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 Pittsburgh Pirates that Yasiel Puig hasn’t tried to punch. Meanwhile, home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like below-.500 teams the Mets have taken advantage of. 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=”34851″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: We lost so many good men this past week that I think the government should erect a marble wall in their honor and chisel their names into it. Alex Verdugo, Robinson Cano, Willson Contreras, Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton, David Dahl, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yoan Moncada hit the IL this time around, and it seems like Gleyber Torres may soon join them. Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna, and C.J. Cron were activated. At this point in the year, assessing an injured player’s value rest-of-season is really difficult, especially when they don’t have a timetable–one setback during their rehabs could cause them to miss the remainder of the year. For this reason, I’ve dinged injured players with no clear return timetable pretty heavily, and as a result there was a lot of movement this week.
- Additions: Lots of fresh faces this time around, as Gio Urshela, Rougned Odor, Mike Tauchman, Trent Grisham, Miguel Sano, Isan Diaz, Corey Dickerson, and Ender Inciarte make their debuts/returns.
- Christian Yelich bumps Mike Trout out of the top spot this week. Making this move felt so wrong that I immediately jumped into the shower with all my clothes on afterwards and rocked myself back and forth while muttering, “It was time. It’s going to be okay, it was time.” Here’s the thing–if we’re talking rest-of-season, Yelich has to take the top spot here, as he’s simply been better than Trout all season long in essentially every standard category. Yelich has had just one month this season where he’s hit below .333. ONE MONTH. I’m still taking Trout with the first overall pick in drafts next year, but Yelich is simply having one of the best seasons of all time right now and you just have to ride it out.
- Vlad Guerrero Jr. swatted three homers this week while hitting .419 and has been on fire for over a month now. It’s interesting to note that this incredible run has coincided with a significant decrease in his groundball rate, which went from 55% in June to 45% in July, and is now sitting at 34% for August. I do think he can keep this up to an extent as long as he continues to elevate the ball.
- In case it wasn’t clear already, Yordan Alvarez is the real deal. He’s already swatted 14 homers in just 42 games this year, and is pairing league-average contact and swinging-strike rates with an absurd 47.7% hard hit rate. He’s pretty clearly performing at an unsustainable level, but even if his output matched his expected stats (.288 xAVG, .596 xSLG), he’d be a bonafide star.
- It’s tough for me to drop Nick Senzel so far this week, especially because he’s been hitting .298 over the past month. The problem is, he hasn’t homered at all in his last 30 games, and has just two steals to his name during that span. I still think he’s a good bet for 20/20 production with a decent average over a full season, but until he starts heating up I can’t justify having him near the top-50.
- Bo Bichette is awesome, and not just because if you pronounce his name really fast it sounds like “Boba Fett.” In his first 41 career at-bats he’s swatted three homers and hit .415. It’s too early to glean much from the peripherals, but it’s at least worth mentioning that his 53% hard contact rate to this point is elite, and he’s striking out at an impressive 20% clip. He looks legit.
- My main knock against Jeff McNeil this year has been that the lack of standout power or speed makes him kind of a one-trick pony, especially in the Mets’ fairly mediocre lineup. Well he’s gone on to swat three homers over the past week, and has now hit eight in his last 30 games. I think it’s worth noting that he did manage to hit 14 homers in the minors last year in just 53 games, so there may be some latent power here that’s finally starting to reveal itself. If he can hit 20+ homers while maintaining his elite contact ability, I think there’s a case for him as a top-50 hitter.
- I threw caution to the wind last week and bumped Keston Hiura up significantly despite his alarming peripherals. He rewarded me with a .117 average and 40%+ strikeout rate this week. This is why you always stick to your guns, people. I do still think he can overcome some of his contact issues by hitting the ball to all fields as hard as he does. But I’m still backing off quite a bit.
- I’ve talked up J.D. Davis quite a bit here in the past, so hopefully you added him prior to this amazing hot streak he’s been on. He’s now hitting .388 over his last 30 games with four homers, and the crazy thing is that he’s actually underperformed many of his peripherals this year. The 49.8% hard hit rate and 11% barrel rate point to some more power on the horizon, and the .316 xBA indicates that he’s actually been somewhat unlucky in the category so far. Pick this guy up.
- Speaking of blazing hot Mets, Amed Rosario has been hitting .363 with three homers and four steals over his last 30 games. He ended last season with a bang, and seems intent on doing the same this year, so if you need some solid all-around production he’s a guy worth grabbing.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)