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Analyzing Hitter’s Hard Hit Percentage With Whiff Rates

There are so many great metrics available at our fingertips when analyzing hitters. Certainly Barrel percentage is the best measure of a player’s power, O-Swing percentage or Chase rate is a measure of a hitter’s plate discipline. I could go on and on but while metrics like xwOBA attempt to be all-encompassing to a hitter’s value, I like to look at certain metrics in conjunction with other metrics to help draw conclusions about players. In this small sample season, not all metrics will stabilize. We cannot simply trust how a player performs this year and assume that’s his new baseline. 


The two metrics I’m looking at today are hard hit percentage and whiff rate. Hard hit% is simple. It’s the number of balls hit at or above 95 mph divided by the total number of batted balls. The league average is 34.8% this year. By itself, the metric is powerful. Just, take a look.

At under 95 mph, wOBA hovers around .200. Nothing special about that but also the harder or softer the ball is hit below 95 mph doesn’t really matter. So, obviously, we want players with a high hard hit%. The next metric I want to include is whiff rate (Whiff%). It’s simply the number of swings and misses divided by the number of swings. The league average is around 24.5%. While each of these metrics has a different denominator, together, they can tell an interesting story about a player. These metrics require approximately 80 batted balls for HH% and 100 PA for whiff% to stabilize. The league-average HH%-Whiff% in 2020 is 10.3%. Here’s the top-10 from 2019.


Hard Hit% Minus Whiff% - Top 10 2019

NameTeamHH%-Whiff%
Anthony RendonNationals34.50%
Mookie BettsRed Sox33.90%
DJ LeMahieuYankees33.50%
Justin TurnerDodgers26.90%
Michael BrantleyAstros26.70%
Rafael DeversRed Sox26.30%
Matt ChapmanAthletics26.20%
Mike TroutAngels26.10%
Tommy PhamRays25.80%
Francisco LindorIndians25.80%

Pretty good list, no? Of course, it includes Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, so that’s great. It also includes breakouts D.J. LeMahieu, Rafael Devers, and Matt Chapman. Let’s take a look at the largest surgers in 2020 among qualified hitters.

Hard Hit Minus Whiff% - Surgers

NameTeamHH-Wf% (2020)20192020-2019
Corey SeagerDodgers32.10%14.20%17.90%
Luke VoitYankees20.70%8.70%12.00%
Juan SotoNationals37.30%25.50%11.80%
Eloy JimenezWhite Sox28.50%17.30%11.20%
Mike TroutAngels35.10%26.10%9.00%
Freddie FreemanBraves28.50%19.80%8.70%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Blue Jays23.90%15.40%8.50%
Adam EatonNationals26.30%17.90%8.40%
Randal GrichukBlue Jays20.30%12.90%7.40%
Cesar HernandezIndians18.60%12.80%5.80%



Unsurprisingly, Corey Seager tops the surgers list. He’s very likely going to be a top contender for comeback player of the year. His hard hit% is an impressive 56.1% while carrying a league-average whiff rate. He currently leads the Majors in Barrel% and the only reason he’s not leading the league in homers is his launch angle. He hits a few too many ground balls, but I’m not going to complain if he continues to mash like he’s doing now.

An abdominal injury that occurred in late-July last year really hurt Luke Voit’s production down the stretch in 2019. Well, he’s healthy again and absolutely mashing. His Whiff% isn’t as bad as you’d think for a guy with a 25%+ strikeout rate at just 25.9%. If we remove his injury-riddled final two months of 2019, Voit has a .386 OBP and 47 homers across 712 plate appearances as a Yankee. This is what a healthy Voit looks like. That’ll do.

Juan Soto is tied with Fernando Tatis Jr. for the best HH-Whiff% in 2020. They are both just 21 years old! Along with Acuna, these are going to be the faces of MLB for the next decade-plus. As impressive as Soto was at age-20, he’s even better this year. At the plate, he’s the best comp to Mike Trout I’ve seen, in my lifetime. I wouldn’t be surprised if he outperforms Trout next season and should be drafted as a top-5 hitter in fantasy leagues in 2021.

Speaking of young talent, enter Eloy Jimenez! He already has 42 home runs in 162 career games. The only thing he hasn’t shown yet is patience. AKA, the ability to take a walk. That seems to be a philosophy with the White Sox, especially with their young hitters. His improvements this year are solely with his hard hit% but his batted ball quality is elite. He’ll be another exciting young player to watch this decade.

The only thing keeping Mike Trout over Juan Soto is the fact that Trout is still getting better! It’s insane. He’s 29 years old, so at some point, he’s going to plateau/decline. But, 2020 is not that year. Trout is still the King.

Freddie Freeman may be having the best season of his career. He’s walking more, striking out less, and has a career-best OPS (1.016) this season. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see him perform for 162 games this year. I’d like to see a little more loft to boost those power numbers but I don’t think owners are complaining.


You may want to check in on impatient Vlad Gurrero Jr. owners to see if they are willing to part ways with him. Not every top-tier prospect becomes a star immediately despite the recent success of several phenoms mentioned in this article. He’s only seen slight improvements in ISO and wRC+ but a closer look into his underlying metrics shows major skills growth HH%, exit velocity, and BRL% despite hitting the ball on the ground more frequently. He’s also walking at a higher clip which is a good sign. He’s so close to breaking out. If he works this offseason to adjust his launch angle, I think we’ll see the .300-35 HR player we’ve all envisioned.

Adam Eaton is an odd name to this list. He’s hitting the ball surprisingly hard but they are all on the ground. He’s actually improved his HR/FB% which reflects his gains in terms of this metric but again, a 10% jump in ground ball rate kills any power gains he might have. He’s hitting a measly .215 but I think he’s extremely unlucky in terms of BABIP that sits a .252 (career-.332). I’m not buying Eaton and he’ll be 32 years old without ever really showing much power in the past.

Randal Grichuk’s gains this year are less related to quality of contact and more about making more contact. During his Cardinals career, he struck out 30% of the time. Since joining the Blue Jays, it dropped to a more respectable 26%. This year, however, he’s sitting at 21.5%. On the surface, it looks good. But, he’s still chasing pitches outside the zone at a similar clip and making the same amount of contact on pitches in the zone. That means he’s able to make contact on more ball outside the zone. So, he’s figured out a way to increase his plate coverage which explains his decrease in strikeout rate. Typically, contact on pitches outside the zone isn’t great for a hitter. That’s why I think his BABIP will regress. I think this is a positive sign for Grichuk but not sure how much I will trust him going into 2021.

Cesar Hernadez is definitely hitting the ball harder this year but it hasn’t shown up in his results. He’s pounding the ball into the ground. Even with his improved HH%, he still falls below league average. At age 30, I don’t think there’s much to see here.

