Saturday, August 7, 2021


We are just at the point where the number of games played this year, when combined with the abbreviated 2020 season, gets us to totals that approximate a full we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the top 125 hitters in baseball over that time frame. (We are using OPS+ as the measure here.)

A few notes are in order. First, it is highly unlikely that there has ever been another time when four hitters aged 23 or younger were in the top ten, as is the case right now (Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr.). Second, Shohei Ohtani (who has been pitched to with increasing care since the All-Star break and is currently in a tailspin) does not show up at the top of this list when his 2020 performance is taken into account, suggesting that we are seeing either a prolonged hot streak and/or a career year. (Time will tell.) Third, Brandon Belt--kicked around by his fan base for years--has benefitted from the dimension changes in his home park and is taking advantage of it in a belated career surge. Fourth, comparisons between Mike Trout (suddenly fragile) and Bryce Harper (suddenly consistent) are almost becoming valid again. Fifth, the players whose names are shown in lighter blue than the rest are all members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. How in holy heck did they manage to get Trea Turner in that deadline deal? 

That last note prompts us to look at from where all of these players (and the 99 others on the wall we are not showing you lest you start taking them off the wall and force your fellow readers to break into off-key song) are currently collecting their paychecks (some meagre, some incredibly bloated). The Dodgers have six fellows in the Top 26 (per the above chart), and eight overall--not including a guy (Cody Bellinger) who won an MVP Award in 2019. If their bullpen wasn't snakebit (1-12 in extra-inning games), things would be a bloodbath. Hell, they might still be a bloodbath...

Add up the totals in the last three columns on the right and you'll get a general sense of which teams have the best offense. The Giants, transformed into an extra-base hit juggernaut this year (will it last? we think not...) are even better than this presentation suggests, given that Buster Posey (160 OPS+) is just under the 300 PA threshold needed to appear on this list.

There's an intriguing surprise for Motor City fans who've been waiting for at least half a decade for signs of life in their beleaguered Tigers. When we focus in on the top two tiers of top hitters (covering the folks in the Top 70), we see that the Tigers have developed a cluster of young swingers who might just be helping to lead them out of the wilderness. The list of the top number of hitters in the Top 70 by team goes as follows: Dodgers 8 (!!), Giants 4, Yankees 4, Padres 4, Blue Jays 4...Tigers 4.

It's a slender thread, but it is a thread. We'll see if it frays, or turns into a stitch. In the meantime, folks in Detroit can take solace that they are not living in Dallas, where the Rangers have no hitters in the Top 70, or even in the Top 125, now that Joey Gallo has been shipped off to New York. Though Joey did not personally spurn his fan base in Big D, his departure could result in many of his fans switching their daily allegiance to his close relatives Ernest & Julio, who will at least help them drown their sorrows...