When you have the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and always have Jose Bautista, you are likely to take a majority in a top 10 hitters list. These AL teams have some big boppers and here’s a look at the top 10 hitters in the AL using a new stat, adjusted offense:
1. Jose Bautista-OF-Toronto Blue Jays
No surprise here! Mr. Toronto and the number one All-Star vote getter finally hit number 22 this past week after struggling a bit to make home run contact behind the plate. He has still kept his average up (.325), but was struggling to hit the the long ball as we watched other home run hitters like Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson catch up. I think the knock on Bautista over the course of the entire season will be his lack of RBIs. His numbers with the bases empty (.319 BA, 16 HR, 16 RBI, .719 SLG) crush his numbers with runners in scoring position, RISP, (.246 BA, 4 HR, 25 RBI, .509 SLG). The Blue Jays don’t get on in front of him often, but when they do, he hasn’t done much with the opportunity (14 hits in 57 at bats). He is still the best hitter in the game, the Blue Jays just have to hope that the offense can pick him up.
2. Adrian Gonzalez-1B-Boston Red Sox
It has to be argued that Gonzalez might just be the best hitter in the AL, but his power numbers are down just a bit so far this season. The biggest offseason acquisition by any team has come through with a major league leading average of .359 and 69 RBIs to go along with his 15 home runs. If we are talking about hitting with RISP, Gonzalez is the king. His numbers skyrocket when the Red Sox need him, going from an average of .319 with none on to .385 with RISP to .419 with RISP and two outs! That is absolutely a ridiculous number, which would provide the argument to being the best hitter. For those stat heads, Gonzalez’s WAR is third best in the majors at 4.3, behind Matt Kemp and Bautista.
3. Miguel Cabrera-1B-Detroit Tigers
It’s unfortunate that Cabrera has to play in the same league with Gonzalez, because otherwise he would be the best first baseman in the league. If it weren’t for Cabrera, the Tigers would be hovering around .500 and would not have caught the Cleveland Indians. Yeah, I said it. Cabrera’s OBP is less than only Bautista’s at .455, which helps to drive that team. Cabrera’s power numbers are down a bit so far this season, with just 15 home runs and a .576 slugging percentage, but expect those to go up a bit as the season goes along and he continues to improve his game. I think Cabrera is still getting better with every game and he is already one of the best hitters in the game.
4. Curtis Granderson-OF-New York Yankees
Granderson has had the luxury is hitting for a crazy amount of power so far this season. I watched him play in Chicago a week ago and before the game started, I was watching him throw around and hit in batting practice. There is no way a guy with his build should be hitting 21 home runs to this point in the season. I was blown away. As a midwesterner, I had never seen him in person. He has crazy athletic ability. His numbers against lefties (.267 BA, 9 HR, 22 RBI) are not as much of a cause for concern as they have been in the past, with a .220 career average against lefties. That makes life much easier on Joe Girardi and the Yankees management to keep playing Granderson and watching every day as the freak of nature might just hit another home run.
5. Kevin Youkilis-3B-Boston Red Sox
Youkilis is another Red Sox hitter who gets better when the team needs him, which is what adjusted offense is all about, coming through when you are supposed to. His average with none on sits at a lowly .259, but with RISP and two outs he is hitting .368 in 38 at bats. His career average is .293 and he hasn’t hit below .300 for a full season since 2007, so expect his average of .279 to go up. His WAR has also been higher than four every season since 2007, so expect his 3.2 to go up as well. Youkilis is a veteran who knows how to get the job done, so expect him to keep doing it.
6. Paul Konerko-1B-Chicago White Sox
Konerko is probably the most underrated first baseman in the AL. He is consistently one of the better hitters, but he is so quiet! This season has been one of his more impressive ones so far. He is on pace to set new career highs in both home runs and RBIs, his highs sitting at 41 and 117 back in 2004. People just don’t talk about Konerko much. He should be seriously considered for the All-Star game if he hasn’t gotten voted in yet, as he is having a better season so far than Cabrera. Last season was one of his best overall, and his .326 average and 21 home runs currently show that he should be considered amongst the elite.
7. David Ortiz-DH-Boston Red Sox
Papi is looking like the Papi of old. He is having an extremely productive season for the Red Sox so far, which is just in time for the Red Sox. This is the season that they pushed to win the World Series, and it has been an added bonus that Ortiz has been playing well. He hasn’t held an average over .300 for a season since 2007, so his .312 average is promising as we near the All-Star break. He will most likely receive his seventh All-Star honor this season and the 35-year-old Dominican big man will be looking for another ring before the end of his career.
8. Mark Teixiera-1B-New York Yankees
It’s a good this Tex can hit home runs, because he sure doesn’t hit for a good average the first half of the season. He has always been a notoriously slow started but has shown promise of improvement this season. He is only hitting .244 so far this season, but his 21 home runs have him tied for second in the league. He is another guy I saw in batting practice against the Cubs. I have never seen anyone hit the ball so hard from both sides of the plate. His 1.6 WAR is the lowest he has seen in his game since the first season of his career with the Texas Rangers, but expect that number to rise as the season goes on. He will go on a tear. He always does.
9. Alex Rodriguez-3B-New York Yankees
What did I say about the Red Sox and Yankees earlier? Filling in the sixth spot for those teams in our top 10 is Rodriguez. Ever on the road to redemption in most baseball fans eyes, Rodriguez is trying to shake off the steroid stigma and just get back to playing baseball. The one time future Hall of Famer and home run king, Rodriguez can still reach the 700 homer mark before his career is out, as well as 3,000 hits. He sits at 626 HRs, with 13 this season, so with another 17 to get to 30 (which he can get easily), he will sit just 57 away. His .296 average so far this season looks to get him back close to his .303 career average after struggling for the past few seasons in that category. I will still watch his run to get to 700 and 3,000, regardless of his past history.
10. Victor Martinez-DH-Detroit Tigers
Martinez has done what many believe the new star catchers are going to do in the future, stop catching. Martinez has been one of the most successful DHs in the league this season, hitting for a gaudy .332, the best on the Tigers’ squad. He is helping Cabrera carry the load, driving in 42 runs already this season, but his power numbers are down a bit, just six home runs so far this season. If he keeps swinging his hot bat and making good contact, there’s no doubt he can find that power. He is only 32 this year, so he still has a few good years ahead of him.