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Scouting the Stat Line – The Best Minor League Hitters of the Past Decade

The Dynasty Guru updates its peak performance leaderboards weekly. View the latest update here, updated as of 8/23/2019.

As a reminder, the wOBA metric is designed to be a single variable that can inform how good a player’s overall hitting/plate approach quality is.  Our wOBA calculations are meant to help you conclude who the best hitters in the minor leagues are.  Over the course of the year, we have applied these calculations to current minor leaguers to create a leaderboard of the best minor league hitters.  Our hope is that this leaderboard can be used by you and dynasty players everywhere to find diamonds in the rough or players to target in your dynasty leagues, so that you can dominate your leagues for years to come.

For this edition of “Scouting the Stat Line”, we thought it would be interesting to look at how the projected peak wOBA calculations also apply to past minor leaguers.

For this exercise, we applied peak wOBA calculations to every player that played minor league baseball over the past 10 years.  Applying our calculations to past performers reveals two useful bits of insight for your player analysis:

  1. Since we know how good many of these players have become as Major Leaguers, this exercise helps validate how accurately our calculations can predict future performances.
  2. These results can be used as a semi-comparative measure for current minor leaguers, giving us a possible glimpse of how good of a hitter your top prospects may turn out to be.

There are a couple notable caveats to our exercise that I would be remiss not to mention before I share the results.

First, Major League Baseball (including the minor leagues) is constantly evolving, meaning that conditions of leagues and ballparks change, and that hitting and pitching regularly follow new trends.  Our current wOBA projections include past data, but they are weighted towards 2018 conditions.  Some of these conditions may have altered slightly over the past 10 years, so we would anticipate there being slight variance with our results than what they would look like if they were weighted towards each season’s related and unique set of data (for example, if 2015 conditions data was applied to minor leaguers playing in 2015).

As an aside, we recently began using Jordan Rosenblum’s newly released 2019 conditions in our latest leaderboard update (8/23/2019).  In testing these results, we have found that Triple-A and the lowest levels of the minor leagues are most impacted by new conditions.  In Triple-A, this can likely be attributed to the “juiced ball” or hitting-friendly conditions of 2019. 

Second, in general we have found that players in the low minors often perform well on our leaderboards (as mentioned above, our new model may help rectify some of these results).  While this can be a strength in helping you identify top talent before others, there is a much higher degree of risk associated with these players. If you have been following the leaderboard, you may have noticed that these players often move quickly up and/or down the leaderboards.  In general, my personal approach to speculating on talent from the low minors is to assume a higher degree of bust and anticipate a larger amount of turnover.  In leagues where you cannot add or drop minor leaguers and can only acquire them via draft or trade, it is probably a better idea to focus on talent closer to the Major Leagues (Single-A, at least, or above).

While poring over our findings, we noticed that some of this year’s low minors talents made it on our list of the top 101 performers from the past 10 years of minor league performances.  However, the top performers from 2010-2018 was made up with players that had seen more than a full season of plate appearances in the minor leagues and have worked their way up through multiple levels.  What we found while looking at the results is that the reliability increases significantly after a player has seen over 500 plate appearances and played at levels above rookie levels.  For the sake of accuracy, we have filtered out players with less than 500 career minor league plate appearances.  At the bottom of the article, we highlight these players along with where they would have ranked for those dynasty owners who are looking for more speculative options.

Without further ado, below is our list of the top minor league hitters from the past 10 years!

The Top 101 Minor League Hitters of the Past 10 Years

*Denotes Current Minor Leaguer
Rank Name MiLB Career PA wOBA
1 Juan Soto 512 0.467
2 Mike Trout 1,121 0.444
3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1,262 0.437
4 Kris Bryant 792 0.437
5 Bryce Harper 569 0.431
6 Kyle Schwarber 665 0.429
7 Wander Franco* 718 0.423
8 Anthony Rizzo 1,914 0.417
9 Eric Hosmer 1,164 0.412
10 Buster Posey 750 0.408
11 Joey Gallo 2,087 0.404
12 Ronald Acuna Jr. 1,129 0.402
13 Carlos Correa 1,330 0.397
14 Paul Goldschmidt 1,387 0.396
15 Oscar Taveras 1,589 0.395
16 Bo Bichette 1,445 0.395
17 Xander Bogaerts 1,626 0.393
18 Fernando Tatis Jr. 1,214 0.393
19 Mookie Betts 1,315 0.393
20 Andrew Benintendi 657 0.393
21 Luis Robert* 787 0.392
22 Yordan Alvarez 1,080 0.391
23 Miguel Sano 2,080 0.390
24 Christian Yelich 1,318 0.389
25 Eloy Jimenez 1,725 0.387
26 Addison Russell 1,205 0.387
27 Byron Buxton 1,601 0.387
28 Julio Rodriguez* 546 0.386
29 Domingo Santana 3,087 0.383
30 Javier Baez 1,693 0.382
31 Ozzie Albies 1,744 0.382
32 Jo Adell* 925 0.382
33 Michael Conforto 738 0.381
34 Seth Beer* 772 0.381
35 Alejandro Kirk* 584 0.381
36 Victor Robles 1,700 0.380
37 Rafael Devers 1,740 0.380
38 Keston Hiura 965 0.379
39 Jarred Kelenic* 671 0.378
40 Greg Bird 1,628 0.377
41 Pete Alonso 1,090 0.377
42 Manny Machado 941 0.377
43 Nolan Jones* 1,375 0.376
44 Corey Seager 1,710 0.375
45 Carlos Santana 2,074 0.374
46 Luis Urias 2,402 0.374
47 Austin Riley 1,954 0.374
48 Yoan Moncada 1,215 0.373
49 Carter Kieboom* 1,402 0.373
50 Nate Lowe* 1,646 0.373
51 Oswaldo Arcia 2,127 0.373
52 Tyler Freeman* 914 0.371
53 Nick Senzel 1,030 0.371
54 Gavin Lux* 1,747 0.371
55 Jurickson Profar 2,151 0.370
56 Jesse Winker 2,438 0.370
57 Gleyber Torres 1,602 0.368
58 Joc Pederson 2,356 0.368
59 Nolan Gorman* 731 0.368
60 Alek Thomas* 707 0.368
61 Rougned Odor 1,586 0.368
62 Kyle Tucker* 2,209 0.368
63 Drew Waters* 1,207 0.367
64 Heliot Ramos* 1,047 0.367
65 Alex Bregman 679 0.367
66 Rhys Hoskins 1,904 0.367
67 Xavier Edwards* 685 0.367
68 Alex Kirilloff* 1,128 0.367
69 Jake Bauers 2,602 0.366
70 Cody Bellinger 1,530 0.366
71 Nomar Mazara 1,898 0.365
72 Nicholas Castellanos 1,770 0.365
73 Ryan McMahon 2,655 0.364
74 Austin Meadows 1,973 0.364
75 Chance Sisco 2,218 0.363
76 Ivan Herrera* 659 0.362
77 Jorge Soler 1,024 0.362
78 Miguel Vargas* 712 0.362
79 Brendan Rodgers 1,684 0.362
80 Daniel Vogelbach 3,250 0.361
81 Willy Adames 2,661 0.361
82 Jon Singleton 3,590 0.360
83 Isaac Paredes* 1,684 0.359
84 Marcus Semien 1,776 0.359
85 Tyler O’Neill 2,393 0.359
86 Mason Martin* 1,094 0.358
87 Dayan Viciedo 1,161 0.358
88 Canaan Smith* 863 0.358
89 Franklin Barreto 2,668 0.358
90 Bobby Bradley* 2,681 0.357
91 Alex Verdugo 2,159 0.357
92 Luis Santana* 810 0.356
93 Josh Bell 2,106 0.356
94 Dylan Carlson* 1,633 0.356
95 Nick Williams 2,621 0.356
96 Matt Olson 2,897 0.356
97 Geraldo Perdomo* 962 0.356
98 Maikel Franco 2,364 0.356
99 Clint Frazier 2,602 0.355
100 Gary Sanchez 2,766 0.355
101 Trea Turner 1,224 0.354

 

