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 New York Mets bullpen meltdowns. 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=”30734″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: In honor of Game of Thrones’ final season, a veritable horde of hitters rose from the dead this week and were activated off the IL, including Anthony Rendon, Matt Olson, Miguel Andujar, Odubel Herrera, Clint Frazier, and Shohei Ohtani. Juan Soto was one of the only notable names we lost this week; may the Lord of Light have mercy on his soul.
- Additions: Wave bye-bye to Carter Kieboom, Ian Desmond, and A.J. Pollock this week, and say hi-hi to Avisail Garcia, Dwight Smith Jr., and Brandon Lowe. I have to say, I’m realllly not buying into Lowe long-term, but you stay hot for nearly a quarter of the season and you get added to the list. Same goes for Garcia—he’s been mashing this year, with an outstanding 15% barrel rate, but I just think the poor contact skills are going to catch up to him soon.
- There’s lots of movement this week, as you may notice. Part of it is because the sample size is getting large enough that we can really start to make substantive judgments about players. But another part of it is that I’ve been pretty stubborn with my rankings to this point. The truth is, I’m very patient when it comes to hitters. Playing fantasy for over 10 years, I’ve found that a majority of the time players tend to regress to their mean. It’s kind of like the movie Final Destination: You can only outrun your fate for so long before a truck full of lumber hits a speed bump and sends a barrage of logs hurtling towards you to seal your destiny. But I realize in shallower leagues and H2H formats, you may not have the luxury of patience. So I’m trying to address that a bit better going forward.
- I had some reticence towards Corey Seager in the preseason, because he was being drafted very high for a player coming off major surgeries to two drastically different areas of his body. It’s hard to say at this point if the lack of production is simply rust, or if he’s still dealing with some lingering effects of his injuries, but his quality of contact metrics are way down right now, with a much lower average exit velocity and just a 5% barrel rate this year. I’m fading him quite a bit going forward until I see signs of life.
- One of my bold predictions in the preseason was that I thought Joey Gallo would be out of baseball by the All-Star break, and I suppose it could still happen if he suddenly realizes his true passion in life is pottery and decides on a whim to walk away from the game to make some jugs. If not, though, I think he’s in line for a career year. He’s posting an otherworldly 29.5% barrel rate at the moment, while also hitting more line drives and making more contact. I think this is the year he manages to hit .250 and becomes an absolute monster.
- Dan McNamara and I (aka Voit Boi No. 1 and Voit Boi No. 2) discussed Luke Voit on the latest On the Barrel podcast, and had nothing but glowing things to say about this giant wet thumb of a man. The 30% line drive rate is elite, as is the 19.4% barrel rate. With the New York Yankees slowly returning to full health, he should be vacuuming up counting stats going forward as well.
- Having watched a few of Nick Senzel’s at-bats to this point, I’m very impressed by his knowledge of the zone and ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. There isn’t much to go on yet analysis-wise, but I’d be pretty confident rolling with Senzel going forward as a guy with 20/20 upside who can also hit for a high average.
- Brandon Nimmo takes a big hit this week, as his contact skills have eroded quite a bit this year. This might be a case of a player being too patient, as he still draws plenty of walks, but he swings much less than average at pitches in the zone as well. The potential is still there, and he’s gone through cold spells like this before, but it does have me a bit tepid on his outlook for this season.
- Keep an eye on Mac Williamson going forward. He got off to a hot start last year, but had his season derailed by injury. There’s potential here for 30+ homers and an average that won’t kill you, and he’ll be the San Francisco Giants‘ starting left fielder for the time being.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)