Top 20 Righty Hitters in MLB (Right Now)

Joe HalversonCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2012

Top 20 Righty Hitters in MLB (Right Now)

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    Now that we've hit the midway point of the MLB season, it's time to take a look at the top 20 right-handed hitters in the game at this very moment.  

    But before we begin, let's go over the ground rules:

    1.  The rankings are based on a combination of career performance and single-season offensive performance, based on the Offensive Wins Above Replacement (oWAR) stat from BaseballReference. In general, their spot on this list is based on their average ranking in each category among righty hitters.

    2.  This is strictly a list of hitters.  Neither position nor defensive value is factored into the rankings.

    3.  All switch-hitters are removed from consideration.  Only pure right-handed hitters are on this list.

    Without further ado, here are the rankings:

Honorable Mention

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    Mike Trout

    Mark Trumbo

    Torii Hunter

    Trout and Trumbo both rank in the top ten for oWAR among righty hitters this season, while Hunter is in the top ten for career oWAR. 

    However, it is a little too early to rank either Trout or Trumbo based on their lack of track record at the MLB level, while Hunter can climb back on the list if he rebounds at the plate in the second half.

Austin Jackson

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    Career oWAR:  8.3

    2012 oWAR:  3.2

    Jackson, who was runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year in 2010, currently ranks sixth in the AL in oWAR largely due to improved plate discipline and a home run rate that has doubled from the previous season.  He still has issues with strikeouts, but a remarkable .407 BABIP more than makes up for it.

Ian Kinsler

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    Career oWAR:  24.2

    2012 oWAR:  1.6

    While he’s not having quite the season he had last year, Kinsler currently leads the AL in runs, doubles and plate appearances and is as healthy as he has ever been in his seven-year career.  If his home run rate increases to 2011 levels in the second half, Kinsler will surge up these rankings. 

Hanley Ramirez

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    Career oWAR:  33.0

    2012 oWAR:  1.4

    Ramirez is performing better than he did last season, but that is primarily due to the fact that he has stayed healthy.  Almost all of his rate stats are virtually identical to last year’s production, suggesting that Ramirez is in the decline phase of his career. 

    However, Ramirez is still just 28 and only three years removed from being a seven oWAR-per-year player, so it is much too early to give up on his bat just yet.

Aramis Ramirez

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    Career oWAR:  31.1

    2012 oWAR:  1.4

    After a nice comeback season in 2011, Ramirez is continuing to show that he is still a frontline bat.  His BABIP and ISO are slightly down from his career norms, but an improved walk rate is picking up the slack.  Ramirez is also halfway to reaching 20 home runs for the tenth time in his career.

Matt Kemp

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    Career oWAR:  22.4

    2012 oWAR:  2.0

    Had injuries not held him to only 36 games, Kemp would probably rank at the very top of this list.  As it stands, his historic April has been enough to keep him ranked among the game’s top hitters over the course of this year. 

    The fact that he is following an MVP-quality season with continued greatness does not hurt matters, either.  His return cannot come soon enough for a Dodgers squad that is in a dogfight for first place in the NL West.

Albert Pujols

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    Career oWAR:  73.0

    2012 oWAR:  1.4

    If this was strictly about career performance, Pujols would be an easy choice for first place on this list.  But a six-week stint as the Least Valuable Player in baseball greatly hurt his ranking, though he has gradually turned it around and appears poised for a big second half of the season. 

    His walk and strikeout rates are among the worst of his career, and his power numbers have declined for four consecutive seasons.  Not exactly what you want to hear in the first year of a ten-year contract.

Carlos Ruiz

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    Career oWAR:  11.3

    2012 oWAR:  3.3

    Ruiz might be baseball’s most pleasant surprise, currently ranking fourth in the NL in oWAR and has been the biggest standout in a lineup full of big names.  Most of his improvement has come from an impressive .367 BABIP and a career-best home run rate. 

    If it were not for a career-worst walk rate, Ruiz would probably be in the conversation for NL MVP of the first half.

Josh Willingham

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    Career oWAR:  16.4

    2012 oWAR:  2.8

    Why hasn’t a batter like Willingham been able to find a regular job?  Willingham, who is playing for his fourth team in five years, is currently tenth in the AL in both oWAR and OPS and is not currently experiencing any unusual deviations from his career norms in the rate stats. 

    By now, it should be clear that Willingham’s ugly strikeout rate is not particularly damaging to his performance as a hitter. 

Edwin Encarnacion

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    Career oWAR:  13.7

    2012 oWAR:  3.0

    Currently seventh in the AL in oWAR and tied for fifth in home runs, Encarnacion is in the midst of a clear career season thanks to an impressive boost in his power numbers.  Perhaps hitting alongside baseball’s best power hitter is finally starting to rub off on him.

