Pitchers tend to get outsized attention early in the season because their data is more meaningful over smaller samples. There isn't much to observe about hitters other than how much they're playing and how hot they are. Meaningful judgments are reserved for about the six-week point, and we're not even halfway there yet.

Still, I suspect you're more concerned about your hitters than your pitchers at this point just by virtue of hitting being so bad. Chris Towers has already outlined the extent of the damage and possible reasons for it, so I won't go into the weeds here. Suffice it to say that between more consistent use of the new baseballs and universal application of the humidor, the scales may be tipping even more toward pitching after already doing so last year.

But there also slow starts, particularly amid colder weather and after an abbreviated spring training. How can you tell the difference between a slow starter and a genuine casualty of the new environment? You probably can't, which is why caution is warranted with any hitter moves you make right now.

To that end, I'm here to tell you who you shouldn't drop, whether because the upside is too high or the investment too great. Some will be obvious, but for those who are less so, I offer an explanation.

This list is meant to be all-inclusive, so anyone not mentioned here is at least theoretically droppable. Of course, it depends on the depth of your league as well as the scoring format. In some, it would be crazy to drop Luke Voit or Brendan Rodgers -- two players who I still like, for what it's worth. I'll trust you to know if you play in such a league.


Nobody would dream of dropping: Willson Contreras, Yasmani Grandal, Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith

Others performing too well to drop: Sean Murphy

Deserving of continued patience: 

Mitch Garver
Playing time has been a liability for him in the past, but seeing as he's started 13 of the Rangers' first 16 games, it's now an asset. His low barrel rate suggests he doesn't have his timing quite down yet, but he's managed to keep the strikeouts under control unlike in 2020, the only blemish on an otherwise sterling past three years. 

Alejandro Kirk
Playing time is half the battle at catcher, and it's been in surprising abundance for Kirk, who has started 12 of the Blue Jays' first 16 games. He hasn't gotten a single extra-base hit yet, but seeing as his average exit velocity last year was 92.3 mph, you wouldn't expect him to be a casualty of the new hitting environment. He continues to make contact at an elite rate. 

Daulton Varsho
The batting average might make you queasy, but he's actually been a top-five catcher so far, which goes to show how little it takes to stand out at the position. His speed and everyday role in center field are such clear advantages over the rest of the catcher crop that you should stick with him as long as the Diamondbacks do.  

First base

Nobody would dream of dropping: Jose Abreu, Pete Alonso, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Vladimir Guerrero, Max Muncy, Matt Olson

Others performing too well to drop: Josh Bell, Brandon Belt, C.J. Cron, Ty France, DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo

Deserving of continued patience:

Rhys Hoskins
His barrel rate and average exit velocity are both off the charts, the highest they've ever been in his career, so perhaps his three-hit game Monday was the first sign of his luck beginning to turn. His elite plate discipline seems to have returned, too, after taking a step back last year. 

Spencer Torkelson
Rookies have had an especially difficult time breaking into the league the past couple years, but Torkelson's struggles seem mild by comparison. The strikeouts are a little high, but the on-base skills are translating. Plus, the batted-ball metrics suggests he deserves better than he's gotten so far, namely the .267 xBA and .497 xSLG. 

Joey Votto
He's Joey Votto, a hitting savant and master of self-diagnosis who reinvented himself last year after suffering through declining power numbers. He simply will not abide this latest downturn, which has him getting buried by strikeouts for the first time in his career, and his track record has earned him the benefit of the doubt.

Also: Jake Cronenworth (see second base)

Second base

Nobody would dream of dropping: Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve, Javier Baez, Brandon Lowe, Ketel Marte, Max Muncy, Whit Merrifield, Jorge Polanco, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Trea Turner

Others performing too well to drop: Jazz Chisholm, Tommy Edman, Ty France, DJ LeMahieu

Deserving of continued patience: 

Jake Cronenworth
Cronenworth actually doesn't hit the ball especially hard, ranking in the bottom third of the league in average exit velocity last year, which makes him a potential casualty of the new environment. It isn't the cause of his struggles so far, though, seeing as Statcast has him with a .265 xBA and .461 xSLG. He's so versatile and makes so much contact that I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.   

Jonathan India
A hamstring injury has kept him sidelined of late, and as unfair as it is to assess anyone on just 14 games, it's doubly so on seven. His one walk during that time is especially out of character and will of course need to improve, but let's not forget he was batting .221 with a .675 OPS as late as May 25 last year and went on to have the numbers he had.

Third base

Nobody would dream of dropping: Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Kris Bryant, Rafael Devers, Manny Machado, Max Muncy, Jose Ramirez, Austin Riley

Others performing too well to drop: DJ LeMahieu, Ke'Bryan Hayes

Deserving of continued patience: 

Matt Chapman
Most concerning for Chapman in his first season back from hip surgery last year is that he wasn't hitting the ball nearly as hard on average, ranking in the 59th percentile when he's usually up near 99. It's back to normal so far this year, and his strikeouts are back under control as well. If those trends continue, he's a stud again, particularly given the lineup context.