Hard Hit% Minus Whiff% - Fallers

NameTeamHH-Wf% (2020)20192020-2019
Shin-Soo ChooRangers1.00%20.70%-19.70%
Yoan MoncadaWhite Sox1.10%18.50%-17.40%
Josh BellPirates6.70%22.90%-16.20%
Rafael DeversRed Sox10.30%26.30%-16.00%
Ryan McMahonRockies2.70%17.50%-14.80%
Anthony RendonAngels20.30%34.50%-14.20%
Marcus SemienAthletics8.20%20.50%-12.30%
Charlie BlackmonRockies9.00%21.20%-12.20%
Xander BogaertsRed Sox13.00%25.10%-12.10%
Starling Marte- - -3.70%14.60%-10.90%



Noooo, my beloved Shin-Soo Choo. At age-37 least year, Choo was a monster with a HH% in the 95th percentile. Despite his advancing age, he had improved his HH% for three straight seasons prior to 2020. He was due for regression, but, it’s not just HH%. He’s also whiffing about 4% more often. I hate to say it about one of the most underrated fantasy assets over the last decade, but it may be time to move on from the Choo Choo Train.

I’m disappointed to see my Dark Horse AL MVP Yoan Moncada on the decliners list. He’s never had a HH% or average exit velocities this low in his career. Personally, I think he’s hurt. Prior to August 12th, his HH% was over 40%. He then missed a game on 8/12 due to “nagging body aches.” Since then, his production has suffered. I can’t say for sure but I know a healthy Moncada would not be hitting the ball so poorly. I’ll be buying back in next season at a discount.

Josh Bell is having a miserable season after his 2019 breakout. His HH% is down a bit from last year but it’s still strong. It’s not the main culprit for his plummeting numbers. He’s simply struggling to make contact. It’s not just one pitch type either. His whiff% is up over 10% against all pitch types (fastballs, offspeed, and breaking balls) from a year ago. This will end up being a lost season for Bell. He’s still in his prime and hitting the ball with authority, so I could see him as a bounceback depending on the price in 2021.

Not even the backdrop of Coors Field can salvage Ryan McMahon’s batting average. He’s hitting just .214 with an xBA one point below the Mendoza Line. He’s been completely useless against breaking balls (0.183 xwOBA) with an insane 53.7% whiff% against the bendy pitches. His quality of contact is simply not good enough to maintain a 36% K-rate. I’m out on McMahon until he improves his contact.

Anthony Rendon showing up on the fallers list just shows how amazing he was last year. After topping the HH%-Whiff% list last season, he’s fallen some, but still in the top 80th percentile. We witnessed his best season in 2019 and now he’s just back to his baseline performance, which is still great. I don’t have any concerns here.


Speaking of one’s best season, Marcus Semien had his in 2019. He showed steady progress over the last several years only to fall back to a 2017 version of himself this year. He’s at a league-average whiff% but was 6% better than league average last year. It’s led to a jump in K% by nearly 8%. It’s not just the strikeouts either. He’s not hitting the ball hard. It doesn’t help that his surrounding cast isn’t playing like they did in 2019. I’m beginning to think 2019 will be the outlier in Semien’s career.

Charlie Blackmon is 34 years old. At this stage of his career, his power metrics are pedestrian at best. The only thing keeping him from being Jeff McNeil is Coors Field. (Psst, I’m not a believer in McNeil’s power despite the recent outburst). He hasn’t stolen bases since 2018 and now his power appears to be declining. He’s dangerously close to being an average/runs play in fantasy. I’ll be fading him next year.

Like many Red Sox hitters, Xander Bogaerts has struggled to match his success from 2019. However, his numbers are still very good. Other than a slight dip in HH% and a small increase to his K%, he’s essentially the same hitter as he was in 2019. Much like Devers, I’m not concerned at all.

After back to back 20 homer seasons, Starling Marte‘s power metrics look more like 2017 than the previous two seasons. I was really impressed with how he improved his exit velocity on fly balls last season but it’s just not there this year. With an average exit velocity of 90.6 mph, he’s in the bottom 25% of all qualified hitters. His number one asset is his speed but he’ll be 32 years old next month his value could slip significantly if he’s unable to provide a rebound in the power department next season.


(Getty Images)

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How Concerned Should We Be About Struggling Superstars?

This piece was inspired by a poll I held over the weekend on Twitter. I asked the question on Twitter regarding the slow starts for both Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger to get a feel for how fantasy owners were handling the stress of the extremely slow starts from their first-round picks.



Both players were no-doubt first-rounders with Yelich a consensus top-three while Bellinger fell somewhere between fourth and seventh overall. While just over half of the respondents aren’t worried at all, 35% are starting to get frustrated. Now, to be fair, we are just 21 days into the season and most teams have played between 17 and 19 games thus far. That’s like performing a full assessment of a player or your team in mid-April. It just doesn’t make sense. That being said, we are nearly 30% of the way through the season (for most teams)! Decisions must be made on the fly and adjustments need to happen now!

In this piece, I want to cover hitters off to slow starts who were top-end talents, AKA first or second-round selections. Before diving into the analysis, I wanted to cite a couple of pieces for two reasons. First off, the articles provide a ton of great information but also can help determine what we should be doing with players off to slow starts. The first is Rob Arthur’s piece which studied the drag on the 2020 ball. Conclusions are in! The ball has less drag than it did in 2019 and 2017.

It’s much closer to the ball we saw in 2018. I ran some numbers as well, looking at barrels per home run (BRL/HR%) and Blast Zone Barrels per Home Run (BZB/HR%), both were down significantly. We are currently well below the 2017 and 2019 levels and sitting between 2016 and 2018 levels. The crazy part is, we started in the dead of summer when balls fly farther, so our 2020 sample hasn’t factored in cold weather. 

With this information, we can reference Connor Kurcon’s piece from Six Man Rotation “Beneficiaries of the 2019 Dragless Baseball.” Save for Nick Castellanos, Kyle Seager, and Mike Yastrzemski, many of the players who benefited the most from the 2019 ball are struggling to start 2020. Now, since this is descriptive from 2019 data, changes in approach, exit velocity, and home park can attribute to how a player is performing relative to the information provided in Conor’s piece. Oh, and then there’s the sample size thing. Most statistics and metrics have not yet stabilized but metrics such as swing%, K%, exit velocity, and launch angle have. So, for this piece, let’s focus on those metrics.


All ADPs are from NFBC from 4/1/20 – 7/24/20

Christian Yelich (OF – MIL) – 2.05 ADP
.164 BA – 9 R – 4 HR – 9 RBI – 0 SB

Typically, the first round is about the floor but these players also have the highest ceilings. You’re not expecting this type of production from a player taken in the top three of nearly every draft. The first thing that jumps out to me is the ZERO in the stolen base category. The knee is a concern and it appears running may not be something Yelich will be doing this year. Bummer. The second thing that jumps out at me is his strikeout rate. He’s currently struck out 32.8% of the time. His career-worst K% in a full season is 20.7% in 2018. It’s odd because his chase rate as career-best 17.2% which backs his 14.1% walk rate. Yelich might be a little too passive to start 2020. He’s swinging at 10% fewer pitches but also seeing fewer pitches in the zone. That will happen to MVP-caliber players. 

