That’s the question that’s been on my brain as I worked on these rankings the past few weeks. I’m not over the past 10 years, not for next year, not for the next 10 years — right now — is Mike Trout still the #1 hitter this year? Even with a lengthy DL stint, Trout is still one of the top players in the league and is close to surpassing all of his numbers from last year’s (also) injury shrunken season (88 runs/31 HRs/2 SBs in 116 games so far this year vs. 92/33/22 in 114 games last year.) But while he missed 19 games in August this year, three players have kept chugging right along and putting up phenomenal numbers. Let’s take a look at these three challengers for the crown.
Mookie Betts: Betts was a surefire first rounder just like Trout prior to the season and he’s lived up to that. He now has three straight 20+/20+ seasons with 100+ runs. The scary thing is he’s not not even done — he’s about to have his first 30/30 season by the time the playoffs come around. His peripheral numbers support this growth too — he’s hitting the highest fly ball percentage and lowest ground ball percentage of his career all with the highest hard contact rate of his career. And just like the next player on this list, Betts hits in the lineup with the highest batting average and OPS in all of baseball while the Angels are 16th in batting average and 15th in OPS.
J.D. Martinez: The man who has driven in Mookie Betts 26 times already this season is someone else who is reaching for that brass ring. JDM is two-thirds of the way towards achieving only the second triple crown in the past 50 years. (The one man standing in his way is only .008 batting average points above him and has been driven in by JDM 26 times this season. Hint hint.) This could become one of the most fun developments to follow over the final month of the season. The only thing keeping the #1 title out of reach for Martinez is his lack of speed. However, 5 SBs from someone you expect 0 from isn’t completely terrible and 3 of those SBs have come over his last 34 games so maybe there’s enough of a chance for him to reach to grab 5 more in September! Probably not though… All that being said, Martinez has been driven and motivated to live up to his huge Red Sox contract and he has been worth every penny.
Jose Ramirez: The one man who I think could be the closest heir apparent to the #1 spot is Ramirez. He’s got the power of Martinez (37 HRs to Martinez’s 39,) the speed of Mookie (29 steals to Mookie’s 21,) the team driven stats of both (185 runs+RBI compared to Betts’s 179 and Martinez’s 214.) and is in just as good a lineup that is 5th in AVG and 3rd in OPS. The one area where you could say Ramirez is dragging behind is AVG as he’s “only” hitting .288. But his .400 OBP compares nicely to Martinez’s .404 and Betts’s .431. This is due to Ramirez’s 15.1% walk rate which currently ranks 8th in the league — coincidentally Trout is in 1st with a 20.5% walk rate.
So what do you think Razzballians? Who is the #1 fantasy hitter in 2018?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @KerryKlug
Top 100 Hitters
GREEN: Rising | BLUE: New Additions | RED: Falling