Clemens: Which hitter is most 2019?

From Ben Clemens at FanGraphs on September 20, 2019:

When you think of 2019 baseball, there’s probably a definite picture in your mind. Contact is rare but dangerous. Home runs fly out of the park at record levels on fly balls, and line drives are smashed left and right. Strikeouts are abundant, baserunners scarce. And when those runners do get on, they don’t steal very frequently, leading to a station-to-station game.

That’s a great aggregate — but who do you picture when you picture 2019 baseball? Maybe you see Mike Trout or Christian Yelich in your mind’s eye, but that’s not really right. They might be the best of 2019, but they’re certainly not the embodiment of 2019. Yelich and Trout don’t have strikeout problems that sap their on-base percentage. They hit for average and for power; heck, Yelich ended his season batting .329, and it’s not out of the question that he’ll win the batting title. That’s about as far from typical 2019 as it gets.

Not only that, but they’re both fast boys, even if Trout doesn’t steal as much as he used to. Yelich was on pace for a 50/30 season before his season-ending injury, and the fact that it would be the first such season in history should tell you that he’s not anything approaching average. Trout and Yelich are the face of baseball in 2019, but they’re not a fair representation of it.

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Originally published: September 23, 2019. Last Updated: September 23, 2019.