With the season upon us now, I was looking at who I thought would lead the main H2H hitting categories (AVG, SB, R, RBI, HR) this year. Now, it is easy to pick the top players in the game and say that they will lead a certain category because the likelihood is high. So I wanted to expand it, and make it guys going outside the top 100 according to NFBC ADP. Part of building a H2H championship caliber team is being able to find guys later on in the draft that you can bank on to help you out in certain categories. Again, finding a guy at the beginning of drafts that will help you out in certain categories is easy because they are being drafted that high for a reason. So here are the guys that went outside the top 100 NFBC pick that have the best shot at leading the league in each category. I am aware that none of these guys will actually lead the league in their given category, but simply have the best shot (in my opinion) among guys outside the top 100.
Thank you to the White Sox front office for not depriving us of being able to watch this man play a full season in the bigs this year. And thank you to Vladamir Guerrero for having a son that has been overshadowing Eloy’s hype coming into this year. Jimenez is an absolute machine at the plate. He slashed .337/.384/.577 across AA and AAA last season, adding 22 HR and 28 doubles in 108 games. His 55 games at AAA last year included an obscure 179 wRC+, and cutting his strikeout rate to 13.2%. If he can continue this improvement at the major league level, Jimenez has a legitimate shot at leading the league in batting average. Do I think he will this year? Probably not, but he has the best chance among guys being drafted outside the top 100 to do so. Steamer has Eloy hitting .293 this year, and ZiPS has him down for a .289 mark. That could give him a shot at the batting title. I don’t want to put too much pressure on the kid but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he hit .300 before all is said and done. Hype Train is full steam ahead ladies and gents.
Okay the seemingly easy answer here would be Billy Hamilton considering he finally went outside the top 100 and didn’t cost you a 5th or 6th round draft pick this year. He’s a good bet to get back to 40 SB this year (36 last season), but his OBP just won’ allow me to pick him. Instead I’m going with Mallex Smith, who swiped 40 bags with the Rays last year. He missed the team’s first two games due to an elbow injury so is at a tiny disadvantage, but seems to be all good to go. He, as well as Hamilton, are both on new teams this year so it is yet to see how often their coaches will give them the green light. Smith got on base at a .367 clip last year, compared to Hamilton’s wimpy .299. Mallex was 40-for-52 in attempts, giving him a 77% success rate on the paths. Hamilton? Was also successful on 77% of his attempts last year. So I’ve got to give the edge to Mallex here, as his career .346 OBP is significantly higher than Hamilton’s .298 and should see more opportunities to steal bases as a result. Steamer has Mallex narrowly edging Hamilton out by stealing 39 compared to Billy’s 37.
Chapman is THE guy for me this year. The guy I just can’t get out of my head and tried to roster in as many of my leagues as possible. After making huge improvements to his game last season, I think Chapman takes another big leap forward in 2019. He came across to score 100 times last season on a .278 batting average and .356 on base percentage. Chapman figures to hit second and the A’s have a solid lineup behind him, even with Matt Olsen set to miss extended time. Piscotty, Davis, and an underrated Profar should help him reach ~100 runs once again this season. Plus, he’ll knock himself in about 30 times via the long ball. Chapman cut his strikeout rate from 28.2% in 2018 to 23.7% last season, while seeing his swinging strike rate fall by 2.7%. Continuing to limit strikeouts and walk at his healthy career 9.7% rate will put Chapman on base and increase his opportunities to score runs. He may not seem like a typical guy you think of when you think of scoring a bunch of runs, but he already hit the 100-mark last season and replicating that could place him among the league leaders. Yes, runs vary from year to year but he has the tools to put himself on base and a supporting cast that can drive him in.
Runs Batted In
Though not as fascinating as Khris Davis and his four consecutive seasons hitting exactly .247, Mazara has a trend of his own. He has hit exactly 20 home runs in each of the past three seasons. Many see this as slightly disappointing as he has been advertised to have considerably more pop. However, we must keep in mind that he is still just 23 years old. He also hit his 20 home runs on a career low 536 plate appearances, including seven against left-handers. For comparison, just two of his 40 home runs in the two previous seasons came against lefties. But why is he the most likely outside the top 100 picks to lead the league in RBI? Well, he is just one season removed from knocking in 101 runs back in 2016. The Rangers may not have the best offense in the league, but it is far from the worst. There is definitely some speed in that lineup that can aid Mazara to another 100+ RBI season. However, it is unfortunate that he is currently hitting behind Joey Gallo so a move up in the order might be necessary for Mazara to have a legitimate shot at leading the league in RBI. This could be the year that Mazara actually takes a big leap forward in the power department.
Moose is currently listed as a 3B in fantasy, but is soon to gain 2B eligibility as he will serve as the Brewers primary second baseman in 2019. Moustakas had 28 homers last year in 152 games combined with the Royals and the Brew Crew. Oddly enough he seemed to have more HR success at Kauffman Stadium, which tends to suppress power for lefties quite a bit. He was able to mash 38 home runs there in 2017 despite it being in the bottom 5 for park factors in terms of home runs for lefties. Miller Park is the second best park for lefties to hit home runs in so playing half his games there should help see an increase in HR. Add in his 46.3% fly ball rate and average launch angle of 19.6 degrees from last year and Moose could reach 35-40 HR again. His 42 barrels last year were tied for 32nd most in the bigs. Steamer has him down for 30 long balls this year, and ZiPS is giving him 32. Among guys going outside the top 100 I think he has the best shot to lead the league in homers.