June 27, 2022 3:16 pm

There’s a new No. 1 in Hitter Power Rankings

We’re now six weeks into the 2022 season, and the weather is finally starting to warm as we head toward summer. And just like that, some of the game’s most esteemed hitters are heating up, too.

Sure, there are a select few who have been raking since Opening Day. But for others, April slumps have brought May thumps — and batting lines that look more in line with expectations.

That’s all reflected in our third edition of the Hitter Power Rankings. Like with our first two polls, this one asked our MLB.com voters to consider a combination of talent, track record, recent performance, compelling storylines and a bit of “fun factor.”

The results were split, with five sluggers returning from our last San Francisco 49ers Jerseys  rankings and five making their first appearance of the season. So put on your shades and check out the full list below.

1) Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees (last poll: 2)
If Judge was going to unseat Mike Trout for the No. 1 spot, he needed to do something huge. And, well, he did. Judge slashed .429/.485/1.000 with five home runs and 11 RBIs over a seven-game span from May 10-17 and has launched 13 of his MLB-leading 14 homers since April 22. This is shaping up to be one of the all-time contract-year performances.

2) Mike Trout, CF, Angels (1)
Think about how sensational Trout has been throughout his career. Now consider that his 225 OPS+, which adjusts for offensive environment, puts him further above the MLB average (100) than he has ever been in a season before. (His career high: 198 in 2018). Trout also leads the Majors in expected offensive production, based on the quality of his contact, as tracked by Statcast.

3) Bryce Harper, DH, Phillies (not ranked)
Harper was not supposed to be a DH this season, but he hasn’t Skechers Shoes Outlets played the field since April 16 and likely won’t do so again until late July, at the earliest. That’s the result of a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. That hasn’t cramped Harper’s style at the plate, though. After an uncharacteristically quiet start to the season, the two-time NL MVP went 18-for-36 (.500) with seven doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs over a nine-game stretch before a PRP injection he received in the balky elbow on Sunday took him out of the lineup for the Phillies’ past four games.

4) Taylor Ward, RF, Angels (5)
Imagine being able to flip a switch and emulate any hitter you wanted. It’s not that easy, of course. But it seems like that’s what Ward has done this year. And the guy he’s copying? That would be none other than his teammate, Trout. Ward’s plate approach and results look eerily similar to the three-time MVP’s. Yet Ward’s slash line (.375/.488/.721 for a 253 OPS+) is actually better than Trout’s, and he leads qualified MLB hitters in each of those categories.

5) Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (NR)
He’s been around long enough that it’s easy to forget Devers is still only 25 years old. And right now, he’s raking at a level not seen since his enormous 2019 campaign. Devers has at least a share of the Major League lead in hits (53), doubles (15), total bases (91) and hard-hit balls (67). After batting .264 in his first 17 games, he responded by batting .395 over his next 21.

6) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals (NR)
Eleven games into the season, Goldy had a .146 batting average. That’s ancient history now, though. The six-time All-Star has hit .402 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 26 games since, and Thursday brought his third three-hit effort since Sunday.

7) Mookie Betts, RF, Dodgers (NR)
Here we have another longtime star whose bat has perked up considerably of late. Coming off a down year by his lofty standards, Betts seems to be fully healthy and having fun again in 2022. He’s reached base safely in 18 of his past 19 games and homered in three of his past six, posting a .948 OPS in May.

8) Giancarlo Stanton, RF/DH, Yankees (NR)
When Big G is locked in and obliterating baseballs like only he can, it’s always scary for pitchers. This is one of those times. Stanton belted his ninth home run over his past 19 games on Thursday and has 26 RBIs in that stretch — one reason the Yankees’ offense has been on a roll.

9) Yordan Alvarez, LF/DH, Astros (7)
Only Judge has gone deep more times this season than Alvarez (12), including a two-homer game on May 12 at Minnesota. Alvarez, who won’t turn 25 until next month, Skechers Outlets ranks in the 97th percentile or higher in hard-hit rate, barrel rate, expected batting average and expected slugging percentage.

10) Manny Machado, 3B, Padres (6)
Thursday was Machado’s 14th multihit game already this season. He leads the NL in average (.355), OBP (.432) and hits (50), among other categories, doing more than his share to carry the Padres’ offense in Fernando Tatis Jr.’s absence.

Also receiving votes: Jose Altuve (Astros), Jazz Chisholm Jr. (Marlins), Willson Contreras (Cubs), C.J. Cron (Rockies), J.D. Martinez (Red Sox), Josh Naylor (Guardians), Brandon Nimmo (Mets), Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Jeremy Peña (Astros), Luis Robert (White Sox), Jean Segura (Phillies), Tyler Stephenson (Reds), Kyle Tucker (Astros), Juan Yepez (Cardinals)

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