BATTERS: Young targets, 2018

Let's continue our identification of the most skilled young players in the game by moving on to hitters.

These bats have been the most skilled young guys in the game so far in 2018:

50+ BPV, Age 28 or Under*

Name                Age  League  Position  bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX   Spd  BPV
==================  ===  ======  ========  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===
Betts, Mookie        25      AL        RF  11%  87%  0.96  200   157   167  109  164
Ramirez, Jose        25      AL     3B/2B  13%  90%  1.47  152   117   103   90  135
Trout, Mike          26      AL        CF  21%  76%  1.10  184   132   162  110  126
Machado, Manny       25      AL     3B/SS  11%  84%  0.81  155   113   118   97  114
Bryant, Kris         26      NL        3B  13%  81%  0.81  156   131   167  109  107
Harper, Bryce        25      NL        RF  20%  77%  1.16  158   133   172   83  104
Albies, Ozzie        21      NL        2B   5%  80%  0.29  161   111   116  127  100
Gregorius, Didi      28      AL        SS  11%  85%  0.84  141   129   132   75   99
Suarez, Eugenio      26      NL        3B  11%  78%  0.59  164   149   128   91   96
Simmons, Andrelton   28      AL        SS  10%  94%  2.00   70   135    74  128   94
Lindor, Francisco    24      AL        SS   9%  80%  0.51  154   132   137   96   90
Kepler, Max          25      AL        RF  12%  84%  0.84  124   145   148   94   89
Baez, Javier         25      NL     2B/SS   3%  76%  0.14  159   111   119  164   89
Bregman, Alex        24      AL     3B/SS  15%  86%  1.28  104   133   145   98   89
Sanchez, Gary        25      AL         C  13%  73%  0.55  189   118   160   50   86
Nimmo, Brandon       25      NL        LF  17%  69%  0.73  144   112   172  180   84
Ohtani, Shohei       23      AL        DH  10%  73%  0.40  172   122   126  104   84
Freeman, Freddie     28      AL        1B  14%  81%  0.91  125   150   153   89   83
Shaw, Travis         28      NL        3B  11%  80%  0.61  150   115   117   63   82
Flores, Wilmer       26      NL     3B/1B  10%  89%  1.09   95   115   112   77   78
Haniger, Mitch       27      AL        RF  11%  76%  0.55  150   126   146  101   78
Camargo, Johan       24      NL     3B/SS  20%  80%  1.29   98   158   139  121   77
Heredia, Guillermo   27      AL        LF  17%  81%  1.23   96   106   118  124   76
Torres, Gleyber      21      AL        2B   8%  75%  0.35  156   116   114  109   76
Hernandez, Teoscar   25      AL        RF   6%  75%  0.27  155   123   166  127   75
Realmuto, Jacob      27      NL         C   7%  82%  0.43  117   128    88  112   72
Benintendi, Andrew   23      AL        LF  13%  80%  0.77  108    74    58  122   72
Contreras, Willson   26      NL         C   8%  81%  0.48  121    97    93  112   71
Candelario, Jeimer   24      AL        3B  11%  74%  0.47  140   105    86  122   69
Panik, Joe           27      NL        2B   6%  93%  1.00   48   112    65  141   68
Rosario, Eddie       26      AL        LF   3%  81%  0.18  135   125   129   97   68
Name                Age  League  Position  bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX   Spd  BPV
==================  ===  ======  ========  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===
Diaz, Aledmys        27      AL        SS   5%  84%  0.38  108   116   113  100   67
Arenado, Nolan       27      NL        3B  13%  75%  0.63  128   124   113  115   67
Judge, Aaron         26      AL        RF  17%  64%  0.59  192   118   123   66   67
Marte, Jefry         27      AL        1B   9%  82%  0.55  109    78    54  100   65
Hicks, Aaron         28      AL        CF  14%  80%  0.80   98   134   119  130   65
Rendon, Anthony      28      NL        3B  12%  83%  0.83   99   123   123   78   63
Villanueva, C        27      NL        3B   7%  69%  0.26  186    88   143   68   63
Herrera, Odubel      26      NL        CF   9%  81%  0.52  108    87    70  113   63
Springer, George     28      AL        CF   8%  80%  0.45  117   111   121  107   63
Profar, Jurickson    25      AL  SS/2B/LF   9%  83%  0.59  106    82    71   88   62
Andujar, Miguel      23      AL        3B   2%  79%  0.09  129   120   101  126   62
Muncy, Max           27      NL        3B  15%  68%  0.56  170   121   200   77   61
Perez, Salvador      28      AL         C   5%  80%  0.29  137   154   158   67   61
Bogaerts, Xander     25      AL        SS   4%  76%  0.19  150   106    89   89   61
Polanco, Gregory     26      NL        RF  13%  73%  0.57  143    92   118   85   61
Schwarber, Kyle      25      NL        LF  17%  71%  0.74  137   108    94   97   60
Pederson, Joc        26      NL        CF  13%  82%  0.85   88   118    98  106   59
Palka, Daniel        26      AL     RF/DH   4%  76%  0.17  138   105   122  111   57
Diaz, Elias          27      NL         C   8%  88%  0.71   69    75    32  104   56
Franco, Maikel       25      NL        3B   6%  84%  0.38   98    88    90   94   56
Hosmer, Eric         28      NL        1B  13%  74%  0.59  133    97    79   82   56
Mazara, Nomar        23      AL        RF   8%  76%  0.36  129   107    73  108   56
Story, Trevor        25      NL        SS  10%  67%  0.34  155   113   172  137   54
Moran, Colin         25      NL        3B  11%  82%  0.71   96   105    92   83   53
Aguilar, Jesus       27      NL        1B   9%  74%  0.40  147   116   135   65   52
Turner, Trea         24      NL        SS  13%  79%  0.72   92   123    94  111   52
Gennett, Scooter     28      NL        2B   6%  78%  0.28  124   122   122   84   51
Renfroe, Hunter      26      NL        RF   7%  68%  0.25  161   131   166  110   50
Heyward, Jason       28      NL        RF  10%  86%  0.87   59   117   118  118   50
Bellinger, Cody      22      NL     1B/LF   8%  74%  0.33  118   110   147  140   50    
*min 50 AB