His extreme passiveness doesn’t explain why his zone contact rate has dipped a whopping 20%! That’s my concern. I don’t think it’s an injury because his hard hit% and xwOBACON are very strong. Let’s take to the rolling average graph!

There’s some good news and some bad news here. In 2018, when Yelich won the MVP, he had three separate 15-game rolling averages where his wOBA was as low or lower than his current stretch. The good news is, they didn’t last long and he snapped out of it quickly. He’s also had two other stretches where his reach rates (O-Swing%) were as low as they currently are. The bad news is, those stretches coincided with fantastic results (spikes in wOBA). I’m concerned about Yelich but not a whole lot since his quality of contact is still great and his plate discipline is as good as ever. I think he’s a small tweak from busting out. I’d look to acquire him at 85 cents on the dollar.
Level of concern: 10% due to the lack of stolen base attempts

 

Cody Bellinger (1B, OF – LAD) – 4.08 ADP
.167 BA – 11 R – 2 HR – 6 RBI – 1 SB

Bellinger’s Roto line looks similar to Yelich’s but for different reasons. Bellinger made huge strides in terms of lowering his K% last year and he’s kept those gains this year. In fact, his strikeout rate is actually lower (14.3%) than it was last year./ That’s on top of cutting 7.5% from his K% between 2018 and 2019. He’s actually doing a great job of recognizing pitches in the zone. His swing% has gone up nearly five percent while his chase% is nearly identical to last season. Bellinger’s issues are not with zone recognition but with exit velocity.

His exit velocity and hard hit% are in the 18th and 14th percentile, respectively. Not good. His launch angle is the same as last year but that can be deceiving. Average launch angle does not tell the whole story. Let’s take a look at his 50 PA rolling average Sweet Spot% (balls hit between 8 and 32 degrees). 

He’s only been down this far once before and it was in his rookie year back in 2017. Limiting the percentage of balls hit in the Sweet spot range is going to limit his production on batted balls. Not surprisingly, his popup% is up over 5% this year as well. But, his ground ball% is also on the rise this year. That explains why his launch angle remains unchanged from a year ago. It’s difficult to hit the ball hard when your hitting popups and grounder at low launch angle but the lack of hard contact is concerning. Typically, it relates to an injury. But, his max exit velocity is decent at just under 110 mph which is right near where he’s been in the past. It’s possible he’s sacrificing hard contact for just plain contact which is why he’s hitting so many poorly hit balls. Either way, my concern for Bellinger is slightly higher than with Yelich because he could be masking a minor injury here.
Level of Concern: 25%



 

Rafael Devers (3B – BOS) – 23.09 ADP
.175 BA – 8 R – 2 HR – 3 RBI – 0 SB

Devers has missed the last couple of games with an ankle injury. Maybe that’s to blame for his slow start but I’m not buying it. He tweaked it on Sunday, so it doesn’t explain his poor performance to date. He’s nearly doubled his K%and is walking less compared to 2019. We have to remember, Devers is still just 23 years old and went from a league-average bat in 2018 to an MVP candidate in 2019. Regression back down a little should be expected. But, let’s try to figure out what’s wrong with the young third baseman. 

His hard hit% is down a massive 15% and he’s really been struggling against fastballs slugging just .259 against heaters. Contrast that with 2019 where he had a SLG of .545 against fastballs. Let’s check the two charts below. 

The first shows his in-zone swing and miss% by year. It’s not often you see a player with higher whiff rates on fastballs compared to offspeed or breaking balls, but that’s Devers. While his whiff% in the zone against offspeed pitches has increased by 10%, it’s up 14% against heaters! The second chart shows his average launch angle by pitch type. He’s pounding fastballs into the ground. So, not only is he making less contact against fastballs but he’s also been unsuccessful in elevating them. He’s not being pitched differently either. Most of the fastballs he’s seen are up in the zone or up and out of the zone. 

This looks like one of two things. Either he’s hiding a potential injury or he played a bit over his head last year. Either way, I’m concerned. The loss of Mookie Betts hurts this team’s productivity and word just got out that a humidor was installed at Fenway Park. Fenway was already one of the worst parks for home runs over the last three seasons. Devers and other Red Sox could see a power dip as a result. Additionally, he’s not running and now has a bum ankle. He’s known to go on some heaters but providing second-round value this year seems unlikely.
Level of Concern: 25% 

J.D. Martinez (OF – BOS) – 23.76 ADP
.222-7-1-4-0 (BA-R-HR-RBI-SB)

Martinez hasn’t changed his approach or batted ball distribution all that much. He’s essentially the same guy he’s been over the last several years but without much to show through the first three weeks. The difference is his hard contact. His barrel% is right in line where it’s been the last few seasons but his average exit velocity is way down. Like, bottom 35% down. This is a guy who has finished inside the top 10% in hard hit% each of the last five seasons. He’s also been in the top 10% in terms of exit velocity in four of the last five years. The only year he fell short was last season.


I wrote him up as a faller on my Blast Zone Barrels (BZB) article when looking at three-year trends. As average exit velocities have increased league-wide, Martinez is slipping. There are several reasons for this. First, his age. He’s 32 years old and while not a dinosaur, we don’t typically see players improve their exit velocity in their 30s. Second, his ground balls have been hit weakly (76.6 mph). That’s fine because he can’t do damage with grounders. His AVG EV on FB/LD is 93 mph is in the top half but not quite the JDM we are used to. Lastly, that damn humidor news. It’s going to suppress exit velocity and power.

I think he’ll bust out but not to the 2017 and 2018 levels we are used to seeing. The humidor scares me as well. I’m not buying JDM unless I can get him for 80 cents on the dollar.
Level of Concern: 20%

Anthony Rendon (3B – WSH) – 31.82 ADP
.174 BA – 10 R – 3 HR – 7 RBI – 0 SB

Rendon seems to be pressing. A star player in a new home off to a slow start. Sound familiar Bryce Harper? First, let’s focus on the positives. He’s walking more than he’s struck out (17 BB: 12 K). That’s nothing new for Rendon who has nearly as many strikeouts as walks since the start of 2018. However, he’s swinging less often this year. His chase% is at a career-low 12.6%, so that’s great but he’s dropped over 6% on his zone contact rate. Additionally, he’s hitting everything in the air but not necessarily in a good way. His launch angle is dangerously high at 28.6 degrees. His popup rate has almost doubled since 2019.