Josh Donaldson
The strikeouts are a little high so far, but he's actually improved on last year's average exit velocity, which was in the 99th percentile. That's a quality of contact that would translate to any environment and also suggests his swing isn't slowing down at age 36. He may have trouble staying on the field, but you can still trust him to deliver when he is. 

Anthony Rendon
He's back in the upper half of the league in average exit velocity, which makes it not so clear he was a casualty of the new ball last year but also makes it harder to explain what's going on now. Not elevating enough, maybe? He deserves more time regardless given his track record and the current state of third base.

Justin Turner
The questions about Turner's playing time have gone away now that he can split his time at DH, but questions are emerging about his production for the first time in years. At 37, he may be nearing his expiration date, but with his strikeout rate holding steady, I'm inclined to say it's just a slow start. The lack of barreled balls suggests the same.

Also: Adalberto Mondesi, Bobby Witt (see shortstop)


Nobody would dream of dropping: Tim Anderson, Javier Baez, Bo Bichette, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Wander Franco, Francisco Lindor, Jorge Polanco, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis, Trea Turner 

Others performing too well to drop: Jazz Chisholm

Deserving of continued patience: 

Willy Adames
Statcast has him with a .275 xBA and .439 xSLG, and those expected stats alone would suggest nothing is actually wrong with Adames. His strikeout rate is the same as last year, and he's hitting the ball about as hard on average. The one thing that's down is his barrel rate, which is a telltale sign that he hasn't gotten hot yet. If his expected stats are respectable in spite of it, things are looking up. 

Adalberto Mondesi
He's still healthy and still a prolific base-stealer, having swiped five bags already despite reaching base at a .176 clip. As long as he embodies those two qualities, he'll be indispensable in Rotisserie leagues or any other format that uses traditional 5x5 scoring. Maybe in points leagues or some other format that doesn't value stolen bases quite the same way, the bat isn't worth the headache, but the law of averages says better days are ahead. 

Bobby Witt
Remember what I said about rookies having a harder time breaking in the past couple years? Yeah ... it's especially difficult to comprehend in Witt's case given that he was a force of nature in the upper minors last year and again this spring. He still offers an impressive skill set for a player who now has third base eligibility. The fact he hasn't barreled a single ball yet suggests his swing is a little off in the early going.

Also: Jake Cronenworth (see second base)  


Nobody would dream of dropping: Ronald Acuna, Yordan Alvarez, Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper, Teoscar Hernandez, Aaron Judge, Ketel Marte, Startling Marte, J.D. Martinez, Whit Merrifield, Cedric Mullins, Bryan Reynolds, Luis Robert, Kyle Schwarber, Juan Soto, George Springer, Seiya Suzuki, Fernando Tatis, Mike Trout, Kyle Tucker, Christian Yelich

Others performing too well to drop: Cody Bellinger, Tommy Edman, Connor Joe, Steven Kwan, Austin Meadows, Marcell Ozuna, Alex Verdugo

Deserving of continued patience: 

Randy Arozarena
I was already skeptical of Arozarena based on his .222 xBA and .369 xSLG last year, and I'll note that his front-facing numbers this year are about in line with those. But he's also been hitting everything into the ground, his ground-ball rate up near 70 percent, and we're sure to see some correction in that regard. 

Mitch Haniger
He has played in only eight games because of a bout with COVID and has homered three times in those eight games. You may be fixated on the .176 batting average, but note that Statcast has him with a .284 xBA (not to mention a .636 xSLG).  

Tyler O'Neill
For all the concern about his 31.3 percent strikeout rate last year, it hasn't been the source of his struggles this year, actually dropping to 21.7 percent. It's an encouraging sign if he can get back to impacting the ball like he did last year, and his recent work suggests he can.

Julio Rodriguez
The rookie's strikeout rate is off the charts, which, coupled with the Mariners' aggressive decision to include him on the opening day roster, might lead you to believe he's overmatched. But he has had unusually bad luck on called third strikes, turning his excellent plate discipline into a liability, and is certainly hitting the ball hard enough for you to wait it out.

Giancarlo Stanton
There are power hitters, and then there's what Giancarlo Stanton has been over the course of his career, setting a new standard for what a batter can do to the baseball. If his power doesn't translate to this new environment, no one's will. He's been pretty undisciplined so far, but the quality of contact has been as good as ever.

Jesse Winker
He has been frustratingly streaky over the course of his career, but at his best is capable of carrying a Fantasy team for weeks at a time. He's been sitting some against lefties, which could become a problem, but after the year he just had, it's too early to pull the plug. While he's batting .154 with a .173 slugging percentage, Statcast has him with a .292 xBA and .486 xSLG.

Also: Daulton Varsho (see catcher)

Designated hitter

Nobody would dream of dropping: Shohei Ohtani, Nelson Cruz, Franmil Reyes