Can we please stop breaking things already? I mean, we should have all expected that Giancarlo Stanton was going to get injured at some point. But did we need to see Garrett Mitchell out for the season or Will Smith continue to miss time with a concussion? No, we did not! Add in a banged-up Tim Anderson, Corey Seager and Ramon Laureano and there is more pain than gain for the last week. For next week’s article, maybe we will need to run the correlation coefficient between game time and injury frequency so we can blame Manfred for all this chaos! However, until then we are at that time to publish another edition of the Top 100 Hitters for the rest of the 2023 fantasy baseball season.
- Ryan Mountcastle – Mountcastle was one of my favorite hitter values going into the season. So why does a guy that is barely hitting above the Mendoza line get to jump up into the top 40 hitters? Well, the average is simply a mirage due to a sub-.200 Babp as the xBA sitting at .286 is much more appealing. With exit velocities and barrel rates in the top 10 percent of the league, we might be staring down a 35-home run season. In what might be surprising to some, Baltimore is actually a top ten offense and there are plenty of runs to go around for one of their best hitters. There is a lot to like about Mounty the rest of the year.
- Jorge Mateo – Mateo was a one-category wonder in 2022 thanks to his speed, but limited power and rising strikeouts held him back. So far in 2023, we have seen several improvements in his plate discipline. He is chasing less and making more contact in the zone which has dropped his strikeout rate almost in half. With his quality of contact improving, he has a chance to deliver a passable batting average. In addition, if he can put the ball in the air a bit more, there is hope for some more power numbers to pair with one of the fastest players in the game. Time will tell if the improvements hold, but he is on the verge of finding an impressive season.
- Bryce Harper – Reports continue to get better on the return of the former MVP. As of now, it appears that Harper may be back in the lineup in early May by skipping a rehab assignment. Giving Harper nearly 85% of a season is better than having most players for a full season. While I expect there might be a bit of a rust period, we could easily see a .300 average with 35 homers and 10 steals while breaking the 100 barriers in both runs and RBI. Think that is crazy? That is simply what he did in 2021 in 141 games. I hope you bought early in the spring because you are about to cash in.
- Eloy Jimenez – If there is one sure way to avoid hitting home runs, it is having a negative launch angle. Yes, Eloy is driving the ball straight into the ground and looks absolutely lost at the plate. The drop in his ranking has less to do with his long-term outlook as he is too good of a hitter to suffer all year, however, this slump looks like it might take some time to recover. I would not be opposed to buying low here, but only if the price was right.
- Tyler O’Neill – There are fewer physically impressive players in the major leagues than O’Neil, but yet he can be frustratingly inconsistent. So far this season, he has been benched due to lack of hustle. He has also seen his strikeouts elevate early in the season despite hitting the ball hard when he does make contact. There are a lot of tools here, but the results are too volatile and will likely drive any fantasy owner crazy. Until the Cardinals decide to make a move and remove one of the mouths to feed in the outfield, there will be playing time concerns, especially in weekly leagues.
- Jack Suwinski – A relatively unknown heading into the season, 24-year-old Suwinski is making a lot of noise with his bat during this first month of the season. Sporting exit velocities, walk rates, and sprint speed, he might be confused as one of the best hitters in the league. It certainly feels like Jack is onto something. The last week has seen him move up the Pittsburgh lineup and respond with four homeruns. Sure, this is likely a flash in the pan to start the season. However, I would rather pick the guy up for nothing on the waiver wire and ask questions later.
- Nolan Gorman – Sitting firmly in the top 10 for runs batted in, slugging, and OPS, Gorman has been swinging a loud bat in the St. Lous lineup. Historically, Nolan struggled with strikeouts but has seen his rates drop to the low 20s while his walk rate improved about five points since last season. These changes have simply been tied to a more discerning eye as he has moved from a 30%+ chase rate to 22%. It might be just that simple for a guy that hits the ball incredibly hard as he is just laying off the breaking stuff out of the zone and punishing anything close. Another few weeks and he has to be considered in our top 100 hitters.