Young targets, 2024 mid-season

Let's continue our mid-season look at the most skilled young players in the game by moving on to hitters.

These bats age 26 and under have posted the highest levels of production so far in 2024 (min 50 PA):

NameLgTmAgebb%ct%Eye EV LA Brl%OPS
Royce LewisALMIN2510%82%0.60 88.1 15.1 15.9%1.054
Juan SotoALNYY2519%79%1.15 94.4 9.3 18.7%1.005
Gunnar HendersonALBAL2313%74%0.55 94.0 10.1 13.3%1.000
Steven KwanALCLE268%92%1.11 86.2 13.9 1.9%.969
Spencer HorwitzALTOR2617%85%1.38 88.3 15.2 11.4%.950
Mark VientosNLNYM249%75%0.38 90.2 7.0 15.5%.933
Kerry CarpenterALDET267%74%0.29 88.6 17.1 16.2%.914
Bobby Witt Jr.ALKC247%81%0.43 92.6 14.9 14.6%.884
Francisco AlvarezNLNYM2210%78%0.52 90.8 8.9 7.4%.876
Triston CasasALBOS2413%67%0.46 89.9 10.6 11.5%.857
Heliot RamosNLSF2411%69%0.39 92.3 7.9 16.4%.857
CJ AbramsNLWAS237%79%0.34 89.3 15.7 7.1%.853
Jordan WestburgALBAL256%76%0.25 91.8 13.4 10.7%.849
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.ALTOR2511%82%0.66 94.5 5.6 13.7%.844
Michael MasseyALKC263%82%0.14 88.2 15.1 7.0%.843
NameLgTmAgebb%ct%Eye EV LA Brl%OPS
Riley GreeneALDET2313%70%0.48 91.0 10.7 13.3%.841
Joey OrtizNLMIL2514%81%0.85 87.8 10.8 6.4%.835
Josh SmithALTEX269%78%0.48 87.0 16.5 3.0%.834
Adley RutschmanALBAL268%80%0.45 89.5 17.5 8.9%.831
Eguy RosarioNLSD244%62%0.10 89.5 13.3 15.2%.829
Jose MirandaALMIN266%84%0.38 89.8 15.8 8.0%.824
Fernando Tatis Jr.NLSD259%77%0.42 93.2 11.0 13.9%.821
Elly De La CruzNLCIN2211%65%0.35 91.5 10.1 12.4%.820
Michael BuschNLCHC2613%61%0.38 88.7 18.3 12.2%.809
Isaac ParedesALTAM2510%81%0.58 84.7 23.7 4.3%.804
Kyle McCannALOAK2613%63%0.41 88.1 11.2 16.0%.804
Logan O'HoppeALLAA246%72%0.24 90.7 14.1 11.2%.802

This group of young bats is hitting the ball the hardest:

NameLgTmAgebb%ct%Eye OPSEV LA Brl%
Oneil CruzNLPIT257%65%0.21 .70395.1 11.9 17.2%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.ALTOR2511%82%0.66 .84494.5 5.6 13.7%
Juan SotoALNYY2519%79%1.15 1.00594.4 9.3 18.7%
Gunnar HendersonALBAL2313%74%0.55 1.00094.0 10.1 13.3%
Jesús SánchezNLMIA266%74%0.25 .65193.8 9.3 12.1%
Jonathan ArandaALTAM2610%70%0.36 .60893.7 4.4 18.2%
Tyler SoderstromALOAK2210%67%0.35 .76393.4 11.8 16.3%
Fernando Tatis Jr.NLSD259%77%0.42 .82193.2 11.0 13.9%
Cristian PacheNLPHI2514%57%0.37 .55893.0 8.9 4.2%
Bobby Witt Jr.ALKC247%81%0.43 .88492.6 14.9 14.6%
William ContrerasNLMIL268%79%0.44 .79192.6 5.3 8.8%
Akil BaddooALDET2515%64%0.50 .56392.4 18.8 13.8%
Brandon MarshNLPHI2612%65%0.37 .76592.3 11.9 8.3%
Heliot RamosNLSF2411%69%0.39 .85792.3 7.9 16.4%
Ronald Acuña Jr.NLATL2612%72%0.51 .71692.2 8.5 9.4%
NameLgTmAgebb%ct%Eye OPSEV LA Brl%
Lars NootbaarNLSTL2613%76%0.65 .74292.1 4.6 9.3%
Patrick BaileyNLSF2511%78%0.55 .77591.9 11.9 4.6%
Jordan WestburgALBAL256%76%0.25 .84991.8 13.4 10.7%
Jordan WalkerNLSTL229%69%0.33 .49791.7 12.8 11.9%
Colton CowserALBAL249%67%0.32 .76491.6 13.4 16.0%
Elly De La CruzNLCIN2211%65%0.35 .82091.5 10.1 12.4%
Michael TogliaNLCOL255%63%0.16 .68291.5 15.8 15.2%
Vinnie PasquantinoALKC2610%84%0.71 .74891.4 17.0 7.6%
Lawrence ButlerALOAK2310%65%0.33 .52291.3 12.3 6.9%
Alex KirilloffALMIN269%70%0.32 .65391.3 13.2 11.3%
Julio RodríguezALSEA236%71%0.23 .62891.2 7.1 8.5%
Shea LangeliersALOAK266%70%0.22 .69091.2 14.7 16.4%
MJ MelendezALKC258%71%0.29 .60291.1 14.4 9.8%
Maikel GarcíaALKC247%82%0.42 .62891.0 7.7 4.6%
Riley GreeneALDET2313%70%0.48 .84191.0 10.7 13.3%
NameLgTmAgebb%ct%Eye OPSEV LA Brl%
Francisco AlvarezNLNYM2210%78%0.52 .87690.8 8.9 7.4%
Logan O'HoppeALLAA246%72%0.24 .80290.7 14.1 11.2%
Andrew VaughnALCHW266%76%0.25 .67890.7 16.4 8.4%
Luis Robert Jr.ALCHW2610%62%0.29 .78990.5 13.9 18.8%
Alejandro KirkALTOR2511%83%0.73 .58790.5 13.0 5.3%
Yainer DiazALHOU254%85%0.28 .71690.4 8.6 6.8%
Alec BurlesonNLSTL254%85%0.28 .76790.3 16.3 7.1%
Mark VientosNLNYM249%75%0.38 .93390.2 7.0 15.5%
Wilyer AbreuALBOS2510%71%0.36 .79990.1 18.4 10.4%
Leody TaverasALTEX259%79%0.47 .61790.1 13.6 5.3%
Enmanuel ValdezALBOS258%73%0.33 .68290.0 19.4 11.5%
Dominic CanzoneALSEA2610%66%0.31 .71590.0 9.7 11.0%

Finally, these young hitters are making the most contact:

NameLgTmAgeOPSEV LA Brl%bb%ct%Eye 
Steven KwanALCLE26.96986.2 13.9 1.9%8%92%1.11 
Jung Hoo LeeNLSF25.64189.1 9.2 4.5%6%91%0.77 
Luis MatosNLSF22.64686.6 15.1 3.0%3%90%0.36 
Will BrennanALCLE26.73087.5 12.9 7.2%7%87%0.59 
Keibert RuizNLWAS25.53885.5 20.6 2.2%4%86%0.28 
Luis CampusanoNLSD25.65387.0 8.5 4.0%6%86%0.48 
Yainer DiazALHOU25.71690.4 8.6 6.8%4%85%0.28 
Alec BurlesonNLSTL25.76790.3 16.3 7.1%4%85%0.28 
Andrés GiménezALCLE25.65285.8 7.7 3.9%5%85%0.33 
Spencer HorwitzALTOR26.95088.3 15.2 11.4%17%85%1.38 
Jose MirandaALMIN26.82489.8 15.8 8.0%6%84%0.38 
Braden ShewmakeALCHW26.33786.5 14.3 3.6%2%84%0.10 
Vinnie PasquantinoALKC26.74891.4 17.0 7.6%10%84%0.71 
Geraldo PerdomoNLARI24.64285.4 13.5 0.0%7%84%0.45 
Alejandro KirkALTOR25.58790.5 13.0 5.3%11%83%0.73 
NameLgTmAgeOPSEV LA Brl%bb%ct%Eye 
Jackson MerrillNLSD21.77889.7 11.6 8.8%5%83%0.29 
Otto LopezNLMIA25.64488.5 5.4 5.9%4%83%0.22 
Luis García Jr.NLWAS24.69588.3 7.6 7.9%4%83%0.27 
Gabriel MorenoNLARI24.65989.1 10.3 5.0%11%83%0.70 
Trey LipscombNLWAS24.58284.9 0.2 1.0%9%82%0.52 
Tyler FreemanALCLE25.63387.9 13.3 4.3%8%82%0.50 
Jeremy PeñaALHOU26.70788.8 8.8 3.5%5%82%0.29 
Royce LewisALMIN251.05488.1 15.1 15.9%10%82%0.60 
Johan RojasNLPHI23.57184.5 6.4 3.2%4%82%0.24 
Michael MasseyALKC26.84388.2 15.1 7.0%3%82%0.14 
Maikel GarcíaALKC24.62891.0 7.7 4.6%7%82%0.42 
Bo BichetteALTOR26.62189.9 7.5 4.4%6%82%0.36 
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.ALTOR25.84494.5 5.6 13.7%11%82%0.66 
Bryson StottNLPHI26.70086.4 14.0 3.8%12%81%0.77 
Nick LoftinALKC25.58984.1 11.6 3.3%14%81%0.85 
NameLgTmAgeOPSEV LA Brl%bb%ct%Eye 
Bobby Witt Jr.ALKC24.88492.6 14.9 14.6%7%81%0.43 
Colt KeithALDET22.59587.8 12.8 6.5%5%81%0.30 
Isaac ParedesALTAM25.80484.7 23.7 4.3%10%81%0.58 
Joey OrtizNLMIL25.83587.8 10.8 6.4%14%81%0.85 
Brice TurangNLMIL24.76088.7 6.5 3.0%9%81%0.51 
Nolan SchanuelALLAA22.65685.9 7.2 3.6%9%81%0.52 
Adley RutschmanALBAL26.83189.5 17.5 8.9%8%80%0.45 
Corbin CarrollNLARI23.61587.6 11.0 4.1%11%80%0.59 
Vidal BrujánNLMIA26.64886.0 8.0 1.8%7%80%0.38 
Sal FrelickNLMIL24.67784.8 6.8 1.5%9%80%0.47 

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of highly skilled pre-peak performers.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE


Lawrence Butler (RF, OAK) is fighting to carve out a regular role in the young OAK lineup. While his production has been poor in his limited opportunities (.522 OPS), his 91.3 mph EV and 12.3 LA suggest it could be due for a surge. His .247 BABIP is almost 40 points below the average BABIP of batters aged 26 and under. He could have some value in deep leagues in the second half.


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Gunnar Henderson (SS, BAL) is on track for a 40-HR breakout season due to elite exit velocity (94.0 mph EV) and an additional few points of overall contact from last season (74% ct%). Even more remarkable has been his pitch recognition. His subpar 26.5% Chase Rate from 2023 has turned into a good 20.9% Chase Rate this season. He has cemented himself as a cornerstone bat.

Spencer Horwitz (2B/1B, TOR) has quietly produced some good value when given the chance (.327 BA, .797 OPS in 66 PA). He has paired elite plate skills (17% bb%, 85% ct%, 1.38 Eye) with a good loft in his swing (15.2 LA), creating some extra-base output. Improving his so-so 88.3 mph EV would allow him to sustain his production surges.

