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Introducing Earned Home Runs (eHR) – 2019 Outliers (Fantasy Baseball)

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




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

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

Yearly Home Run per Barrel Rates

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

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

Unfortunate Power Bats

2019 Earned Home Run Under Performers

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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Fortunate Power Bats

2019 Earned Home Run Over Performers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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





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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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Projecting Power Spikes Using Spring Stats (GO/AO)

Just before the start of the 2018 regular season, I did similar research looking at hitter’s ground out air out ratios (GO/AO). It spawned from an article Jeff Zimmerman wrote about which spring statistics have the highest correlation to the regular season. Most spring numbers don’t matter, but an increase in the percentage of balls a player is hitting in the air may signify an approach change. With an entire offseason for players to work on a change such as trying to elevate the ball more, could be important when trying to identify potential power spikes or breakouts. Last year, I wrote about Ozzie Albies, Brandon Nimmo, and Steven Duggar. So Albies was a great one and Nimmo wasn’t too bad either; I’ll take the “L” on Duggar. In addition to those three, guys like Jesus Aguilar, Kiké Hernandez, and Christian Villanueva showed up on this list; all ended up with career-highs in home runs. With a limited sample, I’m mostly looking at a minimum of 50 plate appearances and 35 balls in play for these players.

GO/AO Rates - Spring Training 2019

     
PlayerSpring GO/AOCareer GO/AOEst. Reg Season GB%Career GB%
Paul Goldschmidt0.261.1936.4%43.1%
Juan Soto0.711.0141.0%53.7%
Jose Abreu0.791.2642.0%45.6%
Brandon Nimmo0.351.2337.5%44.1%
Manuel Margot0.570.9339.7%42.6%
Kike Hernandez0.410.9038.0%40.4%
Jorge Soler0.73*1.1141.2%43.2%
Max Schrock0.76*1.02*40.5%42.5%
Garrett Hampson0.77*1.1441.8%*47.0%
*Minor League Statistics

Some players that just missed the cut who I am keeping an eye on include Clint Frazier (OF – NYY), Scott Kingery (2B – PHI), Billy McKinney (OF – TOR), Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX), Eric Sogard (2B – TOR), and Chad Pinder (OF – OAK)

Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)
There’s not much more we can say about Goldy because he’s still a monster at the plate. His extreme fly ball approach this spring is interesting because he has never had a GO/AO ratio below 1.00 in any season. He’s almost literally hitting everything in the air this spring. Last year was his lowest ground ball rate at 38.6% but is regularly in the mid-40s. If he carries this approach to the regular season, he has a shot at his first 40-homer campaign. He might take a hit in batting average but an upside of .270-40-110 looks pretty nice.

Juan Soto (OF – WAS)
Well, this could be scary. At age-19 Soto had shown power to all fields but carried a low fly ball rate at 28.8% in 2018. This spring, It’s only been 59  plate appearances, but based on Jeff Zimmerman’s table from last year, that pegs Soto between a 43% and 44% ground ball rate. That’s potentially significant because his ground ball rate was all the way up at 53.7% last year. Now, his line drive rate was relatively low at 17.5%, so I’d expect to see that jump up to 20-22% given his profile. That would still leave a nice 5% bump in fly balls for Soto. The question remains, can he maintain a lofty HR/FB rate which was an impressive 24.7% in 2018?

Soto hits the majority of his fly balls to the opposite field. He was able to maintain a 19.6% HR/FB on those fly balls the other way which ranked seventh in all of baseball last year. Here are the names ahead of him: Aaron Judge, Jesus Aguilar, Khris Davis, J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, and the aforementioned Paul Goldschmidt. I would say, that list depicts power hitters to a “T.” Soto’s 47.8% hard contact on those balls backs up the high home run rate to the opposite field. I was skeptical coming into the season about Soto due to a high HR/FB rate and elevated BABIP ticketed for regression (which I still believe), but I’m coming around on his power. I’m a little disappointed that I missed out on shares of Soto this year but I still think top 30 overall is just too pricey.

