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Evaluating Pitchers With New Homes Using HRPF+

After I developed directional home run park factors and converted them to a plus metric, I covered hitters who have a new home in 2020. For this portion of the series, I’ll cover some of the top starting pitchers with new clubs. Of course, there are outside factors like switching leagues and facing unfamiliar opponents but I have tried to include that in my analysis. In case you’re new to my work, I’ll cover the directional park factors real quick. For the full explanation, you can check out the original article here and the conversion to a plus metric, here.

Guts of Directional HRPF+ 

I pulled three years of batted ball data from all 30 MLB venues. Then, I broke down the data by direction: left, center, right. From there, I separated the barreled balls that were hit to each field and how many of those barrels turned into home runs. That’s the home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) to each field. I refer to this metric a lot, especially in my eHR metric. Of course, I found out that HR/BRL% was much higher for pulled balls than for balls hit to the opposite field. So, I had to separate all data for right-handed and left-handed batted balls. then, I ran Z-Scores using all this data for each venue to determine how left, center, and right fields compared to the league average. That’s the genesis of the data.


However, nearly 20% of all home runs were hit with a quality of contact below that of a barrel. Jonathan Metzellar of PitcherList explains this very nicely in his most recent article, Beyond the Barrel. Most of the remaining home runs are qualified as Solid Contact. Balls that qualify as solid contact are home runs between 10 and 11% of the time. I certainly had to account for those, so I devised a formula to include them in the park factors. I won’t bore you with more details and data, so let’s get to the pitchers!

I won’t cover Corey Kluber or Jordan Lyles because Globe Life Park is no more in 2020. The Rangers will have a new home with a retractable roof and a more controlled environment and different dimensions. So, the data for Globe Life Park is unfortunately useless. 

The park factors that I reference (HRPF+) measure how much better or worse a park plays for home runs based on a percentage. 100 is league average in terms of home runs relative to the same direction. For every point above or below 100, the park is 1% better or worse than league-average.  In other words, if a park is valued with a HRPF+ of 110 to left field, it’s 10% better to left field for home runs than the league average left field. The same goes for HRPF+ below 100.

Madison Bumgarner (SP – ARI) from SFG

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Oracle Park (SFG) 89 65 57
Chase Field (ARI) 106 68 98

While we only have two years of data from Chase Field since the humidor was installed, it’s clear that Mad Bum gets a downgrade to right field. Why? Because, well, right field at Oracle Park is 43% below the league average and ranked 30th for home runs hit. That was a good thing for him when he pitched there but now that he’s gone, he won’t have that advantage. Left-handed batters managed a 48.7% HR/BRL rate over the last three years at Oracle. For reference, the league average HR/BRL% for left-handed batters to right field is 75.8%. Centerfield was equally helpful for Mad Bum but what about left field? Bad news for Mad Bum. Since 2015, here are the HR/FB% to left field for Bumgarner in succession 16.4%, 23.8%, 24.2%, 30.6%. That’s a disturbing trend in a home park that played 11% below league average to left field. Now,  he calls Chase Field home that’s played six percent better than league-average to left field. Last year, Bumgarner ended up with a career-worst 12.6% HR/FB rate, which considering the juiced ball, wasn’t half bad. I can say with quite a bit of confidence, that Bumgarner sets a new career-high in home run rate, settling in with an ERA above 4.00.



Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI) from NYM

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Citi Field (NYM) 110 107 105
Citizens Bank (PHI) 115 91 114

Well, this isn’t quite the park downgrade most skeptics are projecting. To be fair, Citizens Bank Park does play more favorably for hits in general and therefore runs scored, so it is a better hitters park overall. However, for home runs, it’s very close. Outside of 2017, Wheeler has always been able to suppress home runs. And, since both left field and right field are within 10% in terms of my HRPF+, let’s focus on centerfield. Citi Field is seven percent worse than league-average (for a pitcher) on home runs to center where Citizens Bank is nine percent better than league-average to centerfield. Over the last three seasons, one-third of Wheeler’s fly balls traveled out towards centerfield. In 2017, something weird happened. Wheeler gave up an astonishing seven of his 15 home runs to centerfield in just 86 innings. Since then, he’s allowed just five homers over the last two seasons combined. His HR/FB% to centerfield over that timeframe is just four percent, which is lower than half of the league-average. Based on the scant number of homers he’s given up to center, I don’t think I can regress that number anymore. In other words, this move is essentially neutral with maybe a slight downgrade overall for Wheeler.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – TOR) from LAD

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95
Rogers Centre (TOR) 110 101 102

In 2019, we saw everything come together for Ryu, health, home run suppression, weak contact, luck, etc. It was a best-case scenario type of season. Now, he finds himself in the AL East. Without knowing anything about park factors, we can safely assume the competition will be more difficult. Not only is the division better, but he’ll face an extra hitter in the DH instead of the pitcher twice. However, he will receive a much more giving centerfield compared to LAD, but he’s only given up eight home runs to centerfield the last two seasons. So, maybe he gives up three this year? How about left field? Ryu’s given up 47 home runs since the start of 2017, 24 of them have gone out to left field (51%). Left field at the Rogers Centre is 12% more favorable for home runs than Dodger Stadium. Ryu’s HR/9 last year was just 0.84. For 2020, I’ll set the over/under at 1.20. Given neutral luck, I’d expect something close to an ERA of 4.00. That’s not all that playable with a below-average strikeout rate.



David Price (SP – LAD) from BOS

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Fenway Park (BOS) 96 68 75
Dodger Sta (LAD) 98 150 95

Price is in for a massive spike in home runs to center and right fields. Throughout four seasons with Boston, his HR/FB% to right field hovered around 10%. To centerfield, it was slightly lower with a HR/FB% around 9% but spiked in 2019 to a career-high 12.8%. I think it’s important to note that during his time with Boston, he gave up 33 home runs at home and 45 home runs on the road. He did throw 21 more innings on the road over that time but doesn’t account for a difference of 12 homers. I decided to look at wOBA minus xwOBA on all fly balls and line drives against Price since 2015 on batted balls to center and right field. It’s essentially wOBACON minus xwOBACON to CF and RF but excluding ground balls. 

Season LD+FB: wOBA-xwOBA (CF) LD+FB: wOBA-xwOBA (RF)
2016 -.021 -.007
2017 -.051 -.039
2018 -.124 -.044
2019 -.180 -.166

I trust Statcast’s data more in 2018 and 2019 as the kinks have been ironed out. That’s where the biggest discrepancy lies between wOBA-xwOBA. A portion of the difference can be attributed to the stellar outfield defense between Mookie Betts and JBJ. Fortunately, Betts will be roaming right field once again, so that’s a wash. Bellinger in center is a slight downgrade from Jackie Bradley Jr. But, overall, I think Price continues to partially outperform his expected metrics on balls hit to center and right on balls that stay in the yard. However, given the increase in home runs he may allow, the gap between LD+FB wOBA-xwOBA should be much smaller. That being said, the smaller outfield dimensions from left-center to right-center at Dodger Stadium should turn some doubles and triples into outs. It’s difficult to predict how this will play out. On one hand, he’ll turn doubles and triples into outs. On the other hand, the doubles/triples that he would have allowed in Fenway may turn into home runs. His ERA may go up due to the homers but I expect his WHIP and strikeouts to improve as he avoids the DH and will face weaker opponents.

Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN) from LAD

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95
Target Field (MIN) 97 82 94

Okay, his one is easy. A negligible change to both left and right fields, but look at centerfield! Dodger Stadium is an incredible 68 percent more favorable for home runs to centerfield than Maeda’s new home, Target Field. Over the course of his career, Maeda has given up more fly balls to centerfield than to left or right fields, respectively at nearly 40%. He definitely felt the juiced ball with a HR/9 of 1.47 in 2017 and 1.29 in 2019. However, in 2018, he allowed just a 0.93 HR/9. It seems like the generous centerfield at Dodger Stadium played a role. His 15.8% HR/FB to centerfield last year was the worst of his career and about 5% worse than the league-average. Yet, he allowed fewer home runs per fly ball than the league-average overall. This proves that Dodger Stadium hurt his number, and he allowed 13 of his 21 home runs at home in 2019. The move from the NL to the AL isn’t ideal but the AL Central has its weaknesses. Detroit and Kansas City are poor clubs and have favorable parks to pitch in. Cleveland is top-heavy but not all that deep and the White Sox are talented but young. I would bet that Maeda knocks a few home runs off his total in 2020 and ends with a sub-4.00 ERA for the second time in four years. I want Maeda over Ryu this season and it’s not all that close.



Dallas Keuchel (SP – CHW) from ATL

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
SunTrust Stadium (ATL) 88 100 100
U.S. Cellular (CHW) 110 107 113

Keuchel had a wild 23.1% HR/FB rate last year with the Braves in an abbreviated season. Normally, a ratio that high would be a death sentence to a pitcher’s ERA. But, Keuchel still managed an ERA of 3.75 thanks in large part to a 60% ground ball rate. His sinker and changeup both generate a ton of ground balls. However, his sinker was crushed when elevated in the strike zone. On his sinker, he gave up six home runs on just 16 fly balls in 2019. Moving from Atlanta to Chicago is clearly a negative for Keuchel, not only because the park is more favorable for hitters to all three fields but he’ll also face the DH. Because Keuchel gives up so few fly balls, I don’t think it’ll completely decimate his ratios given the park change. I’m more concerned about his dipping zone rate. It hit a career-low 33% last year and hitters aren’t exactly chasing often enough to justify the drop. It showed up in his walk rate that went from 6.6% in 2018 to 8.0% in 2019. His strikeout rate will once again be below 20% and if his walk rate jumps to nine or 10%, he could finish with a 4.50 ERA in 2020.  

Wade Miley (SP – CIN) from HOU

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Minute Maid (HOU) 136 73 129
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

Miley jumps from one hitter’s haven park to another. At least he leaves the American League and the DH to go to the NL where lineups are generally weaker. Great American Ballpark is the most favorable (or unfavorable for pitchers) for home runs in all of baseball. Minute Maid Park in Houston is a hitter’s park to both left and right fields, so there’s a minimal change for Miley on pulled and opposite-field fly balls this coming season. Then, there’s centerfield. If you recall, Minute Maid used to have Tal’s Hill in center field and was 435 feet to dead center. In 2015, the hill was removed and the fences were brought in to a distance of 409 feet to dead center. My park factors only include the results after the fences were brought in and it still performs poorly to centerfield. That’s because the left-center field fence is 404 feet away from home plate. Okay, enough about Houston, let’s focus on Miley. He gives up a lot of fly balls to centerfield. In fact, over 40% of his fly balls head out to center. He gave up just three homers to center last year with just a 4.9% HR/FB rate. I expect that to at least double if not triple in 2020. That could be the difference between three and nine home runs to centerfield over the course of a full season. With an unknown opening day, I think he may give up three or four more home runs in 2020 then if he stayed put in Houston. 

Cole Hamels (SP – ATL) from CHC

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Wrigley Field (CHC) 105 106 79
SunTrust Stadium (ATL) 88 100 100

Entering the twilight of his successful career, let’s find out if Hamels can bring back some fantasy goodness in the ATL. While Wrigley has a higher HRPF+ to center field, it’s mostly due to the cheap home runs when the wind is blowing out. The difference between the two parks and their three-year average in terms of HR/BRL% is within one percent. Hamels will see more significant changes to left and right fields. As a left-handed pitcher, he sees the righty-heavy lineups most of the time. Righties have done pretty well against the southpaw with a .330 and .321 wOBA in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The good news for Hamles is that 60% of the home runs he’s allowed since the start of 2018 have gone to left field. Wrigley was slightly favorable for home runs to left where SunTrust should suppress them a bit more. I expect Hamels to allow fewer home runs to left field in his new park but the short porch near the right-field line could allow for some non-barreled balls to drop just over the fence. I’m not chasing Hamels in drafts even though he’s cheap. I’d look for upside plays such as Corbin Burnes, Justus Sheffield, and Kwan-Hyun Kim over the crafty veteran. 

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





Photo courtesy AP Photo/John Bazemore

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Home Run Park Factors Part 2 – (Conversion to a Plus Metric, HRPF+)

In order to display my home run park factors in a way that is much more palatable for the readers, I’ve developed FreezeStats Park Factor for Home Runs (PFHR+) metric. It is used the same way other plus metrics are used such as ERA+ or wRC+. It measures how much better or worse a certain ballpark performs compared to the league average with 100 being average. We know if a player finishes the season with a 150 wRC+, he was 50% better than league average offensively. That’s the same premise behind my park factor metric. A park with a 150+ PFHR+ is 50% better than league average for home runs. 

All ballparks are not created equal, dimensions and irregularities within the same ballpark can vary quite a bit. So, I’ve broken the PFHR+ for each field or direction (Left-field, Center-field, right-field). The focus of directional park factors is important when evaluating a player’s tendencies and batted ball profile. It’s also interesting when looking at evaluating pitchers. I’ll analyze pitchers for my next article with respect to this metric in the next couple of weeks. For this article, I’ll cover nine hitters below who have changed teams. I’ll dive into the park change and what type of power output we can expect, both positive and negative based on the team/park change. 