Adam Jones

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    Career oWAR:  13.1

    2012 oWAR:  3.4

    Jones is one of those players whose careers is progressing exactly as expected.  The Orioles center fielder ranks second in the AL in oWAR and is rapidly closing in on a new career-high for home runs in a season. 

    If the surprising O’s can stay in contention for a playoff spot all season long, look for Jones to draw significant support for MVP honors.

Derek Jeter

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    Career oWAR:  89.2

    2012 oWAR:  1.8

    While he has cooled greatly after a scorching April, Jeter’s spot on this list was pretty much assured from the beginning due to the fact that he is second overall in career oWAR among active righty hitters.  That he has yet to hit a pop-up this season does not hurt, either. 

    The only remaining question for Jeter’s career is where he ranks all-time among career shortstops.

Alex Rodriguez

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    Career oWAR:  107.3

    2012 oWAR:  1.4

    Similar to Jeter, A-Rod’s spot on this list was guaranteed due to the fact that he has the highest career oWAR among righty hitters. 

    Although A-Rod is no longer capable of carrying a lineup by himself, he remains an above-average bat and still looks like MLB’s best bet to challenge Barry Bonds’ home run record.  The fact that he has five more years on his contract certainly helps, too.

Paul Konerko

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    Career oWAR:  30.1

    2012 oWAR:  2.2

    One of baseball’s perennially-overlooked players, Konerko continues to put up solid power numbers in his 16th season in the majors.  While his .353 BABIP is absurdly high, his isolated power and home run rates are consistent with his career totals. 

    He also joined the 400-home run club earlier this year and was selected to participate in his sixth All-Star game.

Jose Bautista

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    Career oWAR:  19.9

    2012 oWAR:  2.9

    At this point, it should surprise nobody that Bautista is again leading the majors in home runs.  Amazingly, Bautista has actually been extremely unlucky this season, as his .212 BABIP is the lowest in baseball among players who qualify for the batting title. 

    Still, Bautista’s walk rate is high enough that he is able to overcome a lack of hits finding the gaps in the defense.  

Ryan Braun

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    Career oWAR:  29.6

    2012 oWAR:  2.8

    Braun has followed up last year’s MVP season with an even better one, as he is putting up almost identical on-base and slugging numbers compared to a year ago despite a significant drop in BABIP. 

    He also leads the NL with 23 home runs and is on track to earn MVP votes for the sixth consecutive year.  Most impressively, Braun has hit exactly one infield pop-up in 291 plate appearances.

Andrew McCutchen

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    Career oWAR:  16.7

    2012 oWAR:  4.4

    Another player whose career has gone pretty much as projected, McCutchen has been the most valuable offensive player in all of baseball this season. 

    McCutchen currently leads the NL in batting average and oWAR and ranks in the top five in numerous categories, though his .406 BABIP is one of the game’s most absurd totals.  He figures to cool a bit in the second half, but not enough to drop him out of the top ten down the road.

Adrian Beltre

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    Career oWAR:  39.7

    2012 oWAR:  2.4

    I have long been on record in saying that Beltre is one of the most underappreciated players in all of baseball, and his performance with the bat since leaving Seattle has done nothing to change my view. 

    Beltre has benefited from a favorable BABIP and has shown a decrease in power numbers, but he is also hitting line drives at a career rate and has one of the lowest infield fly rates in all of baseball.

Matt Holliday

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    Career oWAR:  35.3

    2012 oWAR:  3.1

    Holliday has admirably picked up the slack following Pujols’ departure, ranking fifth in the NL in oWAR and showing some surprising speed out of the batter’s box.  His .355 BABIP is over 20 points higher than last year, which is directly attributable to a surge in infield hits.  

Miguel Cabrera

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    Career oWAR:  46.9

    2012 oWAR:  3.4

    Pujols’ decline earlier in the season meant that Cabrera has officially taken over as the most consistent hitter in all of baseball. 

    Cabrera has hit between 26 and 37 home runs in each of his eight previous seasons and is on pace to do so again this season.  His walk rate is down a bit, but just about all of his other rate stats are right in line with his career numbers.

David Wright

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    Career oWAR:  39.7

    2012 oWAR:  3.8

    Wright might be the favorite for the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, as his oWAR is a major reason why he ranks first in the league in overall WAR this season.  His rate stats are up across the board, and at the same time he has trimmed his walk rate by nearly 40 percent over last year. 

    If the Mets are in contention deep into September, it will be an exciting dogfight between Wright, McCutchen and Joey Votto for the NL MVP.