Jose Abreu (1B – CHW)
Is Abreu changing his approach? He’s given us a pretty good sample and he’s walked just once this spring and stuck out 12 times putting the ball in play a total of 51 times. He’s never been a patient hitter and it looks like he’s elevating the ball more as well with four homers and nine extra-base hits. Referencing Zimmerman’s data, Abreu would carry an approximate 42% GB rate compared to a career 45.6% GB%. Abreu is a notorious slow starter so it’ll be interesting to see if he can buck that trend this year with more fly balls. I’ll be watching Abreu early this year because he had some rough injuries in the second half last year curbing his production. If he can have a solid April, he could end up back around the top 30 overall with some nice value.

Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
Nimmo once again shows up on this list. After a 0.87 GO/AO ratio last spring, he ended up right around his career rate in the regular season of 1.35. Even with a similar GO/AO ratio, he managed a career-best 17 homers. This spring, Nimmo has really gone to the extreme hitting nearly everything in the air. The data says he should decrease his fly ball rate by nearly seven percent this year compared to last season. His power numbers aren’t off the charts with just two homers and six extra-base hits but he’s cut his strikeout rate and is hitting a solid .291. After a 2018 breakout of sorts with 53 extra base hits, it seems like Nimmo is making even more of an effort to elevate the ball this spring. I worry a little about his batting average given his patience and contact rates, but given his approach this spring we may be looking at 20-25 homers this year from Nimmo.

Manuel Margot (OF – SD)
Margot is once again putting balls in the air his spring. This approach has not worked out for him thus far in the majors and it resulted in just a 5.5% HR/FB rate in 2018. There’s hope here because while he improved his hard contact and decreased his soft contact last year, his home run rate was nearly cut in half. He was middle of the pack in terms of line drive/fly ball exit velocity last year, so there’s positive regression coming. Margot is still just 24 years old and I was invested in Margot heavily last year to my disappointment. However, Margot remains firm on putting the ball in the air this spring and it’s helped him hit .315 with three homers and eight XBH. The Padres have a crowded outfield, so Margot will need to earn his keep. I think the power should bounce back to the mid-teens given the opportunity. If he learns to be a better base stealer given his elite speed (96th percentile via BaseballSavant), there might finally be the breakout for Margot I’ve been hoping for.

Kike Hernandez (2B/SS/OF – LAD)
Hernandez mashed an impressive 21 home runs in 2018. I’m not sure anyone saw that coming, mostly due to lack of playing time. Hernandez has outright won the second base job for the Dodgers to start 2019. Given the depth of the roster, Hernandez will likely sit against tough righties given his splits. That being said, he can also play the outfield and should compile over 500 plate appearances in 2019. His improved contact rates have cut his strikeout rates each of the last three seasons. He’ll need to continue those high contact rates given his fly ball approach if he wants to remain in the lineup. I see a player that’s similar to Nimmo in Hernandez but without as much speed and more batting average risk. He’s still a great utility guy to roster as he’s eligible at multiple positions.

Jorge Soler (OF – KC)
Soler missed most of the season with an injury and has yet to accrue more than 405 PA or hit more than 12 homers in a single season. We know Soler has power, he mashed 24 homers in 2017 at Triple-A in just 74 games. He pulled that off with a 45% fly ball rate but it dipped to just 34% last year. If Soler can maintain his heavy fly ball approach, we might finally see the breakout we’ve been waiting for. He’s going to need to maintain an improved zone contact rate like he had last season and of course, requires a good bill of health. I’m sure he will struggle to maintain an average above .250 if he starts launching balls in the air at a 45% rate, but he went off the board after pick 300, so he’s basically free. If you’re in a 10 or 12 team league, he literally is free. He’s entering his age-27 season, so it could be now or never for Soler.