First, I want to look at an example to help explain the park factors. Yankee Stadium is widely viewed as a great place to hit home runs. Part of this is true and part of it is not. It’s perception more than anything. The Yankees have some massive power bats including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. These guys are mashers regardless of where they hit. As you’ll see below, right-field is extremely favorable for home runs at Yankee Stadium. In fact, it’s ranked number one in all of baseball based on my PFHR+ when compared to all right fields! This explains much of Brett Gardner’s late-career success and Didi Gregorius’s 20+ home run power seasons. These left-handed hitters pulled a high percentage of their fly balls to take advantage of the short right-field dimensions. However, Yankee Stadium grades out slightly below-average for home runs to center and left field respectively. 

The slightly unfavorable left-field dimensions don’t hurt the right-handed sluggers on the Yankees because a 450-foot fly ball is a home run anywhere. It actually helps when looking at Aaron Judge. He’s been hitting more and more opposite-field fly balls, up to 49.5% and 48% each of the last two seasons. His HR/FB% on opposite-field fly balls last season was an incredible 37.8% which was significantly higher than his HR/FB% to centerfield. These Home Run Park Factors+ (HRPF+) bare this out. If you take a look at the table below, you can see that Yankee Stadium has a 146 HRPF+ to right field and just an 83 HRPF+ to centerfield. That means Yankee Stadium is 46% better than league average for home runs to right field but 17% below the league average for home runs to centerfield.

To give you an example of the criteria I’m looking at to determine these home run park factors, here’s a three-year snapshot of right field at Yankee Stadium (NYY) and Oracle Park (SFG), the best and worse parks for home runs to right field respectively.

Venue (Rightfield) HR/BRL% (LHB) Non-BRL HR (LHB) HR/BRL% (RHB) Non-BRL HR (RHB)
Yankee Stadium 88.7% 73 77.4% 52
Oracle Park 48.7% 24 15.3% 8
League Average 73.6% 40 49.7% 13

Based on this information, you can see that both left-handed batters and right-handed batters benefit at Yankee Stadium when hitting the ball to right field and the opposite is true at Oracle Park. This is true based on the percentage of barreled balls that become home runs (HR/BRL%) and based on the total number of non-barreled home runs at each venue. The numbers seem a bit confusing and difficult to digest when displayed like this. That’s why I’ve created HRPF+. If you’re interested in the more granular data, feel free to DM me on Twitter or write in the comments below and I’ll share the Google Sheet.


Introducting HRPF+ (Home Run Park Factors Plus)

Park/VenueTeamLF - HRPF+CF - HRPF+RF - HRPF+
Oriole ParkBAL121134100
Comerica ParkDET1042897
T-Mobile ParkSEA97106103
Yankee StadiumNYY9183146
Rogers CentreTOR110101102
Target FieldMIN978294
Minute Maid ParkHOU13673129
Oakland ColiseumOAK9910184
Angel StadiumLAA8214799
Nationals ParkWSH10212485
Kauffman StadiumKCR886677
Fenway ParkBOS966875
Chase FieldARI1066897
Petco ParkSDP11011291
Citizens Bank ParkPHI11591114
Globe Life ParkTEX91110121
Citi FieldNYM110107105
Guaranteed Rate FldCHW110107113
Coors FieldCOL109134113
Dodger StadiumLAD9815095
Busch StadiumSTL8010581
GABPCIN121132136
Marlins ParkMIA868091
Tropicana FieldTBR1028295
SunTrust ParkATL88100100
Miller ParkMIL91134117
Wrigley FieldCHC10510679
Oracle ParkSFG896557
Progressive FieldCLE87108112
PNC ParkPIT7810596

Notes: Columns are sortable! Data for Globe Life in Texas is no longer valid. A new park will be used in 2020. 

Mookie Betts (OF – LAD) formerly with the Red Sox

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Fenway Park (BOS) 96 68 75
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95

I don’t think people realize how much of a boost Betts could see in terms of his power with the move the LA. It’s important to note that while the left field HRPF+ is essentially the same in each park they play differently. Fenway allows more non-barreled home runs to left field (61 HR to 38 HR) where Dodger Stadium has a higher HR/BRL% (74% to 67.2%). That’s the Green Monster at play. The barreled balls with low launch angles smack off the high wall but balls hit at high launch angles that don’t qualify as barrels sneak over the monster. Right field is also more favorable but Betts does not have good power to right field so I don’t expect a huge boost in power production there.

Enough about left field, let’s talk about where Betts is really going to benefit. He’s going from Fenway where the HRPF+ was 38% below league-average to Dodger Stadium that plays 51% better than league-average to CF! Let’s try to quantify this. Betts has increased his fly ball% to centerfield each of the last five years (36.8% to 42.1%). I fully expect Betts, who has an elite hit tool to take advantage of centerfield. His HR/FB% to centerfield over the last three seasons is about 50% below the league average. However, when looking at his average exit velocity and average fly ball distance on fly balls to center, he falls in the top 30% of the league. That’s Fenway Park holding him back. Based on this information, I’d expect Betts to finish with a better than league average HR/FB% to center in 2020. To give some context, I’d expect somewhere between four and six more home runs to centerfield in 2020. 

Anthony Rendon (3B – LAA) – formerly with the Washington Nationals

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Nationals Pk (WSH) 102 124 85
Angel Sta (LAA) 82 147 99

Nationals Park plays surprisingly well, especially for right-handed batters, so Rendon takes a hit there. He should see some benefits to center and right field though. His batted ball profile on fly balls is pretty evenly distributed. He hit 23 of his 34 home runs to left field in 2019 with a career-best HR/FB% on fly balls to left field. I expect that number to drop However, he improved his quality of contact on fly balls to center and right, respectively but didn’t see many gains in 2019. So while I expect Rendon to hit more home runs to center and right, it should even out with a decline in homers to left. Expecting a repeat of 34 home runs is probably not wise but 28-30 seems like it’ll be in the cards.


Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN) – formerly with the Detroit Tigers

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Comerica (DET) 104 28 97
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

I think the baseball world went nuts when they saw this overlay I Tweeted out including Castellanos’ line drives and fly balls over the GABP. 


It’s absolutely nuts. Some people were counting as many as 30 additional home runs based on the overlay. Obviously, that’s not how this works, plus he’s only playing half his games in the GABP. But, going from Comerica that plays like the worst park for home runs to centerfield at 72% below-league average to a top-five park to center is going to do wonders. Castellanos hit 41.5% of his fly balls to center last year but it’s fluctuated over the years. In the final two months of 2019, he benefited from playing in Wrigley which has a 106 HRPF+ to center, so he already took advantage over the final two months of last season. His HR/FB% has consistently been just under 14% for his career and there’s no doubt in my mind, he crushes that rate within a new career-high. I won’t peg him for a 20% HR/FB rate but would probably project him for something around 18% in 2020. Using his 2019 fly ball total, that would bring him to 34 home runs. 

Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL) – formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Busch Stadium (STL) 80 105 81
Suntrust Park (ATL) 88 100 100

I just found out that SunTrust Park had a name change and is now Truist Park. The park remains unchanged otherwise in terms of dimensions, so the park factors should be accurate. Overall, Ozuna will receive a park upgrade but it’s not as drastic as some of the players above. Ozuna was a massive underperformer based on my earned home run (eHR) metric last year, so I think he’s due for some positive regression regardless of his location. The park change just reiterates this point. His 22.1% HR/FB rate last year was the second-highest of his career but his barrel rate, hard hit%, expected metrics, etc were by far the best of his career. The question is whether or not he can keep his elite batted ball metrics for 2020. If he can, he should hit 35-40 home runs across 600+ PA, otherwise, he’s still a safe bet for 30 home runs.


Mike Moustakas (2B, 3B – CIN) formerly with the Milwaukee Brewers

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Miller Park (MIL) 91 134 117
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

While Miller Park in Milwaukee is favorable for home runs, Cincinnati is simply the best park in baseball for home runs, as I discussed with Nicky C. Unfortunately, Moose bats from the left side limiting his overall benefit from the park change. Leftfield in the GABP is 30% better than Miller Park and right field is almost 20% better. Believe it or not, the slugger has just seven opposite-field home runs in his career. Four of those seven came last season. He did improve his hard contact on fly balls to left field, so if I was a betting man, I’d expect Mosse to hit more than four homers to the opposite field in 2020. But, where Moustakas makes his money is on pulled fly balls. His HR/FB% on pulled FBs typically sits around 35% but I have a feeling, it’ll push 40% next year. I’m beginning to think that Moustakas can hit 40-45 home runs next year. In fact, I’ll throw down a bold prediction about Moose & Casteallnos totaling a combined 80 home runs in 2020. This is bold because even if I combine both player’s career-high home run totals, we come up with 65 home runs (38 for Mosse, 27 for Castellanos). Combining for 15 home runs above their career-bests is a long shot but I think they have a chance. 

Starling Marte (OF – ARI) – formerly with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
PNC Park (PIT) 78 105 96
Chase Field (ARI) 106 68 97

Chase Field had the humidor installed before the 2018 season, so I’m not 100% confident in the data. However, one thing is for sure, Marte’s power will benefit to left field and is going to take a hit to center. Unfortunately, he regularly pulls fly balls at a below-average clip. However, he crushes pulled fly balls and line drives to the tune of 97.7 mph over the last two seasons. Those exit velocities on LD/FB put him in company with teammate Josh Bell, Edwin Encarnacion, and Khris Davis. If Marte can modify his approach and pull more fly balls, he could reach a new career-high in home runs. But, with a total of 20 pulled home runs over the last two years and 18 home runs to center, Marte’s move may just be neutral if his approach remains unchanged.

Didi Gregorius (SS – PHI) – formerly with the New York Yankees

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Yankee Stadium (NYY) 91 83 146
Citizen’s Bank (PHI) 115 91 114

We can completely ignore left field when discussing Gregorius’ power. He has NEVER hit a home run to left field and has hit just nine homers to centerfield. Now, he goes from a park that played 46% better than league-average to right field to a park that’s 14% better than league-average. Now that Didi is more than a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, I don’t have any doubts that he’ll enter 2020 healthy. Even in an abbreviated season, he was on pace for just under 30 home runs. The switch in his home park probably leads to three-four fewer home runs to right field. The difference to centerfield is about 3% in terms of a three-year HR/BRL%, so that’s relatively minimal. If Didi is a 25-homer hitter in New York, he’s a 22-homer guy in 2020 in Philly.

Avisail Garcia (OF – MIL) – formerly with the Tampa Bay Rays

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Tropicana (TBR) 102 82 95
Miller Park (MIL) 91 134 117

Let’s see, 11% worse to left field, 52% better the center, and 22% better to right. Is this not enough for you to buy into Garcia who reached 20 home runs for the first time in 2019? He actually earned 28 home runs based on eHR last year, so if he can maintain his impressive quality of contact, he’s a bargain in 2020. He’s notoriously a heavy ground ball hitter but as I highlighted in my potential power breakouts article on Pitcher List, Garcia has decreased his ground ball in four straight seasons. It’s interesting to note that Garcia doesn’t pull many of his fly balls. Will you look at that? Miller Park plays a little less favorably to left field. It’s almost as if the Brewers saw an advantage others didn’t. Nearly, 86% of his fly balls last year went to center or right field. Here’s the spray chart from last year overlayed at Miller Park.

Miller Park plays very favorable to LCF and RCF. I feel very strongly that Garcia improves significantly on his HR/FB% from 2019 and if given 550+ PA, he should hit 25 homers.



C.J. Cron (OF – DET) – formerly with the Minnesota Twins

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Target Field (MIN) 97 82 94
Comerica (DET) 104 28 97

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Cron’s move to Comerica Park is going to kill any power he has to centerfield. Not that Target Field was all that great for fly balls to centerfield but if you remember, Cron played for the Angels prior to 2018. We now know that Angels Stadium is a homer haven to centerfield. While Cron boosted his barrel rate and hard hit% in 2019, he’s trending in the wrong direction in terms of the percentage of pulled fly balls. His pulled FB% has dropped the last three seasons from 32.7% in 2017 to 24.2% last year. He’s going to want to adjust his approach back to the 2017 version of himself to take advantage of Comerica’s most favorable part of the park, left field. His range of outcomes in terms of home runs is huge. Fortunately, he should play every day because he’s basically the Tigers’ best hitter (at worst, second-best). If his pulled fly ball rate continues to drop and his fly-ball rate to center jumps to 40%, he could end up with a home run total in the low-20s. If he gets back to his pull-heavy approach, I could see him reach 30 home runs with the potential for even more.

If you prefer the color-coded version of the HRPF+, it’s below. Although, it’s not sortable like the table above.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





Photo Source : MLB and Lou Spirito

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Hitters to Fade in 2020 Using Earned Home Runs and Deserved Barrels

In my last article, I summarized both earned home runs and deserved barrels. Alex Chamberlain of RotoGraphs devised an equation that factors exit velocity and launch angle in the equation to determine a hitter’s deserved barrel rate. He shows that his revision is very reliable and therefore a great tool to use. You can check out his analysis here. Additionally, I look at overperformers using my earned home run metric that factors barrels, non-barrels, FB/LD exit velocity, directional fly balls, and home park factors. My analysis of earned home runs can be seen here.

