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 competent relievers on the Baltimore Orioles. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like New York Mets fans’ whiny little baby tears. 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=”33643″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Not too much movement this time around on account of the short week, but this did provide a nice opportunity for me to dive a bit deeper on a few guys and make some ranking adjustments.
- Injuries: David Peralta, C.J. Cron, Brandon Lowe, and Tommy La Stella all hit the IL this week. Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock will both be activated this Friday.
- Additions: Jay Bruce and Mitch Garver return to the list this week at the expense of Robinson Cano and Tommy La Stella. Garver’s main issue lately seems to be getting consistent playing time, but when he starts he hits, and he’s arguably been one of the best offensive catchers this year.
- Michael Conforto has really been scuffling lately, batting just .180 over his last 15 games. Most of the peripherals are in line with what they were last year, when he had a good-not-great season. It’s worth noting that he’s started struggling against lefties again after seemingly putting those platoon splits in his rearview mirror; he’s posting just a 73 wRC+ and .217 average against them this season. It may be time to accept that this iteration of Conforto probably won’t help you much in batting average.
- After a roaring start to the year, Hunter Dozier has hit just .234 over the past month with four homers. His strikeout rate has slowly crept up over the past month, as has his chase rate. Based on how much hard contact he makes and how much he elevates the ball, you can still probably bank on 25 homers, but the average may settle closer to .275 than the .290 we initially hoped for.
- The launch angle gains Jesse Winker made last year have completely evaporated this season, and while he’s still contributed a solid 13 homers on the year, they’ve come with the help of an extreme 26% HR/FB. He’s also batting just .171 against lefties and has recently been getting benched fairly regularly against them. I still think there’s a ton of talent here, but if the HR/FB rate normalizes and he continues to be platooned, it really caps his value.
- There are but three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and an annual freak injury to A.J. Pollock. Pollock is on the verge of being activated after an infection in his surgically repaired elbow that makes me want to dry heave every time I think about it. Pollock was pretty uninspiring prior to hitting the IL, and it’s unclear how his playing time will shake out, but there’s pretty clearly 20/20 potential here that’s worth a roll of the dice if you have a roster spot.
- After a full season in which he only stole 30 bases, and a first half in which he’s stolen just 15, it’s probably time to admit that Dee Gordon’s elite stolen base contributions are a thing of the past. His sprint speed is in the 79th percentile this year, which is good, but nowhere near what it once was. The fact that he has a career-high fly-ball rate this year is super concerning, and something that I think will continue to eat into his batting average. All told, he’s a solid bench option in shallow leagues that you can plug in when you need a boost in steals. But he’s going to hurt you more than he helps everywhere else.
- I was pretty high on Yuli Gurriel coming into the year, and he proceeded to make me look silly for the first two months. But he’s come around big-time over the past month, hitting .304 with 10 homers during that span, including seven homers over his last seven games. I love that he’s started elevating the ball more this year, as it has unlocked some power for him without costing him at all in terms of his elite ability to avoid strikeouts. My hope in the preseason was that he could pair a .285 average with 20+ homers, and he seems well on his way to doing just that.
- Michael Chavis has been producing to this point, but his underlying stats scare me quite a bit. An 18% SwStr and 65% contact rate are bad, and while you could make a case for those numbers if he wereselling out for power, he’s producing a league-average 34% hard hit rate. I’m not sure that speaks to the 24.6% HR/FB being sustainable, and the already-pedestrian .263 average is being floated by a .359 BABIP. I’d be selling while the surface-level stats still look fairly impressive.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)