Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Top-5 Hitters in the National League

Andrew McCutchen ended Pittsburgh's 21-year playoff drought and earned the NL MVP in 2013.
By Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam)

I talked a lot about power when ranking the best hitters in the American League, but the National League is more about all-around players. Most of the best power-speed combination players come from the senior circuit this season. You can find many of those players in the following rankings of the best NL hitters:

1. Andrew McCutchen

The 2013 National League Most Valuable Player tops the rankings, as he hopes to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to the postseason for the second straight year. Earlier in July, he made his fourth consecutive All-Star Game appearance and is on his way to his third straight Silver Slugger award.

He has been on base an MLB-best 191 times this year. McCutchen’s offensive WAR is the best in NL in 2014, and the only player in baseball to create more runs than him this season is Mike Trout.

2. Paul Goldschmidt

In just his fourth season in the majors, Goldschmidt is among baseball's best players. After finishing second in the NL MVP voting in 2013, he is leading the NL in total bases, doubles and extra-base hits this season. Although his Diamondbacks are on pace to miss the postseason for the third straight year, Goldschmidt continues to produce.

3. Anthony Rizzo

The next hitter in the rankings also comes from a team that will miss the postseason this year. The NL leader in home runs is the All-Star first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. Rizzo has slugged 25 home runs this season and is in the top 10 in the NL in most offensive categories.

4. Giancarlo Stanton

There is a reason why Stanton has been intentionally walked more than any other NL player this season. The two-time All-Star is among the league’s best in WAR, on-base plus slugging, home runs, runs batted in and extra-base hits.

The Miami Marlins have not made the postseason since 2003 (when they were the Florida Marlins and won the World Series), but Stanton was a big reason for their season-long six-game winning streak this month.

5. Troy Tulowitzki

Although Tulowitzki, or should I say Tulowizki, has tremendous numbers this season, his perennial disabled list stint prevented him from being closer to the top of these rankings. He owns the NL’s best WAR and the MLB’s best OPS in 2014, but once again cannot stay on the field.

It does not seem likely that Tulowitzki recovers quickly from his leg injury, but if he does, he could spring to No. 1 or 2, as he still has the fewest at bats per home run in the NL this season.

Honorable Mentions: Charlie Blackmon, Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins

In just his fourth MLB year and what will most likely be his first full season, Charlie Blackmon has provided the Colorado Rockies with his career-bests in almost every offensive category in 2014. Although the Rockies own the NL’s worst record, Blackmon’s power and speed look to be important parts of the team’s future.

Jayson Werth is one of the main reasons that the Washington Nationals are holding onto a lead in the NL East. His strong ability to get on base is very important for the team moving forward.

The Philadelphia Phillies may be one of the worst teams in the league, but Jimmy Rollins has been terrific recently. In July, he led all shortstops in home runs and stolen bases.

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

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