What I’m doing is combing the data and research from both metrics to find potential values and, for lack of a better word, busts for 2020. The way I think about it is like this. I use a player’s actual barrel rate in addition to other factors to determine how many home runs a player earned (eHR). However, if a player deserved a lower barrel rate (dBRL) and I plugged dBRL into my eHR equation, his earned home run total would be lower. I’m looking for players who were fortunate in both metrics. I reference what each column is telling us below the high profile fades table.


 

The High Profile Fades for 2020

Deserved Barrel% (dBRL%) and Earned Home Runs (eHR)

PlayerdBRL%-BRL%eHR-HR
Alex Bregman1.80%-14.39
Freddie Freeman-3.20%-1.03
Jose Altuve-3.40%-2.65
Gleyber Torres-1.80%-1.65
George Springer-4.70%0.54
Kris Bryant-0.80%-4.29
Eugenio Suarez-2.70%-0.61
Max Muncy-2.70%-3.25

Second column: dBRL%-BRL% is Chamberlain’s deserved barrel percentage minus barrel percentage. For example, Jose Altuve had an actual barrel rate of 8.1% in 2019 but his Deserved barrel rate was just 4.7%. So, his dBRL%-BRL% is -3.4%. The same concept applies to earned home run (eHR) minus home runs (HR). I’ll use Altuve once again. Altuve earned 28.35 eHR in 2019 based on his actual barrel rate. He actually hit 31 HR in 2019. So, 28.35-31 is -2.65 is the third column.

Based on Chamberlain’s deserved barrel%, Alex Bregman earned about nine additional barrels in 2019. That brings him up to 35 BRL on the year but still well short of explaining his 41 home runs. His ability to pull well-hit fly balls is unmatched, so while he’ll typically outperform my earned home run metric, I’m still calling for regression for somewhere between seven and 10 homers in 2020.


Oh no. My earned home run metric essentially justifies what Freddie Freeman did last year smashing a career-best 38 home runs. However, dBRL% cuts his rate by about 20%. It’s not a total disaster but Freeman will likely regress back to the 30-homer, line-drive machine we are used to. That’s just fine and the addition of Marcell Ozuna makes him a virtual lock for 220 combined runs+RBI.

Jose Altuve managed a career-best 31 home runs in only 548 PA in 2019. It’s not difficult to project him for significant negative regression in 2020. His dBRL rate is an extremely weak 4.7% and I have him with 2.65 fewer home runs given his actual barrel rate. His park will help aid in a handful of additional home runs, but I think he settles back to 20-22 next year.

Gleyber Torres doesn’t seem to be a major regression candidate if the ball remains unchanged. However, he was still fortunate in the power department and is probably closer to a 30-32 home run hitter. I can’t understand his ADP inside the top 30. There’s no real speed to speak of and his batting average is decent but doesn’t move the needle. With just 26 combined doubles/triples compared to 38 HR, I would anticipate that ratio being closer to 1:1 in 2020. Torres will not be on any of my redraft teams in 2020.

George Springer: Why are there so many Astros on this list? Look, cheating scandal aside, many Astros hitters overperformed their power metrics, especially right-handed pull hitters. Springer hit a career-high 39 home runs in only 556 plate appearances. Don’t pay for that power spike in 2020.

As a lifelong Cubs fan, this one hurts but I’ve been one of Kris Bryant’s biggest critics since the close of 2017. The injuries have mounted and even in a seemingly healthy season, Bryant was good but not great. Both eHR and dBRL% were not on board in 2019 pegging him closer to 25-26 HR on the season. He has been known for outperforming his metrics but expecting 35+ home runs in 2020 is a mistake.

Eugenio Suarez earned his 49 bombs in 2019 but did not deserve such a high barrel rate. Based on my rough calculations, he should have ended up closer to 39 homers in 2019 rather than the sure to be career-high of 49! I like Suarez but he’s selling out for power which has bumped up his K% while lowering his batting average upside. He’s closer to a .250-.260 hitter with 35-37 home runs.

This is sad because I do love Max Muncy. He backed up his out-of-nowhere 2018 breakout but without elite power metrics. Thanks to the juiced ball, his numbers were essentially repeated. He’s still a strong play but maybe owners should expect something closer to 28-30 homers instead of 35.

 Youthful Breakouts, what to expect for 2020

Deserved Barrel% (dBRL%) and Earned Home Runs (eHR)

PlayerdBRL%-BRL%eHR-HR
Austin Riley-2.20%-1.67
Michael Chavis-3.80%-0.45
Mike Yastrzemski-0.70%-2.61
Daniel Vogelbach-0.90%-3.41
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.-2.30%-1.01
Tim Anderson-0.10%-5.58



Austin Riley certainly has power but I think he’s going to take his lumps in the Majors before figuring it out. I won’t be buying in for 2020 but would love to see some improvements with his contact rate. If he displays some minor improvements in 2020 I might be interested in Riley as a potential breakout in 2021. Riley is the type of player that typically takes time to adapt to the next level. Same with Michael Chavis, I’m going to pass on him for 2020. The playing time is not guaranteed and his swing and miss tendencies have me worried. His power is real but not elite. I’m not risking his floor in 2020.

No, Mike Yastrzemski isn’t young, but he hasn’t had much experience in the big leagues. As a left-handed hitter in Oracle Park, it’s rough, just ask Brandon Belt. The fences will be moved in a little bit, so that should help but still won’t make it a hitters park. Yaz is a really nice story but I don’t expect much of a step forward in 2020 if any at all. At least on a per plate appearance basis.

Dan Vogelbach: Both earned home runs and deserved barrels views the large first baseman as more of a low-to-mid 20s home run type of hitter. His contact rate plummeted while his quality of contact decreased. His average exit velocity is near the 50th percentile. He’s also likely to lose playing time to Evan White who signed a new contract this offseason, so I’m 100% out on Vogelbach in 2020 except maybe in OBP formats.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is still very young and also talented. He’s one of the few under-performers that I’m not all that worried about. Based on his overall improvements, I think he’s still growing as a player. He managed 20 homers in just 84 games which is a 162-game pace of 39. Using eHR and dBRL, it’s closer to 32 which is still impressive. With everyday at-bats, I expect close to 30 homers from Gurriel in 2020. That can certainly play if he hits in the middle of an improving Blue Jays lineup.


Tim Anderson‘s barrel rate is justified but he did not earn his home run total in 2019. His home park is favorable but I also include a factor for that in my eHR equation. He’s still young and has now shown decent power in two straight seasons. I won’t peg him as a complete regression candidate, especially if he’s fully healthy for 2020 but his value lies mostly with stolen bases.

Veterans and Catchers to Fade in 2020

Deserved Barrel% (dBRL%) and Earned Home Runs (eHR)

PlayerdBRL%-BRL%eHR-HR
Eduardo Escobar-0.60%-7.17
Roberto Perez-3.80%-3.12
Willson Contreras-3.50%-2.07
Mitch Garver-5.00%-2.72
Matt Carpenter-1.00%-2.55
Mark Canha-1.90%-2.55
Carson Kelly-0.90%-4.22
Dexter Fowler-2.60%-2.30
Tim Beckham-3.50%-0.97
Nick Ahmed-3.00%-2.35
Tommy La Stella-0.80%-6.27
Brett Gardner0.00%-10.42
Omar Narvaez0.50%-9.26
Christian Vazquez0.50%-5.72

Eduardo Escobar is another hitter with a tight launch angle variance. Regression is coming but maybe he’s developed into a 25-27 homer hitter as opposed to the 20-22 homer hitter he was in Minnesota. So in a sense, I’m partially buying into his new approach to maximize his fly balls by pulling them at a career clip. However, it’s not a stable profile year-to-year so I won’t be drafting him expecting 90% of his production from 2019.

Yikes, Chamberlain’s bDRL% has Roberto Perez at about 10 fewer barrels in 2019 docking him approx six-seven homers. My eHR metric has him earning three fewer home runs giving him an earned/deserved HR total of a measly 13 home runs last season. His history of extremely low batting average has me concerned making him borderline top-20 catcher for 2020.


Another reason to not be a slave to Statcast metrics. My eHR metric has Willson Contreras earning only two fewer HR in 2019 bringing his total to a still-solid 22. However, his dBRL% cut his barrel rate in half. He’s another catcher who was a beneficiary of the juiced ball. He’s shown power in the past so I trust him more than Perez but 20+ homers in 2020 is not a projection I feel confident about.

Mitch Garver crushes the ball, there’s no doubt but 31 homers in 359 PA is just crazy. Of course, he’s due some major regression as dBRL docks him 11 barrels! Even given a bump in plate appearances, I’d project him for 20-22 home runs in 2020. That’s in about 450 PA+/- for a catcher. He still should provide solid value but I’m not reaching. I’m actually thinking about dropping him in my ranks.

I tried to tell you not to pay for a career year from a player in his early-mid 30s. Did you listen? I hope so. Despite a massive drop in ADP, I’m still not buying back in on Matt Carpenter. He dealt with injuries in 2019 but that’s nothing new for Carpenter. Expect more of the same with inconsistent results in 2020.

Mark Canha‘s 26 home runs in about three-quarters of a season is solid power production. However, he earned closer 20 homers last year. He’s a nice story and probably batting sixth in a stacked lineup, so he holds some value this coming season, I’m just not a believer in him as a 30-homer bat.

I love Carson Kelly but he might not be the 20-25 home run hitter I was hoping for. He’ll be in the backend of my top 10 catchers and I expect a decent batting average with 15-18 home runs in 2020. Nothing sexy but solid production.

Dexter Fowler is just about done in my opinion. He is morphing into a 10 homer, five steal player. Busch Stadium in St Louis is a tough park for home runs and the Cardinals have so many young outfielders, it feels like Fowler will be in a four-man rotation. There’s nothing to see here.

Anyone expecting a bounceback from free agent Tim Beckham can stop dreaming. He managed a 20.5% HR/FB rate despite a 33.5% hard-hit rate (bottom 31% of the league). He will likely be signed as a backup, so even in deep leagues, I’m staying away.

Nick Ahmed put together a solid overall season and it’s likely going to be the best of his career. The 19 home runs were a career-best but so was his plate appearance total. I’ll set the over/under for home runs at 13.5 in 2020. Is that exciting in today’s game or no?

Tommy La Stella‘s quality of contact was actually decent and his extremely high contact rate provides a nice batting average floor. That being said, anyone expecting 30 home runs across a full season from La Stella will be sorely disappointed. I don’t honestly think anyone out there is expecting 30 homers but I’d be hard-pressed to project him anything more than his total of 16 home runs across 550-600 PA. Maybe the Angels feel comfortable with La Stella as their leadoff hitter and that would be great for his value. Otherwise, he’s just a .280-15 hitter without any speed.


If Brett Gardner played in a neutral park to right field without the juiced ball, he’d be hardpressed to surpass 10 home runs. As it stands, he set a new career-high in home runs at 28 in 2019 at age-35. His HR/FB rate was six percent higher than his previous career-best back in 2017, the last time the ball was juiced. Nobody is expecting a repeat in 2020 but projection systems aren’t fully fading him. I’ll take the under on 15 home runs in 2020.

Omar Narvaez receives a park upgrade in Milwaukee but can he continue to outperform his metrics? He’s done it two years running and his hit tool seems to be his best asset offensively. I’m not fully fading him in 2020 but would not expect 20 home runs. I’m comfortable projecting around 15 homers with a .260 batting average. You could do much worse at catcher. Ditto, what I said about Narvaez for Christian Vazquez. The only difference is Vazquez has only done it for one year, where Narvaez has proven to be more reliable. I’ve ranked Narvaez 10th in catcher rankings with Vazquez at 13 if you’re curious.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Image credit: Scott Cunningham

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Hitters to Buy in 2020 Using Earned Home Runs and Deserved Barrels

Earlier this offseason I introduced the earned home run metric (eHR). I explained it here and analyzed some of the largest outliers from 2019 here. The metric’s backbone is barrels but included other variables including directional fly balls, home park factors, and exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. I also ran some regression analysis from 2018 to 2019 to determine how well the metric correlated from year 1 to year 2. The results showed weak correlation so there’s more work to do, but that article can be found here. What I ultimately determined was that while the correlations were slightly better than using strictly home runs per fly ball and home run per plate appearance, the results, as a whole, are inconclusive. That is for extremely small samples and for the players where eHR and HR totals did not differ by a significant margin. Where the value lies in eHR is with outliers.