Since he’s ultra-passive, he’s getting fewer opportunities to do damage. Most of the time he’s miss-hitting the ball getting under it a little bit. He made an approach change in 2016 to get more loft and it’s done wonders to his production. I think he’s just working through early-season timing issues. Most pitchers have been ahead of the hitters with the lack of spring/summer training. Hitters haven’t quite had the reps they are used to seeing before the season starts. I’d look to acquire Rendon on the cheap but he did blast back to back homers this week, so you may not get much of a discount.
Level of Concern: 5%

Gleyber Torres (SS – NYY) – 28.66 ADP
.154 BA – 4 R – 1 HR – 2 RBI – 0 SB

To get Torres in a 15-team format, you needed to get him right at the end of the second round or at the turn in the third. So far, his hard hit% and K% are better than a year ago but he’s been unable to barrel many baseballs. Just one to date, in fact. His batted ball profile looks identical to a year ago, so what’s the problem? Well, he’s being fed a ton of breaking balls, nearly 10% more than in 2019. He’s done absolutely nothing with them slugging a scant .043 against the bendy pitches. While he was passable against breaking balls in 2019, the expected metrics painted a different picture. His xSLG was 70 points lower versus breaking balls and his xwOBA was .282.


I think this is the league adjusting to Torres. The book is out and he needs to adjust back. He’s only 23 years old and in a similar boat to Devers. There’s plenty of time for him to figure it out and I think he’ll be a star but in a 60-game season, we don’t have time to wait for changes to take shape. On the plus side, he’s chasing less often, so he’s not far from making the necessary adjustment. Like Devers, I certainly love him longterm but feel like he’s going fail on turning any type of profit in 2020.
Level of Concern: 20%


Photo by: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)



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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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Fantasy Baseball – 2019 Rankings Recap: Hits and Misses

After each season comes to a close, I like to take a look back at my proverbial victory laps but also analyze where I missed on certain players and why. I use this time of reflection on my fantasy season to find flaws in my analysis to see where I can improve for next season. In some cases, there was nothing wrong with the process but rather an unexpected incident or variable that derailed a player’s season. One main variable was the ball. We were not privy to any information before the season starter that the ball would be more lively. From the limited information available, MLB does not plan on changing the properties of the ball for 2020 or at least to start the season. This means that valuing hit tool, high contact rates, and fly balls will be important yet again in 2020. It’s something I wish I had valued more in the preseason in 2019 but you’ll see below that I was able to identify players with these skills early on once data determined that the ball was extra bouncy.

I’ll have a complete assessment comparing my projections with the actual 2019 outcomes within the next couple of weeks. Of course, the juiced ball has really inflated offensive numbers while pitchers have taken it on the chin. I’m not expecting the results of the statistical analysis to be as close as they were last year, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The list below is in no means to complete list of my hits and misses. If you’d like to check my preseason rankings, here’s the table. OK, let’s dive in!


Players I got right for 2020

Ketel Marte (2B, SS, OF)
I was extremely high on Ketel Marte coming into the season. I originally had him ranked around 150 overall until the D-Backs decided to sign veteran snoozer, Adam Jones to play Centerfield. I have nothing against Jones, he was a very good player for a long time and by all accounts a great guy. Marte was slated to play a lot of CF along with 2B and SS. That’s nice position flexibility which added to his overall value, especially in deeper formats. Assuming Jones would cut into Marte’s playing time a little bit, I knocked 10-15 games +/- off his projection which dropped him to 175 overall. Yahoo! Must have had a personal vendetta against Marte because they ranked him 274 overall!

When Marte was traded to Arizona in 2017, I was intrigued. His speed combined with high contact skills and developing power was too much to ignore. Going into his age-24 season and I noticed huge gains in hard contact, barrel rate, and extra-base hits in 2018. There was no reason to expect him to decline entering his age-25 season. High batting average and speed potential with moderate power were enough to skyrocket Marte up my ranks. I had him in over 50% of my leagues. I touted him all over, like here in the preseason, and here through two months of 2019, and here on Twitter. I love me some Marte! I’m most proud of this call if you can’t tell.

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
Don’t worry, the rest of my blurbs won’t be as in-depth as my Marte blurb. After a down year in 2018 due to a hand/wrist injury, Bogaerts was coming at a discount in 2019. Given his age and past performance, I compared Bogaerts to Bregman without the fanfare. Go ahead and take a look at both player’s final numbers. Not bad, right? I ranked Bogaerts 26th overall, which was probably higher than anyone (I think). Most big-box sites had him around 45 overall and he slipped to pick 50 in many drafts. On the Razzball Player Rater, he’s ranked 15th overall, so he was worth the lofty rank. I ended up with Bogaerts on many teams because I knew I could wait until the fourth round in most drafts.

Anthony Rendon (3B – WSH) and Eugenio Suarez (3B – CIN)
I’m pairing Rendon and Suarez together because they were both pushed down in the 3B rankings thanks to the helium of Vald Guerrero Jr. and the Kris Bryant believers. I had both Rendon over Bryant and Suarez over Guerrero. It sounds crazy now but almost everywhere you looked, both Bryant and Guerrero were ranked ahead of these guys. Rendon is ranked seventh on the Player Rater and Suarez is 32nd. Bryant is around 60 while Guerrero is much further down. I’ve always loved Rendon and he’s criminally underrated every year who also showed up on my HR/BRL underperformers this offseason. Well, he stayed healthy and finally delivered with an MVP-caliber 2019 season. Suarez just keeps getting better. I tweeted this last week. Players aren’t supposed to continue trending up like that! Can he do it again? I’d say no, but then again I have no idea. Either way, I’m just happy I Owned these guys in 67% of my leagues in 2019.


Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL)
I was encouraged by Mancini after diving deep into his Statcast Metrics after 2018. His barrel rate was fantastic but his results in power didn’t quite match up, especially with a favorable park for home runs. The Orioles had no depth on offense (or anywhere, really), so Mancini was going to be a fixture in the middle of their lineup. I thought we could see his first 30-homer season and here we are. Again, thanks in part to the juiced balls but Mancini has taken steps forward and ranks inside the top 40 on the Razzball Player Rater. However, he’s also improved his walk and strikeout rates along with his launch angle. His groundball rate has dropped nearly 10% boosting his expect batting average and home run totals. Sometimes guaranteed playing time and lineup spot matter. Also, in Mancini’s case, Camden Yards is a great place to hit. My analysis, while not all that analytical with Mancini but was correct for 2020.

Matt Boyd (SP – DET)
OK, so Boyd fell off in the second half thanks in part to an insanely elevated home run rate. The strikeouts certainly remained, so he wasn’t a total dud in the second half. While Boyd’s ratios did not improve from 2018, the league-wide ratios went up between 10-15%. Where Boyd improved was the whiffs. He struck out 238 batters this year after just 159 in 2018 with only 15 more innings. That’s a ton of value. He was being ranked between 70 and 90 on most sites and I placed him around the 60th SP. where is he in the Razzball Player Rater? The 43rd SP for 2019. Boom!

Matt Olson (1B – OAK)
Despite breaking a hamate bone in his wrist during the opening series in Japan, Olson has set a new career-high with 36 home runs.  Once again, Olson was yet another player I have interested thanks in part to my analysis on his unlucky home run per barrel rate. He had shown extremely promising Statcast metrics and was coming into his age-25 season. The surrounding lineup in Oakland was encouraging as well with improving stud Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano combined with established veterans Khris Davis and Marcus Semien. Olson has 50-homer power in this environment and will likely be undervalued again in 2020.

Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH)
Corbin was a favorite of mine coming into 2018. I correctly projected him as a top 20 starter coming into 2018 based on past performance, pedigree, and being a second-year removed from Tommy John Surgery. His slider was the catalyst to his success in 2018 and he introduced a “slow slider” that was essentially a third pitch because of its change in velocity. The results against his slider were ridiculous. His chase rate on the pitch was over 50% with a swinging strike rate a hair short of 30% with whiff rates north of 50%! That’s crazy, over half the time hitter offered at his slider, they flat out missed it. While others were expecting regression, I didn’t see anything from 2018 that showed me that hitters were going to change their approach against his slider. And, they haven’t. His numbers are nearly identical in 2019 despite the league-wide jump in ERA.

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
Injuries. That’s the main reason for my skepticism on Correa, especially his back issues. I’ve always been a huge fan of Correa and it’s disappointing how injuries have derailed his last few years. Since the injuries started, he basically stopped running as well. In other words, Correa required the trifecta to provide value at his ADP of power, batting average, and health. I wasn’t going to risk spending a pick in the first four to five rounds on Correa given the low probability that all three would come to fruition. That and the depth at Shortstop was vast.

Matt Carpenter (3B – STL)
I highlighted Carpenter in the preseason as a third baseman to avoid coming into 2019 here at Pitcher List. Typically I stay away from older, established players coming off of career-years. Carp had a fantastic 2018 where he went nuts for about three months. He also was finally healthy. Previously, he had nagging injuries that either sapped his performance or forced him to miss time. I was not interested in betting on that to happen two years in a row given his age and history. This was kind of an easy call. However, you’ll see below when I discuss Josh Donaldson how this strategy backfired.




Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
Fantasy baseball is funny because I was big on Nimmo’s breakout before the 2018 season. I tabbed his potential power riser after he began increasing his loft and fly ball rate in the preseason. Throughout the season his power played up and his patience made him a massive asset in OBP leagues. I noticed, however, that his contact rates were very poor to start 2019 and knew that he would struggle to keep his strikeout rate below 25%. I ranked him a touch lower than most big-box sites and quickly turned away completely after two weeks in 2019. I discussed how his elevated BABIP was not likely to remain and his contact rates continued to plummet. I didn’t own him anywhere but I recommended that all owners jump off the sinking ship early. 

Jurickson Profar (1B, 2B, 3B, OF – OAK)
The post-post-post hype sleeper finally delivered in 2018 with the Rangers. I, however, was not buying it. He popped up on my HR/BRL over-performers this offseason and was moving from friendly Globe Life Stadium in Texas to cavernous Oakland Colllusium. He also didn’t show great speed despite double-digit steals as well. His contact and K-BB rates were pedestrian and he didn’t have a position locked in with the Athletics. Ultimately, the juiced ball helped him reach decent power numbers but his batting average completely cratered. Besides, 20 homers aren’t as valuable as it used to be.

Early Season pivot due to performance

Austin Meadows (OF – TBR)
I wasn’t on Meadows in the offseason where I had him ranked between 150 and 200 but wasn’t completely out either. I realized early in the season that the Rays were not going to play games with platooning Meadows against lefties which was a concern coming into 2019.  Here’s what I said in a FantasyPros article on April 15th:

“He walked more frequently than he struck out last week, and his batted-ball profile is a thing of beauty. His hard contact via FanGraphs is 47.6%, and he’s hitting fly balls 42.9% of the time. His barrel rate (BRL%) is 17.9%, nearly triple his 6.4 BRL% from 2018.”

He was so hot at that point it would have been difficult to buy him from an owner but he lived up to the hype. He will be a target of mine in 2020 as I expect big things from Meadows for his encore. He’s an easy 35 homer 10-15 stolen base type of player hitting atop a good (not great) Rays lineup.

Eric Sogard (2B/SS – TOR)
I was able to identify Eric Sogard as a potential value through the first four weeks of 2019. It wasn’t his quality of contact or Statcast metrics but his elite contact rates and consistent playing time. He doesn’t even show up on the NFBC ADP list which covers nearly 1,000 players. The fact that Sogard was 15-team relevant for most of the season and even 12-team relevant for about half the season is pretty amazing. I think valuing guaranteed playing time and high contact rates are undervalued, especially in this era. Sogard was a huge plus in batting average without completely killing you in power and speed. It’s part of the reason I am interested in Luis Arraez next year.

Players I missed on for 2019 and why

Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)
I was really buying into the approach with Winker. He already had mastered plate discipline walking nearly as often as he strikes out. He was basically becoming a young Votto. Younger players with a good hit tool and approach can often develop more power as they age. I was expecting that jump in 2019 for Winker, but I was wrong. His hard contact rates dipped and he wasn’t walking as frequently. I think he’ll be dirt cheap and still young enough to improve. I’ll be back in is his ADP is after 250 for 2020.

Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE/CIN)
Trusting a pitcher with more than four years of MLB experience with one ace-level production was partially where I went wrong here. The other variable that clouded my judgment of Bauer was his constant tinkering. While I looked at his relationship with Driveline as a positive based on his performance in 2018, I failed to see it as a potential issue in 2019. Given his mentality, he’s always going to want to get better and improve even after a Cy Young caliber 2018. I think he’s also stubborn. My analysis of Bauer and his metrics was not wrong, but understanding the person behind the numbers is where I missed.


Jackie Bradely Jr. (OF – BOS)
I went in hard on JBJ this offseason and boy was I wrong. Sure, he improved on his power, but so did everyone! I fell in love with his power/Statcast metrics and figured it would translate into a huge bump in production. Combining 20+ homers with 15ish SB on one of the best offensive clubs in the league was intriguing to me this offseason. I failed to ignore the poor approach and contact rates and his slumps were just too deep to dig out of. After another sub-.230 season with under 10 steals, I’ll probably be out on JBJ next year. 

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
The youth of Flaherty is why I shied away. His walk rate was high, his BABIP was low, and his strand rate was high. I included those items in my negative regression article this offseason for FantasyPros. When comparing his season on a historical basis, he was bound for negative regression. So again, the process was not wrong. However, not realizing his true talent and youth/ability to improve was not factored into play. That’s my mistake. Flaherty was coming off an impressive season and was just 23 years old! To my surprise, Flaherty has cut his walk rate by over two percent, decreased his BABIP against, and increased the runners he’s stranded. Thanks in part to an increase in velocity and first-pitch strike rate, Flaherty has turned into an ace.

Josh Donaldson (3B – ATL)
The analysis of Donaldson was strictly injury based. Given his recent injury history and age, I was not expecting 500+ plate appearances in 2019 from JD. I also was put off by his increasing strikeout rate which was backed by a trend of decreasing contact rates. Those may not have been skills deterioration but rather a result of his nagging injuries. So, I missed on Donaldson but hit on Carpenter. I will bet against injury and age more often than not and when they are combined, I’ll bet against it nearly 100% of the time. I just have to face the facts that I will be wrong every once and a while.

