Whether we’re talking about the best team in the league, the worst, or any of the 28 in between, each MLB team has one hitter whose bat has been at least a little hotter than his teammates.
Obviously, figuring out who the hottest hitter on some teams has been is a difficult task. The Atlanta Braves have hit very well. Choosing between Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies or Nick Markakis was not easy. While the Kansas City Royals have been nowhere near as hot offensively, we had a similar dilemma choosing between Mike Moustakas and Jorge Soler.
Other bad teams, like the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, were easy. Manny Machado and Nomar Mazara have pretty clearly stood above their teammates. But it was also easy with some good teams. The New York Yankees’ offense has lived up to its potential. But as deep as it’s been, it has had clear hottest hitter. We can say the same thing about their rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
From what we’ve seen in 2018, these guys have been the been the hottest hitters that every MLB team can offer up.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats are accurate through play on Wednesday, May 23.
Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant
Javier Baez is enjoying a nice breakout season and actually leads Chicago in home runs. But much like he’s been ever since he debuted in 2015, Bryant has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Cubs this season. This isn’t just a matter of Bryant having a much better batting average and OBP (.296/.418) than Baez (.267/.297), either. Despite having three fewer home runs, Bryant has the same number of extra-base hits as Baez and actually has a better slugging percentage. He’s been Chicago’s best bat.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout
With all due respect to the very nice offensive seasons being enjoyed by Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons, this spot belongs to Trout with ample room to spare. He’s slashing at .292/.444/.619, has hit 14 home runs, and has even stolen 11 bases for good measure. If you’re a baseball fan and have a chance to see Trout, please do. We’d call Trout a generational talent, but that would actually be doing him a disservice.
Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez
Surprisingly, Joey Votto came in a rather distant third here. It really boiled down to Suarez and Scooter Gennett. Gennett has a significant edge in average (.328-.281), but only a slight edge in home runs (nine-seven) and extra-base hits (21-18). This is despite having played in 15 more games and recording 59 more at-bats. Gennett is having a great year. But while Suarez has dealt with some injuries, he’s back now and has been Cincinnati’s most dangerous hitter when in the lineup.
Seattle Mariners: Mitch Haniger
Haniger got off to a surprisingly hot start to the year and hasn’t cooled off. He’s hitting .296/.381/.568 and leads the team with 11 home runs. He’s even stolen three bags and while that doesn’t sound like much, Dee Gordon and Jean Segura are the only Mariners with more. Haniger would have had this spot even with the injury and suspension of Robinson Cano. He’s been Seattle’s hottest, most consistent bat.
Milwaukee Brewers: Jesus Aguilar
A surprising name, given that the Brewers have several big-name offensive players who are enjoying good seasons. But all things considered, we can’t overlook Aguilar. His seven home runs trail only Travis Shaw for the team lead. But while Shaw’s overall numbers suggest (.243/.327/.514) that he’s a little overly dependent on the long ball, Aguilar’s (.324/.383/.577) do anything but. The way Aguilar is hitting, finding playing time for Eric Thames when he returns from injury will be easier said than done.
Texas Rangers: Nomar Mazara
While so many of his teammates are either hurt, struggling, or both, Mazara has had a true breakout campaign in 2018. Joey Gallo leads the team with 14 bombs, but is hitting .197/.276/.459. Mazara, meanwhile, has a respectable 11 home runs and sports a much cleaner .274/.340/.505 slash line. Thanks to his strong start and the struggles of so many Rangers, it’d be hard to argue that anyone but Mazara has been Texas’ best and hottest bat this year.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Francisco Cervelli
Perhaps no hitter is more responsible for the Pirates being much better than even Cervelli apparently thought they’d be. The Pittsburgh backstop is hitting .282/.399/.532 and has already tied a career high with seven home runs. The Pirates have gotten a number of good offensive performances on offense en route to the great start. But even with a solid competition, Cervelli stands out above his teammates.
Oakland Athletics: Jed Lowrie
With 13 home runs, Khris Davis has continued to be Oakland’s primary source of power. The driving force of the potent A’s offense, however, has been Lowrie. He is slashing .319/.389/.537, easily leading the team in all three categories. Additionally, Lowrie’s nine homers trail only Davis for the team lead. Even on a good offensive team, Lowrie has clearly been Oakland’s hottest bat in the opening two months.