Alex Chamberlain of RotoGraphs developed a deserved barrel (dBRL%) metric this offseason which has been extremely helpful. His research is great and makes a lot sense so I found a way to use his analysis in conjunction with my earned home run metric. Chamberlain’s introduction to the deserved barrel metric can be found here. But, he refined the dBRL equation earlier this month and the results are much more reliable. In the second article, he explains that the adjusted r-squared (r^2) improved to 0.8 up from 0.68. That’s a huge bump in reliability. Please be sure you check the article out. He still uses a slight bit of caution in that the metric is more valuable when looking at outliers. The way I’ll be using the two metrics together is identifying players that extremely over or underperformed their actual barrel rate based on the deserved barrel percentage but also earned their home run total from 2019. OR, even better, in the rare instance when a player either over or underperformed both deserved barrel% and earned home runs.

That sounded confusing as I wrote it, so let me give you an example. Mookie Betts. His barrel rate in 2019 was 10.3%. Chamberlain’s dBRL metric pegged him for an 11.6% BRl% given his dBRL equation that includes exit velocity and launch angles (aka quality of contact). That’s great, so Betts deserved more barrels in 2019. More barreled balls mean better results. Looking at the earned home run metric, Betts earned an additional 4.68 home runs in 2019 compared to his actual total of 29 home runs. But, I use his actual barrels produced in 2019 in my equation, not dBRL. So Betts’ quality of contact did not directly reflect his bottom line so given his actual barrel rate he actually earned almost an additional five home runs. If the ball remains unchanged, Betts is a guy who could reach a new career-high in home runs in 2020.

Alright, let’s take a look at the players who have a nice buying opportunity in 2020 given this analysis. The second column is simply deserved barrel% minus barrel%. The third column is earned home runs minus home run. I’ve included each player’s HR/FB rate from 2019 as I’ll come back to this article to determine whether or not improvements were made.

Earned HR & Deserved BRL% Underachievers (Buys)

Up for 2020dBRL%-BRL%eHR-HRHR/FB%
Jose Ramirez2.50%0.9012.00%
Mookie Betts1.30%4.8613.10%
Byron Buxton2.60%5.7510.10%
Renato Nunez1.40%5.1516.70%
Shohei Ohtani-1.00%6.4626.50%
Matt Chapman1.20%3.9919.00%
Marcell Ozuna-0.50%7.4022.10%
Rafael Devers2.20%0.3417.70%
Lorenzo Cain2.40%0.629.90%
Andrew Benintendi0.40%5.767.90%
Josh Donaldson-1.30%10.3925.70%
Enrique Hernandez2.70%1.8412.20%
CJ Cron-2.70%14.4719.50%
Brandon Belt1.70%3.718.80%
Yoan Moncada0.30%6.5120.20%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.0.20%5.8712.10%
Bryce Harper-1.80%10.9323.50%
Rhys Hoskins2.10%3.5214.30%
Aaron Judge0.40%8.2135.10%
Travis Shaw4.10%4.0510.10%
Howie Kendrick0.30%6.1817.90%
Matt Olson0.30%5.5423.70%
Jose Abreu-0.60%14.0921.00%

Source: Alex Chamberlain – RotoGraphs & BaseballSavant



2020 Players to Buy – Under-performed eHR & dBRL

If you’re looking for something positive in Travis Shaw‘s profile that might indicate a bounceback, this is it. Keep in mind, he only managed 270 plate appearances, so his sample is small and therefore, not as reliable. Even still, he maintained a high pulled fly ball rate and hit the ball. He needs to get his contact rate under control but if he gets 100% run at 1B in Toronto, he should get back to 25+ home runs. That’s a steal at his current ADP of 410.

Byron Buxton really surprised me here. His approach completely changed last year as his launch angle jumped seven degrees. Additionally, his exit velocity shot up while cutting his strikeout rate. That’s huge. But, fewer ground balls portend to a lower BABIP and fewer stolen base opportunities, especially with his five percent jump in popup rate. The health cloud is always surrounding him, so he’ll remain an enigma for me.

Annnnnd just like that I’m back in on Rhys Hoskins. His stock has dropped like a rock after being taken inside the top 50 in 2019. He’s all the down at 115 but still has 35-40 homer power (given the juiced ball). Plus, the Phillies lineup is still very good. He’s not going to help in BA or stolen bases but 35 home runs with 200 R+RBI is gold.

It looks like Jose Ramirez is coming in at a discount in 2020 with an NFBC ADP of 18 as of today. Using dBRL%, he earned 10 additional barrels bringing him up to 36 barrels in about 3/4 of a season. While eHR only has him adding about one home run, he still deserved at least six to seven additional home runs in 2019. Assuming the ball remains unchanged and a full season, I’d expect 30-32 home runs from Ramirez in 2020.



I’m inclined to grab Renato Nunez as my corner infielder in all of my 15-team formats. His ADP is currently 277 after players like David Peralta and Joey Votto. He hit 31 home runs last year and actually earned 36. Chamberlain’s dBRL says he should have had five additional barrels. We are creeping dangerously close to 40 homers given these two metrics. His park is extremely favorable and the lineup is not as bad as advertised. I won’t project him for 40 home runs in 2020 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a .250-35-95 season from him.

Based on my quasi-scientific calculation, Mookie Betts earned approximately 36 home runs in 2019. His stolen base total dropped but his power is as strong as ever. He was the same steller hitter, just unlucky. Fenway Park doesn’t help either and he’s staying put for this season. Unfortunately, the fantasy community is not buying Mookie’s “down” year as he’s the 4th player off the board in 2020. I would not be surprised if he finished 2020 hitting over .300 with 35+ homers, 20 steals and vying for the number one fantasy player next season.

As if we needed another reason to be giddy about the 23-year-old Rafael Devers, he deserved 12 more barrels in 2019. My eHR metric was neutral but go ahead and add those barrels onto his season total and you’ve got another eight homers! Now, remember, Fenway is difficult for power, so maybe his earned total is closer to 38 but still fantastic! Here’s a fun one for ya. Devers hit his first home run on May 3rd last year. From that point forward, here’s his line: .314/.357/.593 112 R, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 4 SB.

It’s nice to see that Jose Abreu, earned home run’s second-largest underperformer, deserved all but 2-3 of his barrels. He’s on the wrong side of 30, so expecting some performance decline is inevitable based on age. However, given these results, I don’t see why he can’t repeat his 2019 statline with maybe a few extra homers and natural regression in RBI.



Aaron Judge is still among the top one percent in all of baseball in terms of crushing baseballs. A healthy Judge can still hit 50 home runs and would be a lock for 40 bombs if he can manage at least 600 plate appearances. Nothing flashy, just simple analysis here.

Marcell Ozuna has under-performed his Statcast metrics two years running making his 2017 breakout seem like an outlier. Ya boy Max doesn’t see it that way. His home parks combined with some poor luck have held Ozuna’s numbers down the last two seasons. He remains unsigned this offseason and it looks inevitable that he’ll be back with the Cardinals. I’ll hold out hope that he goes elsewhere because Busch Stadium is one of the worst parks for offensive production.

Earned home runs pegged Matt Chapman for just about 40 homers in 2019 and his quality of contact was BETTER than his barrel rate indicates. Oakland Collusiem performs relatively neutral for home runs despite conventional thinking. I love Chapman and his price is reasonable. My only concern is his high variance in launch angle tightness. This high variance could mean a wild swing in production. A few of those deep fly balls could turn into popups or low line drives. That being said, the power is legit and I have no issue expecting a repeat of 2019 while adding a few points in batting average.

Similar to Abreu, Josh Donaldson is an aging veteran who had a very nice 2019. He was finally healthy and finished as one of seven players to surpass 60 barrels last season. Deserved barrels docks him five or so barrels and given his age and health history, it’ll be tough to repeat. Luckily for early drafters, his ADP hasn’t changed much over the last year (105 overall in NFBC drafts). I’m grabbing him at that price but it’ll be interesting to see how his value rises now that he’s with the Minnesota Juggernauts.

Deserved barrels dropped Bryce Harper BRL% to 13% which is still very impressive. Including dBRL to earned home runs cuts his eHR difference in half but 5-6 additional home runs in 2019 setting his home runs total at 40. Given Citizen’s Bank Park’s favorable right field, I am fully on board with Harper reaching the 40-homer plateau in 2020.

C.J Cron’s 15% barrel rate last year seemed to good to be true. As it turns out, it was. But, a 12.3% barrel rate is still among the elite. When we combine the two metrics, Cron should have eclipsed 30 homers for the second straight season instead of finishing with just 25. The move to DET is not great but he should play every day in the middle of that lineup, so he’s another nice late-round flier.



Yoan Moncada’s elevated strikeout rate may keep him from hitting .315 again but I’m projecting a power breakout in 2020. While his 2019 strikeout rate was high at 27.5%, it was a 6% improvement from the previous year. Growth from a young player is always a very good thing. As a prospect, his hit tool was rated well-above-average, so if he can continue to improve his contact rate the sky is the limit. Unless Moncada’s ADP settles inside the top 50 (currently at 68), I’m going to be all over him. Don’t be surprised if he reaches 35 home runs in 2020.

Nothing to see here. Matt Olson just earned 40 home runs in just 127 games! Look, Olson is being hyped by just about everyone. His ADP is soaring because of it, but as is he’s going 30 picks after Pete Alonso. I think they are very similar, so give me Olson over Alonso every time given the discount.

Despite a 50+% ground ball rate, Vlad Jr. still earned nearly six additional home runs last year. He just crushes the ball evidenced by hitting the hardest ball of 2019. Check out my piece at Pitcher List on his power potential. I can understand the lofty ADP. His combination of exit velocity and high contact could yield 35+ homers with a .300 batting average in the future.

Unfortunately for Kike Hernandez, the Dodgers have so much positional depth making him a utility option; a part-time option at that. Even still, he should have finished closer to 23-34 homers in 2019 instead of 17. The power breakout we saw in 2018 is real and he’s a nice option in NL-Only and deep-leagues for cheap power.

Normally, I’d been in on Lorenzo Cain with this data but he’s going to be 34 years old. His speed is dwindling and so is the power. While he deserved better in 2019, I don’t expect 15+ homers in 2020.

Here we go again with Brandon Belt. Oracle Park is brutal for left-handed power. Moving the walls in a bit could help but I’m still not buying unless he’s traded. Plugging in dBRL into my eHR equation, he still would have finished with 24 home runs in 2019 across 616 PA. That’s the first time he’s surpassed 600 PA since 2016 so the probability of a repeat is low. Besides, 24 homers in this era does not move the needle.

Andrew Benintendi needs to go back to what he does best. Using his elite hit tool and driving balls all over the field. The dream of 30 home runs for him may likely never come to fruition but eHR shows that he still has some pop. If he can get back to hitting .290 with 20 homers in the Red Sox lineup, he’s a good value at pick just after 100 overall.

Howie Kendrick’s age-35 season was so impressive when you consider his career. His zone contact rate was the best of his career while posting the second-best HR/FB rate. He’s still just a part-time player so his value will lie in NL-Only leagues and for streaming purposes.

Pitching every sixth game is going to limit Shohei Ohtani‘s value as a hitter. Then again, Joe Maddon claims he could use Ohtani as the team’s DH when he pitches. So, there’s that. Ohtani is a unicorn. If he managed 600+ PA, he would hit 35 home runs and steal 12-15 bases. If he threw 200 innings, he’d be a top 10 arm. Neither will happen but we can still enjoy his talent wherever he’s at on the field.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





FreezeStats Earned Home Runs (eHR) – Complete List & Correlations

Last month I introduced a new metric, earned home runs (eHR). For the background and origin of the metric, feel free to check it out here. I’ve made a few slight adjustments to the equation after determining that pulled fly balls and park factors had a more significant impact on home runs than I originally accounted for. Based on this information, I’ve adjusted the weights for each factor accordingly in my formula A more complete list of 2019 earned home runs is shown at the bottom of this article. The purpose of this article is to determine if the eHR metric has any predictive power.


I’ve received some requests about the year-to-year correlation of eHR. Unfortunately, I’m not proficient in r, not even a little bit, so pulling data takes time for a caveman, like myself. Additionally, the properties of the ball seem to change every year during the Statcast Era which began in 2015 making it difficult to accurately determine the year-to-year correlations. With this in mind, I only went back one year to 2018 (year 1), 2019  being year 2.

After calculating the 2018 eHR, I compared 2018 earned home run per plate appearance (eHR/PA) and 2018 earned home run per fly ball (eHR/FB) to 2019 HR/PA and 2019 HR/FB. Due to the large increase in HR/FB% from year 1 to year 2, I had to adjust the baseline from year 1 to year 2. I then compared the players that appear in both samples to determine the year 1 to year 2 correlation of HR/PA and HR/FB. Now, there is one caveat. I only utilized players within my sample which is much smaller than 100% of the player pool. I did this as an attempt to eliminate small samples because barrels are a major variable in my equation. Players with either a low number of plate appearances (under 200) or low barrel totals seemed to skew the results. So, they gone. It’s not perfect, but at least it utilizes the same sample of players from year 1 (2018) to year 2 (2019). Here are the results:

Year-to-Year Metricsr-squared
2018 HR/PA-2019 HR/PA0.213
2018 eHR/PA-2019 HR/PA0.231
2018 HR/FB-2019 HR/FB0.303
2018 eHR/FB-2019 HR/FB0.342




So, what does this mean? You may be wondering why are the correlations so low. I thought the same thing because in the past HR/PA and HR/FB year-to-year correlations were typically stronger. But, remember, I used a limited sample, so this data in no way mimic’s the league as a whole. Secondly, the change in HR/FB% from 2018 to 2019 was 2.6% (12.7% to 15.3%). Between 2015 and 2018, the year-to-year difference in HR/FB% was never more than 1.4%. The stark difference in home run rate between 2018 to 2019 partially explains the weaker correlation.

