to see him succeed over a larger sample before I start really buying in, especially considering how awful he was last year. I’m also not sure he has the baseline power or contact ability to make his flyball-heavy approach work the way Gallo has to this point. I worry that he’ll be a batting average liability without the elite power output he’d need to make up for it.

  4. Avatar Alex says:

    How is howie kendrick not on this list? I get he has a history of being mediocre, but he has great numbers this year and statcast says he’s been destroying the ball.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I like Kendrick quite a bit–I can see an argument for including him here right around where Pence is at 135 or so. I do worry a bit about his playing time; even though he’s been dominating, he’s been benched pretty regularly lately. But he has looked great, and really should be their regular 2B or 1B going forward.

  5. Avatar Scott says:

    How is Jose Ramirez at 15 and moved up 1? He has 4 hr and 16 rbi? He scored 4 runs over the last month. What are you seeing that I am not? I don’t see how he isn’t near the bottom of this list. I get that he is at rock bottom now, but we are 54 games in the season / 1/3 of it gone that you can’t just sweep under the rug.

  6. Avatar King Donko of Punchstania says:

    Damn I sure hope K. Marte has 20 total HRs in his bat considering he already has 12.

  7. Avatar Eric says:

    Can you explain Wil Myers still being ranked so high?

  8. Avatar Greg Millies says:

    Why is Devers ranked so low? I realize he has to prove it for an entire year to be ranked in the top 20 or so, but in the 70’s seems far too low.

  9. Avatar Frankie says:

    All in on Garcia, but no mention of Schwarber?
    Similar OBP and SLG. Every category is nearly identical except for SB.
    What am I missing? Lead off for the Cubs, or 5th for CWS? I think the deployment is a factor in favor of Schwarber, no?

    • Avatar Phil says:

      And along the same lines, why so much more love for Garcia when compared to a guy like Hunter Pence? I know you value steals to a greater degree, but is that just it? Are there some advanced stats more in favor of Garcia?

    • Avatar Frankie says:

      Garcia is with TB now, dude…
      TB deployment is still < CHC. So my question stands. :P

  10. Avatar alex says:

    Been meaning to note that Alex Verdugo is listed as 2B only but should be CF/OF

  11. Avatar Sam says:

    Max Kepler is criminally low in your rankings.

    • Avatar Brad R says:

      Agreed. Normally I’m not one to complain too much but he only moved up ONE spot and he’s been red hot.

      Like Frazier is really good so far but the rankings supposedly care about track record. Kepler has has the track record of low end top 150 guy looking for a change to break out and he got it and is absolutely MASHING

    • Avatar Brad R says:

      The reason I’m near the top of my league despite losing Stanton is because I hit on Brantley and Kepler (and someone cut Winker after his dreadful start and I got him)

      Kepler has been a huge part of my success

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Great call–it’s hard sometimes to keep tabs on what everyone is doing when you’re keeping track of so many hitters, and occasionally guys falls through the cracks. Love what I’m seeing after digging in on Kepler a bit, and he should rise quite a bit next week.

  12. Avatar Brad R says:

    know he’s streaky but how legit is Gurriel’s performance since he got called up? I’m kind of curious/hoping to see a breakdown of him on one of my go to fantasy sites in the next week or so.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      The plate discipline worries me, but I see him very much in the same mold as his brother, with slightly more power. So I think there’s upside there for a .280 hitter with 20+ homers, but he’ll be very streaky along the way.

  13. Avatar Jack says:

    Franmil > Avi other than your possible (unlikely) 10 swiped bags. Fight me.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Name the time and place, haha.

      You don’t think Garcia can steal four more bags over the rest of the season? 90th percentile in sprint speed–he just needs to take more chances.

      As far as Franmil vs. Avi goes, I just think Garcia has the higher floor and ceiling in batting average (.300 xBA at the moment) and has a more mature approach at the plate.

      • Avatar Jack says:

        Franmil has a great xBA also, and hits way more dingers. Even if Avi gets to 15 SBs, the HR differential will be +10 at least for Franmil. Plus I’m in an OPS league.

        Ok, maybe you convinced me.

  14. Avatar DoophusMcDoophus says:

    Why is Joey Votto ranked so low?

  15. Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

    Ozzie Albies goes up AGAIN with a .681 OPS over the last 15 days and a .715 OPS since May 1, 2018.

    He’s not even startable right now, let alone a top-30 hitter. This is madness. He got dropped in a 12-teamer I’m in and nobody put in a waiver claim.

    • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

      If somebody offered you Chapman, Correa, Rosario, Vlad, Altuve, Bell, Sanchez, Abreu, Hoskins, Torres, (and about 30 other names on the list) for Albies and you said no you would be just bad at fantasy baseball.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I’m weight production to this point only insofar as I think it informs production going forward. So far this year Albies is walking more, making more harder contact, hitting more line drives, and producing more barrels while posting a .279 xBA. Contact and SwStr rates are in line with what they were last year. 85th percentile in sprint speed, but the problem to this point is that he’s not running. I wouldn’t be shocked if he had an insane month and brought his production back in line with what it was last season, with a slightly higher batting average. He’s admittedly a bit higher than he probably should be at the moment, but the ceiling is absolutely that of a top-30 player.

  16. Avatar WheelhouseWreck says:

    Trending in the wrong direction for about 3 years and extrapolate

  17. Avatar Chris says:

    Seriously, what does Escobar have to do to make it into the top 100? Seriously

  18. Avatar Nick F says:

    No disrespect but Eduardo Escobar at 121 is absurd, given his positional flexibility. he’s a top 75 guy all day, if not better IMO.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      He’ll be a bit higher this week, but I have to disagree with the top-75 designation. His quality-of-contact metrics are very subpar, and everything points to his recent uptick in production being luck-based as opposed to something we can expect him to sustain all year. There’s just no way he can maintain an 18% HR/FB with a 30% Hard Hit percentage. He’s also posting a .232 xBA at the moment, so I think he’s going to fall back to Earth pretty quickly. Definitely a solid asset, especially because his lineup spot is affording him tons of RBI opportunities. But just not somebody who has a standout tool that I think makes him worthy of a bump that high.

  19. Avatar high_changeup says:

    Any thought of Kiermaier or Willie Calhoun entering the top 150 soon?

    And I expected Dansby to be a bit higher!

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