Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Top-5 Hitters in the American League

Mike Trout has had a lot to smile about in his young career, establishing himself as one of baseball's most feared players at the plate and on the base paths.
By Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam)

If you look at the 2014 American League, you'll find a ton of power. There are 14 MLB position players with 20 home runs this season, and 10 of them come from the junior circuit.

Of those 10, two of them – Mike Trout and Jose Abreu – are detailed in these rankings. In addition, Adam Jones, who makes it in as No. 5 in these rankings, is one of four players to slug exactly 19 home runs on the season. So, without further ado, here are my current top five hitters in the AL:

1. Mike Trout

The right-handed centerfielder who turns 23 years old on August 7 is the one active player that most people would pick to start an MLB franchise. In the first two full seasons of what should be his Hall of Fame career, he amassed two All-Star Game selections, two Silver Sluggers awards and an AL Rookie of the Year award.

Now in 2014, Trout has the highest WAR, number of total bases, number of extra-base hits and stolen base percentage in baseball this season. In fact, he is also on pace for the best stolen base percentage in MLB history. This also looks to be the first season that Trout tastes the postseason with the Los Angeles Angels.

2. Jose Altuve

Earlier in July, he participated in his second All-Star Game. The main reason that the second baseman represented the Houston Astros in the 2014 Midsummer Classic was his propensity to successfully put the baseball in play. His 139 hits are by far the most in either league this season. Altuve has also been one of the best men on the base paths this year with an AL-high 41 stolen bases.

3. Adrian Beltre

Although Beltre is on the worst team in the league, he has sure been the bright spot in the lineup this season for the Texas Rangers. He may not be approaching his career-high 48 home runs this year, but he has been arguably the best hitting third baseman in 2014. He leads all third basemen in slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging this year.

4. Jose Abreu

The MLB’s leader in home runs makes it as fourth on this list. The Cuban rookie and his 29 bombs unfortunately do not have the Chicago White Sox in the postseason race, but he did hit his first 25 career home runs faster than any player in MLB history. In addition, his slugging percentage leads all of baseball, as he looks to dethrone Miguel Cabrera, who led the AL in this category the past two seasons.

5. Adam Jones

Jones made it three consecutive All-Star Games and four for his career earlier this season. With his 121 hits and 201 total bases on the season, he ranks in the top four in the AL in both these categories. He also has an offensive WAR in the top 10 in the AL this season, as he is hoping to lead the Baltimore Orioles to their first divisional title since 1997.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Brantley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Miguel Cabrera

Michael Brantley received his first All-Star Game nod in 2014, and is on pace for a new single-season career-high in OPS. Impressively, his 15 home runs are already his most in an MLB season.

In his first year in pinstripes, Jacoby Ellsbury is duplicating his slash line from his previous season, when he was voted 15th in the AL MVP race. Although he been caught stealing more in 2014, he is providing more power at Yankee Stadium than he did at Fenway Park last year.

Miguel Cabrera finally hit his first home run of July on Wednesday, but the two-time defending AL MVP still has an MLB-best 80 runs batted in almost two-thirds through the regular season.

For more MLB coverage, follow Adam Lowenstein on Twitter at @StatsAdam.

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