OK, back to the correlations in the table above. Let’s not get carried away. It’s just one year where the eHR metric performed slightly better than using actual home runs. It’s difficult to say at this point that the eHR metric has more predictability than strictly looking at HR/PA or HR/FB but it’s a start. What it can do with more confidence is help identify outliers. Based on this information we can expect a large portion of the players identified in my original article to regress towards the mean rather than continue to be extreme outliers.  Additionally, it can help establish breakouts that don’t register by just looking at a player’s Statcast page because eHR utilized home run park factors (home), pulled fly ball rate, etc.

Year 1 to Year 2 HR/FB Predictions based on eHR

 Year 2 Correct Prediction
year 1 HR/FB over-perf55.6%
year 1 HR/FB under-perf55.7%
year 1 HR/FB over (outliers)72.0%
year 1 HR/FB under (outliers)60.0%

Let’s start with the HR/PA metric first. Just over 56% of both 2018 over and under-performers regressed toward the mean based on my eHR metric in 2019. While these results don’t scream breakthrough, it’s a decent start. Based on the year 1 data, more than half of the players performed the way the metric expected them to perform in year 2, so that’s good. Moving over the HR/FB, we see the results are a little bit better. While once again, just under 56% of the under-performers regressed toward the mean and just over 66% of the over-performers regressed the following year! That’s two-thirds fam! I’ll take that all day but I can’t explain why the stark difference. More research to follow, I just need to either learn r or find some to scrape data for me. Any takers?


As I mentioned earlier, the most important way to digest this analysis is to focus on the outliers. After adjusting for the league-wide increase in HR/FB rate from 2018 to 2019, 15 of the top 25 players under-performed outliers from 2018 improved their HR/FB rate in 2019. That’s a modest 60%. On the other end, 18 of the top 25 over-performed outliers from 2018 decreased their HR/FB rate in 2019. That’s a more optimistic 72%. The year one to year two correlations are moderate-to-weak but they are not completely useless. I plan on interpreting Alex Chamberlain’s Deserved Barrel metric in conjunction with my eHR metric to determine a more concrete list of players I feel confident about going into 2020. 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading and your patience is appreciated. Below is the complete list of earned home runs from players in my sample. I’ve also included a Google Sheet that has the 2018 data along with 2019. Remember, for reference, the league average home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) in 2019 was 59.59%.

PlayerBRLHR/BRLHReHRDelta
Jorge Soler7061.43%4849.381.38
Ronald Acuna Jr.6660.61%4144.443.44
Mike Trout6665.15%4551.536.53
Pete Alonso6672.73%5355.132.13
Nelson Cruz6556.92%4148.397.39
Jose Abreu6347.62%3347.0914.09
Christian Yelich5962.71%4444.940.94
Freddie Freeman5957.63%3836.97-1.03
Cody Bellinger5971.19%4746.94-0.06
Josh Donaldson6256.45%3747.3910.39
Bryce Harper5957.63%3545.9310.93
Anthony Rendon5648.21%3443.999.99
Eugenio Suarez5580.00%4948.39-0.61
Kyle Schwarber5563.64%3840.142.14
Josh Bell5360.38%3737.560.56
Nicholas Castellanos5339.62%2733.186.18
Matt Chapman5461.11%3639.993.99
J.D. Martinez5360.38%3635.90-0.10
C.J. Cron5345.28%2539.4714.47
Gary Sanchez5263.46%3443.889.88
George Springer5364.15%3939.540.54
Juan Soto5152.94%3437.303.30
Mookie Betts5238.46%2933.864.86
Matt Olson5064.00%3641.545.54
Franmil Reyes5166.67%3738.151.15
Austin Meadows5050.00%3336.433.43
Christian Walker4953.06%2933.084.08
Rafael Devers4854.17%3232.340.34
Javier Baez4856.25%2935.096.09
Michael Conforto4864.58%3336.963.96
Paul Goldschmidt4967.35%3435.011.01
Trey Mancini4862.50%3535.120.12
Marcus Semien4761.70%3332.63-0.37
Miguel Sano4768.09%3438.654.65
Marcell Ozuna4761.70%2936.407.40
Aaron Judge4852.08%2735.218.21
Ketel Marte4557.78%3234.662.66
Rougned Odor4755.32%3040.0010.00
Yoan Moncada4454.55%2531.516.51
Carlos Santana4564.44%3435.211.21
Kole Calhoun4470.45%3334.621.62
Renato Nunez4367.44%3136.155.15
Avisail Garcia4341.86%2028.078.07
Mike Moustakas4465.91%3536.031.03
Eloy Jimenez4365.12%3131.920.92
Yasmani Grandal4358.14%2832.124.12
Xander Bogaerts4360.47%3331.79-1.21
Gleyber Torres4374.42%3836.35-1.65
Max Muncy4273.81%3531.75-3.25
Yasiel Puig4151.22%2429.565.56
Charlie Blackmon4057.50%3232.440.44
Eddie Rosario4160.98%3234.232.23
Edwin Encarnacion4072.50%3434.900.90
Rhys Hoskins3951.28%2932.523.52
Nolan Arenado4072.50%4137.84-3.16
Francisco Lindor3860.53%3230.48-1.52
Luke Voit3852.63%2126.995.99
Hunter Dozier3852.63%2624.24-1.76
DJ LeMahieu3951.28%2626.710.71
Paul DeJong3868.42%3032.572.57
Max Kepler3868.42%3634.70-1.30
Kris Bryant3772.97%3126.71-4.29
Yordan Alvarez3857.89%2729.032.03
Dansby Swanson3743.24%1721.554.55
Manny Machado3767.57%3229.22-2.78
Starling Marte3762.16%2323.330.33
Randal Grichuk3666.67%3132.301.30
Eduardo Escobar3666.67%3527.83-7.17
J.T. Realmuto3748.65%2527.232.23
J.D. Davis3658.33%2225.003.00
Domingo Santana3655.56%2125.024.02
Mitch Garver3571.43%3128.28-2.72
Trevor Story3669.44%3525.80-9.20
Jorge Polanco3551.43%2223.141.14
Tommy Pham3551.43%2122.891.89
Shin-Soo Choo3560.00%2424.160.16
Ji-Man Choi3542.86%1924.485.48
Brandon Belt3528.57%1720.713.71
Ryan Braun3560.00%2225.823.82
Hunter Renfroe3580.00%3333.630.63
Nomar Mazara3545.71%1923.234.23
Joc Pederson3585.71%3631.36-4.64
Justin Smoak3458.82%2224.762.76
Rowdy Tellez3450.00%2125.554.55
Ozzie Albies3554.29%2419.52-4.48
Jose Altuve3476.47%3128.35-2.65
Daniel Vogelbach3473.53%3026.59-3.41
Ian Desmond3455.88%2024.624.62
Khris Davis3461.76%2322.37-0.63
Jackie Bradley Jr.3452.94%2121.270.27
Shohei Ohtani3452.94%1824.466.46
Joey Gallo3461.76%2227.755.75
Eric Hosmer3363.64%2221.76-0.24
Howie Kendrick3351.52%1723.186.18
Andrew Benintendi3330.30%1318.765.76
Starlin Castro3357.58%2218.56-3.44
Jorge Alfaro3253.13%1821.743.74
Jonathan Villar3271.88%2424.170.17
Teoscar Hernandez3164.52%2623.08-2.92
Justin Turner3167.74%2724.17-2.83
Willy Adames3253.13%2021.301.30
Danny Santana3174.19%2823.15-4.85
Ramon Laureano3164.52%2424.600.60
Brian Anderson3148.39%2019.64-0.36
Brandon Lowe3050.00%1722.035.03
Nick Ahmed3060.00%1916.65-2.35
Fernando Tatis Jr.3066.67%2223.791.79
Roberto Perez3063.33%2420.88-3.12
Wil Myers3053.33%1823.765.76
Willson Contreras3063.33%2421.93-2.07
Anthony Rizzo3070.00%2723.50-3.50
Jay Bruce3170.97%2624.48-1.52
Mike Yastrzemski3063.33%2118.39-2.61
Ryan McMahon2975.86%2521.33-3.67
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.2951.72%1520.875.87
Corey Seager2955.17%1917.42-1.58
Brandon Dixon2944.83%1517.982.98
Michael Brantley3056.67%2222.600.60
Keston Hiura2962.07%1919.560.56
Matt Adams2958.62%2024.984.98
Mark Canha2979.31%2623.45-2.55
Trea Turner2857.14%1919.470.47
Joey Votto2850.00%1518.773.77
David Dahl2846.43%1521.256.25
James McCann2860.71%1819.231.23
Jonathan Schoop2867.86%2322.89-0.11
Brandon Drury2846.43%1520.475.47
Evan Longoria2669.23%2013.40-6.60
Kyle Seager2661.54%2319.89-3.11
Carlos Correa2864.29%2121.420.42
Mitch Moreland2657.69%1918.18-0.82
Adam Jones2657.69%1616.310.31
Colin Moran2638.46%1316.553.55
Yandy Diaz2642.31%1418.034.03
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.2665.38%2018.99-1.01
Garrett Cooper2657.69%1515.850.85
Dexter Fowler2661.54%1916.70-2.30
Kevin Pillar2665.38%2113.21-7.79
Albert Pujols2669.23%2323.780.78
Jose Ramirez2661.54%2323.900.90
Alex Bregman2684.62%4126.61-14.39
Michael Chavis2564.00%1817.55-0.45
Scott Kingery2560.00%1918.33-0.67
Alex Gordon2544.00%1313.870.87
Todd Frazier2540.00%2124.223.22
Jason Castro2650.00%1317.874.87
Gio Urshela2572.00%2119.73-1.27
Miguel Cabrera2532.00%1210.27-1.73
Pablo Sandoval2450.00%1414.440.44
Christian Vazquez2466.67%2317.28-5.72
Bryan Reynolds2560.00%1615.93-0.07
Jason Heyward2470.83%2114.80-6.20
Eric Thames2466.67%2519.64-5.36
Whit Merrifield2445.83%169.87-6.13
Adalberto Mondesi2437.50%914.705.70
Jurickson Profar2458.33%2017.60-2.40
Harrison Bader2347.83%1215.033.03
Anthony Santander2378.26%2020.150.15
Robinson Cano2450.00%1316.013.01
Maikel Franco2369.57%1720.213.21
Austin Riley2373.91%1816.33-1.67
Freddy Galvis2360.87%2317.58-5.42
Stephen Piscotty2259.09%1311.83-1.17
JaCoby Jones2250.00%1114.883.88
Matt Carpenter2347.83%1512.45-2.55
Ryan O'Hearn2166.67%1411.81-2.19
Carson Kelly2166.67%1813.78-4.22
Nick Senzel2250.00%1216.874.87
Jeff McNeil2161.90%2318.45-4.55
Marwin Gonzalez2166.67%1514.77-0.23
Harold Ramirez2147.62%1111.570.57
Chad Pinder2152.38%1314.011.01
Cavan Biggio2166.67%1616.250.25
Jason Kipnis2166.67%1713.34-3.66
Brian Dozier2171.43%2018.98-1.02
Travis d'Arnaud2161.90%1612.69-3.31
Brandon Crawford2142.86%1112.431.43
Derek Dietrich2171.43%1919.720.72
Hunter Pence2060.00%1814.96-3.04
Asdrubal Cabrera2055.00%1815.95-2.05
Tim Anderson2060.00%1812.42-5.58
Pedro Severino2050.00%1316.063.06
Stephen Vogt2040.00%1012.522.52
Aristides Aquino2080.00%1919.580.58
Jordan Luplow2070.00%1515.720.72
Christin Stewart2040.00%1012.672.67
Robinson Chirinos2065.00%1717.860.86
Mitch Haniger2075.00%1517.172.17
Amed Rosario2152.38%1512.21-2.79
A.J. Pollock1963.16%1514.39-0.61
Enrique Hernandez1968.42%1718.841.84
Victor Robles2065.00%1715.06-1.94
Mike Zunino1947.37%914.975.97
Yuli Gurriel1984.21%3121.33-9.67
Tyler Naquin1947.37%1012.892.89
Lorenzo Cain1947.37%1111.620.62
Martin Maldonado1942.11%1215.723.72
Wilson Ramos1968.42%1413.57-0.43
Tyler Flowers1952.63%1114.073.07
Tom Murphy1957.89%1317.084.08
Tim Beckham1872.22%1514.03-0.97
Brian Goodwin1877.78%1713.59-3.41
Kevin Kiermaier1968.42%1410.76-3.24
Chris Davis1855.56%1213.881.88
Jesus Aguilar1861.11%1210.68-1.32
Niko Goodrum1844.44%1211.24-0.76
Omar Narvaez1888.89%2212.74-9.26
Adam Eaton1861.11%158.43-6.57
Jose Martinez1850.00%1010.640.64
David Freese1855.56%1111.940.94
Elvis Andrus1844.44%128.82-3.18
Byron Buxton1752.94%1015.755.75
Alex Verdugo1747.06%1211.45-0.55
Orlando Arcia1855.56%1514.04-0.96
Danny Jansen1675.00%1314.501.50
Justin Upton1770.59%1213.571.57
Didi Gregorius1668.75%1614.34-1.66
Buster Posey1643.75%75.37-1.63
Brett Gardner1687.50%2817.58-10.42
Ian Happ1471.43%118.86-2.14
Tommy La Stella14100.00%169.73-6.27
Josh Reddick1560.00%148.66-5.34
Aaron Hicks1566.67%1213.881.88
Oscar Mercado1553.33%159.42-5.58
Bo Bichette1376.92%119.53-1.47
Willie Calhoun1687.50%2118.64-2.36
Jesse Winker1478.57%169.12-6.88
Chris Taylor1560.00%129.39-2.61
Mike Tauchman1283.33%138.71-4.29
Ronny Rodriguez1573.33%1412.57-1.43
Alex Dickerson1241.67%66.520.52
Matt Beaty1172.73%98.47-0.53
Maunel Margot1154.55%129.48-2.52
Nate Lowe1154.55%76.59-0.41



Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


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MLB Directional Home Run Park Factors Using Statcast (Updated)

Last April, I developed home run park factors based using a combination of home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) and non-barreled home runs. The data I used was from Baseball Savant. I gathered the data from each season 2015 through 2018 at each ballpark. Essentially how it worked was any park that allowed higher than league-average HR/BRL rates and allowed more non-barreled home runs were more favorable and vice-versa for parks that scored below-average. This was relatively simplistic but it allowed me to determine that Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati was the most friendly park in MLB for home runs and that Fenway Park in Boston is indeed a poor park for home runs. Naturally, the next step was to breakdown each park directionally (left field, centerfield, right field).


I pulled data from the last three seasons to determine directional home run park factors. I choose a three-year sample for two reasons. First, some of the sample sizes seemed a little small using just a single season of data. Second, combining two juiced ball seasons with one “dead ball” season may be a good way to aggregate how the 2020 ball might respond if there is a slight adjustment to the ball. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess as to how or if the properties of the ball will change, but at minimum I’m accounting for the range of possibilities here. Before I get down into the final park factors, below are the directional HR/BRL% for both right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters.

Left Field Centerfield Right Field
Right-Handed Hitters 75.82% 42.3% 49.65%
Left-Handed Hitters 46.80% 43.2% 73.55%

Not surprisingly, pulling the ball yields a much high home run percentage compared to balls hit to center or balls hit to the opposite field. Based on this information, I separated right-handed and left-handed hitters when determining the directional park factors due to the large discrepancies in HR/BRL%. For example, I ran home run park factors to left field for pulled fly balls by right-handed hitters and opposite-field fly balls hit by left-handed hitters. Then, I created a formula to combine the two for a final left-field park factor. I did the same thing for right field park factors. Hopefully, this makes sense. Just to be clear, these park factors are for home runs only. OK, enough of the boring explanations, let’s get to the Home Run Park Factors.


Note: 1.0 is neutral, less than 1.0 is below-average, over 1.0 is above-average

Home Run Park Factors Using Statcast (FreezeStats)

Venue/ParkTeamLF PFCF PFRF PF
GABPCIN1.1071.1361.176
Oriole ParkBAL1.1131.1441.012
Miller ParkMIL0.9841.1451.108
Coors FieldCOL1.0081.1441.055
Guaranteed Rate FldCWS1.0511.0321.114
Dodger StadiumLAD1.0041.2150.976
Citi FieldNYM1.0641.0271.057
Minute Maid ParkHOU1.1020.8861.155
Citizens Bank ParkPHI1.0790.9651.084
Angel StadiumLAA0.9111.1971.010
Petco ParkSDP1.0771.0550.981
Globe Life ParkTEX0.9731.0481.087
Yankee StadiumNYY0.9480.9311.212
Nationals ParkWSH1.0201.1020.936
Progressive FieldCLE0.9561.0311.054
T-Mobile ParkSEA0.9881.0261.006
Rogers CentreTOR1.0121.0060.995
Oakland ColiseumOAK1.0251.0080.943
SunTrust ParkATL0.9650.9991.003
Chase FieldARI1.0730.8611.006
Tropicana FieldTBR1.0180.9270.985
Wrigley FieldCHC0.9921.0270.909
PNC ParkPIT0.8801.0220.962
Target FieldMIN0.9660.9250.954
Busch StadiumSTL0.9141.0250.887
Marlins ParkMIA0.9290.9170.961
Kauffman StadiumKCR0.9550.8560.874
Comerica ParkDET1.0070.6920.958
Fenway ParkBOS0.9120.8620.844
Oracle ParkSFG0.9400.8540.717

Some things that jumped out at me upon seeing the results is that both Los Angeles ballparks are extremely favorable to centerfield. Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium rank one and two, respectively for home runs to centerfield based on my HR Park Factors. Without diving in too deep, I noticed that Angel Stadium is perfect for Shohei Ohtani (the batter). Ohtani hits nearly 37% of his fly balls to centerfield and he absolutely crushes balls up the middle. It partially explains how he has maintained an insanely high 40.4% HR/FB on fly balls to center compared to league-average 10.5%. Another player who benefited from playing half his games in Angel Stadium over the last couple of seasons is Justin Upton (2019 injury notwithstanding). He’s hit a whopping 45.4% of his fly balls to centerfield since the start of 2018. There’s a reason that his HR/FB rate jumped once he was traded from Detroit to LA (23.4% w/ LAA compared to his career 16.6% HR/FB%).

On the flip side, centerfield at Comerica Park in Detroit is where fly balls go to die. That tweet was from back in April, so I had a feeling Detroit was awful to center but it’s worse than I thought compared to other parks. Consider this, since the start of 2017, no park has seen more barreled balls to centerfield than Comerica Park (404 barrels), but only 12.13% of those barreled balls turned into home runs (49 home runs). That is the fewest number of barreled home runs to centerfield since 2017 in all of baseball. That’s crazy! Just for fun, if Comerica played neutral to center, there would have been an ADDITIONAL 127 home runs hit over the last three seasons. If it played as favorable as Dodger Stadium has over that time frame, we would have seen a whopping 222 additional home runs to centerfield alone! It’s amazing Miguel Cabrera surpassed the 40-homer plateau multiple times while playing in Detroit despite hitting 35-40% of his fly balls to center. Nick Castellanos gets a huge boost wherever he lands in 2020 because he hit 41.5% of his fly balls to center in 2019.  


A few other interesting observations that jumped out at me is that Oakland Collusiem and Petco Park in San Diego actually play somewhat favorable for home runs. Both play above-average to centerfield and left field. So, let’s give Manny Machado another chance to bounce back in 2020 even though Petco is still a downgrade compared to Oriole Park. I’ll touch on Yankee Stadium’s right field but the park is below-average to center and left field. I’m beginning to understand why Aaron Judge hits so many balls to the opposite field. Citi Field, the other park in New York, ranks as the seventh most favorable park for home runs by my park factors. If you recall, they moved the fences in before the 2015 season, so that modification has done wonders for their hitters. It also makes what Jacob deGrom’s done over the last two seasons extremely impressive.

Oriole Park, Great American Ballpark (GABP), and Minute Maid Park are the top three parks for home runs to left field. I’m not surprised, because GABP is favorable to all fields and Minute Maid has the short porch in left thanks to the Crawford Boxes (84.14% HR/BRL for pulled FB to left). Although Minute Maid is even better for left-handed pull power but below-average to center. Oriole Park has proven to be more favorable for right-handed pull power and straight-away center but plays neutral to right field. We should shift our analysis for left-handed pull hitters and right-handed hitters who favor the opposite field in Baltimore as they may not see a boost in power numbers. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is the worst for home runs to left field but is OK to center and right. More on this in a future article.

Oracle Park is a nightmare for power hitters who favor right field. That’s a well-known fact of course. However, the fences are indeed coming in as the bullpen is now moving behind the right field wall! It’s hard to say how much this will improve the home run park factors in Oracle because the entire park plays unfavorable. Either way, I’m intrigued by Brandon belt (if he stays in SF), Mike Yastrzemski , and Alex Dickerson. In fact, one of my bold predictions involves Alex Dickerson surpassing 20 home runs in 2020. The number-one venue to right field is Yankee Stadium. Along with the juiced ball, it helped boost Didi Gregorius’ power numbers and resurrect Brett Gardner’s power. Great American Smallpark comes in at number two and how about Minute Maid Park ranking third to right field. It’s actually MORE favorable than left field with the Crawford Boxes! 

I had to dig a little deeper to find out why Minute Maid was so favorable to right field. It ranked second in HR/BRL% to right field and allowed the fourth-most non-barreled home runs. Minute Maid is only 326 feet down the right field line which is 11 feet deeper than the short porch in left field, however, the height of the wall is only seven feet high in right field as opposed to the 19 and 25-foot walls in left and left-center. In the power alley (right-center), the fence is 373 feet from home plate and 10-feet in height. Again, this is 11 feet further than left-center but with a much shorter wall. In other words, batted balls with a lower trajectory have a higher probability to be a home run to right field than to left field in Houston. Meanwhile, non-barreled fly balls with high launch angles to left field have left Minute Maid 113 times in three seasons, most in MLB.


My next article will look at hitters and some pitchers who are changing parks and how we should evaluate each player based on the park change. Obviously, we need to see more signings before that happens. To reiterate, these park factors do not consider singles, doubles, or triples, so they are not complete park factors. They are strictly measuring how favorable/unfavorable each park is for home runs to each part of the field using Statcast metrics (barrels and on-barrels). ESPN and FanGraphs along with several other sites have overall park factors, but we care about the long ball!

This metric can be extremely helpful for the evaluation of certain players who have extreme pull or oppo tendencies on their batted balls. Heavy pull hitters or hitters with a higher percentage of opposite-field fly balls can be analyzed and projected more accurately. I could also see where this metric could provide value for DFS purposes. For example, imagine righty-masher Joc Pederson in Yankee Stadium against a right-handed pitcher. That’s easy money right there. I’m open to any questions or ideas you may have as well. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FreezeStats.


 Photo courtesy of southerncal88
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Introducing Earned Home Runs (eHR) – 2019 Outliers (Fantasy Baseball)

There are a considerable amount of expected metrics floating around in the fantasy baseball community. Many of which are extremely helpful for fantasy baseball purposes. Over the last six months or so, I’ve been dabbling with home run park factors using Baseball Savant’s Barrel metric. My goal is to refine the home run park factors to include left, center, and right field because of the intricacies of many ballparks. Using some of the research I’ve done with the home run park factors, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring and introduce “earned home runs (eHR).” It’s an approach that looks at the number of home runs a player has earned to date or through past seasons. It is descriptive but I will evaluate this further to find out if there is any predictability to the metric. The fundamental variable I consider in my analysis is Barrels. Why? It’s simple, why make things complicated? But the real reason is the strong correlation the Barrels metric has with home runs. 




With a 0.85 r^2, there isn’t a single metric that’s better at determining home runs than Barrels.  You’ll notice several of the outliers on the chart above are discussed below. While strictly using Barrels is a great way to determine earned home runs, we need to be more accurate. I’m no statistician, but several other factors play a role in home runs throughout the year. Of course, I’ve included my Home Run Park Factors along with the following metrics: league AVG HR/BRL%, league AVG non-barreled HR%, league-average HR/FB%, individual pulled fly ball%, AVG exit velocity on pulled, straightaway, and opposite-field fly balls, and league AVG HR/FB for fly balls pulled, hit to center, and hit to the opposite field. The one variable I haven’t figured out how to incorporate yet is the weather. So, while there could be some slight improvements, I believe this gets me remarkably close to providing an accurate earned home run total for each player.

Before we dive into the hitters, the table below provides some background on the relationship between home runs and barrels year-to-year. It’s interesting to note that in 2017, the HR/BRL% was higher than it was in 2019. Additionally, a higher percentage of home runs were not barreled (non-barreled) or “lucky” home runs in 2017 compared to 2019. This seems like an indication that the ball may have been more lively in 2017. The only explanation as to why more home runs were hit this year is due to the higher fly-ball rate and hitter’s propensity to pull more balls in the air resulting in higher home run totals. For my eHR, I am strictly using 2019 HR/BRL% and my 2019 Home Run Park Factors.