Observations of the Top 101

  • The .400+ wOBA is an exclusive bunch. Of those that have been in the Major Leagues for more than a couple years, only Kyle Schwarber has failed to become a star in the league, despite sporting a respectable resume with three seasons of 25+ home runs.  Gallo’s real breakout was this year, though injury has cut it short. Both are still valuable sluggers, but the lesson here may be that players with swing-and-miss tendencies (high K rates) don’t translate as quickly to the Major League level.  Seeing Wander Franco as part of this exclusive club validates my assertions from the preseason, that Wander Franco could turn out to be a perennial MVP candidate.
  • The only player on the list that I see that has not tasted Major League success (or is still too young to make any calls about) is Oswaldo Arcia. I’ll settle for a 99%+ success rate. The numbers don’t lie! (Note: Subsequent to posting the article, some Reddit users rightly pointed out the presence of Jon Singleton, Greg Bird, and Dayan Viciedo on the list as well — special mention to u/wolverine55 and u/goundhongnight for pointing it out.  Viciedo did have a 25 homer season and Greg Bird still has a chance to contribute to his team, but neither can be considered much fantasy help to this point, so it’s worth toning down that 99% to something like ~95% to be on the safe side)
  • Mike Trout’s projected peak wOBA from his minor league numbers turned out to be .444.  Mike Trout’s current wOBA is .438, this coming after a 1 for 13 stretch in his last three games.  Before those games, his wOBA was…you guessed it, .444!
  • This list is yet another reason why I am so obsessed with Juan Soto.

I can hear you thinking on the other side of your screen – you’re thinking “it would be really nice just to see the current minor leaguers grouped together”.  But of course!  Below is the current minor leaguers in the top 101 along with what their rank is.

Current Minor League Hitters in the Top 101

Rank Name MiLB Career PA wOBA
7 Wander Franco 718 0.423
21 Luis Robert 787 0.392
28 Julio Rodriguez 546 0.386
32 Jo Adell 925 0.382
34 Seth Beer 772 0.381
35 Alejandro Kirk 584 0.381
39 Jarred Kelenic 671 0.378
43 Nolan Jones 1,375 0.376
49 Carter Kieboom 1,402 0.373
50 Nate Lowe 1,646 0.373
52 Tyler Freeman 914 0.371
54 Gavin Lux 1,747 0.371
59 Nolan Gorman 731 0.368
60 Alek Thomas 707 0.368
62 Kyle Tucker 2,209 0.368
63 Drew Waters 1,207 0.367
64 Heliot Ramos 1,047 0.367
67 Xavier Edwards 685 0.367
68 Alex Kirilloff 1,128 0.367
76 Ivan Herrera 659 0.362
78 Miguel Vargas 712 0.362
83 Isaac Paredes 1,684 0.359
86 Mason Martin 1,094 0.358
88 Canaan Smith 863 0.358
90 Bobby Bradley 2,681 0.357
92 Luis Santana 810 0.356
94 Dylan Carlson 1,633 0.356
97 Geraldo Perdomo 962 0.356

 

Observations of Current Minor Leaguers in the Top 101

  • In the top 100, 28 players are currently in the minor leagues. These are players you will want to take a look at and keep an eye on their progress as they move through levels.  If you’ve been following the “Scouting the Stat Line” player highlights, you may recall reading about several of these players.  Some will drop out of the top 101 when they encounter more advanced pitching, others will rise to the occasion and maybe even improve their standing.
  • I know I have have already said my piece about Wander Franco. But…did you know he currently sports a 5:3 walk-to-strikeout ratio as a 18 year-old in Single-A and High-A?  That ratio has actually improved since his promotion.  I cannot recall a time I have seen that in a prospect with this much pedigree and who hits for average and power. Get him, if you can, he is going to be really, really good!
  • Luis Robert, Gavin Lux, and Carter Kieboom have really seen their projections rise this year. Breakouts or juiced ball?  Maybe a bit of both?
  • Tyler Freeman, Heliot Ramos, Drew Waters, and Alek Thomas have also seen their projections rise dramatically. We can’t blame these on the juiced ball.
  • Is Bobby Bradley in the same vein as Joey Gallo and Kyle Schwarber with his swing-and-miss tendencies? If so, considering the minor league results are not as elite, I probably wouldn’t invest in him expecting the same kind of return.

So you say you’re in a deep dynasty league where most of the good players are taken, and you’re looking to speculate on some players in the low levels of the minors?  We’ve got you covered there too!  Below is the list of the players that did not meet the 500 plate appearance threshold, along with where they would have ranked in the top 101 (these are players with between 150-500 career plate appearances. More speculative, but not ridiculous).

Low-Level Minor Leaguers & Where They Would Rank if Included

Name

MiLB Career PA

wOBA

Where They Would Rank

Just Above

Alexander Mojica

201

0.424

6

Wander Franco!!!

