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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not…According to Bill James

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The first month of the MLB season is already behind us, and as temperatures are heating up across the country, I am reminded of one of my favorite Stats of the Week to write each year: who’s hot and who’s not. Several years ago, Bill James developed a system to measure how hot players are on the Fahrenheit temperature scale where players start at 72 degrees and increase or decrease based on how well they have played of late. Let’s take a look at the hottest hitters through yesterday’s games:

The Hottest Hitters, May 18
Player Temperature
Danny Valencia 99°
Ian Kinsler 98°
J.D. Martinez 96°
Trayce Thompson 96°
Matt Joyce 96°

Danny Valencia enjoyed a breakout season in Toronto and Oakland in 2015 as a 30-year-old. This season, as the Athletics primary third baseman, he has continued his hot play, especially since returning from a hamstring injury that put him on the disabled list in late April. For the season, Valencia is batting .338/.376/.600, and he has hit all six of his home runs this season over the last week.

Here are the coldest hitters through yesterday’s games:

The Coldest Hitters, May 18
Player Temperature
Carlos Gomez 41°
Yasmani Grandal 41°
Adam Rosales 43°
James McCann 45°
Oswaldo Arcia 45°

Like Valencia, Gomez was something of a late bloomer. He became an elite hitter at 27 years old in his seventh year in the majors. Now 30, Gomez’s run of dominance may already be over if his play with the Astros late last year and this year is any indication. Gomez is currently tied with Yasmani Grandal as the coldest hitter in baseball, and for the season, Gomez is hitting just .182/.238/.248. Meanwhile, Baseball Info Solutions’ Defense-Independent Batting Statistics do not indicate that Gomez has been particularly unlucky; he actually has 1.3 more hits than expected based on the quality of his batted balls this season. Yesterday, the Astros placed Gomez on the DL with bruised ribs, an injury he suffered in early May. The team will have to hope that some time off for recovery will help Gomez turn his season around.

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