Yearly Home Run per Barrel Rates

YearHRBRL%HR BRL%Non-BRL HRHR/BRL
20196776929081.70%18.30%59.59%
20185585845181.25%18.75%53.70%
20176105791579.75%20.25%61.52%
20165610795480.71%19.29%56.93%
20154909694379.69%20.31%56.34%

*HR/BRL% = HR on Barreled balls / Total Barreled Balls
**%Non-BRL HR = Percentage of home runs with quality of contact classification lower than a barrel (i.e. solid contact)

Unfortunate Power Bats

2019 Earned Home Run Under Performers

PlayerHRBRLHR/BRL%NonBRL HReHRDiff
Jose Abreu336347.62%9.09%46.5113.51
C.J. Cron255345.28%4.00%38.4413.44
Avisail Garcia204341.86%10.00%30.7610.76
Andrew Benintendi133330.30%23.08%23.4310.43
Nicholas Castellanos275339.62%22.22%37.0410.04
Dansby Swanson173743.24%5.88%25.998.99
Bryce Harper355957.63%2.86%43.738.73
Yasiel Puig244151.22%12.50%32.528.52
Anthony Rendon345648.21%20.59%42.438.43
Aaron Judge274852.08%7.41%35.148.14
Josh Donaldson376256.45%5.41%45.028.02
Mookie Betts295238.46%31.03%36.987.98
Joey Votto152850.00%6.67%22.957.95
Adalberto Mondesi92437.50%0.00%16.917.91
Yoan Moncada254454.55%4.00%32.577.57
Luke Voit213852.63%4.76%28.397.39
Shohei Ohtani183452.94%0.00%25.087.08
Howie Kendrick173351.52%0.00%24.017.01
Brandon Belt173528.57%41.18%23.936.93
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.152951.72%0.00%21.686.68

Jose Abreu (33 HR; 46.5 eHR)
Abreu had a monster season, there’s no doubt but much of his value was buoyed by a career-high 123 RBI. His 33 home runs tied the second-most of his career, but he “earned” much more. His barrel rate was three percent better than his previous career-best. He also managed career-highs in average exit velocity (AVG EV), hard hit%, maximum exit velocity, and fly ball% (per BaseballSavant). Additionally, Guaranteed Rate Field ranked seventh in my 2019 home run park factors. He’ll be 33 next year, so a skills decline may be in order but he still feels like a lock for 30-35 homers and another 100 RBI season with upside from there. 


C.J Cron (25 HR; 38.4 eHR)
Wow, this one caught me off guard a little bit. Given the crazy home run totals in 2019, a 25-homer output from Cron is going to get lost in the fray. Cron fell just short of 500 PA (499) and played in just 125 games. His home run rate projects out to 30 home runs, matching his 2018 total. However, Cron stepped his game up posting career marks in almost every power metric, similar to Abreu but again without the results to back it up. He even cut his strikeout rate by 4.5%. His 19.5% HR/FB rate was down two percent from 2018 despite a huge boost in his quality of contact. He struggled against right-handed pitching in 2019, which is my only concern with Cron going forward. He’s historically been adequate against them with a 105 wRC+ throughout his career. Cron is going to be a wide-awake sleeper in 2020 but if the balls are juiced again, he has an outside chance at 40 home runs. 

Avisail Garcia (20 HR; 30.76 eHR)
A career riddled with Inconsistent performance due to poor plate discipline and an elevated ground ball rate has kept Garcia from becoming a perennial All-Star. Make no mistake, Garcia is a beast. He hit only one more home run in 2019 compared to 2018 despite increasing his total number of barrels by 13. Interestingly enough, he decreased his AVG EV and fly-ball rate in 2019 but the properties of the ball determined that his power output was unlucky. I can’t say that Garcia is a lock to hit 25-30 home runs next year, especially if the ball is juiced. He’s a free agent, so it will be interesting to see if Tampa Bay decides to give him another look. Regardless, I’d expect similar production in 2020 at a minimum. He’s a decent late-round option.

Nick Castellanos (27 HR; 37.04 eHR)
Here’s a guy I’m going to jump all over in 2020. He’s finally out of Detroit and given his batted ball profile, almost anywhere will be a park upgrade for Nicky C. After being traded to the Cubs, his HR/FB% more than doubled to 23.2%. I won’t let the small samples cloud my judgment but let’s take a look at a spray chart including his line drives and fly balls from 2019. The top chart is overlayed on Comerica Park in Detroit, the second is Wrigley Field in Chicago. 

He’s not a lock to sign in Chicago but Wrigley is relatively neutral for power. I’m expecting a career-high in Castelaloes’ HR/FB% in 2020. I think given his quality of contact, he could post somewhere around 18-20% HR/FB rate and reach 30+ homers for the first time in his career.




Bryce Harper (35 HR; 43.73 eHR)
I’m here for the Bryce Harper discount in 2020. If Harper hit 43-44 home runs as his eHR suggests instead of 35 in 2019, are we talking about Harper as a slight disappointment? The boost in home runs would have given him more runs and RBI and likely increased his batting average to .265. His final line could have been .265-105-43-125-15. If it looks like a top-20 player and it smells like a top-20 player, it’s probably a top-20 player. My concern with Harper lies with his increasing strikeout rate which continues its climb towards 30%. If he can keep it below 25%, there’s value to be had.

Aaron Judge (27 HR; 35.14 eHR)
Amazingly, Judge earned 35 home runs despite just 447 plate appearances. He just straight mashes. I’ll take a discount on Judge in 2020, but based on early drafts, he’s not receiving it with an ADP of 24.3 based on the #2EarlyMocks. I feel that he is a safe second round pick even if the ball is changed to favor pitchers. He managed to somehow provide career-highs in hard hit% (57.1%) and AVG EV (95.9 MPH), ranking first and second, respectively in MLB with a minimum of 50 batted ball events (BBE). Health will remain my only concern with Judge. Even if he manages more than 500 PA in 2020, he has a strong chance to reach 40 home runs.

Andrew Benintendi (13 HR; 23.43 eHR)
There are a few factors to consider with Benintendi. The first being the fact that he’s a left-handed hitter playing half his games in Fenway. Left-handed pull power doesn’t favor left-handed pull power or balls hit to centerfield for that matter. Despite crushing the ball to straightaway centerfield, he only hit one home run to center all year. Here’s his spray chart on line drives, fly balls, and popups to straightaway.

Fenway has odd dimensions and extremely high walls, but he looks to have been robbed by a number of home runs, especially since some of those batted balls were hit on the road. Fenway’s HR/BRL% to centerfield for left-handed batters is just 28.2% compared to 41.2% league-wide. So while Benintendi will always struggle to hit a high volume of home runs to center, he still deserved better in 2019. The other factor is luck, which did not go his way in 2019. He set career-highs in barrel rate, hard hit%, and xwOBA. Not all of his fly balls went to die, he managed to smack 41 doubles and five triples. He sold out a little for power but didn’t reap the benefits. If he continues this approach I see a lower batting average floor, but I think Benintendi is a nice candidate to reach 20 home runs in 2020 at age-25. 

Dansby Swanson (17 HR; 25.99 eHR)
I love me some Dansby Swanson for 2020. Based on his quality of contact and power metrics, he already broke out in 2019. However, thanks to missed time with an injury and his struggles upon his return in September, he’s going to come at a sizeable discount on draft day. He’s essentially undrafted in 12-team formats with an early ADP of 268, but I do suspect that to rise closer to 225 come March. Now, Swanson crushed his pulled fly balls but only 15.6% of his fly balls were hit to left field. Additionally, his home park (SunTrust Park) suppresses home runs. These two factors lost him about three home runs in 2019, BUT that’s factored into my equation and he still underperformed by nine home runs. How? Well, he bumped his barrel rate from a meager 4.1% to 10.1% and his AVG EV jumped three MPH! He’s in the top 30% for both metrics right around guys like Mookie Betts, Mike Moustakas, Gleyber Torres, and Rhys Hoskins. Does that mean I think he’ll hit 30 home runs in 2020? Not necessarily, but it’s not out of the question. Gimme gimme! 

Yasiel Puig (24 HR; 32.52 eHR)
Puig is one of the most volatile players in the league. At times, he’s the hottest hitter in the game and at others, he’s taking on the entire Pirates team in a fight. His volatility not only applies to his performance but also his playing time. He’s had 368, 570, 444, 611 plate appearances since 2015. Would I count on 600 PA from Puig in 2020? Nope, but he did hit 24 homers and steal 19 bases in 2019. My metric shows that Puig should have hit more than 32 home runs. How would we view his season if he went 32/19? I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. Question marks seem to follow Puig wherever he goes. He only hit two home runs in 49 games with the Indians and I’m willing to chalk that up to an adjustment period. I will probably be out on Puig going into age-29 but wouldn’t be surprised if he stays healthy and smashes 30+ homers for the first time. I’ll probably only project him for 500 PA giving him another 23 – 25 HR and 15 steals for 2020.


Joey Votto (15 HR; 22.95 eHR)
As it turns out, Votto wasn’t quite as bad as his numbers indicated. Even still, he’ll be 36 years old and now has back-to-back seasons with under 20 home runs. His metrics are poor and his strikeout and walk rates are headed in opposite directions. While still posting a strong walk rate, it’s not the elite ratio we expect from prime Joey Votto. Despite his eHR showing he earned nearly 23 home runs, I’m not buying into a full power rebound in 2020. I’m OK leaving him on the wire now this he no longer provides elite batting average either.

Adalberto Mondesi (9 HR; 16.91 eHR)
If it weren’t for the shoulder injury with Mondesi, I’d be viewing him as a back-end first-rounder in 15-team formats. Keep in mind that his 16.91 eHR came on just 443 PA in 2019. As the two-hole hitter for the Royals, he’d push 650 PA in a full season. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a 20 HR/50 SB season at some point shortly with a ceiling of 25 HR/60 SB. Now, his plate discipline scares the sh&t out of me, so his range of outcomes is all over the place. With the question marks in regards to the recovery period on his shoulder injury, I’m likely to project Mondesi to miss the better part of the first month of 2020. Based on this stance, he’s a no-no in the first two rounds of 2020 for me. Additionally, the recovery could sap his power early in the season as well. Maybe he still reaches 40 steals but expecting more than 10-12 home runs may be a pipe dream. as much as I want to believe it.

Notable Unfortunate Hitters:  Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Mookie Betts, Yoan Moncada, Luke Voit, Shohei Ohtani, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Belt, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Fortunate Power Bats

2019 Earned Home Run Over Performers

PlayerHRBRLHR/BRL%NonBRL HReHRDiff
Alex Bregman412684.62%46.34%23.86-17.14
Brett Gardner281687.50%50.00%15.50-12.50
Yuli Gurriel311984.21%48.39%18.86-12.14
Joc Pederson363585.71%16.67%28.17-7.83
Omar Narvaez221888.89%27.27%14.44-7.56
Trevor Story353669.44%28.57%27.98-7.02
Eduardo Escobar353666.67%31.43%27.99-7.01
Nolan Arenado414072.50%29.27%34.16-6.84
Eric Thames252466.67%36.00%18.88-6.12
Jeff McNeil232161.90%43.48%17.67-5.33
Tommy La Stella1614100.00%12.50%10.82-5.18
Christian Vazquez232466.67%30.43%17.94-5.06
Eugenio Suarez495580.00%10.20%44.03-4.97
Freddy Galvis232360.87%39.13%18.14-4.86
Willie Calhoun211687.50%33.33%16.15-4.84
Danny Santana283174.19%17.86%23.23-4.77
Mitch Garver313571.43%19.35%26.28-4.72
Jesse Winker161478.57%31.25%11.44-4.56

Alex Bregman (41 HR; 23.06 eHR)
Yup. Bregman earned just over 23 home runs in 2019. I’ve adjusted for his high pulled fly ball rate and his home park. His 19 non-barreled home runs were the most in MLB which is the main reason for his low “earned” home run total. This may be a skill that Bregman possesses because in 2018, 35% of his home runs were “non-barreled” and in 2017, it was 33% of his home runs failed to qualify as barrels. Even still, adjusting his non-barreled ratio to 33% nets Bregman 13-14 non-barreled homers, not 19. There’s no doubt, his elite plate skills, contact rate, and home park will inflate his home run totals, but nevertheless, he’s a regression candidate in 2020. If the ball is juiced, I’d put him around 34-35 home runs, if it isn’t he’ll be lucky to reach 30 again. For Ss and Gs, here is an image showing Bregman’s pulled home runs overlayed on SunTrust Park (Braves home park).

Brett Gardner (28 HR; 15.50 eHR)
Gardner is another heavy pull hitter (35.4% pulled fly balls) that plays with the short porch to his pull side (right field) in Yankee Stadium. Based on my formula, those factors should have added between three and four home runs to Gardner’s total. In other words, in a context neutral environment, Gardner should have only reached 12 home runs in 2019. His output seems similar to some of the crazy home run totals we have seen from fellow Yankee, Didi Gregorious in the past. I don’t think anyone is actually buying into this power spike at age-36 from Gardner, so you don’t need me to tell you that he’s a huge regression candidate.