Max Schrock (2B – STL)
Schrock is an off-the-radar fantasy player who will start the year at Triple-A for the Cardinals. Schrock came over to the Cardinals from the Athletics and brings a contract-first approach. He’s never shown much power and has moderate speed but has never posted a strikeout rate above 9.2% at any level. Now, at age-24, he’s starting to modify his approach putting more balls in the air. Schrock previously hit ground balls over 50% of the time and looks to be elevated more the last couple of seasons and carried it into the spring. He’s a longshot to break out as he’s blocked at the moment by Kolten Wong but might be someone to keep an eye on if an injury occurs in the St. Louis infield. If Schrock unlocks some power with his high contact approach, he might just be useful in mixed formats later in the year.

Garrett Hampson (2B/SS – COL)
Hampson is currently locked into a battle for the second base job with Ryan McMahon. Both are having great springs and I smell a platoon a-brewin’. Unfortunately, the righty, Hampson would see fewer plate appearances if that is the case. Hampson has game-changing speed which is why fantasy owners are excited about him but his average to slightly below-average power could play up in Colorado. Typically, I’d expect an improvement on his power numbers from the minors but the Rockies’ minor league parks play up to power as well. Still, a jump in fly ball rate could make provide a few more home runs for Hampson over the course of the season. The range of outcomes is extremely large with Hampson. Over 600 PA, Hampson could hit 12 HR and steal 35 bases. Then again, in the short-side platoon, he may end up with a handful of HR and 15-18 SB. Given his potential approach change, I might set his HR ceiling at 15, so if you have room, go ahead and stash him if he’s on your waiver wire.

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


Photo Credit:Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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First Base Rankings for 2019

First Base Rankings for 2019

My first base rankings are listed below. At the bottom of the table, I’ll break down the rankings in terms of tiers and why players are in which tiers. These are standard 5×5 roto using batting average, but I will touch on some players who get a nice boost in OBP leagues because I think eventually, fantasy leagues will move in that direction. Also listed are player’s additional positions using 10 games played to be eligible. That includes Yahoo!’s ridiculous rule that a player needs only five starts or 10 games played to be eligible at a position. So, if you play in ESPN, CBS, or most other leagues, some of the multiple positions will not apply.

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

First Base Rankings for 2019 (AVG/R/HR/RBI/SB)

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositions
1Freddie FreemanATL1B
2Paul GoldschmidtSTL1B
3Anthony RizzoCHC1B
4Joey VottoCIN1B
5Rhys HoskinsPHI1B/OF
6Cody BellingerLAD1B/OF
7Jose AbreuCWS1B
8Matt OlsonOAK1B
9Daniel MurphyCOL1B/2B
10Robinson CanoNYM1B/2B
11Joey GalloTEX1B/OF
12Jesus AguilarMIL1B
13Matt CarpenterSTL1B/3B/2B
14Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B
15Ryan BraunMIL1B/OF
16Edwin EncarnacionSEA1B/DH
17J.T. RealmutoMIAC/1B
18Eric HosmerSD1B
19Ian DesmondCOL1B/OF
20Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/3B
21Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B
22Josh BellPIT1B
23Justin SmoakTOR1B
24Jose MartinezSTL1B/OF
25Trey ManciniBAL1B/OF
26Luke VoitNYY1B
27Jake BauersCLE1B/OF
28Brian AndersonMIA1B/OF
29Carlos SantanaCLE1B/3B
30Miguel CabreraDET1B
31Ryan O'HearnKC1B
32C.J. CronMIN1B
33Brandon BeltSF1B
34Kendrys MoralesTOR1B/DH
35Buster PoseySFC/1B
36Ryan ZimmermanWAS1B
37Marwin GonzalezMIN1B/2B/SS/OF
38Yonder AlonsoCWS1B
39Tyler WhiteHOU1B/DH
40Peter AlonsoNYM1B
41Miguel SanoMIN1B/3B
42Nate LoweTB1B
43Ronald GuzmanTEX1B
44Hunter DozierKC1B/3B
45Jay BruceSEA1B/OF
46Steve PearceBOS1B/OF
47Justin BourLAA1B
48Ryon HealySEA1B
49Mitch MorelandBOS1B
50Eric ThamesMIL1B/OF
51Albert PujolsLAA1B/DH

Tier 1 – Studs
Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt
That’s it. Typically, first base produces at least a handful of studs, but not in 2019. If you haven’t been paying attention, the first base position has gotten shallow. Even Paul Goldschmidt is past his prime and I anticipate a small decrease in production in 2019, yet he remains in the top two overall. Both of these hitters can go .300-30-100-100-8 with a little upside. That’s the reason they are here. Although neither Freddy or Goldy are in my top 10 overall and should probably not be drafted in the first round.

