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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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Third Base Rankings for 2019

It’s February already! I need to get moving on my rankings. This post completes my infield rankings and I plan on getting the outfielder rankings out early next week. If you want to see all my other rankings, CLICK HERE! 

Where were we? Oh, right, third base rankings. Third base is pretty deep this year. However, there’s a shit-ton of guys that are eligible at other positions (especially if you play in Yahoo leagues). If I’m being honest, in Yahoo leagues, I just draft the player with the best value and worry about positions later. The chances are, you can fill out a roster in Yahoo formats without worrying about positions. For the rest of us, I’ve put out my rankings with tiers to make things a little bit easier. The tiers are based on my projections and standard gain points. I write a blurb on each tier below the rankings. Here we go!

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

Third Base Rankings for 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositionsTier
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B1
2Nolan ArenadoCOL3B1
3Manny MachadoSDSS/3B1
4Alex BregmanHOUSS/3B1
5Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B2
6Anthony RendonWAS3B2
7Kris BryantCHC3B2
8Eugenio SuarezCIN3B2
9Vlad Guerrero Jr.TOR3B2
10Travis ShawMIL2B/3B2
11Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B3
12Miguel AndujarNYY3B3
13Matt ChapmanOAK3B3
14Justin TurnerLAD3B3
15Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B3
16Wil MyersSD3B/OF4
17Mike MoustakasMIL3B4
18Josh DonaldsonATL3B4
19Rafael DeversBOS3B4
20Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B4
21Eduardo EscobarARISS/3B4
22Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B4
23Evan LongoriaSF3B4
24Kyle SeagerSEA3B4
25Carlos SantanaCLE1B/3B5
26Nick SenzelCIN3B5
27Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B5
28Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B5
29Jeimer CandelarioDET3B5
30Jake LambARI3B5
31Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF5
32Maikel FrancoPHI3B5
33Colin MoranPIT3B5
34Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF6
35Ian HappCHC3B/OF6
36Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF6
37Miguel SanoMIN1B/3B6
38Hunter DozierKC1B/3B6
39Renato NunezBAL3B6
40Scott KingeryPHISS/3B6
41Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B6
42Jedd GyorkoSTL2B/3B6
43Aledmys DiazHOUSS/3B6
44Johan CamargoATLSS/3B7
45Matt DavidsonTEX1B/3B7
46Matthew DuffyTB3B7
47Tim BeckhamSEASS/3B7
48Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B7
49Todd FrazierNYM3B7
50Alen HansonSF3B7
51Miguel RojasMIASS/3B7
52Yangervis SolarteFA2B/3B7
53Austin RileyATL3B7
54Isiah Kiner-FalefaTEXC/2B/3B7

TIER 1: I’ve discussed Ramirez (2B Rankings), Bregman (SS Rankings), and Baez (both 2B and SS Rankings). Nolan Arenado is the only player in tier 1 I have not discussed. Arenado is still just 27 years old and has averaged 40 home runs and 125 RBI the last four seasons while never hitting below .287 in that span. That’s incredible, bankable production, he’s great. However, his production did dip a little bit in 2018. His barrel rate was just 7.4% in 2018 behind hitters such as Kike Hernandez, Starling Marte, and Lewis Brinson. His previous elite level strikeout rate dipped three percent to 18.1%. Calling Colorado home, I still see Arenado around .290 with 35 homers and 100 RBI, but without any speed, I no longer feel comfortable grabbing him inside the top 10 (he’s 11 for me).

TIER 2: Rendon is criminally underrated every single year. His injury history past is far behind him as he’s averaged 616 plate appearances a year the last three seasons. I discussed Rendon in my HR/BRL under-performers, so you know I love him going into 2019. Bryant is due for a bounce back after suffering from injuries all year in 2018. That being said, I don’t see the MVP caliber season we saw in 2016 from Bryant. I think his numbers will be similar to Rendon’s with about 10-15 points lower in terms of batting average. Then there’s Vlad. It’s amazing that he’s in the second tier without playing a single game in the Majors. He profiles as a .300 hitter with good power. That’s why he’s here. His numbers could be as good or better than Rendon’s or similar to Andujar’s (on the low side).

