When one of the game’s best sluggers steps into the box, all eyes turn to see what will happen. There are plenty of great hitters in MLB, but only a select few make us stop what we’re doing to watch.
These are players who transcend the sport with the ability to launch a monstrous home run at any moment. What makes these hitters so dangerous is not only their ability to hit home runs, but also to consistently get on base and rack up extra-base hits.
Here are the 10 most dangerous sluggers in baseball.
10. Bryce Harper, outfielder Washington Nationals
After a rough first half this season, we’ve started to see the old version of Harper recently. He is among the best in baseball when he is locked in, but there also moments of frustrating inconsistency.
Before the All-Star Break, Harper posted a .214 batting average with 23 home runs and a .833 OPS. He demonstrated plenty of power and drew walks, but there was little else to go with it.
In the second half, we’ve seen Harper return to MVP-caliber form. Since the ASB, the 25-year-old carries a .339/.415/.610 slash line with a 1.025 OPS. This is the version of Harper that strikes fear into opposing pitchers and the player who could land a record-setting contract.
9. Javier Baez, second baseman, Chicago Cubs
Baez has emerged as one of the best, young hitters in baseball in 2018. The 25-year-old infielder has further solidified his ability to make consistent contact, and with it came massive production.
Baez has already set career-best marks in home runs (27), RBI (94), stolen bases (21), triples (eight) and doubles (34). Even more impressive, he raised his batting average more than 20 points from 2017 and his .573 slugging percentage is nearly 100 points higher than 2017.
Not only is Baez a phenomenal hitter, but he carries serious power. We saw it in his monster home run that traveled 481 feet, just the greatest of many blasts by Baez this year.
8. Nolan Arenado, third baseman, Colorado Rockies
While he will get knocked because half his games are played at Coors Field, Arenado remains one of the most feared sluggers in the game. Colorado’s third baseman excels defensively, but it’s his bat that makes him an MVP candidate.
This season Arenado ranks fifth in batting average (.309), fourth in RBI (89), second in home runs (31) and first in OPS (.968) in the National League. In the heart of Colorado’s lineup, he continues to raise the bar for himself each season.
While he will probably fall just short of his annual 40-plus home run, 130-plus RBI mark, Arenado remains one of the best hitters in MLB.
7. Khris Davis, designated hitter, Oakland Athletics
In a season no one saw coming, Davis has been the engine that fuels Oakland’s climb up the standings.
While Davis has primarily been a three-outcome hitter, we’ve seen the 30-year-old take things to a much higher level recently. Since the start of July, Davis has slashed at .303/.360/.697 with 19 home runs. He isn’t even sacrificing average for power anymore, doing both in a major way.
Not only is Davis a tremendous slugger overall, but he is as clutch as they come. This season in high leverage situations, he carries a 1.225 OPS with a .791 slugging percentage. While he may not receive major MVP consideration, Davis should be recognized as one of the best sluggers in the league.
6. Aaron Judge, outfielder, New York Yankees
While Judge remains sidelined with a fracture in his wrist, he does have one of the most lethal bats in all of baseball. In an era where every home run is tracked via MLB’s StatCast, Judge is king of the StatCast era.
We do tend to see some inconsistency from Judge, but even in his down months, there are moments that make your jaw drop. On the season, the 26-year-old has excelled with a .946 OPS, .398 OBP and 46 extra-base hits.
Whenever Judge returns to the lineup, it’s reasonable to expect he will be hindered for a while at the plate. Once his wrist is 100-percent healthy and Judge’s power is back, he’ll go back to hitting rockets into the second deck.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
When the calendar flipped to June, many started to wonder if something was wrong with Goldschmidt. In his first 54 games this season, Arizona’s star first baseman posted a .209 batting average with a .719 OPS.
Any fear of a potential decline can now be forgotten. Since June 1, Goldschmidt has returned to his elite form at the plate with a .355/.450/.660 slash line and a 1.110 OPS. Even more impressive, he has hit 22 home runs with 54 RBI in 72 games.
Now that Goldschmidt is back to crushing baseballs, he can firmly hold onto his title as the best first baseman in the game. As Arizona fights for a playoff spot, its fan base can thank their favorite slugger for helping them in a tight division race.
4. Jose Ramirez, third baseman, Cleveland Indians
Each year, Ramirez manages to elevate his production to another level. What started as a quiet career quickly blossomed into Ramirez being one of the five best players in baseball.
It started in 2016 when Ramirez experienced his first breakthrough with a .312/.363/.462 slash line, 11 home runs and 22 stolen bases. He followed it up with an All-Star season in 2017 with a .957 OPS, 29 home runs and 83 RBIs.
In 2018, Ramirez is making his case to be the league’s MVP. In 126 games, he has set a career-high in home runs (37), RBI (91), walks (85), stolen bases (28) and OPS (1.024). On pace for 40-plus home runs, 30-plus stolen bases and more walks than strikeouts, Ramirez is a transcendent talent.
3. J.D. Martinez, designated hitter, Boston Red Sox
For whatever reason, a plethora of teams just let one of the best hitters sit in free agency. Finally, Boston made the move to sign Martinez and has been rewarded beyond its wildest dreams.
Martinez has been a natural fit with the Red Sox, fitting in perfectly at Fenway Park and in the middle of their lineup. He is second in batting average (.335), OPS (1.060), home runs (38), and first in RBI (110) across the majors.
There is a realistic chance Martinez wins the Triple Crown this year, an accomplishment that would lock up the A.L. MVP award. Perhaps when he hits free agency again, teams will be wiser and make a full push to sign him.
2. Mookie Betts, outfielder, Boston Red Sox
If not for a trip to the disabled list and a few absences from the lineup, Betts could be right up there with Martinez in terms of production. The 25-year-old outfielder leads MLB in batting average (.337) and is on the verge of his first 30-30 season.
Betts is even more phenomenal at the plate in run-scoring situations. This season, Boston’s star outfielder has a 1.207 OPS with runners in scoring position and a 1.618 OPS with runners in scoring position and two outs in the inning.
There’s still time for Betts to claim the MVP award, especially with the tendency of voters to favor players who primarily play the field. On this list, Betts gets the edge thanks to a strikeout rate that is nearly 10 percent lower and a higher OBP. Both are MVP players, but we’ll give the slight edge to Betts for being the more all-around slugger.
1. Mike Trout, outfielder, Los Angeles Angels
There is no player in baseball as good as Mike Trout. It’s just that simple. He plays in a less hitter-friendly ballpark than Betts and Ramirez, yet outproduces them in several key statistics.
Trout leads in OPS (1.091), wRC+ (192), wOBA (.447) and OBP (.462). Even more impressively, he is so feared with the bat that opponents have intentionally walked him 20 times.
Now that he is back from the disabled list, fans should get excited to see one of the best players in a century crush baseballs. While Los Angeles may not be in playoff contention, Trout will still draw a show to Los Angeles over the final weeks.