Royce Lewis (3B/DH, MIN) has been the most productive young batter in the game in 2024 (1.054 OPS in 93 PA) due to his ability to find the barrel of the bat (15.9% Brl%) and make frequent contact (82% ct%). There's still more upside here too, since his average exit velocity in 2024 (88.1 mph EV) is two points below the levels he showed in 2022 and 2023.

Tyler Soderstrom (1B, OAK) has taken a bigger step forward in 2024 than you might realize. Underneath his low .225 BA and modest 7 HR and 18 RBI in 137 PA has been firmly elite batted ball quality: 93.4 mph EV, 11.8 LA, 16.3% Brl%. That elite production foundation has emerged without any erosion in contact from 2023 (65% ct%) to 2024 (67% ct%). He could be primed for a big second half.

Jordan Westburg (2B/3B, BAL) sometimes gets lost among all of the young talent in the BAL lineup, but he has been no slouch halfway through 2024 (.285 BA, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 6 SB in 316 PA). Those numbers have been backed by upper-tier batted ball characteristics (91.8 mph EV, 13.4 LA, 10.7% Brl%) and an above-average level of overall contact (76% ct%). Finding the same stroke against southpaws that he showed in 2023 (.284 BA, .786 OPS vL) would allow him to make further gains.

Bobby Witt Jr. (SS, KC) has increased his batting average significantly over his first three seasons in the majors: .254, .276, .307 BA. Credit a two-point bump in average exit velocity for the latest increase (90.7 to 92.6 mph EV). That jump also enabled him to increase his barrel rate again in 2024 (8.7%, 11.5%, 14.6% Brl%). He has duplicated his 80%+ ct% in the process.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE


Alec Burleson (RF/DH, STL) has looked like an impact bat during the past month (.259 BA, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 3 SB in 117 PA). His growth comes from pairing his high-contact approach (85% ct%) with another big uptick in launch angle (16.3 LA). That higher swing plane has allowed him to unlock more power when paired with his high level of hard contact (90.3 mph EV).

CJ Abrams (SS, WAS) is another young bat whose launch angle is steadily climbing upward (6.8, 13.5, 15.7 LA). In addition, his level of hard contact has surged over the same period (86.5, 87.4, 89.3 mph EV). That growth has come without any erosion in his bat-to-ball acumen (79% ct%). He hasn't reached his ceiling yet.

Elly De La Cruz (SS, CIN) continues to battle peaks and troughs due to his high strikeout volume (64% ct%). Still, that mark has improved over the past month (66% ct%). More importantly, De La Cruz has nearly tripled his launch angle from 2023 (3.6 LA) to 2024 (10.1 LA), which has allowed his barrel rate to jump by 50% (8.5% to 12.4% Brl%). He also has shaved nearly eight points from his Chase Rate (32.8% to 25.0%), which has helped him add two points to his walk rate (9% to 11%). He's trending towards a consensus top-5 pick in 2025 drafts.

Luis Matos (CF, SF) is a young bat (age 22) who does not own noteworthy stats (.243 BA, .645 OPS in 116 PA). But, digging deeper, Matos has the third-highest contact rate (90% ct%) among bats aged 26 and under. He is also trying to unlock his raw power by nearly tripling his launch angle from 2023 (6.3 LA) to 2024 (15.1 LA). Hitting the ball harder on average (86.6 mph EV) would allow him to take a big step forward.

Heliot Ramos (CF, SF) owns some solid batted ball characteristics, including an elite level of hard contact (92.3 mph EV) and barrels (16.4% Brl%). Finding more of an uppercut in his swing (7.9 LA) would allow him to become a more consistent power source. At age 24, he's an undervalued investment among young bats.

Mark Vientos (3B, NYM) also is an up-arrow young bat. He hits the ball hard (90.2 mph EV) and finds the barrel (15.5% Brl%). He still hits too many ground balls (55% GB%, 7.0 LA). Finding more loft in his swing would allow him to unlock his 30-HR upside, especially given his near 10-point jump in contact rate from 2023 (66% ct%) to 2024 (75% ct%).

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