The hottest hitter in baseball

Bill James likes to keep a tally of hot hitters at Bill James Online. It’s a simple system, based on a running tally of the run value of hits in a player’s most recent string of plate appearances. Players tend to average around 72 degrees; sometimes they drop to 50 degrees and other times jump over 100.

Guess who the hottest hitter in baseball is right now (tied with Robinson Cano and Ryan Hanigan. Yes, Ryan Hanigan). It’s Tampa Bay catcher John Jaso.

I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve heard of John Jaso. Jaso, who was ranked the sixth-highest catcher in the Tampa Bay system during the offseason, was slated for Triple-A this year but took advantage of an injury to Dioner Navarro and is hitting .500 in 24 at bats for the Rays.

I looked him up in THT Forecasts, where Cork Gaines had this to say in the offseason:

Like Jose Lobaton, Jaso has an outside chance to make an impact at the big league level in 2010. With Kelly Shoppach and Dioner Navarro, the Rays have two catchers that can’t hit righties. In the minors, Jaso has a career .847 OPS versus right-handers. The only thing holding Jaso back now is his defense. While his overall defensive game has made strides, he only threw out 17 percent of would-be base stealers in triple-A in 2009. That needs to improve as his bat isn’t good enough to play first base or a corner outfield spot.

The Free John Jaso movement has already started. THT Forecasts thinks he’ll post a .344 wOBA the rest of the year, which ain’t chopped liver. Add in the fact that his defense is supposedly improving and we may have more than just a story about a hot hitter.


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Dave Studeman
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Dave Studeman

By the way, I should have mentioned that Jaso is running a 98% fever right now, according to BJOL.  Not a fever in real life, but a lot higher than 72 degrees.

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The Western States 100-mile endurance run is a prime example. Last year Gunhild Swanson finished the Western States 100 with 6 seconds to spare before the course closed.

Bill Legg
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Bill Legg

Good points… left one out – Joey Votto! Since the Allstar break, Joey has batted .440. That’s pretty hot for a sustained time, not just a week or a month.

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