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Alex Bregman (3B/SS, HOU) is starting to heat up. After posting a mediocre .278 BA, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .778 OPS line in April, his production has soared in May: .303 BA, 4 HR, .990 OPS. And he has done so without sacrificing any of his plate discipline (13% bb%, 88% ct%, 1.33 Eye in May). Now is your final chance to buy low on him.

Mitch Haniger (RF, SEA) has cooled off a bit after his electric start (1.021 OPS in April, .744 OPS in May). On the plus side, his plate skills all have improved this month (12% bb%, 79% ct%, 0.69 Eye). A 5% HR/F has depressed his production. With an elite 150 PX/146 xPX combo, he still has the goods to post a 30-HR breakout in 2018 if he can stay healthy.

Guillermo Heredia (LF, SEA) is in store for steady playing time in the SEA OF due to their recent injuries. So far, Heredia has put up a very intriguing collection of skills, including very strong plate skills (17% bb%, 81% ct%, 1.23 Eye), some underlying power (118 xPX), and speed (124 Spd). His two-year lack of production at the MLB level tempers our optimism, but if you play in a deep league, Heredia is a very good speculation.

Teoscar Hernandez (RF, TOR) is another young bat who has cooled off after a great April. After putting up an elite 1.054 OPS in April, Hernandez has slumped to a .605 OPS so far in May. His batting eye has tanked, too (0.47 Eye in April, 0.14 Eye in May). Nonetheless, his expected power remains good (140 xPX), and his exit velocity readings are some of the best in the game. He remains a good investment in keeper leagues.

Max Kepler (RF, MIN) is on his way to his best season yet. He is controlling home plate better than we've ever seen from him before (12% bb%, 84% ct%, 0.84 Eye). He's producing hard contact at a higher rate than ever (145 HctX). And his underlying power suggests more HR are on the horizon (148 xPX), an assertion further supported by his top-40 barrel rate that has nearly tripled from last season. There's a ton to like here.

