The five-tool players on each team stand out.
They can run and have powerful swings. They have strong arms and can play good defense. But more than anything, they can all hit. So it’s no surprise that everyone from scouts to coaches to front office executives covet the hit tool. Put simply, hitters hit, and it does not matter which pitcher they are facing.
Sometimes, these hitters are born, and sometimes, they are made through hard work. Sometimes, it is a combination. They are always valuable.
These are the players with the best hit tool in the American League West.
Angels: Mike Trout
It's hard to find a better hit tool than Trout's, as he not only hits for power but also for average and has improved his strikeout rate in recent seasons. Trout is a career .305/.419/.581 hitter and has won seven AL Silver Slugger Awards and three AL MVP Awards. New Halos addition Anthony Rendon also has a solid case and hit .319 last year with the Nationals, but it's tough to top Trout, who is almost universally regarded as the best player in the game. With his tools, Trout can do just about anything, but his consistency at the plate is remarkable. -- Rhett Bollinger
Astros: José Altuve
No one in the Major Leagues has more hits than Altuve's 1,568 since he made his Major League debut in July 2011. He posted four consecutive 200-hit seasons from '14-17 -- the Astros only had one in their history prior -- and won AL batting titles in '14, '16 and '17. It was in that last season when Altuve hit .346 with 24 homers and 81 RBIs to win the AL MVP Award.
Altuve’s bat-to-ball skills are unparalleled. He’s struck out only 623 times in 5,458 career plate appearances. There’s not one way to pitch Altuve because of his plate coverage, and he’s fast enough to beat out infield hits with defenders playing back and on their heels. -- Brian McTaggart
Athletics: Marcus Semien
There was no tougher out on the A’s last season than Semien. While other hitters in the lineup were prone to slumps at times, Semien remained consistent as he set a career high with 187 hits, fifth highest in the American League. No matter what the outcome of an at-bat, Semien knew how to make the opposing pitcher work. In a campaign where Semien's contributions from the leadoff spot approached levels that hadn’t been seen in Oakland since Rickey Henderson, manager Bob Melvin couldn’t help but think of a future Hall of Famer he once managed when describing the type of impact Semien made.
“I don’t remember a leadoff hitter being that impactful in as many different areas over the course of a season,” Melvin said in October. “I had Ichiro [Suzuki] quite a while ago when he set the hit record. That’s the only thing I can compare it to.” -- Martin Gallegos
Mariners: Evan White
There’s a reason the Mariners gave White a guaranteed six-year, $24 million contract -- one that could extend to nine years and $55.5 million -- before he even reached the Majors. In addition to being an outstanding defender, the 23-year-old first baseman has excellent bat-to-ball skills, the ability to drive the ball to all fields and emerging power as he continues filling out his 6-foot-3 frame. White was projected to be Seattle’s starting first baseman this year as a rookie, and that figures to hold true whenever play resumes.
White is a bit of a rarity as he throws left-handed but bats right. He was a consistent line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter when drafted in the first round out of Kentucky in 2017, then he began adding more power to his repertoire when he lowered his hands and made some swing adjustments in '18. He posted a .293/.350/.488 line with 18 homers and 55 RBIs in 92 games last year in a fairly tough hitting environment at Double-A Arkansas and was having a strong Cactus League showing before Spring Training shut down last month. -- Greg Johns
Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo
Choo will be 38 on July 13 but is still the best pure hitter on the Rangers. He doesn’t have tremendous power or speed but gives the Rangers a combination of both, plus the ability to get on base and hit anywhere in the batting order. Over the past three seasons, he is hitting .263/.368/.437. In the AL over that span, Choo ranks ninth in OBP and his .323 batting average on balls in play is 17th best. His 23 first-inning home runs from the leadoff spot over the past six seasons is the second most in Rangers history, behind Ian Kinsler. No other Rangers player has the complete offensive skillset Choo possesses, even at this point of his career. -- T.R. Sullivan