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 critique these rankings more thoroughly:
- I value stolen bases significantly 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 quality starts from Jacob deGrom. And home runs are an abundant resource that are becoming more prevalent, like Tampa Bay Rays with the last name Lowe. All else being equal, I’ll always 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.
- 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=”30641″ include_stats=”1″]
Now onto the recaps:
- Injuries: Clint Frazier, Anthony Rendon, and A.J. Pollock all fell IL this week. Frazier and Rendon should be back within the next week or so, but Pollock makes a substantial fall due to the nature of his injury. He has an infection in his surgically repaired elbow, and will need exploratory surgery to figure out what’s going on. That sentence alone conjures a mental image that makes me want to dry heave. I think you hold out to see what the surgery reveals before dropping him, but this doesn’t seem like it will resolve itself in less than a month.
- Additions: Michael Chavis, Nate Lowe, Carter Kieboom, and Ketel Marte make their first appearances on the list this week at the expense of Ryan Zimmerman, Mallex Smith, Delino Deshields, and Corey Dickerson. Playing time concerns tamp down Kieboom’s value a bit, though if Brian Dozier is still scuffling when Trea Turner returns they’ll likely give Kieboom the reins at second base. I like the power upside of Chavis, and don’t think Dustin Pedroia or Eduardo Nunez are going to steal many at-bats from him going forward. Nate Lowe seems like he could be a poor man’s Michael Conforto if things pan out, though comments from Kevin Cash indicate he may sit against some lefties, especially once Austin Meadows and a few of their other injured bats return. I’m not much of a believer in Ketel Marte breaking out this year, but I think a .260 average with mid-teens power and speed is moderately useful in most formats.
- The bump I gave Jose Altuve last week was probably a bit premature, and he had a rough week, so he drops a bit this time around. Coming off a season where he was nursing a knee injury and didn’t steal many bases, it’s starting to concern me that he only has one stolen base to this point (on three attempts). The nine homers are great to see, and the average will come up above .300 eventually, but if he fails to steal 20 bases again we’re not talking about the same Altuve that we’ve seen in years past.
- The steals artist formerly known as Raul, Adalberto Mondesi, moves up into Tier 3, and the longer he keeps up this level of production the higher he will rise. The .287 average isn’t sustainable, but his contact rate is up and his swinging strike rate is down, and his 14% barrel rate is incredibly impressive for someone in the 99th percentile in terms of sprint speed. He’s also managed to drive in 24 runs already batting second in a surprisingly potent Royals lineup, and all my fears that he would be Byron Buxton 2.0 are becoming lost in time like tears in the rain.
- Pete Alonso has a 49.3% Hard Hit rate and a 21.7% barrel rate, the latter of which is over three times the league average. Considering how much he demolishes the ball, the 13% SwStr and 71% contact rate he’s posting are actually pretty palatable, and he knows how to work an at-bat. I was roundly mocked for claiming he has a 30-homer floor on last week’s On the Barrel podcast, but I believe it is I who shall have the last laugh, and it shall be a full and hearty one.
- Joey Votto seems like he’s pressing, and it feels like the first time you saw your mom cry, because he’s always made us believe everything was under control. His pull rate, flyball rate, and SwStr% are all up, which paints a picture of a guy trying everything in his power to pop a few home runs at the expense of everything else. That’s not the Votto we’ve come to know and love though, and it concerns me that he seems to be getting so off track at his age. I’m not writing him off just yet, but I’d like to see him get back to spraying more line drives over the coming weeks.
- Nick Senzel is getting the call this week, and I think he’s going to be here to stay with Scooter Gennett still a few months out and the Scott Schebler swinging the bat the way a blindfolded kid with vertigo swings at a pinata. There’s 20/20 upside here if he can overcome the health concerns that have plagued him to this point in his career.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)