Andrelton Simmons (SS, LAA) might not seem like a premium young target, but he's still just 28, and this is shaping up at being his best season yet. His plate discipline has soared from excellent to elite (10% bb%, 94% ct%, 2.00 Eye), making him a near-lock for his first .300 BA season. His 128 Spd puts his first 20+ SB season in the cards too.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Javier Baez (2B/SS, CHC) looked like he was rounding into an all-around hitter in April, when he flashed good plate discipline along with elite power and speed. He hasn't drawn a walk since then, and his production has suffered (1.033 OPS in April, .720 OPS in May). Still, Baez is hitting righties better than he ever has before (.909 OPS, 171 PX vR). He also is being given the green light to run on the basepaths more than before (25% SBO%), which is putting him on pace for a 30-HR, 20-SB breakout if his plate skills can sustain some of the growth they flashed early in the season.

Johan Camargo (3B/SS, ATL) likely will be pushed at 3B soon by emerging top prospect Austin Riley (3B, ATL). That said, Camargo has showed some glimmers of promise beneath his ugly .214 BA and marginal .768 OPS. He is controlling home plate very well (20% bb%, 80% ct%, 1.29 Eye), he is making tons of hard contact (158 HctX), his expected power is excellent (139 xPX), and his speed has been better than you would think (121 Spd). If he can rediscover the stroke he showed against lefties last season (1.129 OPS vL), his underlying growth would be more obvious, as he has managed just a .432 OPS vL so far in 2018.

Elias Diaz (C, PIT) is another young bat that has shown some hidden growth early in 2018. His plate discipline has been very strong in his backup role (8% bb%, 88% ct%, 0.71 Eye). He's not hitting the ball with any authority (69 PX, 32 xPX), which caps his upside. But he's a second catcher that won't hurt you and still has room for more growth.

Wilmer Flores (3B/1B, NYM) finally is starting to receive some regular AB this month, which has enabled him to be a productive player (.816 OPS in May). He has increased his production while maintaining very strong plate discipline too (10% bb%, 88% ct%, 1.00 Eye in May). After feasting on lefties the last three seasons, he has struggled against them in 2018 (.499 OPS vL). Continued steady playing time should help him improve that split. And he has never hit RHers better than he is doing now (.905 OPS, 137 PX vR). At age 26, Flores remains a good investment.

Max Muncy (3B, LA) also is starting to hit the ball with authority after getting some regular playing time. He has a .914 OPS in May along with good patience at the plate (18% bb%, 0.85 Eye). And his 170 PX comes with full backing from his 195 xPX. It remains to be seen if his newfound thump against righties will stick (.572 OPS vR in '16, .883 OPS vR in '18), but he's worthy of speculation in deep leagues in the meantime.

Brandon Nimmo (LF, NYM) has been another beneficiary of the injuries to the NYM lineup. He has produced a .953 OPS in semi-regular work so far in May along with a bunch of walks (20% bb%, 0.81 Eye). His underlying power (161 xPX) and speed (146 Spd) skills this month hint at his multi-category potential. He's a young bat worthy of speculation again.

Joc Pederson (CF, LA) is showing signs that he could rebound from a tough 2017 season. While his production really hasn't improved much (.738 OPS in '17, .747 OPS in '18), he is cutting his strikeout rate for the fourth straight season (61%, 65%, 68%, 75%, 82% ct%) while also drawing walks at a high rate (13% bb%). He's just not barreling the ball at a high rate, which is keeping his power dormant. Still, Pederson has some post-hype profit potential at age 26.

Gregory Polanco (RF, PIT) is in his fifth MLB season at age 26. On the surface, his production baseline hasn't changed much this season (.771 OPS). But he's hitting more flyballs than ever (32/15/54 G/L/F), which has helped to give him the best underlying power skills we've ever seen from him (118 xPX). His batting eye (0.57 Eye) has never been better either. He's also barreling balls at more than twice the rate that he did in 2017. He remains a great investment in keeper leagues.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN) is showing more growth in 2018 than you might realize. His production has skyrocketed (.924 OPS) and he is making more contact than ever (78% ct%). His exit velocity has soared by more than 5 mph, and he's another batter whose barrel rate has nearly doubled from last season. Just keep in mind that most of his thump has come against lefties (1.531 OPS, 321 PX vL), so you might consider sitting him against tough righties.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.