CJ Abrams

165

0.409

9

Eric Hosmer

Marco Luciano

190

0.405

11

Joey Gallo

Heriberto Hernandez

429

0.400

13

Carlos Correa

Rayner Santana

178

0.400

13

Carlos Correa

George Valera

191

0.399

13

Carlos Correa

Malcom Nunez

376

0.396

15

Oscar Taveras

Richard Palacios

190

0.382

33

Michael Conforto

Maikol Escotto

192

0.381

36

Victor Robles

Luis Matos

254

0.380

37

Keston Hiura

Brennen Davis

268

0.379

39

Jarred Kelenic

Bryce Ball

183

0.378

40

Greg Bird

Victor Bericoto

259

0.375

45

Carlos Santana

Dominic Fletcher

163

0.375

45

Carlos Santana

Jack Herman

393

0.374

48

Yoan Moncada

J.D. Orr

183

0.372

52

Tyler Freeman

Kristian Robinson

475

0.372

52

Tyler Freeman

Benyamin Bailey

231

0.367

69

Jake Bauers

Peyton Burdick

244

0.366

71

Nomar Mazara

Gilberto Jimenez

473

0.366

72

Nicholas Castellanos

Luis Toribio

472

0.366

72

Nicholas Castellanos

Alexander Ovalles

265

0.364

75

Chance Sisco

Andrew Vaughn

170

0.364

75

Chance Sisco

Darryl Collins

165

0.359

86

Mason Martin

Nick Decker

157

0.359

86

Mason Martin

Corbin Carroll

159

0.356

99

Clint Frazier

Observations of the Low Minors/Small Sample Size List

  • It’s worth mentioning that not all levels in the low minors are equal.  Our experience tells us that results in Low-A are going to much more reliable than results in the Dominican Summer League.  Not even each Rookie-level league is of equal difficulty.  In general, in terms of reliability, from more to least, consider the numbers from Low-A (New York-Pennsylvania League, Northwest League) to be the most reliable of the levels below Single-A, followed by the Appalachian and Pioneer leagues, then the Gulf Coast and Arizona leagues, with the Dominican Summer League being the least reliable.
  • I have to admit, I am a speculator in my dynasty leagues. I’m always looking for the next best thing.  I don’t want a roster full of decent players, I want a roster full of superstars.  Finding those players before others do takes extra work.  These are the players from this list that I am buying up shares of: Mojica, Luciano, Abrams, Valera, Matos, Ball, Herman, Robinson, Jimenez, Vaughn, and Carroll.
  • There are some others that I think it is a little early to start getting too aggressive with. I am waiting to see on these players: Hernandez, Santana, Escotto, Palacios, Toribio, Ovalles, and Collins.
  • Malcom Nunez is a good example of why it is always a good idea to have a healthy skepticism of numbers from the lowest levels of the minor leagues.  In 2018 he put together a statistically historic season in the Dominican Summer League.  While he has shown some flashes of that former glory, on the whole his 2019 campaign has to be considered a disappointment after the gaudy numbers he posted last season.

My recommendation with these types of players is to see how well these names match up with the opinion of scouts and pundits.  I have leaned on Jesse Roche to find out his opinion on players and have found him to always be “in the know”.  If you haven’t already looked, I recommend that you start your cross-referencing by looking at Jesse Roche’s August top prospect update. It is an incredibly informative piece!

The Author

Ross Jensen

Ross Jensen

Ross has been an avid fantasy baseball player and League Manager for over a decade. Ross's fantasy approach is to build league powers is through hunting down talented minor leaguers and targeting players on the verge of breakout based on a variety of metrics, statistical analysis, and assumptions.

4 Comments

  1. Randy Beans
    August 27, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    “The only player on the list that I see that has not tasted Major League success (or is still too young to make any calls about) is Oswaldo Arcia. I’ll settle for a 99%+ success rate, the numbers don’t lie!”

    Nit-picking a little, but I think we can safely stick a fork in Jon Singleton ever having Major League success. 98% is still pretty good.

    Great list overall though and very helpful, thank you.

    • September 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Randy! And yes, you are absolutely correct. I added in a caveat mentioning that shortly after the posting of the article.

  2. Christopher Lee
    September 8, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    This article is excellent. Thanks so much for sharing. Any way we could get 25 years back? I’d love to see some of the greats over the last 25. Thanks again.

    • September 23, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Hey Christopher – thank you! Maybe starting out next year I can stretch it back another decade or decade and a half. I do have the best single seasons of the last decade and was considering writing about that, but the results aren’t as impressive as I think they turned out to be in this list.

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