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 major leaguers named Kirby. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like reasons to dislike Angel Hernandez. 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=”33962″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Willson Contreras, Matt Carpenter, and Yadier Molina hit the IL this week, while Hunter Pence, Luke Voit, A.J. Pollock, and Corey Seager were activated. Some pretty gloomy news about Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton’s injuries resulted in substantial drops.
- Additions: Nate Lowe, Danny Santana, and Danny Jansen made their triumphant returns/debuts in exchange for Wil Myers, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Willie Calhoun. Calhoun was demoted, Cabrera has been struggling for awhile now, and Myers no longer seems to have a starting job.
- Nate Lowe has piqued a lot of interest after hitting .357 with five homers over his last seven games. There’s only 49 batted balls worth of data to this point, but the 53% hard hit rate and 18.4% barrel rate are elite. I’m not sure he has this much power, but his profile does remind me a bit of Michael Conforto (i.e. a left-handed hitter with tons of plate discipline and 30-homer power who can drive the ball to the opposite field). I may be a bit aggressive in pushing him up this far this early, but his minor league track record is impressive and what he’s done so far in a small sample has been amazing. I would definitely be stashing him in all formats.
- A.J. Pollock has wasted no time since being activated from the IL, swatting three homers and batting .444 in the four games since his return. After having a metal plate removed from his elbow, I was concerned that he might be… rusty. Boo me all you want, I can’t hear you. Anyway, that hasn’t been the case at all, and I wouldn’t be shocked by another 10+ homers and 6+ steals over the rest of the season, which I think is absolutely worth your time.
- At the time of writing, no official word has been given on Adalberto Mondesi’s shoulder injury, but it didn’t look good at all, and I’m operating under the assumption that it will be at least a month until he’s back on the field.
- Ramon Laureano has been on fire for awhile now, and I’ve admittedly overlooked him a bit the past few weeks. Over his last 30 games he’s hitting .287 with 10 homers, 6 steals, 22 runs, and 28 RBI. He makes a good amount of hard contact, and hits plenty of line drives, which I think will mitigate some of the effects of his inflated strikeout and swinging strike rates. All told I like his chances of keeping the batting average around .260 while contributing above-average numbers in all the other standard categories.
- The Olson twins (aka Matt Olson’s biceps) woke up from their nap, and they’re ready to cause a ruckus. After another three-homer week, Olson is now up to 12 home runs over his last 30 games, and he isn’t showing signs of slowing down. His hard contact and barrel rates are in the top 2% in baseball, yet he’s still underperforming his absurd .403 xwOBA. Expect the average to continue to climb and the home runs to continue to fall as he looks to put up another video game-like second half a la 2017.
- Jose Altuve is still hitting for average and a healthy amount of power, but I can’t help but continue to ding Altuve as long as the stolen bases are missing in action, because those are such a big part of what made him an elite fantasy option. I really do think his knee injury is still wearing on him enough that he doesn’t want to put stress on it any more than he has to, and while I still think an Altuve that can’t run is useful, he just doesn’t have top-15 upside without those steals.
- So I’ve finally started to come around on the high-average types this year: if guys like Jeff McNeil and DJ LeMahieu can provide batting averages five or six standard deviations about average, they can be a huge asset even without providing a ton of power or speed.
- If you actually had the patience to hold onto Yuli Gurriel all year, you deserve the .347 average and 12 homers he’s posted over the past month. And if you picked him up randomly on the wire right as he started to heat up, you don’t deserve any of this production at all, but you got it anyway, and what does that say about the nature of the world we live in? Gurriel is elevating the ball a lot more this year, and I think that does justify this recent power outburst to an extent. Like his brother, I think his lack of plate discipline will make him prone to hot and cold streaks, and his middling hard contact numbers probably mean 25 homers is the absolutely peak in a given year, but there’s no shame in riding this out for as long as it lasts.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)