A familiar face ascends Hitter Power Rankings

How far did Trout climb in our second poll of the season?

April 18th, 2024

Our first Hitter Power Rankings of the new year were compiled during the first full week of the season, so there wasn’t much in the way of 2024 stats to go on for our voters.

While it’s still extremely early in the context of a 162-game schedule, the situation is a bit different this time around. The top players on the Dodgers and Padres -- who got a jump on the season in the Seoul Series -- are nearing 100 plate appearances. And entering Wednesday, more than 100 players had come to the plate at least 70 times.

That gave our MLB.com panel more in the way of recent performance on which to base their votes, although track record, talent and a dash of “It” factor still play a role in these picks. Here is the latest edition of the Hitter Power Rankings.

(All stats are through Tuesday’s games unless otherwise noted.)

1. , Dodgers (Last poll: 1)
Who else? After notching his third career five-hit game on Tuesday night, Betts was leading the Majors with a .388 average, 31 hits, 56 total bases and 22 runs scored. He also led the NL with both a 1.190 OPS and 223 OPS+. And let’s not forget that he’s doing all this while serving as a primary shortstop for the first time in his professional career. There is nobody quite like Mookie.

2. , Yankees (2)
It’s always nice when a team makes a major acquisition and gets exactly what it wanted. Soto has been that guy so far in the Bronx. The 25-year-old hasn’t fully tapped into his power swing yet, but he’s batting .324 with a .447 OBP and more walks than strikeouts while putting himself on track to lead the Majors in free passes for the fourth year in a row.

3. , Angels (10)
Our voters were a little tentative to embrace Trout in our first poll of the season, and it’s understandable. There have been so many injuries in recent years, and for the first time in 2023, Trout’s production when he was in the lineup slipped noticeably. It’s too early to say that’s all in the past now, but the Trout of old has reappeared early in 2024. After homering on Wednesday, he’s tied for the Major League lead with eight home runs and needs 24 more to reach the 400 mark.

4. , Dodgers (7)
It’s going to be tough for Ohtani to win his third MVP Award in four years as a full-time DH -- not to mention while sharing a lineup with Mookie -- but he’s giving it his best shot so far. Ohtani is batting .341, slugging .634 and leads the Majors with 10 doubles. His .470 expected wOBA (based on quality of contact, strikeouts and walks) is actually 43 points higher than what he produced in 2023.

5. , Royals (3)
It’s been a thrill to watch Witt’s progression as a hitter. In 2022, he kept his head above water as a 22-year-old rookie with only 161 Minor League games under his belt. In 2023, he broke out to become a star. And so far in 2024, it looks like he is making another leap to become one of the game’s elite players. Witt ranks in the top three in the Majors in WAR (per both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs) while slashing .314/.368/.657 with six doubles, three triples and four homers. He ranks in the 100th percentile in hard-hit rate and barrel rate, but also the 99th percentile in sprint speed.

6. , Astros (not ranked)
You can never count out Altuve, who remains a force with the bat even as he nears his 34th birthday on May 6. Since returning to the lineup from an early-season hamstring injury on May 2, 2022, Altuve is batting .316/.399/.552 in more than 1,000 plate appearances. His 170 wRC+ in that span ranks third among qualifiers, behind only Aaron Judge and teammate Yordan Alvarez.

7. , Astros (not ranked)
Speaking of Alvarez, he is raking pretty much as usual, even though things haven’t really broken his way yet. The 26-year-old ranks in the 97th percentile or higher in expected batting average, slugging and wOBA, but some bad luck has stuck him with some of the largest gaps between his expected and actual production. If Alvarez keeps swinging the bat the way he has, expect his results to catch up soon enough.

8. , Braves (not ranked)
Ronald Acuña Jr. is off to a slow start, but the Braves’ offensive juggernaut keeps rolling. That’s thanks in part to Ozuna, who is leading the NL in slugging (.727) and the Majors in RBIs (22). After a monster 2020 campaign, Ozuna struggled to a .211/.271/.381 line from 2021 through April of last year. Since then, though, he’s at .305/.372/.618 with 45 homers in 142 games.

9. , Padres (6)
While Tatis won a Gold Glove Award after moving to right field last season, his bat didn’t come all the way back after he missed all of 2022 to injury and a suspension. Well, now it looks back. Tatis’ 152 OPS+ is pretty close to his 160 mark from 2019-21, and he leads a Padres offense that is thriving even after the Soto trade.

10. , Brewers (not ranked)
The Brewers inserting themselves into the Sean Murphy trade between the Braves and A’s in 2022 and ending up with Contreras may go down as an all-time steal. Willson’s younger brother is making quite a name for himself in Milwaukee, earning NL MVP votes in 2023 and starting ’24 by slashing .375/.461/.625 with a 64.0% hard-hit rate that trails only Witt.

Others receiving votes: Pete Alonso (Mets), Tyler O’Neill (Red Sox), Christian Yelich (Brewers), Spencer Steer (Reds), Michael Busch (Cubs), Josh Naylor (Guardians), Adolis García (Rangers), Kyle Tucker (Astros), Anthony Volpe (Yankees), Corey Seager (Rangers), Taylor Ward (Angels)

Voters: David Adler, Scott Chiusano, Doug Gausepohl, Thomas Harrigan, Bryan Horowitz, Brent Maguire, Whitney McIntosh, Ricardo Montes de Oca, Arturo Pardavila, Manny Randhawa, Andrew Simon, Zac Vierra