Travis Shaw (1B, 2B, 3B – MIL)
Ugh. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t higher on a guy in his prime coming off of two 30-homer campaigns with a shrinking K/BB ratio hitting in the middle of a very good Brewers lineup. It turns out, I was the idiot. Shaw was a disaster with contact rates as low as Joey Gallo without a fraction of the contact quality. He was a complete disaster. I’m not sure how I could have seen a 32.3% strikeout rate coming when his previous career-high was 25.1%. Aside from the extreme contact rates, his BABIP dropped to 0.060 points below his career rate and while a five percent jump in fly ball rate explains a portion of the decrease, it doesn’t cover it all. Either way, he’s a mess and I’m out on his next year.

Early Season pivot due to skills performance

Cody Bellinger (1B, OF – LAD)
So, as you can see in my preseason ranks, I was not a believer that Bellinger would recapture his brilliance from his rookie campaign. I had looked at Bellinger as a hitter with a hole in his swing which had been exploited, limiting him in batting average and some power. However, that assessment was wrong as he clearly made adjustments. After just two weeks of games, he had improved on his hard contact/barrel rates and saw massive improvements to his contact rate. Here’s what I said in April:

“We already knew he could mash but his plate discipline is on another level early this year. He’s swinging outside the zone less often and his contact rates have jumped up. As a result, his strikeout rate is down nearly 10%. If he can manage improved contact rates, Bellinger could provide first-round value and a huge profit for those who drafted him this offseason.”


Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)
Like many “experts,” I don’t love that word, I was high on Pivetta coming into 2019 based on his K-BB rate and ERA-estimators. However, after just one start, I was able to identify an issue with Pivetta that carried over from 2019. His fastball location and pitch selection were poor. It was a little more clear to me that his elevated BABIP and possibly home run rate were going to continue to plague him. Here’s the blurb I wrote at FantasyPros in my Risers/Fallers article.

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


Photo by Fred Thornhill / The Canadian Press via AP

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What Hitters are Over and Underperforming Based on HR/BRL Rate

Last month, I developed home run park factors using Statcast’s metric – Barrels. I used four full seasons of Statcast data to determine the most favorable and unfavorable parks in Major League Baseball. Let’s put this information to work and determine which players have been unlucky or are underperforming and players who have been lucky or are overperforming their power metrics based on HR/BRL rate. I’ll look at how players have performed in the past, look at park factors, and compare their numbers to the league-average HR/BRL rate in 2019. Speaking of which, that metric (HR/BRL%) is currently 55.96%. I deduct home runs that do not qualify as a barrel in that calculation. I separate them out and call those home runs “lucky” or non-barreled homers.

First, let’s look at the underperformers. You’ll want to sort the column to the right (HR/BRL%). Remember 55.96% is league-average, so sort the column further to the right to if you want to to see the largest underperformers. The HR (BRL) column are all the home runs that were also barrels and the number from that column plus the Lucky HR column should equal the player’s total HR to date. Hit me up if you have questions or want to know about a player on the list I didn’t cover.

HR/BRL Underperformers (5/31/19)

PlayerBRLHR (BRL)Lucky HRHR TotalHR/BRL%
David Dahl1750529.4%
Andrew Benintendi1451635.7%
Jose Ramirez1140436.4%
Brandon Belt1662837.5%
J.T Realmuto1871838.9%
Anthony Rendon23911039.1%
Christian Walker22911040.9%
Freddie Freeman291301344.8%
Jose Abreu311411545.2%
Mookie Betts1990947.4%
Dansby Swanson211001047.6%
Mike Trout251201248.0%
J.D Martinez221101150.0%
Domingo Santana201001050.0%
Ketel Marte201021250.0%

David Dahl – How in the hell does a Rockies hitter have the lowest HR/BRL rate? When we go over the overperformers, we find Nolan Arenado (85.7%) and Trevor Story (71.4%). Of course, we know based on their home park, those numbers are not out of bounds. I absolutely hate his (Dahl’s) approach and his contact rate is atrocious but Coors field! He’s due some serious positive power regression as long as the Rockies stick with him. Unfortunately, he’s running an elevated BABIP inflating his batting average, so it’s not like you can get him for cheap. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on a binge over the summer months and ends up close to 30 home runs.

Andrew Benintendi has picked up his pace in recent weeks. I was high on him this offseason and expected him to take a step forward in terms of power. The good news is he’s just about halfway to his total number of barrels from 2018 but has only produced six homers. Fenway isn’t great for left-handed pull power which is what Benny produces. I still think he’s due some positive regression and a 20-20 season is well within reach.

No surprise here, Jose Ramirez has been unlucky this season. That doesn’t mean he’s been good though. Ramirez thrives by commanding the strike zone, making a ton of contact and doing damage to the pull side. This year, he’s declined in all three facets. As far as his power, he’s not hitting 39 homers, sorry. But, for a home park that’s neutral for power, he should have a couple more home runs. I think he’ll heat up and end up with around 20 home runs to go with 30 steals which isn’t so bad but not a top five player.

Yes, Christian Walker homered last night, but he’s been ice cold. With the addition of Kevin Cron to the MLB roster, Walker will fade in the remaining four months. Yes, he’s been unlucky, no I’m not buying.

J.T. Realmuto plays in a favorable park with a stacked lineup. His power and Statcast metrics look great and clearly, he’s been extremely unlucky in terms of HR/BRL rate. Find an owner who is tired of his mediocre statistics and pluck him up for cheap because, I think he ends up around 25 homers this year with career-best counting stats.

This offseason, I predicted Anthony Rendon would win the MVP this year and even after missing over two weeks to an elbow contusion, he still ranks sixth in the NL in WAR. He’s only managed 10 home runs on 23 barrels (1 lucky HR) to date. Just regressing Rendon to league-average HR/BRL, he would have 14 home runs in just 43 games played. If he can stay healthy and luck falls on his side, he should have no problem reach 30-35 homers with a slash line of .300/.400/600 and a top 3 MVP candidate.

Freddie Freeman is currently underperforming his HR/BRL rate for the third straight season. New Suntrust Park did not fair well (25th in HR Park Factors) since inception in 2017. Freeman hits a ton of line drives at high exit velocities that may be registering as barrels. However, they might not have enough loft or backspin to reach the seats, especially in Suntrust. It’s too bad because he may be having the best season of his career with a career-low 16.7% strikeout rate.

You might be surprised to find out that the 2019 barrels leader is Jose Abreu. Abreu heats up in the Summer months and already has 15 home runs. He’s striking out more also making more contact on pitches in the zone. His HR/FB rate is the highest since his rookie season and at age-32, he’s at the back-end of his power prime. Given the current environment and the improved White Sox lineup, I like Abreu to match or even best his home run total from his rookie season. I can envision a .270-40-120 type of line.

