Major League Baseball pitching's earned run average (ERA) has been in a steady decline for the past seven seasons and correspondingly; so has hitters' on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). It's getting harder and harder to find great hitters who produce at elite levels with real consistency.
Some hitters, like Justin Upton will have a great season here, then an average season there. David Wright of the New York Mets has fought injuries along the way to have some superb, then some above-average seasons. Mark Teixeira is an example of a hitter who notoriously struggles early, heats up in May, then puts up respectable numbers the rest of the way.
Here, in the dog days of summer, I felt this was as good of a time as any to determine who the best five hitters are in Major League baseball right now. My evaluation criteria involves taking into account past performance but primarily relies upon the broad range of current statistical metrics.
I place a particular emphasis on ability to hit with runners in scoring position and player value, represented by Wins Above Replacement (WAR). WAR is a statistic that calculates how many more wins one player represents for his team, over a replacement level player at the same position.
I also heavily factor in OPS, stolen bases and durability—one's ability to stay healthy and on the field—to make my selections. Without further ado, here are the top five hitters in baseball right now: