I had to make this Top 100 List a Top 101 list for one week to make room for Jorge Soler. Let’s get this typical jibber-jabber out of the way: Former top prospect blah blah blah bust? blah blah blah traded! blah blah blah post-hype blah blah blah. Now that you’re up to speed let’s get into the nitty, then the gritty. Not every prospect is going to immediately live up to what they did in the minors. There’s usually a reason most people who play baseball don’t make the majors. After not immediately exploding upon his debut — Soler is now making his expected impact. He is walking and striking out at the rates he showed in the minors now which is probably the most important development you can take from Soler so far this year. He’s got a sexy .321 average with a .976 OPS. He even has 7 multi-hit games in his last 14 games. Perhaps more important than anything, he’s going to be getting the ABs he needs to fully develop and reach his massive potential. He’s still unowned in in almost 50% of ESPN leagues. You’re the one who can change that — he can be a fantastic OF4/OF5 or UTIL bat for your championship bound team.
Nomar Mazara: The most impressive statistic about Nomar Mazara might be that he only just turned 23 a few weeks ago. At 10 HRs as of May 10th he’s already halfway towards his career high. His three plate discipline rates (walk, strikeout, contact) are all about on par to his career numbers. His BABIP is a reasonable .323. His hard hit percentage has, however, reached a new high at 40.4% (up from 32.6% last year.) The only numbers that concern me are his ground ball/fly ball numbers. He’s hitting way too many balls on the ground (52%) at the expense of fly balls (24%.) If he can return to the 34% fly balls he hit last year with these improved hard contact numbers Mazara could reach an even higher level this season. Like going from facing Goro to Shang Tsung.
Nick Markakis: We need to talk about Nick Markakis. After his first three seasons over a decade ago we were all salivating about what Markakis would become. A .299 hitter over those three years who averaged 92 runs, 20 HRs, 87 RBI and 10 SBs. This is an annual MVP candidate in the making! Then he somehow just got worse. Not bad necessarily — just not what we all expected. After hitting back-to-back 20 HR seasons in 2007 and 2008 he hasn’t hit 20 HRs in a season since. Hell, last season in 593 ABs he hit 8 HRs. This offseason Markakis subscribed to that Launch Angle Quarterly magazine I keep talking about and has dropped his ground ball rate to the lowest of his career. He’s hitting more line-drives and fly balls and is maintaining his all fields approach. In what is sneakily one the best offenses in baseball, Markakis is hitting clean-up and is having the most unexpected breakout 34 year old season.
Paul Goldschmidt: After making a lot of threats in the comment section in last week’s top 100 article — I finally did it. I pulled the trigger on Goldschmidt and dropped him in my rankings. This after a particularly bad 12 game stretch that saw him only slap 4 singles and 1 double in 42 at bats. I wish I could tell you exactly what’s going on with Goldy, but I’m not a professional swing coach. Not anymore anyway. I can tell you that his contact rate is down to 64% after having contact rates of 75, 76, 73, 73, 74, and 74 over his last 6 seasons. His strikeout rate is 7% higher than his career numbers. Worst of all — I think he let all this humidor talk get into his head. He is hitting only .150 at home with 0 HRs while still hitting .294 on the road with all 4 of his HRs. I’m no psychiatrist (again, not anymore anyway) but there seems to be something mentally going on with Goldy. I get the feeling this could be a good buy low opportunity from a frustrated owner.
Kyle Seager: What’s happened to this guy? He was one of the most predictable safe hitters for 5 straight years. In the past two years he’s been struggling. He still ended up with 27 HRs/88 RBIs last season but with a career low .249 average. This year, he’s reaching even lower lows with a .235 average. His contact rate has always been over 80% (even this year and last year) but his BABIP last year was .262 and this year it’s at .264 after typically being in the .280-.290 range. So what’s changed this year? Well maybe the launch angle revolution isn’t for everyone. Last year Seager hit 51.6% of his balls in the air and this year he’s sitting at 45%. Prior to 2017 his fly ball percentage was in the low 40’s with a higher line drive percentage. This change of approach for Seager seems to not be working and hopefully for him (and his owners) he goes back to his pre-2017 work.
GREEN: Rising | BLUE: New Additions | RED: Falling
Top 100 Hitters:
As always leave a comment below — let me know your thoughts!