Hitter List 5/8: 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 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)

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."

  • Avatar BG says:

    Brandon Lowe made the list, now to see how long he can stay on there.

    Got my popcorn ready for the comments, but I think the Yandy hype train will be quiet this week. As always thanks for putting this list together Jonathan!

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I’m all for milking Lowe (gross) for all the production you can get while he’s still hot. And I’m prepared to die on the Yandy Diaz hill.

      Thanks for reading BG! It’s much appreciated.

  • Avatar Sam says:

    KB falls 13 spots?!?! He’s got the best k and bb rates of his career, his exit velo is a career best as well, launch angle up to 2nd best of his career, his ops on the season is up to almost .900 with a 1.237 over the last 2 weeks, and all of his standard stats have rebounded Seems like someone isn’t paying attention

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Some of that’s a byproduct of guys like Gallo, Tim Anderson, and Ozuna rising a bunch, and some of that’s a byproduct of me kind of cooling on Bryant as a guy you can count on for a high (i.e. .290-.300) batting average. I know he was hurt last year, but he has a career xBA of .261, and is sitting at .258 this year. I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’ll outperform that, but if he’s more of a .280 hitter with 30-35 homer power, I don’t know that he differentiates himself enough from the other guys around him in the current rankings (Conforto, Haniger, Ozuna) to justify having him much higher than those guys.

      • Avatar Sam says:

        He currently has a .274 babip compared to a career .341, and xba must be missing something because his career average is .281 even with the down year last year. He’s showing plate discipline gains while exhibiting all of the batted ball profile that made him an MVP and top 15 bat. Not sure how Giancarlo moves up while not playing and Jram gets marginally dinged while KB is moved down drastically while raking.

        • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

          Stanton only “rose” because Bryant and Bogaerts dropped.

          I think you’re probably right that Bryant is a bit too low. But I still think a lot of what made Bryant exciting was the potential for him to post a baseline of .290+ with 35+ homers. And I’m not saying he can’t do that, but to this point he’s profiled more as a .280~ guy with low-30’s power, all while outperforming his xBA and posting a BABIP that would generally qualify as top-20 in the game in any given year.

          I’m not saying he’s a bad hitter at all, I just don’t know if 2016 and 2017 production are fair expectations for him in a given season.

          • Avatar J says:

            He has home runs in the last three games and has the 2nd best slugging percentage in baseball over the past two weeks. He’s also hitting over .300 in that stretch despite a BABIP well below his career norm. Keep in mind that much of this is occurring in Wrigley in the spring – one of the least hitter friendly environments in baseball. This is just an extremely odd move when he’s maybe the hottest hitter in baseball right now. I could get you lowering him like this a couple weeks ago, but it makes very little sense at this moment.

            • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

              Yeah, the timing is odd–I should’ve paid closer attention to the week he’s had. Thanks to you and Sam for pointing that out.

          • Avatar J says:

            It won’t seem to let me reply to your latest comment, but I appreciate your responsiveness, and obviously you’re going to miss things like this sometimes when you’re ranking 150 guys. It’s a lot easier to spot hot streaks and turnarounds when it’s a team you’re watching every day. I appreciate the work you guys put in!

  • Avatar Rusty says:

    Hosmer is a top 150 bat. He finished 103 among hitters on the ESPN player rater last year (worst year of his career). Hosmer is currently 89th on the ESPN player rater.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I do like that he doesn’t have a negative average launch angle this year, haha. It’s tough for me to buy in on Hosmer because I think those groundball tendencies really hold him back, and he depends on a lot of HR/FB luck just to crack 20 homers in a given season. I can see a case for top-150, but I just don’t like how low his floor can be.

  • Avatar Greg says:

    What to do with Votto? Has old age caught up to him?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I’m not giving up just yet, but it does seem like he’s pressing a bit. The quality of contact hasn’t faded much by his standards, and the plate discipline is still there. There’s still a glimmer of hope.

  • Avatar Jim says:

    Came to crab about Kris Bryant ranking, see that’s taken care of. Cheers!

  • Avatar Justin says:

    Wil Myers #51?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Haha, I get ribbed for placing him too high every week, but I just love to dream on that upside. He’s one of maybe seven guys who could realistically post a 30/30 season, and he was a counting stats machine for the Padres in years where they had a much less imposing lineup than they do now.

  • Avatar Mike says:

    A number of my hitters fell this week (which explains my team’s disappointing start) but I’m questioning the one who rose. What have you seen from Gleyber Torres that he is ranked 56? I find that I consider cutting him every time I need to make roster move. The only reason I hold on to him is the potential but I don’t see much in his profile to be encouraged about.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      His movement “up” this week was really a byproduct of moving a few guys below him–my opinion of him hasn’t changed much since the season began, and his comparatively high ranking is admittedly made with some expected improvements baked in. There are things he’s doing that I do like–running more than he did last year (already halfway to his steals total from 2018), making more contact, whiffing less, going up the middle more. The quality of contact is about the same as it was last year, he’s just hitting more balls on the ground to this point, and I think that’s something he can address going forward. If he can finish with a .270 average with 25 homers and 10 steals I think that’s a really solid middle infielder, and worth waiting on.

  • Avatar Harley Earl says:

    Trevor Story is on pace for 35 HR and 35 SB, very similar but actually higher in the SB department last year when he was a top 10 player. You’ve got him about 6-8 spots too low. I’d rather have him than several of those you’ve got ahead of him. I’m not sure why it is, but Story gets no love from all you fantasy sports “gurus”. Go figure.

  • Avatar Kev says:

    Hi Jonathan. Can you explain what’s up with Wilson Ramos? His swing looks awful. Killer stat-wise in Standard Roto and dropping like a stone on Hitter’s List. Should I bail out and drop for someone like Narvaez? Or, hold because he will be much better than Narvaez and turn into the hitter you thought he’d be ROS? Thx.

  • Avatar Syyrn says:

    I think Verdugo deserves some respect. He has regular PT now with Pollock possibly out for season, and is hitting the ball really well on a great lineup. His underlying stats show a great increase in launch angle and exit velocity so some of the gains could be for real

  • Avatar Fisch says:

    Just curious where Tommy La Stella sits with you at this point in the season? I didn’t see him on the list unless I missed him.

  • Avatar Tony says:

    Great list! Helps a lot to see who is improving. My only complaint is just 150?

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