Hitter List 8/21: Ranking the Top 150 Hitters to Own ROS
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 the New York Mets’ chances of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like baseball fans who can now correctly spell “Aristedes.” 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.
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Domingo Santana, Nomar Mazara, Ender Inciarte, Fernando Tatis Jr., Avisail Garcia, and Jeff McNeil got bad boo-boos this week. Nelson Cruz‘s mommy kissed his boo-boo and now he’s all better.
- Additions: A wild Nick Ahmed, Mike Yastrzemski, Wilmer Flores, Mark Canha, James McCann, and Kevin Pillar have appeared! Now that we’re just about a month away from the end of the year, you can expect guys on hot streaks to receive more significant bumps each week, and names that I wouldn’t ordinarily have included here to make their appearances.
- On the mend: With Adalberto Mondesi, Mitch Haniger, and Luke Voit seemingly just a week or two away from their returns, they’ve jumped a bit higher in the rankings.
- Oh my lord is Rafael Devers good. He hit .516 this past week with three homers, and just refuses to cool down even in the slightest. I had concerns earlier in the year about the high groundball rates and low average launch angle, but it seems he’s taken the 2018 Christian Yelich approach of overcoming those issues by absolutely murdering every baseball he sees. His average exit velocity this year is in the top 3% in baseball, and it’s scary to think that he could potentially hit 35-40 homers in a given season if he just elevated the ball a bit more. Regardless, he’s elite.
- I’ve faded Miguel Sano all year on account of his horrendous contact ability and high strikeout rates, but he’s been on a roll for the past month and, like the aforementioned Devers, is elite at producing hard contact. In fact, he’s currently eighth in baseball in barrels per plate appearance, and in the top 1% of the league in hard contact. If you’re not trying to make up ground in batting average rest-of-season, Sano is one of the better options out there for power and counting stats right now.
- It’s been an up-and-down year for Eloy Jimenez, but things seem to finally be starting to trend up for the talented rookie. His barrel rate in August has shot up to 15%, and the past week has seen him hit three homers with a .276 average and a much-improved strikeout rate. If any early owners of Jimenez have cut bait out of frustration, now might not be a bad time to swoop in and see if he can finish the year strong. Even with his struggles, his current home run output would prorate to nearly 40 homers over a full season.
- Carlos Correa seems destined for the IL after straining his back this past week. Remember, back issues are what derailed him last season, so this injury is particularly concerning for his rest-of-season prospects. I’ve dropped him quite a bit this week, and if an IL stint is deemed necessary he’ll likely drop significantly further next time around.
- A change of scenery really can work wonders–just look at what Nick Castellanos has been up to since joining the Cubs. In 79 plate appearances since getting to Chicago, Castellanos has hit .365 with seven homers. It’s a small sample size, but his line drive rate has gotten back to the elite level it was at last year, which is encouraging if you’re looking to get a boost from him in batting average down the stretch.
- Mike Yastrzemski has done a great job of elevating well-struck baseballs this year, leading to several occasions where he has circled the bases completely, without any assistance from his teammates. In other words, he real good at hitting home runs. Considering how much hard contact he makes (41%), the fact that his contact rates are slightly above average is really impressive, and makes me think he can continue to outperform his .250 xBA. I see a 30-homer bat with a decent average here, and am buying in on what he’s done so far this year.
- One of my bold predictions in the preseason was that Wilmer Flores would hit .280 with 20 homers this year, so I guess you could say I knew this recent hot streak from him was coming. He’s hit .545 over the past week with four homers, and has lifted his average for the year up to .307. It seems as though he’ll get fairly regular playing time at second base going forward, with Ketel Marte shifting to the outfield, and he’s always been incredible at making contact. In really deep leagues, he may we worth a speculative add.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)