Last week there was an unfortunate hiatus from the Top 100 Hitters column as I was deep in the woods of Central New Jersey for my annual camping trip. Does Central Jersey exist? I was there — so I guess so.
I took a lot of time going player by player on these rankings so there are a lot of shake-ups in the rankings. I took a real close look at everyone’s numbers and tried my best to compare players 1 to 1 to see who I preferred. It can get rough comparing two players side by side. Do you prefer Player A with 60 runs, 5 HRs, 30 RBI, 20 SBs and a .285 average? Or Player B with 45 runs, 20 HRs, 50 RBI, 0 SB and a .245 AVG? In the end, unfortunately for this column — beauty is in the eye of the beholder — and I don’t mean the amazing MS-DOS dungeon crawler from 1991. Beauty is also in your roster construction — Player A might be really useful to you if you’ve got a bunch of slow-footed boobies out there.
- #32, Shin-Soo Choo, TEX, OF: A Choo? Here? The last time Choo didn’t reach base in a game was May 12th. The last time Choo didn’t reach base in a game was May 12th. THE LAST TIME CHOO DIDN’T REACH BASE IN A GAME WAS MAY 12TH! He’s still a long ways away from reaching Ted Williams record of 84 games in a row, but I need to stop disrespecting Shin-Soo and strap a rocket to him.
- #46, Tim Anderson, CHW, SS: I fell in love with Tim Anderson in the first 15 games of the season when he stole 8 bases and hit 3 HRs as a cheap speed source and a little pop. I fell out of love with Tim Anderson when he stole 2 bases and hit 1 HR over his next 15 games. I hated Tim Anderson over his next 15 games when he stole 1 base, hit 3 HRs and hit only .204. I started to like Tim Anderson again over his next 15 games when he hit 4 HRs and stole 2 bases and hit 273. Now, looking back over the whole season I’m glad Tim Anderson and I stayed friends as his 13 HR/20 SB/.251 AVG season really doesn’t look that bad. You’re going to hate him for two weeks and then adore him for two weeks and that’s just who Tim Anderson is. But when we look back at a 25/25/.245 season you’ll be pretty happy.
- #48, Max Muncy, LAD, 1B/3B: Muncy really must’ve stepped in it every single time he walked out of his house this pre-season. It feels like we’re all waiting for the luck to run out, but then you look and see he has 7 HRs in his last 13 games with a 1:1 K/BB ratio. He’s got a spicy 46.8% hard contact rate paired with a 45.7% flyball rate and a lot of this seems sustainable. Everyone is prone to slumps and I’m sure Muncy will be no different — especially with less than 500 major league at bats under his helmet. Pitchers might start to figure him out slightly — but if he can keep making solid fly ball contact — he could easily top 30 HRs — he’s already two-thirds of the way there.
- #56, Jose Abreu, CHW, 1B: Abreu, like Whit Merrifield, really started to slip in my rankings as I did my head-to-head comparisons. He’s still on pace for 80+ runs for the 4th time in his 5 seasons and 100+ RBI in his 5th consecutive season, but the 12 HRs and .262 AVG are way off his career averages of 31 and .301. Abreu’s .293 BABIP is the lowest of his career and off his career number of .330. His batted ball profile across the board is almost identical from his previous seasons so you have to wonder if bad luck is just causing his slight statistical decline. I’m thinking he’ll bounce in the second-half.
- #81, Eric Hosmer, SD, 1B: I’ve been keeping Hosmer relatively high in my rankings due to his relatively reliable 20+ HR, solid average production. But it’s a whole new ballgame this year for Hosmer. Hosmer’s 20.9% HR/FB isn’t too far off from his 21.4% in 2016 or 22.5% in 2017, but his 60.8% ground ball rate is the highest of his career. This number is especially annoying when you realize that his hard contact percentage is the highest of his career. Hosmer won’t be making the All-Star game this year so you have to hope he takes the week to head home to Plantation, Florida to work on getting some loft on his swings.
- #88, Whit Merrifield, KC, 2B/OF: This one is going to get me a lot of flack, but hear me out. I see the 16 stolen bases. I see the .290 average. But that’s all I see. His 28 RBI on the season has him ranked 164th overall. Yes, I know he’s a lead-off hitter, but then his 36 runs have him ranked 121 overall. It’s not his fault, his lineup stinks, but 64 runs+RBI is less runs than some players have total (or total RBI.)
Top 100 Hitters
Fighting for 100 (Unranked)