Hitter List 6/5: 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=”32091″ include_stats=”1″]

 

Now onto the recaps:

  • Injuries: Hunter Dozier, Andrew McCutchen, Joey Gallo, and Carlos Correa were lost to the IL this week. But when one door closes, another one opens: Travis Shaw, Nelson Cruz, David Peralta, and Khris Davis all made their returns.
  • Additions: Howie Kendrick, Kevin Kiermaier, Bryan Reynolds, Jorge Soler, Ian Desmond, and Travis Shaw make their debuts/returns this week at the expense of Keston Hiura, Jesus Aguilar, Nicky Lopez, Andrew McCutchen, and Ender Inciarte. I have playing time concerns with Kendrick and Reynolds, and injury concerns with Kiermaier and Shaw. But assuming health and consistent playing time, I think they all have the potential to be above-average offensive contributors.
  • I still haven’t given up on Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez, but it’s about time they fall out of the top-20 considering how well a lot of the guys who were below them are performing. A hot month from either of them would pull their lines up to about what you expected coming into the year, so I’m still preaching patience.
  • We talked a bit about Austin Meadows on the podcast last week, and everything he’s doing right now is amazing. Great plate discipline, an excellent 8.6% SwStr, an elite 28% line drive rate, and he’s nearly doubled his barrel rate this year thanks to the fact that he’s posting a 41% hard hit rate while upping his launch angle a few degrees. I think this might be the breakout of an elite fantasy bat.
  • Has Byron Buxton teased us too many times over the course of his career for us to take what he’s doing right now seriously? He’s still swinging a lot, especially at pitches out of the strike zone. But he’s managed to improve his contact rate so far and is performing substantially better against all pitch types–including offspeed pitches and breaking balls–to this point. On top of that, his 41% hard hit rate is nearly 10 points above his previous career-high. If he can hold onto these gains all season and pair them with his elite sprint speed, watch out.
  • Trey Mancini has marginally improved as a contact hitter this year while still retaining all of the hard contact he customarily makes and nearly doubling his average launch angle from last season. He doesn’t have the plate discipline of Josh Bell, but I see him as a poor man’s version of Bell that you could probably acquire for a fraction of the cost.
  • Austin Riley is probably the hottest hitter in baseball right now, and I know a lot of people will probably be clamoring for me to move him higher on the list as a result. But I just can’t right now, as I’m not convinced the poor contact ability and plate discipline he’s shown to this point is a mirage. The 21% SwStr and 38% chase rate he’s posting are so, so bad, and I can’t help but think he’ll be crippled by them once his 45% (!!!) HR/FB and .378 BABIP normalize. For now, I think having him surrounded by guys like Dan Vogelbach and Hunter Renfroe, who I believe are solid comps, is right.
  • It initially seemed like George Springer was going to miss close to two months with a hamstring strain, but recent reports seem positive, and it appears he’ll be back with the Astros much sooner than expected, which is why he’s sliding back towards the top this week.

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 MookieBestt says:

    Hooray! Juan Soto finally has moved up! Now I have to find a new player to complain about being way too low! Might be Franmil, but I’d like to see the RBIs start coming for him. Huge difference in ranking between him and Khrush though for similar guys feels like too big a gap.

    In general though I’m glad to see the list finally being a little more reactive to what’s happened in 2019.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks! I’m trying to be a bit quicker on the draw based on recent performance and breakouts, I appreciate the feedback.

  • Avatar Andrew S says:

    No love for Bogaerts? The dude just keeps hitting, as an owner of his there are about 15 players you have listed ahead of him that I would not trade him for. Is there something I’m missing in his profile?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Bogaerts probaby does deserve more love–he’s continuing to improve his quality-of-contact without giving back any of his overall contact gains. There’s a good case for a 10+ spot bump from where he’s currently ranked–good call.

  • Avatar Wade says:

    What are your thoughts on Carpenter? I see you keep bumping him down, but it seems like he’s starting to heat up. .316/.422.632 in last 2 weeks with 4 homers. Is it a case where you like him but other people are just performing better, or are you still down on him?

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      He’s historically feasted on fastballs, but is seeing significantly less of them this season (53% is a career-low). That, paired with the fact that I think last year was pretty clearly an aberration power-wise, has me projecting him for something in the range of a .250 average and 25 homers with a ton of runs scored. That’s obviously useful, but not really anything worth getting super excited over.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Too much hate for Jose Abreu. He is a second half player traditionally.