Tier 2 – Fourish-Cat Guys
Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, Rhys Hoskins, Matt Olson
All of these guys have a weakness in addition to lack of speed. Rizzo is no longer a 30+ HR guarantee he once was but his elite contact rates tell me he will provide a .280+ batting average. Has Votto begun a steep decline or can he bounce back at age 36? I think his power gets back to 20 and his elevated line drive rate should keep him near .300.  Abreu is solid and consistent but is similar to a cross between Rizzo and Votto. xStats shows that Abreu was unlucky in terms of BABIP, I am hopeful for a near 100% bounceback from Abreu in 2019. Hoskins and Olson won’t provide the batting average of the other three in this tier, but I like their abilities to hit over 30 homers with 100 RBI which is why they are in this tier.

Tier 3 – Really? This is Tier 3?
Goes from Daniel Murphy to Joey Gallo
Murphy gets a massive bump playing in Colorado. We all know about the boost in home runs but for Murphy, it’s more about the bump in BABIP. In 2018, Rockies hitters had a .334 BABIP at home. If Murphy is a .300 hitter outside of Coors, he has a shot to hit .325 with 20 homers in 2019. Cano is similar to Murphy just not in a location that greatly benefits him which is why I prefer Murphy over Cano. Again, both are eligible at 2B but 1B might actually be more shallow.

Tier 4 – Put me in Coach
This tier goes from Max Muncy to JT Realmuto

I like all of these players, I really do, but there are either playing time concerns or injury concerns here. You can discount Realmuto because no one is playing the top catcher at 1B. Of this group, I like Muncy the most. His plate discipline is fantastic and his barrel rates were top 5 in all of baseball. Check out my piece over at Pitcher List on how he was attacked in the 2nd half. Unfortunately, Muncy has the most question marks such as playing time, adjustments, etc. He will produce if he plays every day and he’s eligible at three positions, so that’s a bonus.

Tier 5 – Mixed Bag of Meh
This tier goes from Eric Hosmer to Justin Smoak

I’m not a huge fan of this tier outside of Jose Martinez, but that’s only if he gets traded to an AL team to be the full-time DH. If that happens, his profit potential jumps up quite a bit, that being said, he likely moves up a tier. Hosmer’s ADP has dropped over 100 spots from 2018, so he’s a decent bounce-back candidate. E5 is clearly on the decline and while he still has 30 homer power, he could also hit .230. I do like Profar because of his position eligibility and the move to Oakland is a lineup upgrade but a park downgrade. Don’t sleep on Smoak either, he’s basically E5 at a discount.

Tier 6 – Corner Infield Spot
This massive tier goes from Ryan O’Hearn to Ryan Zimmerman

If you are drafting one of these players as your starting 1B, then you’re doing it wrong unless you’re in a 30 team league. I’ll highlight Brandon Belt because he’s been killed by playing at AT&T Park. If he gets traded to a team with a neutral or favorable park, I will be moving him up 5-10 spots and be grabbing him everywhere. His hard contact metrics are fantastic. The other player with upside is Luke Voit, but the Yankees still feel like Greg Bird is good. Voit is a beast and could hit 30 homers in Yankee Stadium given a chance. Keep an eye on this situation during spring training.

Tier 7 – Intriguing Young Talent
Goes from Tyler White to Hunter Dozier

Peter Alonso and Nate Lowe and my two favorites from this group. Both should be called up at some point during 2019, hopefully by June. They are both just about ready and Alonso is a top prospect with maybe the most power upside of a Major League ready prospect right now. There will be some swing and miss and lower batting average but should hit 4th or 5th once he gets the call. Lowe has a much more well-balanced approach and can hit for average, take walks, and has above average power. Keep an eye on these guys during spring training.