St. Louis Cardinals: Jose Martinez
While Tommy Pham would normally get our attention here, we’re going to give the nod to Martinez. His total numbers are close enough to Pham (if not better) in most major categories and has hit much better recently. Overall, Martinez is hitting .312/.385/.471 and has five home runs. Martinez largely flew under the radar until late in 2017. But the 29-year-old first baseman has carried that momentum into a breakout year.
Houston Astros: George Springer
For the most part, Springer has picked up right where he left off in 2017, when he was the World Series MVP. Springer is hitting .294, which is the highest batting average among qualified Astros players other than Jose Altuve (.313). But while Altuve has struggled to hit for power (two home runs, .413 slugging), Springer has 10 home runs and a .500 slugging percentage. He’s definitely been Houston’s hottest bat through the season’s first two months.
Philadelphia Phillies: Odubel Herrera
Herrera has had a fantastic 2018 season. He’s not a big home run hitter, but does have a respectable seven, only one off of the team lead. He’s also slashing at a sterling .343/.406/.535 clip. Herrera hasn’t just been Philadelphia’s hottest hitter. He’s been swinging one of the hottest bats in the league over the season’s first two months.
Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu
Matt Davidson has 11 home runs, which leads Abreu for the White Sox team lead. But while Davidson is having a career year (.243/.368/.521), Abreu (.309/.374/.534) has been much better at the plate. Also, even if he’s not leading the team in home runs, Abreu’s 24 extra-base hits are six ahead of his nearest teammate. It would be wise for Abreu to keep his All-Star week clear.
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman
Ozzie Albies has 14 home runs, which leads the Braves and is second in the National League. Nick Markakis is hitting .344, the best batting average in the Senior Circuit. But despite that, Freeman gets the nod. His overall hitting (.324/.424/.549) is better than what Albies has done (.280/.323/.575), while his nine home runs and 22 extra-base hits top Markakis, who has seven homers and 19 extra-base hits. Freeman is the best overall hitter in this lineup. But even if you disagree, we can all agree on one thing. We don’t envy the pitchers who have to face this team.
Kansas City Royals: Mike Moustakas
The Moustakas vs. Jorge Soler decision was one of our tougher ones. Ultimately, Moustakas gets the edge because of a rather significant edge in home runs (10 vs. 5). Additionally, while Soler has 35 fewer at-bats, he’s struck out 17 more times. In addition to his 10 homers, Moustakas has hit 10 doubles and his hitting .283. We’d like to see him draw more walks to bump his .330 OBP up to closer to .350. Even still, he’s been swinging a hot bat all year.
New York Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera
Cabrera’s .310 average and .526 slugging percentage are both easily better than any of his qualified teammates. Meanwhile, his seven home runs are second on the team, only one behind Yoenis Cespedes, while his .355 OBP is only two points behind Todd Frazier. Nobody will confuse the Mets for the 1927 Yankees. Still, with guys like Cespedes, Frazier, and Jay Bruce, the lineup does feature some fairly impressive names. Even still, Cabrera has easily been his team’s best and hottest hitter.
Detroit Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
Castellanos is certainly one of our easier selections. He leads Detroit in most offensive categories including home runs, with five. Truthfully, leading a team with only five home runs says more the struggling Tigers’ offense than what Castellanos has done well. That said, his .324/.372/.505 is more than respectable for any team. He’s definitely been a hitter for opposing pitchers to avoid.
Miami Marlins: J.T. Realmuto
Realmuto has missed 19 games on the season. Even still, he only three off of the team lead in home runs and one off of the lead in extra-base hits. While Realmuto hasn’t yet logged enough at-bats to be qualified, none of his teammates are close to his .316 average or .538 slugging percentage. Obviously, his stats aren’t helping the Marlins win a lot of games. But that doesn’t change the fact that Realmuto is having a great season in 2018.
Minnesota Twins: Eddie Rosario
The dilemma Rosario and Joe Mauer came down to this. If the Twins are in a spot where they need a base runner (ie: ninth inning, down more than one run, nobody on), Mauer is the guy. But if they need someone to do some damage with the bat, Rosario is the man. Rosario leads the team in hits (52), home runs (nine), and is first among qualified Minnesota players in both average (.295) and slugging (.534). That certainly qualifies him as the team’s hottest bat.
Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper
Harper’s .232 average made this a much harder decision than it probably should have been. That said, we can’t overlook a .537 slugging percentage and 15 home runs. There’s just nobody on the team with a good enough batting average to make up for that gap. Pitchers obviously agree. Harper has walked 43 times, leading to a .387 OBP. That’s fantastic for anyone, especially someone hitting .232. Until other Washington hitters start heating up significantly, or pitchers show that they’re no longer afraid of Harper, his power makes up the hottest Nationals’ hitter.
Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez
After a dismal start to 2018, Ramirez is reminding everyone why he was an MVP candidate a year ago. He’s hitting .296/.391/.609, has hit 14 home runs, and leads the Indians in most major offensive categories. We certainly had to give Michael Brantley and especially Francisco Lindor a good look. But ultimately, no Cleveland hitter has been quite as hot as Ramirez over the season’s first two months.
San Diego Padres: Christian Villanueva
We certainly acknowledge that Villanueva’s average (.243) and OBP (.316) are not eye-popping. But no San Diego hitter is close to his slugging percentage (.550) or home run total (12). It’s also worth noting that Villanueva doesn’t even have enough at-bats to be qualified for the batting title. Despite that, he has five home runs more than his nearest teammate. This one really wasn’t close.
Boston Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Betts is hitting .364, which is 20 points higher than the next-best hitter in either league. His .763 slugging percentage is a whopping 104 points ahead of the second place guy, teammate J.D. Martinez. And while Betts may not hit home runs in batting practice, he hits them in games. His 16 homers lead all of baseball. Betts is having one of the best starts to a season in team history. As far as 2018 goes, he’s easily been the hottest hitter, and not just on his team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: David Peralta
Excluding the injured A.J. Pollock, Peralta has been by far Arizona’s best overall hitter in 2018. He’s hitting .265/.340/.441 and is the only Diamondback (sans Pollock) who has more than five home runs. The Arizona offense has struggled through the first two months of the year. But with Pollock out for a while, others (namely Paul Goldschmidt) will have to up their games. Peralta has played well, but with numbers like that, he shouldn’t be the best hitter on a playoff contender.
Toronto Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar
With four home runs, Pillar is far from the man Blue Jays fans would want up in a spot where a dinger is really needed. But despite trailing six teammates in homers, Pillar’s 24 extra-base hits are the most on the team. Home runs are nice, but they’re not everything. And with that in mind it’s hard to argue that Pillar hasn’t Toronto’s hottest bat in 2018.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp
Kemp’s five home runs may seem like a modest total. But none of his Los Angeles teammates have more than eight. Additionally, none of them can touch his .327/.361/.510 slash line, which is anything but modest. The first two months of the Dodgers season has been much bumpier than anticipated for the team. But the reemergence of Kemp has been a clear positive.
Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado
Machado is hitting .328/.405/.635, has 16 home runs, 43 RBI, and is a genuine Triple Crown threat. He also happens to play on arguably baseball’s worst team, with only a select few of his teammates having even below average years. It doesn’t any easier than this.
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt
Belt is certainly among our easier selections. Other than steals, he leads the Giants in essentially every major offensive category, frequently with ample room to spare. But Belt isn’t merely a default selection. He has 11 home runs and a .317/.416/.593 slash line. Those are certainly All-Star worthy numbers. Moreover, if the pace is maintained, Belt could find himself in the MVP discussion at season’s end.
Tampa Bay Rays: C.J. Cron
We’re still not totally why acquiring Cron meant that Corey Dickerson had to be traded. Even still, we can’t knock Tampa’s decision to bring Cron aboard. It’s worked quite well. He’s hit .272/.323/.495 with 11 home runs and added eight doubles for good measure. Cron definitely has some areas to work on. But even with that noted, he’s definitely been his team’s hottest offensive bat through the 2018 season.
Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Arenado has been his steady self for the first two months. The Colorado third baseman is hitting .317/.407/.539, easily topping his team in all three categories. He’s also backed that up with a respectable eight home runs. As a team, the Rockies haven’t had quite the offensive punch that we’ve grown accustomed to. But Arenado has been hot, avoiding whatever’s been plaguing so many of his teammates.
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge
If you thought that Judge would regress after a historic rookie season, you were wrong. The talented New York lineup features four guys with double-digit home run totals. Even then, Judge has been the best. His 13 home runs lead the team and he’s backed it up with a .284/.412/.568, by far the most complete line of anyone on the Yankees. Judge isn’t quite on his 2017 pace, when he had 17 home runs through 47 games. But he’s still hit for a ton of power and has clearly been the hottest hitter in a dangerous lineup.