TIER 3: This tier is filled with injury concerns and breakouts. Basically, I don’t anticipate that any of these players play enough games or perform at their peak level. For instance, Carpenter is 33 years old and is coming off a season where he hit 36 home runs, eight more than his previous career high. I know he’s a Statcast hero, but with a rising strikeout rate, a lower batting average and a home run total closer to 26-28, I’m not comfortable putting him inside the top 75. I’ll touch on Chapman because, at age-25, he has the power potential to hit 35+ homers. I still think he’s a year away from a monster season but still, think he’s worth a top 100 pick given the Athletics lineup and his improvements from 2018.

TIER 4: Josh Donaldson still harnesses power and solid plate discipline. That’s about where the positives end. He’s 33 years old, hasn’t had more 496 plate appearances since 2016, and his contact rates have plummeted the last three seasons. His strikeout rate is trending in the wrong direction, since 2016, and it looks like this: 17%, 22.4%, 24.7%. Donaldson is a .250 hitter with 25-30 homer power, IF (big if there) he can stay healthy for 140 games. Wil Myers is in the same boat as Donaldson because he can’t stay healthy. Myers is intriguing because he has speed. A 25-20 season is in the possible outcomes for Myers. It’s a good time to buy Rafael Devers after he flopped last year. He’s only 22 years old and hasn’t yet reached his raw power potential. 2019 may be the cheapest Devers will be for the next 10 years.

TIER 5: Nick Senzel has the talent to jump two tiers right now but he’s dealt with injuries and bouts of vertigo over the last season plus. Basically, he’s a high risk/high reward player in 2019. The Reds are giving Senzel a shot at Centerfield with Suarez and Gennett blocking him at 3B and 2B, respectively. If he struggles defensively in center during spring training, he may be in the minors to start the season. I could see anywhere from .285-22-12 to .250-10-5 given injuries, minors, etc. Seager seems like a major average drain similar to Carlos Santana. Seager’s 30 homer potential is now gone and the lineup around him in Seattle is not exciting. He’s the epitome of a boring, everyday veteran. He still has value in 15-team leagues, but I won’t be reaching for him. Jake Lamb is interesting because he’s moving to 1B with the departure of Goldy. Still, on the right side of 30, Lamb could still hit 25 homers while sitting against lefties.

TIER 6: This is truly the swiss-army knife tier. I’ve touched on most of these guys at other positions but should discuss Ian Happ. Happ was someone I was high on coming into 2018 but he completely flopped as his strikeout rate went through the roof after an elevated 31% K rate his rookie year. The positives include youth, improved O-swing, and extremely valuable contact (when he actually does make contact). The bad, while he offered at pitches outside the zone less often, his zone contact rate dropped over 7%! He does run some and could pop 25+ homers given improvements in contact rate, but still remains very risky in Chicago where he doesn’t have an avenue to play every day. The other guy that no one is talking about is Renato Nunez, Baltimore’s third baseman. He should play every day and has shown 30 homer power in the minors. There’s a lot of holes to his offensive game and will be some slumps but Baltimore is a great park to hit in for power and given the lack of depth on the Orioles, he could hit fourth or fifth in the lineup if he’s successful.

Tier 7: is cringeworthy. There’s a combination of over-the-hill veterans and a few young players without a starting job. Personally, I’m hoping Frazier doesn’t reach 300 at-bats this year with Alonso coming up and McNeil getting more playing time. Matt Davidson has power but no starting role. Austin Riley was a favorite prospect of mine last year, but he took a step back. That’s the reason the Braves gave Josh Donaldson a one-year deal. Not only that, Johan Camargo had a solid year in 2018 and can fill in at short as well. In my opinion, Riley requires more seasoning and even if Donaldson gets injured, Riley will stay in Triple-A with Camargo filling in at third base. Riley will be called up this year but it won’t be until August or later. What happened to Eduardo Nunez? I’ll give you one word, SPEED! His steals went from 40 in 2016 to 24 in 2017, to just 7 in 2018. He actually had more plate appearances in 2018 than in 2017. Sure, he can play all over the field, but 2B is likely where he sees the most playing time. His speed is on the severe decline and I can’t bump him up at all.

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

Cover Image by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images