Now that we’re just past the halfway point of baseball’s regular season (roughly 90 games in), it’s time to take a look at our preseason player projections, starting with the hitters.
Below are the current 10 best hitters in the American League based on batting average, on-base percentage, strikeouts, power numbers, and proficiency on the base paths. Below them are the hitters we projected before the season began. Statistics are through Tuesday’s games.
10. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins; 2012 offensive stats: (average/on-base/slugging) .328/.414/.454, 6 home runs, 43 RBIs, 48 runs scored, 45/49 walks/strikeouts, 4/5 steals/attempts. The 29-year old Mauer, who many thought was done being a top-notch hitter after playing in just 82 games last season, is hitting .374 since the beginning of June.
We had: Alex Gordon, who, after a horrible start to the season, is hitting .349 since May 28. The key seems to be putting him in the leadoff spot, where he excelled last year.
9. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers; 2012 offensive stats: .327/.358/.527, 16 home runs, 58 RBIs, 63 runs scored, 18/42 walks/strikeouts, 1/1 steals/attempts. Beltre, long considered a better fielder than hitter has been extremely consistent at the plate this season, hitting better than .300 in every month. Beltre gets the nod over Mauer with his power numbers.
We had: Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed three months with a partially dislocated right shoulder, has been back in the Boston Red Sox lineup the past five games hitting .333 over that short span.
8. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers; 2012 offensive stats: .304/.385/.501, 15 home runs, 65 RBIs, 51 runs scored, 42/46 walks/strikeouts, 1/1 steals/attempts. Fielder has had a lot to live up to after switching leagues to sign that $216 million contract. He has done fairly well, though he was listed third on this list in the preseason—a close call over Beltre, Fielder has a much better eye at the plate.
We had: Dustin Pedroia who is currently on the disabled list with a right thumb strain and has hit just .266 so far this season. Last year he hit .334 in the second half of the season after a slow start similar to this year’s.
7. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays; 2012 offensive stats: .296/.386/.579, 25 home runs, 62 RBIs, 57 runs scored, 41/48 walks/strikeouts, 9/11 steals/attempts. Encarnacion’s surprising power this year for Toronto puts him ahead of Fielder and leaves him just one home run shy of his career-high set in 2008 with Cincinnati. At age 29, his numbers have never been this good before, which makes it questionable where on this list he’ll end the season.
We had: Robinson Cano. See below at No. 5.
6. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels; 2012 offensive stats: .309/.361/.625, 25 home runs, 62 RBIs, 46 runs scored, 23/68 walks/strikeouts, 4/7 steals/attempts. Trumbo, who hit 29 home runs last year as a rookie, had a torrid month of May, hitting .367 with 7 home runs and 18 RBIs. His league-leading slugging percentage gives him the slight edge over Encarnacion.
We had: Josh Hamilton. See below at No. 3.
5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees; 2012 offensive stats: .321/.382/.587, 21 home runs, 55 RBIs, 60 runs scored, 33/55 walks/strikeouts, 1/3 steals/attempts. Cano was hitting just .255 on May 6 before belting a grand slam against Kansas City that seemed to get him going. Beginning with that game, the Yankees’ second baseman has hit .352 since. His slightly better overall average and plate discipline put him just ahead of Trumbo on this list.
We had: Adrian Gonzalez, who led the league in hits last year with 213 and is hitting .288 thus far. His power outage (just 7 home runs) continues from the second half of last season when hit just 10.
4. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers; 2012 offensive stats: .327/.387/.565, 20 home runs, 74 RBIs, 57 runs scored, 35/51 walks/strikeouts, 3/4 steals/attempts. The ever-consistent Cabrera, who’s hit better than .320 in six of the last seven seasons, is at it again this year, though he’s seeing more pitches to hit with Fielder in the lineup alongside him. Though most of his hitting numbers are similar to Cano’s, Cabrera separates himself with his slightly better run-scoring production.
We had: Jose Bautista, who has led the league in home runs the past two seasons. He just missed out on the top 10 of this year’s list due to his low batting average (.244). He does have 27 home runs and 58 walks to keep him close to contention.
3. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox; 2012 offensive stats: .316/.414/.609, 23 home runs, 58 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 56/49 walks/strikeouts, 0/1 steals/attempts. Ortiz continues to amaze, at age 36, leading the league in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Though he’s currently day-to-day with a possible Achilles problem the big DH gets the surprising (and very, very slight) nod over Cabrera here with the better plate discipline.
We had: Prince Fielder. See above at No. 8.
2. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers; 2012 offensive stats: .301/.374/.618, 27 home runs, 76 RBIs, 55 runs scored, 36/82 walks/strikeouts, 6/9 steals/attempts. Had the MVP voting happened at the end of May, Hamilton, who was hitting .368/.420/.764 with 21 home runs and 57 RBIs would have been the hands-down winner. But he hit just .223 in June and is hitting just .152 thus far in July. Still his overall power is just enough to keep him above Ortiz.
We had: Miguel Cabrera. See above at No. 4.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; 2012 offensive stats: .348/.403/.569, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 27/60 walks/strikeouts, 30/33 steals/attempts. Trout’s impact on the Angels is even bigger than the stats listed above. Since being called up on April 28, the Angels, who were 6–14 at the time, have gone 43–27. The 20-year-old Trout, who was the team’s first-round pick in the 2009 draft (25th overall), has to be considered the leader for the MVP, unless Hamilton catches fire again.
We had: Albert Pujols, who got off to a horrible start this season (hitting just .190 on May 8), as did his Angels. As expected though, the three-time MVP turned it around over the last two months. Since May 24, the Angels’ $240 million man has hit .335 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs. Last season, after another similarly slow start, he hit .319 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs in 69 games in the second half of the season.
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