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:
- Given that these rankings are taking place in a vacuum, I tend to value stolen bases 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 sane human beings in the New York Mets organization. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like instances of people attempting to hug Cody Bellinger against his will. All else being equal, I’ll 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=”32978″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Adalberto Mondesi, Yandy Diaz, Tim Anderson, Trevor Story, and Gregory Polanco hit the IL this week. Giancarlo Stanton, George Springer, Joey Gallo, Jose Altuve, and Aaron Judge were activated.
- Additions: Oscar Mercado, Garrett Cooper, and Jason Kipnis make their first appearances on the list this week at the expense of Buster Posey, Rougned Odor, and Amed Rosario.
- Yasiel Puig has done a ton to improve his stock over his last 15 games, hitting .339 with five homers and three steals while making a lot of his owners forget about how lost he looked earlier in the season. He’s still a little too aggressive at the plate this year, which is costing him in the contact and batting average departments. But a 25/25 season is still well within reach, and I don’t think too many people would be disappointed with that even if he does only manage a .260 average.
- It’s great to have Jose Altuve back, but I think the jury is still out on whether his lower-body injuries are truly behind him. Clearly they were affecting him before hitting the injured list, as he was just one-for-three in stolen base attempts, and I don’t love that his most recent injury was to his surgically repaired knee. I think you’ll still get elite batting average production and 20-homer power going forward, but so much of his fantasy value is going to hinge on whether he’s comfortable enough to start running again. The next few weeks will be key for assessing what kind of player we can expect him to be this year.
- Dansby Swanson has had a slow week, but frankly he should have been ranked higher last time around, so his rise this week is more a correction than a reflection of his recent performance. His Statcast profile to this point has been really impressive, and points to him having gotten quite a bit unlucky so far, even in light of his offensive breakout. I see a hot streak in his future that will bring his batting average up to the .280 range, and I think he can pair that with slightly above-average power and speed.
- Right now, Manny Machado is the poster boy for why we have to take track record into account when evaluating hitters who are off to slow starts. Plenty of people sold Machado off at a discount a few weeks back, and he’s gone on to hit .308 with eight homers and 49 R+RBI over the past month. There’s a cautionary tale here for guys like Jose Ramirez and Paul Goldschmidt…
- A substantially lower line drive rate and a huge uptick in infield fly balls is costing Eugenio Suarez a lot of base hits this season. I think a .260 batting average is what you have to hope for from him this year, which drags his value down considerably in my opinion, even if he does manage to rack up a decent amount of counting stats and 30 home runs.
- Owning Christian Walker is going to be a rollercoaster ride this year, but right now things are trending up again. He’s hitting .313 with three homers and two steals over the past two weeks and is posting one of the highest hard hit rates in the majors. Again, you’re going to have to endure some lulls with him, but Walker is still probably a lock for 30 homers with an average around .260 and some steals for good measure.
- I think Aaron Hicks is trying to play through an injury, and while I can’t bring myself to be totally out on him considering his upside and the lineup he hits in, he’s going to have to actually string together a few weeks of solid production before I’m willing to trust him long-term.
- Garrett Cooper reminds me a bit of Bryan Reynolds in that they’re both absolutely destroying the ball this year, but they’re not elevating it enough to take full advantage of their power. I think they both may struggle to reach 20 homers as a result, but their batting averages should remain high, and if they ever do learn to lift the ball—watch out.
- Jason Kipnis has actually lowered his average launch angle this year and is hitting more grounders at the expense of his fly-ball rate. Generally that’s not a change that you like to see, but for a guy like Kip—who doesn’t possess a ton of pop—a change like this could actually help him improve his batting average output. I wouldn’t bank on more than 15 homers and 10 stolen bases, but if he can keep his average up around .270 with this new approach, and he continues to bat cleanup, he could be a solid all-around contributor.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)