Tier 8 – The Rest
Goes from Jay Bruce to Eric Thames

I suppose I could see a bounceback from Jay Bruce. If E5 gets moved, Bruce could see a full slate of at-bats between 1B, OF, and DH. He was hurt most of 2018 and if healthy can still reach the 30 homer mark. Keep an eye on Thames, if he gets moved to a situation where can DH and/or play most days, his power is massive. Hopefully, you aren’t having to grab one the guys in this tier, but at this point try for upside.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

Image Courtesy of Scott Cunningham


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Weekly Rundown – When Wil Myers Ever Slow Down?

Welcome to a special edition of Weekly Rundown with the All-Star break coming up this week. There’s actually nothing special about it except I gush over Jose Ramirez. Just as we all predicted, he’s tied for the league lead in homers and the Phillies are in first place. Does anyone realize than Franky Lindor has 85 runs already! How about Scooter Gennett leading the NL in batting average with Nick Markakis right on his heals. That seems about right. Nope. It’s baseball.

HOT Hitters
Welcome back Wil Myers! Myers is on a homer binge as he’s blasted 6 HR in the last 7 days and has chipped in with 2 steals, he’s been the top player over the past week. Is it just me or has Myers put up more production since coming off the DL than Hosmer has all season? I’m kidding obviously, but Hosmer has really had a boring season hasn’t he? I’ll touch on him later. Anyways, Myers has got his groove back and is no longer swinging at garbage outside the zone as much and in return has got a 50% hard contact rate over the past week. Remember, Myers is a 30-20 type player, so he could rip off double digit homers and steals the rest of the way.

Brett Gardner is playing baseball everyone! At nearly 35 years old, he’s still putting up some solid numbers as he’s popped 4 dingers and stolen 2 bases this past week. Get this, in the last two weeks, Gardner has a 12.9% walk rate with a 9.7% strikeout rate to go with a minuscule 2.7% swinging strike rate and a 100% zone contact rate (yes, he has not had a swing and missed in the zone since June 29th). Now, the rest of his batted ball profile leaves something to be desired, but as long as he’s making contact and getting on base, he will have value.

Whoa Starling Marte has hit a couple home runs and stolen 6 bases while hitting .407 in the last eight days. I’ll admit, I did not expect Marte to bounce back so well offensively, especially in the power department. But, here we are and Marte has 11 HR and 24 steals. Yup, those are stud type numbers. Actually, it basically matches Trea Tuner’s output to date. The issue is that Marte rarely plays 150 games, a total he’s reached once in his career. So, personally, I’m selling high. Now that he’s killing it going into the break, maybe you can flip him for a top 10 SP or a top 25 hitter.


Carlos Gonzalez has shown some life hitting three home runs, driving in 9 runs and hitting .450 this week. Now, the Rockies have been at home for a good portion of these numbers, but it’s still impressive. Unfortunately, I’m not buying this. He’s stockpiling stats at home but his IFFB% is up, his soft contact is up, and he’s swinging more but pitchers are throwing him less strikes. He’s also doesn’t run much anymore, so you aren’t getting value there. Oh and then there’s the Home/Road splits. He’s hitting .320 with 7 homers at home, good for a .409 wOBA but is hitting .243 with 3 homers good (bad) for a .280 wOBA on the road. Obviously, ride this out until the break, maybe you can flip him. He’s kind of a hitting streamer, but only at home from here on out.

We are past the 81-game mark and therefore Brian Dozier has started to go nuts. This dude has blasted 49 home runs in the second half the last two seasons! To put that in context, he’s hit 43 home runs in the first half of the last THREE seasons. Dozier basically turns into Aaron Judge in the second half. As I look at his profile, I’m not predicting 20+ homers in the second half this time around, but wouldn’t be surprised if he rips off another 15 with a handful of steals. That’s good for a top 35 player the rest of the way.