  • Avatar Facenda says:

    Ozzie Albies is stuck batting eighth, which means he’s not scoring any runs (9 in the last five weeks). And over that five-week period, he has 1 HR, 1 SB and 9 RBI and a .280 SLG. He had a solid April, but has been brutal since then. You rank him #37 ROS, which indicates an optimism that he can turn it around. Can you explain why? As an owner, I’d like to believe.

    I want to believe. I’d love your ROS 2B5 ranking to be true. But man, I’m not seeing anything to convince me that I can’t do better with … I don’t know … Nino Goodrum.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      A lot of his ranking has some expected growth baked in. The .284 xBA and improved barrel rate this year point to a guy who could hit .280 with 20 homers. I think the only thing holding him back are the stolen bases. For a guy who was pegged for 70-grade speed by scouts, and who has flashed 85th percentile sprint speed this year, I can’t help but think it’s just an issue of opportunity. And if he gets it, and pushes his stolen base total up to 20 this year, I think he’s absolutely worthy of being considered a top-40 fantasy asset. As you mentioned though, a lot of that will probably be dependent on his spot in the lineup and if he’s able to perform well enough for an extended stretch to move up in the order.

  • Avatar Kev says:

    No David Fletcher on the list? Just dropped Domingo Santana for him. He’s been killing it.

  • Avatar Michael Scott's cousin says:

    Ahhh finally moving JoRam down the list a little, took you long enough…but keep it moving….22 aint low enough. Underlying stats are horrendous. Anyone who thinks he will turn this around completely is crazy. He can’t hit an offspeed pitch to save his life, not hard to adjust to that if you are a pitcher in the MLB with a simple scouting report…don’t throw the FB. Sure, he’ll end up hitting .235 with 20-25 homers and 25 steals but that’s it IMO

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Ramirez has actually struggled mightily against fastballs this year, with just a .237 wOBA and .136 average against. A lot of those struggles can be chalked up to just a .132 BABIP against the pitch. The fact that he’s handling breaking balls well enough, and has never struggled this badly against fastballs before, has me pretty confident in a turnaround. There’s top-5 upside in his bat, so I think you have to have faith.

      • Avatar Michael Scott's cousin says:

        Check out his cb and ch batting avg against since all star break last yr. i hear what you are saying though, its not like u just wake up and forget to hit one day. I think whats happening is that pitchers have found his weakness whatever that is…a top 5 hitter like him doesnt just slump for almost a full year. I think he will make the adjustment eventually, but just not soon enough for me.

  • Avatar Facenda says:

    Thank you. I appreciate the reply. I’ll probably sit him (particularly against RHP, against whom he’s struggled) and hope he can get it together.

  • Avatar Kerry says:

    If there are MORE home runs being hit, then it takes MORE of them to compete.

    If there are FEWER bases being stolen, then it takes FEWER of them to compete.

    • Avatar Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      That’s true, but doesn’t run counter to the point I’m making, which is that the value of something increases as there is less of it, and decreases as there is more of it. A player who steals 20 bases now is more valuable than a player who stole 20 bases 10 years ago. A player who hits 25 homers now is less valuable than a player who hit 25 homers 10 years ago.

  • Avatar Tom says:

    I’d have Derek Dietrich in the top 150 for ros

  • Avatar PitcherList Superfan says:

    Why does Jorge Polanco get no love? Dude has been raking all season and doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon…

    • Avatar Jack says:

      Came here to say the same thing… they clearly overweight SBs. Dude doesn’t just have a high avg. Is clutch w RBI and hits for decent power. I love Senzel and Albies but they shouldn’t be higher than Polanco.

  • Avatar McG says:

    No LeMahieu on this list?

    • Avatar McG says:

      Like you actually have Jose Peraza on this list, and not DJ LeMahieu?

      • Avatar High_changeup says:

        Yeah, the hitter list on this site tends to be too wonky. He needs to look at overall player ranks for the season more often in his fantasy leagues, imo.

        I’d take DJ (obviously), Fletcher, Cooper, Jacoby Jones, over multiple guys on the bottom of the list. He seems to weigh past performance too much. They should just do positional rankings on this site, not top 150.

        Josh Bell and Soto are also both top 20 hitters.

        Wait, LA STELLA isn’t even on the list!

        • Avatar High_changeup says:

          Miggy, Rodgers, Franco, Peraza, Gurriel, Biggio, Walker, Cano, Chavis, Verdugo, César, Winkler, Dee Gordon, Roblès, Abreu, Myers are some guys ranked too high, imo.

  • Avatar Nahder says:

    Love these weekly list. Any way we could ever have an OBP league list as well? More and more leagues are shifting and I can’t imagine it would be too much legwork.

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