Time to update the ranks! As always, this ranking is more about performance the rest of the way than performance in the bank. On the other hand, this is not just a ZiPs RoS ranking. Human opinion introduces human error, but our minds are plastic and there’s at least the chance we can get ahead of the trends. So let’s try. Oh, and arrows denote a change in tier, not a change in rank.
Yes, Carlos Gonzalez is hurt right now and if his injured wrist turns out to be a big deal, he won’t earn this ranking. He also won’t hit 30 home runs this year, most likely. But in this group of players that can all help in all five categories, he’s probably the middle guy each time. More power than some, less power than others. More speed that some, less than others. Andrew McCutchen is the big story. He’s two home runs short of his career high and has really surpassed expectations in that department. Even with a slight step back with the heavy lumber, he’ll be a great return on investment. A career high in fly ball rate suggests that his approach is more power-friendly right now.
Jay Bruce has had an up-and-down kind of year. The streaks have been difficult at times, but they’ve left him on the way to a career power year at the very least. And his batting average won’t be as bad as Mike Stanton’s since he strikes out much less frequently. This is the group that might have some defenders, but they’ve also got flaws that keep them from being fantasy All-Stars. Hunter Pence has an insane BABIP that is hiding his career-worst ISO. Bruce still has those streaks. Shane Victorino isn’t really elite in any category. Jason Heyward won’t show the power we are waiting for until he stops hitting 55% of his balls on the ground.
There are a lot of bad batting averages in this group. At least the bad batting averages offer you great power (Stanton), speed (Bourn) or a little bit of everything (the rest). Oh, and then there’s Andre Ethier, who is showing a career low in fly ball rate right now. That won’t help him find his lost power. And Lance Berkman deserves a shout out. His batting average should regress to the level he’s shown over the last three years, and there’s still a high likelihood that he injures himself running around in the outfield. But his owners aren’t complaining because they got him for so cheap. Even if you’re a little bearish on Morse and think the batting average will fall a little in the second half, the power looks legit and he deserves this ranking.
Carlos Beltran deserves some love. He’s got his power back to 2008 levels and there’s nothing particularly lucky about his line. Then again, he’s not known for great batting averages and his speed is gone for good. Seth Smith has better upside, but doesn’t play against most lefties, so he’s best used as a bench outfielder. Angel Pagan and Jose Tabata are somewhat similar players statistically – some power, some speed, and right now, bad batting averages – and though it might be hard to see it, they’ll both be valuable players again soon. On the flip side of that coin, Logan Morrison is showing great power right now, but that isn’t backed by his minor league work. A little less power will make him a fringe mixed leaguer going forward. Domonic Brown has finally figured out major league pitching to the extent that he’s not striking out in a third of his at-bats. He’s also showing power and speed and has the best potential of anyone in this tier, even over the course of this season.
There are probably some better hitters in the group below, but this collection of veterans and flawed younger players have every day jobs now. We’ll probably write more about each of these players, so let’s not spend too many words here. I would say this: if I had to pick from this tier, I’d rather take the younger dudes. Even if they are striking out too much or don’t have much power or speed.
There are some decent hitters here. Jon Jay can put up a good batting average with little else, Allen Craig has a little pop, and Daniel Murphy can do okay across the board. But most of these guys also have playing time issues. That makes them okay bench pieces in deep leagues, where you can slot them in when they actually get playing time.
Tony Gwynn, Jr.