Mike Trout or Jose Ramirez, rest of season, who ya got? It’s seems crazy, but it’s not. Ramirez has four more home runs this week to tie him with Just Dong Martinez on the season, and has added a couple steals over the past 7 days. He’s driven in 10 runs over that time and there’s literally no stopping him. The best part about Jo-Ram’s transformation which began in 2017 is that he’s improved hard contact and increased his fly ball rate without sacrificing his already elite plate discipline. He’s actually improved on O-Swing the past three seasons. Oh and his .296 batting average could be unlucky with his .272 BABIP.

Hot Mentions: Alex Bregman has 4 HR and 8 RBI; Justin Smoak 4 HR and 7 RBI, Mookie Betts hitting .552 with 11 runs and 8 RBI this past week

HOT Pitchers
Do I have to lead with Chris Sale every week? No, but he’s striking everyone out and has allowed 1 ER in his last two starts. He’s struck out 24 batters in his last 13 IP, that gives him five straight games with at least 11 strikeouts. I think I’m bumping Sale up to number one overall for SPs in my All-Star break rankings coming out in a few days. Sale is kind of a machine. A really tall, rail-thin baseball slinging machine. At some point in his career he may breakdown, but I’m not betting against him at this point. No fire sale here.

Kyle Gibson just won’t go away. He’s grabbed a couple wins along with 18 Ks in his last two outings and this looks legit. Gibson is breaking out at age 30! I know, that’ seems late to be stuck with acne, but I digress. Look, Gibson has improved on his strikeout rate but he’s also throwing less strikes. As a result, the walks have jumped up. His hard contact against is up this year but the HR/FB is down. I’m not completely sold that he can keep this up. Walks + hard contact does not mix well. He’s 12-team viable, but as a back end starter.

Is Ross Stripling an Ace? I’m asking for a friend. Check out this post from @Smada_bb from yesterday basically comparing what Stripling has done in the first half compared to the best pitchers in the game. The answer is yes, he’s an ace. His strikeout rate is great, he doesn’t walk anyone, induces nearly 50% ground balls and an above average IFFB%. Sure, the LOB% isn’t going to stick at 90% and I do think the strikeout rate dips just a bit. Even still, he’s probably a 2.75-3.00 ERA pitcher with a great WHIP and solid strikeout rate. So, yeah, that’s a borderline top 10 SP.


I finally get to pour myself a nice glass of Jameson and discuss Taillon with you. He just came off a 10 K outing and has 16 over his last two starts. His 2.87 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in that time frame is more than solid. It’s all the slide-piece that he’s added. He’s had nine games started since the addition of the slider and here are the results: 3.29 ERA 1.19 WHIP 24.6% K%, 6.4% BB%, 11.2% SwStr, and a 3.07 FIP. MMM, that’s smooth, just like my favorite Irish Whiskey. I’m exciting for this development, but I still think Taillon is capped around a top 30-35 starter the rest of the season. That’s helpful, but I wouldn’t sell the whole barrel (get it) for him.

Zack Goldey has turned in a couple nice starts and even threw a scoreless inning in between this past week+. He’s given up only 2 ER in his last 13 IP with 16 strikeouts. Godley teased us earlier this year looking like he was getting back to last year. The problem is his cutter. It’s not good this year like is was in 2017. It’s way to hittable (if that’s a word), contact is up 8% against it and he’s given up an OPS of 1.015 when throwing the pitch. His control is off as well, so the walks are an issue. I’m not trusting this from Godley. You hurt me before bro, I won’t let you do it again.

Freezing Cold Hitters
I mentioned Eric Hosmer in the Wil Myers blurb and here he is! He’s been trash this past week netting 3 hits in 35 at bats without a homer or steal. I think Hosmer is the new example I use for Ground and Pound. I’ve been wanting to dig into Hosmer’s profile because I need a good dry heave. He’s upped his strikeout rate by 6%, swinging out of the zone more than league average and it’s backed up with an elevated 12.1% swinging strike rate. Here’s the kicker, he’s hitting the ball on the ground 62% of the time! That’s worse than Yelich, like way worse. Now he’s hitting under .250 with a .305 BABIP. Sure, he probably brings that up to .275 but with under 20 HR, he’s not worth much in terms of fantasy. No thanks.