Yuli Gurriel (31 HR; 18.86 eHR)
I don’t want to fully dismiss the power gains we saw from Gurriel in 2019 because he made tangible changes. He increased his average launch angle by three degrees which produced more line drives, fly balls, and popups. The popups certainly don’t help but he also increased his pulled fly ball rate by eight percent. This explains why his eHR settled in at 18.8 after totaled just 13 home runs in 2018. It’s interesting to note that his hard-hit rate and AVG EV in 2019 were slightly lower than in 2017 when he hit 18 home runs (and the ball was juiced). Maybe projecting 18-20 home runs for 2020 seems reasonable.

Joc Pederson (36 HR; 28.81 eHR)
While Pederson saw more than 500 plate appearances for the first time since 2015, not much else has changed. He still struggled against lefties (often sitting versus tough LHP). He did increase his barrel rate by two percent but actually hit fewer fly balls. Additionally, he had a disproportionate number of home runs compared to doubles and triples. Typically, (and this far from scientific) the ratio of home runs to doubles+triples is close to one-to-one for power hitters. Pederson had only 19 2B+3B compared to 36 homers in 2019. It’s only worth noting when the discrepancy is this large. Pederson will most likely be with a new team in 2020, but unless he goes to Colorado, Cincinnati, or New York (Yankees) I’m staying away.

Omar Narvaez (22 HR; 14.4 eHR)
An eight percent boost in fly balls combined with a juiced ball is a great way to inflate your home run totals. However, his pulled fly ball rate and home park factors are essentially neutral which makes Narvaez’s 22 home run total a little bit outrageous. His HR/FB rate went up by one percent yet his hard-hit rate on fly balls dipped by six percent. I like Narvaez as a late-round catcher for 2020 thanks to a low strikeout rate and hefty line drive rate but expecting close to 20 homers in 2020 is a mistake. 

Trevor Story (35 HR; 27.98 eHR)
I’m not going to harp on Story too much because it’s possible I’m not properly evaluating Coors Field. You’ll notice Nolan Arenado listed as a notable lucky hitter but on the flip side, David Dahl and Ian Desmond earned five to six more home runs in 2019. So maybe I’m on to something here. Story is a player I’m not worried about. As long as he can maintain a strikeout rate below 30%, the backdrop of Coors Field will allow for a safe batting average floor. His power metrics look a lot stronger than Arenado’s but due to the aforementioned elevated strikeout rate, he puts fewer balls in play resulting in similar home run totals. He’s still in the middle of his prime at age-27 and his hard-hit rate and exit velocity remain elite.




Eduardo Escobar (35 HR; 27.99 eHR)
Escobar is going to be over-drafted in 2020 drafts thanks to a career-year in 2019. He smashed 35 home runs while driving in an amazing 118 RBI! That’s incredible value around pick 200. He’s jumped all the way to 81 overall in the #2EarlyMocks. Before 2019, he had never hit more than 23 home runs or driven in more than 84 runs in a season. Additionally, his career-high batting average is .274. On a positive note, eHR still believed that Escobar earned a career-best 28 homers, but that’s more or less juiced ball aided. Even if you’re buying the fact that he is now a safe 30-100 hitter at age-31 (which I’m not), keep this in mind. Proven commodities such as Jose Abreu, Matt Olson, and Marcell Ozuna are all drafted later.

Jeff McNeil (23 HR; 17.67 eHR)
I’ve been hearing a lot about how Jeff McNeil showed power for the first time in 2018, mostly in the minors. When he finally got a full slate of playing time in the Majors in 2019, he backed his power growth with another 20-plus homer season. I’m usually a sucker for players with great hit tools who manage extremely high contact rates. McNeil is exactly the type of hitter who can develop power with more experience. Why does this blurb feel like I’m down on McNeil then? My only concern with McNeil is that he hit 14 of his 22 home runs in 2018 in just 57 Double-A games thanks to a 50% fly-ball rate. That approach is very different than the Jeff McNeil we’ve seen in the Majors who has a more balanced approach with more ground balls and line drives. Binghamton also plays a little hitter-friendly (The Mets Double-A affiliate). I’m going to have a hard time with McNeil in 2020 drafts. If the ball in de-juiced, he’s a near-empty batting average with decent contributions in runs. If the ball is juiced, I expect another 20 home runs which will help elevate his RBI total becoming a solid 3.5 category hitter. It looks like a deep dive in order this offseason. 

Notable Fortunate Hitters:  Nolan Arenado, Eric Thames, Tommy La Stella, Christian Vazquez, Eugenio Suarez, Freddy Galvis, Willie Calhoun, Danny Santana

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





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Is Alex Bregman the Next Jose Ramirez?

If I used this article title exactly one year ago today, you might think Bregman has a chance to lead all of fantasy in terms of overall value. As I write this today, the perception has a negative connotation. Jose Ramirez put together arguably two of the best back-to-back fantasy seasons in recent years from 2017 through 2018. Below are Ramirerz’s Roto numbers throughout 2017 and 2018.

Seasons Runs HR RBI SB AVG
2017-2018 217 68 188 51 .294

You don’t need to be a fantasy expect to realize the brilliance in those numbers. Ramirez averaged 200+ R/RBI, 34 homers, and 25 steals over those two seasons and combined for 13.5 fWAR. Meanwhile, Bregman is in the midst of following up his 2018 breakout where he had a 157 wRC+ and earned 7.4 WAR per FanGraphs (fWAR) with a very impressive 146 wRC+ and pacing for 6.4 fWAR in 2019. He’s on pace to best his 31 home runs from last year and other than a dip in stolen bases, the similarities to Jose Ramirez the previous two seasons are extremely similar. Let me explain.



It’s not just the small stature and elite production from these two players that make them alike. It’s also their plate discipline. Bregman is walking more than his did last season and is currently sitting with an elite walk rate of 17.3%! His plate approach is arguably the best in the league. Among qualified hitters, Bregman has offered at pitches outside the zone just 17.4% of the time which is nearly two percent better than the next closest hitter in Mookie Betts and almost four percent better than Mike Trout. Let’s do our first comparison since that’s basically what the title is inferring. Here are the key plate discipline metrics for each player (Ramirez 2017-2018 and Bregman 2018-2019).

Player O-Swing% Z-Contact% SwStr% BB% K%
Ramirez (17-18) 23.7% 92.4% 5.1% 11.8% 11.1%
Bregman (18-19) 19.1% 92.5% 4.4% 15.2% 12.5%

These numbers are extremely similar across the board but clearly, Bregman has the edge in terms of laying off pitches outside the zone. Still, you won’t find many players with better plate discipline over a two-year span than these two guys. OK, so what’s the point here. We have two elite level talents with similar approaches who are both below-average in stature. So they are little more similar, what’s next? How about the batted ball profile?

Neither Ramirez in 2017/18 nor Bregman in 2018/19 have shown great Statcast metrics. Take a look at their hard hit and exit velocity in the images below. The top image shows Ramierz’s metrics from 2018 and Bregman’s for this year.

Sure, those are fine and both have managed very solid xwOBA but that doesn’t quite jive with elite-level production. Back to the batted ball profiles. How can a hitter maximize his power without being able to regularly barrel balls up? How about pulling the ball with regularity? Yes, pulling the ball, but also pulling the ball in the air. A hitter’s bat speed is higher at the point where contact is made on pulled balls because the further along in the swing path, the faster the bat head is traveling. In addition, balls don’t have to travel as far as the fences are shorter down the lines. It seems obvious, but here is the evidence. In 2019, pulled fly balls are home runs 34.1% of the time in 2019 compared to just 11.1% and 6.0% on balls hit to center and the opposite field, respectively. In other words, by just pulling the ball in the air, a hitter’s probability of a home run is tripled compared to hitting a fly ball to center and the probability is nearly six times higher than hitting it the other way.


After knowing what we know about each of these players, you’d think that both players pull quite a few fly balls. Let’s find out if this is true.

Player Pull% Fly Ball% Pulled Fly Ball% HR/FB on Pulled FB
Ramirez 17-18 48.1% 42.8% 34.1% 34.2%
Bregman 18-19 47.7% 43.8% 33.1% 32.2%
League AVG 17-19 40.2% 35.5% 23.8% 33.4%

A few things jump out at first with this table. The first thing I notice is that Ramirez and Bregman once again have a very similar approach when it comes to batted balls. Both players clearly emphasize pulling the ball and getting the ball in the air. Both players pull the ball in the air about 10% more often than league-average. I can’t argue with their approach, both have had an insane amount of success pulling fly balls. You’ll also notice that both players are essentially league-average in terms of home runs per fly ball (HR/FB) on pulled fly balls. That’s because, as I discussed above, neither player has been able to generate elite exit velocities or above-average power metrics. Only hitters with elite power metrics and exit velocities can succeed with power to all fields. Ramirez and Bregman do not qualify in those respects. Both players have provided high-end power outputs with this approach but Ramirez has struggled to do so this year.

Now that we’ve seen both players have very similar plate approaches and batted ball profiles, I wanted to take a look at each player’s spray charts. Remember, Jose Ramirez is a switch-hitter, but his approach is the same regardless of which side of the plate he hits from. He wants to pull the ball and pull it in the air. So, for the sake of comparisons, I’m looking at Ramirez’s spray chart hitting from the right side between 2017 and 2018 and Bregman’s spray chart for just 2019.  This way, the number of plate appearances is a little closer (386 PA from Ramirez and 451 PA for Bregman).





Pretty damn close isn’t it? If you’re wondering about some of those short homers to left from Bregman, only a few were at home in the short Crawford Boxes as he’s hit 17 bombs on the road! He’s still taking advantage of wall scrapers even on the road. Now for the final item, popups or infield fly balls. With an increase in fly balls and pulled fly balls often comes an increase in popups. Popups and infield flys are essentially automatic outs. For this portion, I want to focus on Statcast’s popup metric because it’s an isolated batted ball type. Over a FanGraphs, the infield fly ball (IFFB%) is a percentage of the fly ball category. Typically, players with well-above-average popup rates will have suppressed BABIPs. Ah, there it is. The main reseason for Ramirez’s struggles this year and in the second half of 2018 were due to a very low BABIP. His BABIP since the All-Star break in 2018 is just .230. A big reason why is due to the number of popups Ramirez has hit. Since the All-Star break in 2018, he’s hit 66 popups which are over 12% of the batted balls he’s hit. Of those 66 popups, only one has fallen for a hit, a batting average of .015. 

League average batting average on popups since 2018 is just .022. In other words, if a batter hits a popup, he has a 2.2% chance of the ball dropping in for a hit. In addition, the league average popup rate is about seven percent. OK, so we understand why Ramirez has struggled with batting average and BABIP but if you remember in 2017, Ramirez hit .318 but curbed his popups that year near league-average at 7.7%. How does Bregman fair in the category of popups? Bregman hit .286 in 2018 with a popup rate of 10.7%. That’s relatively fortunate. Some people saw his .289 BABIP and thought Bregman could hit .300 this year. I projected him for a slight dip in BA because of the elevated popup rate. This year, Bregman has taken those lazy fly balls to a new level. He’s sporting a 13.4% popup rate this year which is nearly double the league-average. In addition, his fly ball rate is up a tad while line drives are down. Yes folks, Bregman’s current .242 BABIP is not an illusion, it’s real and it’s warranted. 

Bregman might very well end up being the next Jose Ramirez. In fact, I think he already is the next Jose Ramirez. His pop up rate is up since the start of June. The home runs have continued but I don’t expect an increase in Bregman’s BABIP moving forward unless he curbs those popups. He’s already at a disadvantage when it comes to BABIP given his elevated fly ball and heavy pull rates. One point in Bregman’s favor is defensive shifts. He’s shifted on under 50% of the time despite a heavy pull rate on ground balls. Even when shifted on, his BABIP remains steady, so it doesn’t appear to be much of a factor. Ramirez, on the other hand, is being shifted on about 2/3rds of the time and his wRC+ against the shift is down 30 points.

Owners are obviously very happy with Bregman’s production, and while I don’t expect a complete collapse as we saw with Ramirez from July 2018 through June 2019, there is still some downside despite the elite plate skills. But what happens if he goes through a Ramirez-like slump with a sub-220 BABIP? Bregman doesn’t have the stolen bases to lessen the blow to fantasy teams (just four steals in five attempts this year). His power numbers are extremely inflated based on his home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) and lucky home runs. He’s carrying a 94% HR/BRL rate (league average is around 59%) and has hit 10, yes 10 non-barreled home runs or as I call them, lucky home runs. Given his heavy pull rate, Bregman has been known to hit these lucky homers, he did it 11 times last year but the difference is he barreled up 39 balls last season compared to just 17 thus far in 2019. You can see with his spray chart, there’s a fine line between a home run and an out with the majority of his home runs. Jose Ramirez is currently on the other side of that line in 2019. Bregman might just be the outlier and continue hitting for a respectable average with 30+ homers every year. But if he hits .235 with 18 homers and six steals next year, don’t be surprised.


Keep in mind, I don’t dislike Bregman, he’s a fantastic player. His plate discipline is elite and he plays on one of the best teams in the league. His floor is still pretty safe given his patience and surrounding cast. Where are you taking Bregman in 2020? First round, second round, thrid round? I’ll be slotting him in the third round as of now. There is just too much upside in the first two rounds to take the chance on Breggy.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


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