LOL Mike Trout LOL

I have to touch on my guy Ketel Marte. He just hit a ball 115.8 MPH yesterday which is harder than any ball Joey Gallo has hit this year. The metrics back up his power improvements and he’s actually pulling 39% of his fly balls which is key for power. The point is, I don’t expect regression from Marte going forward. I’d put him down for 25-28 home runs with a good batting average and plenty of R+RBI hitting 2nd or 3rd in the Diamondbacks lineup.

HR/BRL Rate Overperformers (5/31/19)

PlayerBRLHR (BRL)Lucky HRHR TotalHR/BRL%
Tommy La Stella1010212100.0%
Jesse Winker88210100.0%
Jose Peraza1145100.0%
Alex Bregman151431793.3%
Hunter Renfroe111011190.9%
Jose Altuve1090990.0%
Derek Deitrich171521788.2%
MItch Haniger161401487.5%
Joc Pederson161421687.5%
Dan Vogelbach151321586.7%
Albert Almora761785.7%
Nolan Arenado141231585.7%
Cody Bellinger241822075.0%
Paul Goldschmidt151101173.3%
Eric Hosmer1181972.7%
Victor Robles753871.4%
Trevor Story141031371.4%
Wilson Contreras141021271.4%
Eugenio Suarez171221470.6%
Eduardo Escobar14951464.3%

Jose Peraza is probably the luckiest hitter in the league in terms of home runs. He has totaled five home runs on just one barrel! I can’t put a whole lot of stock into these metrics because #1, it’s such a small sample and #2, he plays his home games in GAB, the best park in MLB for homers. He also did similar things last year hitting 14 homers on 14 barrels. I’m not interested in Peraza going forward but he could still luck his way into 10 HR and 15-20 steals. 

Wow, another Red, surprising. After hyping Jesse Winker for the better part of a year now, I’m cooling a bit on him. His batted ball metrics have taken a dip over the last three weeks. It could just be a minor injury or an approach change (not in a good way) but I still like Winker going forward. Even with the extreme homer-friendly park in Great American Ballpark, I don’t think he’ll continue his power pace. He’s still on pace for just under 30 homers but I’d expect something closer to 25 with improvements in batting average. He’s still a top 200 player going forward.

It probably doesn’t take an expert to figure out Tommy La Stella has been extremely fortunate in the power department this season. He’s managed to hammer out 12 home runs while only barreling 10 balls. He’s homered on all 10 of his barrels and assuming league-average HR/BRL rate, he should have between five and six home runs. He’s also hit two “lucky” home runs and five of his 12 home runs were hit with an exit velocity under 100 MPH. Everywhere I look, I see regression including his 20.4% HR/FB rate which is seven percent higher than his previous career-high. His average HR distance is 392 feet. His average EV on FB/LD is only 91.6 MPH which ranks 152 out of 204 batters with at least 100 batted balls sandwiched between Steven Duggar and Amed Rosario.

Alex Bregman has homered on over 93% of his barrels and has totaled more home runs than barreled balls. This is a guy who hit 31 home runs on 39 barrels last season and averaged only 384 feet on his home runs. Interestingly enough, Bregman is not taking advantage of the short Crawford boxes in Minute Maid Park. In fact, only one home run was aided by the Crawford Boxes. It was hit on 5/22 and went just 352 feet with an exit velocity of only 93 MPH with an xBA of just 0.068. He doesn’t have monster power but his short and quick swing generates enough power to all fields. I think his home run rate declines on balls to the opposite field, but the rest of his profile looks legit.

I was stuck between Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes in the preseason but after the first two months, I’m much more excited about Framil. Renfroe still has some solid value, especially if he plays every day but it will likely come with a drain on batting average. He’s been lucky in the power department but as I learned last month, Petco Park is a top 10 park for home runs. I also noticed Renfroe is pulling 53% of his fly balls which is the most in the league among hitters with at least 40 fly balls. That’s a great why to inflate your HR/FB rate, so while I expect some regression, it shouldn;t be drastic. I think Renfroe reaches 30 homers for the first time but might have to wait another year or two in order to reach to 40 homer milestone.

Mr. Swag himself, Derek Dietrich has been fortunate to have a home run total of 17 through the first two months. It’s been impressive, there’s no doubt but in a list of 23 overperformers to date, four of them play for the Reds. He’s another guy pulling a high eprcentage of his fly balls. He’s selling out for power increasing his fly ball rate by 16%! He’s also improved his hard contact but is popping up too much as well. He’s going to go through slumps and crater batting averages but the backdrop of GABP should net Dietrich another 15 or so homers.

Joc Pederson is interesting because he hits some absolute moonshots. Three of his home runs this season were hit at 35-degree launch angles or higher, one reached 43 degrees! He also love hitting in LA where 11 of his 16 home runs have come at home. Dodger Stadium scored as the 11th best park for home runs (1.05 PF) but where it’s very favorable is down the lines where it’s 330 feet. Pederson is able to take advantage of the short right field fence and can hug several moonshots. He still can’t hit lefties and will be on the bench against them, so manage Pederson accordingly.

Dan Vogelbach doesn’t hit many wall scrappers. He has hit two lucky home runs but it’s likely due to the low launch angle of the home runs, not the lower exit velocity we see with the likes of Tommy La Stella. To give you an idea of what I mean, 10 of his 15 home runs have been hit at launch angles of 23 degrees or lower. Most of those were absolutely crushed at exit velocities of 104 MPH or higher. Most home runs are hit between 22 and 32 degrees +/- in terms of launch angle. Vogelbach is trying to buck that trend. As the weather heats up, the balls will only travel further, so I’m not expecting regression from Vogelbach, even though he finds himself on this list.

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


Cover Photo Credit:Mitchell Layton
2019 Getty Image
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Home Run / Barrel (HR/BRL) Under-Performers from 2018

The Statcast metric Barrels is largely becoming one of the best statistics that link a player’s power. Just glancing at the leaderboard will tell you all you need to know. The Barrel statistic came out in 2015 and we now have four years worth of data. I’ve looked into a simple metric that is simply a ratio of a player’s home run per barrel percentage. The reason I am using this measure is to determine the previous year’s over and under-performers. Also, Al Melchior and Alex Chamberlain of RotGraphs determined that not only do barrels per batted ball event (BRL/BBE) and barrels per plate appearance (BRL/PA) have very good year-to-year correlations but are also the best metrics for measuring power.

Unfortunately, the juiced ball may have tainted some of the year-to-year correlations for this metric, but we can still find outliers. Let’s take a look at the league-wide averages for HR/BRL since 2015.

2015 2016 2017 2018
70.7% HR/BRL 70.5% HR/BRL 77.1% HR/BRL 66.1% HR/BRL

If you remember, the juiced ball made its appearance in the second half of 2015 but it seems like the ball was “extra” juiced in 2017. Then, last year in 2018, the ball was completely de-juiced. Without actual knowledge of how the ball will perform in 2019, I am going to assume, the ratio of barrels to home runs will be closer to 2018 than 2017. Today, I’ll look at players who underperformed their HR/BRL numbers in 2018.