Anthony Rizzo has just never got on track this year. He’s two for this last 23 without a home run. His power numbers are down but his season has been partially salvaged by driving in 60 runs. Really proving the the RBI stat is super meaningful. A .242 average and 12 HR is not going to cut it. Who does he think he is, Eric Hosmer? Rizzo has been unlucky with his .243 BABIP, especially with a solid 25% line drive rate, that does not compute. His hard contact is down, which is concerning because his fly ball rate is also down. Unless he changes his approach, we might have to expect a modest 20 homers from Riz this year. The average should rebound some and he will drive in over 100 runs, so there’s that.

Speaking of Chicago First baseman, Jose Abreu has been awful with only 1 hit this past week and a pathetic OPS of .100! Come on man, it’s the second half, you’re supposed to go nuts. Abreu has me more concerned than Rizzo. His hard contact is way down, like 6% down and his IFFB% is up. He may be pressing because his O-Swing is trash right now. He’s got to correct that by not chasing at bad pitches. If he’s not pressing, then he’s hurt. Either way, I cannot recommend him as a buy in the second half.

Trea Turner is hitting .138 this past week but has somehow managed 4 runs! “Thanks Anthony Rendon for driving me in whenever I’m on base.” That was Turner to Rendon after one of their games. Turner hasn’t stolen a base this week and I’m beginning to think he won’t sniff 50 SBs this year. Trea will be fine just as the Nationals heat up. He won’t reach the heights we hoped for but owners will be happy with Trea at the end of the season. Would I take Marte over Turner right now? Not a chance.

Hey Chris Taylor, maybe your 2017 was a bit of a fluke. It’s his lack of contact that’s the problem. He’s actually swinging outside the zone less but is whiffing more. His zone contact is nearly 5% below league average. That’s not good. I think he could still hit 20 homers but is only 4 out of 9 on the bases. Without a significant speed component to his game, he’s just another guy who is eligible at a bunch of positions. Best case scenario, he goes 20-10 with a .265 average.


Freezing Cold Pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz has been beaten around recently with 10 ER in his last 12.2 IP along with 4 homers! I’m willing to look the other way a bit because he came off the DL three weeks ago, but he was due for a little bit of regression prior to the injury. I am encouraged because his swing strike rates in the last three games have all been higher than his season rate of 10.6%. If Folty can prove that he can maintain his elevated strikeout rate, he’s a top 25 SP. A this point, I need to see a couple more starts before making a recommendation on buying or selling.

Dylan Bundy’s roller-coaster season continues as he’s allowed 10 ER in his last 7.1 IP with 5 walks and only 5 Ks. I recently rage dropped Bundy in my H2H 12-team mixed league. He’s too sporadic for H2H leagues and gives up far too many homers. His only plus pitch is his slider and when his control is off, you’re bound to get stuck with a 5-6 ER outing. A 1.74 HR/9 just isn’t going to play. I love the swing and miss stuff and believe in his upside, so I’d hold in 15-team leagues and deeper. Here are his earned runs given up in his last 7 games: 5, 5, 2, 4, 0, 0, 3. He also has two 7 run outings as well. Ugh, frustrating.

Tyson Ross was a pretty cool story for the first two months. Since then, he’s sporting a 5.91 ERA with only 29 strikeouts in 42.2 IP. Ross looks toast and probably needs the break more than anyone. Maybe he should take a couple weeks off on the DL. If he doesn’t, he is going to be a pitcher I look to stream against. Even if he does hit the DL, I can’t trust him again this year. Move along everyone.

Matt Boyd is another long-shot coming into the year. He showed some promise over the last year+ and with the addition of Chris Bosio as the pitching coach, I figured either Boyd or Norris would see some improvements. I don’t know what happened to Norris. He’s probably living in a van down by the river, literally. Boyd at least looked great for a couple months. He still wasn’t getting strikeouts. Turns out hes more or less the same guy he was last year. A low-end streamer. I guess Bosio isn’t some magic pitching genius. Oh well.