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.
[hitter_list_2019 list_id=”35758″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Jose Ramirez, David Peralta, Jesse Winker, and Carlos Correa hit the IL this past week. It seems as though Winker and Correa will return shortly, but Ramirez and Peralta are likely done for the year. Dansby Swanson, Jeff McNeil, and Avisail Garcia were activated from the IL.
- Additions: Kolten Wong, Freddy Galvis, Jurickson Profar, Andrelton Simmons, Renato Nunez, Evan Longoria, and Avisail Garcia make their debuts/returns to the list this week.
- On the mend: Byron Buxton and Adalberto Mondesi are rumored to be returning this week, so they get a healthy bump as a result. It’s worth noting that Mondesi has been advised not to slide headfirst for the rest of the season, which may impact his stolen bases output going forward. As a sidenote, Mitch Haniger had a setback during his rehab stint, and no longer has a timetable for return.
- Wanna know something crazy? Human beings shed over 40 pounds of skin during their lifetimes. Wanna know something else that’s crazy? Jonathan Villar is currently tenth among all hitters on ESPN’s Player Rater. This is thanks in no small part to a five-homer week, and a 30-game stretch where Villar hit .364 with nine homers and 11 steals. The feat is made even more impressive by the fact that he’s done it while playing for the hapless Baltimore Orioles. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s taken in drafts next year, especially if/when he’s traded to a better offense.
- Adam Eaton? More like Adam Crushin’, amirite? Eaton has been on an absolute tear for a month now, hitting .313 with five homers and six steals over his past 30 games. He’s been the 50th-best hitter in baseball this year according to ESPN’s Player Rater. It’s worth noting that his average launch angle has nearly doubled this season, sitting at 13.3 degrees compared to his 7.2 career average, which may explain why he’s hitting for a bit more power this year.
- Yordan Alvarez apparently is human after all, as he hit just .273 over the past week with *gasp* only two home runs. Regression is probably inevitable, but August has been his best month of the season in terms of xBA (.332), xwOBA (.481), and barrel rate (22%), so I wouldn’t be too concerned that it’s coming anytime soon.
- After disappointing stints in the majors and 2017 and 2018, people seem pretty slow to buy in on what Willie Calhoun is doing this year. He’s owned in just 37% of Yahoo leagues at the moment, which is shameful considering that he’s put up a .300 average with 10 (!) home runs over his last 30 games. Obviously that pace is unsustainable, but guys who can post 84% contact rates while generating hard contact 41% of the time are few and far between. If Calhoun is still available in your league, grab him.
- Corey Dickerson has really been enjoying his time batting in the heart of the Phillies lineup. He drove in 12 runs this past week, and now has 22 RBI over his first 20 games with Philadelphia. With on-base machines Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper hitting in front of him, you can probably expect this production to continue, and Citizens Bank Park should bode well for his power output down the stretch as well.
- The commonly held belief that Cuban hitters improve as the weather warms up will never die as long as Jose Abreu is around. During his career, he’s hit .281 in the first half and .308 in the second half. With a .343 average, six homers, and 26 RBI so far in August, Abreu seems committed to keeping that narrative alive.
- I really thought 30 steals was going to be a given for Whit Merrifield this year, but right now it looks like even 20 isn’t a sure thing. On the plus side he’s shown that the mid-teens power isn’t a fluke, and he’s still helping quite a bit in runs and batting average. A strong September could get him up to 20/20, and I think that might be enough to help people forget about the fact that they primarily drafted him to shore up the stolen base category.
- Part-time Oakland Athletics slugger, full-time vampire Mark Canha continues to be the hottest hitter in the game right now, blasting four homers over the past week while posting a blistering .448 average. The .241 xBA and .355 xwOBA indicate that he’s been getting real, real lucky this year, but there’s no shame in riding this out for as long as it lasts. And then, when he’s no longer of any use to you, disposing of him with a garlic-coated stake.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)