by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We are two months into the season so there have obviously been changes to our rankings. Who has shown signs of improving? Who has struggled and thus has a cloudier outlook? Let’s take a look at how things currently stand (Note: The number in parenthesis represents the player’s ranking in our previous rankings update):
1. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks (1)
2. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers (NR)
3. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs (2)
4. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds (4)
5. Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals (9)
6. Edwin Encarnacion – Cleveland Indians (7)
7. Wil Myers – San Diego Padres (8)
8. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals (10)
9. Jose Abreu – Chicago White Sox (12)
10. Eric Thames – Milwaukee Brewers (5)
11. Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants (14)
12. Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays (NR)
13. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians (11)
14. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles (6)
15. Yonder Alonso – Oakland A’s (NR)
- Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves (3)
- Eric Thames has been among the best stories in the league thus far, though the numbers did turn in May. He’s struggled to hit the ball hard (16.7% line drive rate) and he’s also swung and missed a lot. Those two things have helped lead to a .221 average for the month, and he’s managed just 3 HR. Chances are there’s a rebound coming, though the struggles obviously drag him down the rankings a bit.
- In a fairly big surprise, Matt Carpenter continues to struggle with his batting average (.226). Part of the issue has been too many fly balls (49.1%), though he should still carry a better BABIP (.248) and he’s shown excellent plate discipline (17.8% O-Swing%, 6.8% SwStr%). Now is not the time to lose hope or send him spiraling down the rankings, as it wouldn’t be surprising to see a big hot streak coming.
- The big knock against Carlos Santana is the lack of home runs thus far (6), as he’s posted just a 9.4% HR/FB. He owns a career 13.9% mark and has been over 16% in two of the previous three seasons, so there’s room for significant upside. While he may never hit for a strong average, his plate discipline is a positive (6.1% SwStr%, 21.5% O-Swing%) and his line drive rate (21.6%) is his best mark since 2013. The upside is there, so stay the course.
- Justin Smoak may be one of the bigger surprise of the season, with the key being his reduction in his swinging strikes (28.8% in ’17, compared to marks of 11.1% and 12.7% over the previous two seasons). He’s always hit the ball hard and while his 23.1% HR/FB is elevated, he’s only two years removed from a 25.4% mark. In other words this has the makings of a real breakout and can’t be ignored.
Sources – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||April 26|
|Second Base||May 1|
|Third Base||May 4|