Home Runs Per Barrel Under-Performers

Player2018 BRL2018 HRHR/BRL
Mookie Betts613252.5%
Nicholas Castellanos532343.4%
Matt Olson512956.9%
Trey Mancini502448.0%
Teoscar Hernandez492244.9%
Anthony Rendon472451.1%
Freddie Freeman462350.0%
Marcell Ozuna462350.0%
Jose Martinez411741.5%
Jackie Bradley Jr.351337.1%
Ramon Laureano12541.7%
2018 League Average66.10%

I’ll start with Mookie Betts because, HOLY HELL! Not only did Betts absolutely earn every single one of his home runs, he actually underperformed a bit. What’s not shown is that Betts only managed 25 barrels on his 24 homers in 2017. We know Betts had a “down year” (for him) in 2017 but bounced back in a huge way proving that he is, in fact, a power hitter in addition to everything else the 2018 AL MVP does well. I wouldn’t read too much into the below-average ratio of HR/BRL because I feel that the Green Monster may be turning a few of those barrels into doubles. Betts looks like a safe bet to reach 30 homers again in 2019 even if his barrel rate drops just a bit.

Jackie Bradley Jr., WOW! Maybe he was also a victim of the Green Moster taking away some home runs but his HR/BRL was about half of the league average. JBJ should have been right around 20 homers in 2018, rather than the pathetic 13 he posted. I should note that in 2017, he hit 17 homers on 27 barrels for 63% HR/BRL, so its possible, he could be a player who always under-performers based on this metric. I figured that I should dig a little deeper and sure enough, xStats had him at 17.5 xHR in 2018. I believe even that was low because his high drive (HD%) was an elite level 16.1%! For context, here are some other players who had 35 barrels in 2018: Cody Bellinger, Tommy Pham, and Nolan Arenado. I was already buying JBJ in 2019 and now I’m bumping him inside my top 150 with a likely 20-15 season in store. Take a look at all of JBJ’s barrels in 2018 overlaid on his home park (Fenway). I count at least 13 balls that could/should have been home runs (4 taken away thanks to the Green Monster), but that’s nine more dingers for JBJ.

Jose Martinez looks to be stuck in a tough situation in terms of playing time. I was optimistic that the Cardinals would move Martinez to an AL club where he could be an everyday DH. However, as of now, he’s a bench bat that can fill in at first base or a corner outfield spot. That’s a shame because he’s a professional hitter. For reference, his 41 barrels puts him the company of Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw, both of which hit over 30 homers in 2018. Keep an eye on Martinez if he’s traded, because, despite a low fly ball rate, he could still reach 25 home runs while hitting near .300 over the course of a full season.

Marcell Ozuna is an interesting case. After an absolute monster 2017 that included 37 homers and 124 RBI, Ozuna let owners down with only 23 home runs last year. Ozuna dealt with a shoulder issue in which caused offseason surgery, it’s probable that affected his production. When I check his batted ball profile, I don’t see a dip in his metrics. In fact, in 2017, Ozuna had 44 barrels on the aforementioned 37 homers, two fewer than in 2018. Keep an eye on how his shoulder progresses but if healthy, Ozuna is in line for around 30 home runs with a boatload of RBI (welcome Goldy).

Teoscar Hernandez shows up near the top of the Statcast leaderboards but his production seems to be lacking. Unfortunately for Hernandez, his contact rates are extremely low and only got worse as the season wore on. We are talking Joey Gallo-type contact rates here folks. Despite the poor contact rate, Hernandez still managed 22 home runs on an incredible 49 barrels. Given a full slate of plate appearances, Teoscar could reach 35 home runs in 2019. However, his inconsistent production and poor contact rates could limit his playing time going forward. A classic risk-reward play for 2019.

In case I needed another reason to push for Anthony Rendon as the 2019 NL MVP, here it is. It may seem like Rendon is a mid-20s homer hitter based on his last two seasons (25 HR in 2017, 24 HR in 2018), but there’s another level to his power. Rendon increased his barrel total by a whopping 19 in 2018 but was left with one fewer home run. I understand that juiced balls were a factor but Rendon should reach the 30 home run plateau in 2019 given the similar quality of contact. If you’re concerned about injuries, don’t be. Rendon has averaged 616 plate appearances the last three seasons. Given Rendon’s elite contact and the expectations I have for increased power, Rendon should provide second round value in the fourth round of fantasy drafts.

If you want to find a sleeper that could provide Top 50 overall value, Ramon Laureano is your guy. He’s been shooting up draft boards in NFBC and has crept just inside the top 200 overall, but still lacks popularity based on FantasyPors Consensus ADP going around pick 240. Laureano provided a small sample of just 176 plate appearances in 2018 but impressed with barreling up 12 balls and stealing seven bases. Speed was Laureano’s best-known attribute and he displayed 43 steals in the Minors in 2016. The power was expected to be around average but he popped a career-high 19 home runs across Triple-A and the Majors in 2018. Unfortunately, he swings and misses a bit too much but has a realistic shot at going 20-20 with 25-25 upside as soon as 2019.

Matt Olson showcased his immense power during his 59 game sample in 2017 smashing 24 homers! It’s too bad Olson didn’t play the whole season with the big club during the 2017 season with the juiced balls. He could have hit 50 home runs. He ended 2018 with “just” 29 home runs which disappointed owners who expected 35-40 across a full season. He wasn’t all that unlucky in 2018 but I bring him up because he only had 21 barrels on his 24 home runs in 2017. That’s a quite a contrast. Especially after I dug in and saw that his hard contact rates improved as did his contact rates and chase rate. I really think Olson is in for a career year at age 25. I fully expect 35 home runs with an improved batting average. His ADP is about 40 picks too late as he’s going just outside 100 overall.

I’ve lumped Freddie Freeman and Nicholas Castellanos together because both are very consistent in their hard contact and barrel rates from year to year. Both, however, saw their power production decrease in 2018. Juiced balls? Unlucky? Well, I think it’s a little of both. Freeman and Casteallos seem to underperform in terms of power every year. Freeman matched his 46 barrels from 2017 and Castellanos managed an increase of two barrels in 2018 from the previous year. Both saw a decrease in home runs, however so while I expect both get back to 25+ homers in 2019, I’d cap them both at around 30. You’re getting solid batting average and run production from both players so I like them but I’m not predicting massive power bumps for both players.

Last but not least, Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini. At first glance this offseason, I didn’t think Mancini had much power upside other than what he’s shown us the last two seasons. Mancini now has two straight seasons on 24 home runs but he actually bumped his barrel total to 50 in 2018, nine more than in 2017. Mancini is a guy who hits too many ground balls but really smokes the ball when he gets it in the air. Could he have a Christian Yelich type season? LOL, no, he cannot. To me, he feels like Castellanos but with less batting average upside. Mancini could blast 30 home runs in 2019 but he could also be a player that feels the de-juiced balls more than others.

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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