Don't look now but teams have played at least 100 games. That leaves fewer than 60 for most clubs. What we're going to do is look at the leaders in the standard hitting categories through May since that matches the time we have left this season. The reason for this is two-fold. First, you're reminded that there will be some surprises in the coming weeks - there always are. Second, you have a reasonable expectation what the best players may produce for the rest of the season so you can be practical and reasonable in your evaluations.
|1||Troy Tulowitzki||0.352||1||Nelson Cruz||20||1||Dee Gordon||34|
|2||Yasiel Puig||0.344||2||Edwin Encarnacion||18||2||Jose Altuve||20|
|3||Victor Martinez||0.340||3||Giancarlo Stanton||16||3||Billy Hamilton||20|
|4||Miguel Cabrera||0.332||4||Josh Donaldson||15||4||Eric Young Jr.||17|
|5||Alexei Ramirez||0.329||5||Jose Abreu||15||5||Rajai Davis||16|
|6||Robinson Cano||0.327||6||Jose Bautista||14||6||Jacoby Ellsbury||15|
|7||Matt Adams||0.325||7||Troy Tulowitzki||14||7||Alcides Escobar||15|
|8||Angel Pagan||0.325||8||Albert Pujols||14||8||Ben Revere||15|
|9||Jonathan Lucroy||0.321||9||Victor Martinez||13||9||Brett Gardner||13|
|10||Chase Utley||0.320||10||Justin Upton||13||10||Elvis Andrus||13|
|11||Ryan Braun||0.320||11||Brandon Moss||13||11||Brian Dozier||12|
|12||Jose Altuve||0.318||12||Adrian Gonzalez||12||12||Starling Marte||12|
|13||Carlos Gomez||0.318||13||David Ortiz||12||13||Emilio Bonifacio||12|
|14||Alex Rios||0.317||14||Mark Reynolds||12||14||Carlos Gomez||11|
|15||Charlie Blackmon||0.317||15||Yasiel Puig||11||15||Alexei Ramirez||11|
|16||Giancarlo Stanton||0.316||16||Carlos Gomez||11||16||Desmond Jennings||11|
|17||A. J. Pollock||0.316||17||Mike Trout||11||17||Jonathan Villar||11|
|18||Nelson Cruz||0.315||18||Michael Morse||11||18||Angel Pagan||11|
|19||Jose Bautista||0.310||19||Brian Dozier||11||19||Everth Cabrera||11|
|20||Melky Cabrera||0.309||20||Paul Goldschmidt||10||20||Jose Reyes||11|
|Josh Donaldson||48||1||Nelson Cruz||52|
|Troy Tulowitzki||45||2||Giancarlo Stanton||51|
|Brian Dozier||44||3||Miguel Cabrera||49|
|Jose Bautista||43||4||Edwin Encarnacion||48|
|Hunter Pence||42||5||Josh Donaldson||46|
|Paul Goldschmidt||41||6||Brandon Moss||46|
|Giancarlo Stanton||40||7||Jose Abreu||42|
|Nelson Cruz||39||8||Jose Bautista||40|
|Edwin Encarnacion||39||9||Yasiel Puig||40|
|Ian Kinsler||38||10||Michael Brantley||39|
|Melky Cabrera||37||11||Paul Goldschmidt||38|
|Matt Carpenter||37||12||Mike Trout||38|
|Christian Yelich||37||13||Michael Morse||38|
|Carlos Gomez||36||14||Troy Tulowitzki||37|
|Charlie Blackmon||36||15||Charlie Blackmon||37|
|Anthony Rendon||35||16||Adrian Gonzalez||37|
|Michael Brantley||34||17||Yoenis Cespedes||37|
|Freddie Freeman||34||18||Ryan Howard||37|
|Mike Trout||34||19||Alexei Ramirez||36|
|Daniel Murphy||33||20||Victor Martinez||34|
When deciding between two players, the seemingly obvious question is "who do you expect to have a better rest-of-season. The problem with that is anything can happen over the last two months and while talent should win out, the choice is often the player you feel will play better, there are other considerations.
1. Playing time - This is my first filter at this time of the season. Any time I'm deciding between players anywhere close in potential, I'll choose the one I know will play more. This can be because they hit higher in the order. It can be because the team has no reasonable option, like a minor league prospect they want to audition. Opportunity trumps almost everything down the stretch.
2. Health - I just get done convincing myself to give Troy Tulowitzki nearly regular at bats the rest of the way and he reminds me why I hedged back in the spring. As will be discussed in a minute, upside is a consideration and some perennially injured players have significant upside, but the replacement pool for injured players is much weaker than it was in May. Be judicious with where you hang your hat.
3. Upside - Often, you're looking at two players where one has a higher floor but lower ceiling while the other has a higher ceiling but lower floor. Context is everything. if you're behind and need to make up ground, you may need the higher ceiling. If you're protecting a lead then the higher floor may be best.
4. Streaks - Riding the hot hand is fine, but not at the expense of a better player. There may be some new research that suggests streaks are real but regardless. what goes up must come down. Again - context - if you need to take a chance then riding the August/September version of Chris Colabello may be the play. But take a look above, where's Colabello? The talk of the early season didn't make the top-20 lists through May. So sure, play a hot guy and bench someone else but have a very short leash. Don't drop a better player for a hot player. Someone else in your league will pick up the dropped player and benefit while you're trolling the wire to replace the now cold player.
Good luck down the stretch. You've come this far; let's take it home.