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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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Revisiting xBABIP Outliers: 1st Half 2019 (Fantasy Baseball)

Today marks the much anticipated Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, there is no baseball. This is a sad day, BUT, it has allowed for more time to go back and research topics I otherwise would not have had time to revisit. Let’s first go back to the original piece I wrote at the midpoint of 2019 covering BABIP outliers.

Using xBABIP to Find Outliers – Players to Buy/Sell for the 2nd Half




In that piece, I covered both over and under-performers. I’ll cover the under-performers next week, but first, let’s recap the players with the largest discrepancy between xBABIP and BABIP through the first half of 2019.

2019 1st Half xBABIP Outliers - Over-performers

PlayerBABIP 1HxBABIP 1HxBABIP-BABIP
Rhys Hoskins0.3080.242-0.066
Omar Narvaez0.3240.249-0.075
Charlie Blackmon0.3490.285-0.064
Brandon Lowe0.3970.314-0.083
Nolan Arenado0.3170.261-0.056
Eduardo Escobar0.3070.250-0.057
David Peralta0.3500.297-0.053
David Dahl0.4100.367-0.043
Miguel Cabrera0.3610.312-0.049
Trevor Story0.3610.307-0.054
Christian Vazquez0.3210.272-0.049
Gleyber Torres0.3190.266-0.053
Eric Sogard0.3190.272-0.047
Corey Seager0.3220.273-0.049
Elvis Andrus0.3490.294-0.055
Christian Yelich0.3280.295-0.033
Brian Goodwin0.3550.313-0.042
Marcus Semien0.2920.266-0.026
Austin Meadows0.3680.332-0.036
Tim Anderson0.3720.329-0.043
Jorge Polanco0.3490.320-0.029
Jeff McNeil0.3800.340-0.040
Adalberto Mondesi0.3520.322-0.030
Xander Bogaerts0.3280.301-0.027
Juan Soto0.3650.323-0.042
Joey Votto0.3260.296-0.030
Difference0.3430.296-0.047

Most of us were likely able to identify many of these players as BABIP regression candidates for the second half. As a whole, these outliers had an average BABIP of .343 through June 26th, 2019, nearly 45 points above the league-average. In fact, xBABIP pegged the group as essentially league-average in terms of BABIP based on the batted ball data per Baseball Savant. The table below tracks how each player fared after June 26th. We can expect regression, but how much?


2nd Half Performance: 2019 1H xBABIP Outliers - Over-performers

PlayerBABIP 1HBABIP 2HBABIP 2H - BABIP 1H
Rhys Hoskins0.3080.228-0.080
Omar Narvaez0.3240.286-0.038
Charlie Blackmon0.3490.321-0.028
Brandon Lowe0.3970.278-0.119
Nolan Arenado0.3170.306-0.011
Eduardo Escobar0.3070.260-0.047
David Peralta0.3500.274-0.076
David Dahl0.4100.324-0.086
Miguel Cabrera0.3610.311-0.050
Trevor Story0.3610.3620.001
Christian Vazquez0.3210.291-0.030
Gleyber Torres0.3190.273-0.046
Eric Sogard0.3190.313-0.006
Corey Seager0.3220.286-0.036
Elvis Andrus0.3490.266-0.083
Christian Yelich0.3280.3900.062
Brian Goodwin0.3550.314-0.041
Marcus Semien0.2920.2990.007
Austin Meadows0.3680.300-0.068
Tim Anderson0.3720.4300.058
Jorge Polanco0.3490.306-0.043
Jeff McNeil0.3800.289-0.091
Adalberto Mondesi0.3520.3680.016
Xander Bogaerts0.3280.3480.020
Juan Soto0.3650.266-0.099
Joey Votto0.3260.308-0.018
Difference0.3430.308-0.036

19 of the 25 outliers regressed in the second half of 2019. Some of them saw heavy regression. Trevor Story essentially broke even, so basically, 80% of the over-performers finished with a lower BABIP in the second half. The average drop in BABIP from the group was 36 points. When compared to the average xBABIP-BABIP differential in the original table, the group collectively regressed about 77%. If we exclude the players who actually improved their BABIP in the second half, the differential between 1H BABIP and 2H BABIP is a whopping .052! We’ve got a small sample of outliers but it’s very telling that the first half xBABIP was a much better predictor of second-half BABIP. At least for this group of outliers. Let’s dive into the analysis on each player with some tidbits for 2020.

Rhys Hoskins’ regression was obvious given his profile. Slow-footed hitters with 50% fly ball rates and high pull percentages rarely produce near league-average BABIP, let alone above-league average. Not only did he regress, but he also fell below his xBABIP from the first half. Despite a great eye at the plate, we can expect Hoskins to continue to carry a BABIP around .250 going forward.


Regression came but not as hard as xBABIP predicted for Omar Narvaez. He’s shown strong bat to ball skills and a tight launch angle variance which has helped him outperform his metrics over the last two seasons. It’s no surprise that he once again managed a league-average BABIP. He may continue to outperform his expected metrics going forward but I’m not betting on a .300+ BABIP. Coors Field is largely at play for Charlie Blackmon. Look no further than his home/road splits: .376 BABIP at home vs .296 BABIP on the road. Simply put, he’s a .325 hitter at home and a .275 hitter on the road.

This was an easy win with Brandon Lowe. A .397 BABIP is not sustainable (unless you ask Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Fernando Tatis Jr.). My concern for Lowe is that his true talent is a .300-.320 BABIP hitter. We need a larger sample but if that’s the case, he’s going to hit .230. Once again, Coors Field is to blame for Nolan Arenado. No need to dig deeper. I’d expect him to hit .275 if he’s traded.

Man, I really expected a major collapse from Eduardo Escobar in the second half. While his BABIP almost completed regressed, his power did not. Besides, the BABIP dropping, his power remained strong in the second half despite extremely poor power metrics. Alas, his power sustained as he hit 17 home runs in the second half after clubbing 18 in the first half. Shrug emoji. Although he’s a major candidate for regression based on my eHR metric in 2020, he’s still a safe .260 hitter with low-to-mid-20s pop.

Injuries certainly played a role here, but David Peralta’s batted ball profile did not portend to anywhere near a .350 BABIP as his speed continues to diminish. I’m not one to project a resurgence to the 2018 version of Peralta but stranger things are happening at the moment. I really love that David Dahl was carrying such a lofty xBABIP through the first half of the season. It all came crashing down to a still solid .324 in the second half. His career BABIP is .369 and I think that’s close to his skill level given his batted ball profile, speed, and Coors Field. He was unlucky based on eHR, so health is really the only thing holding him back. A healthy Dahl could be a major breakout and a top-50 fantasy asset.


Almost nailed it! Miggy is a shell of himself but despite being 36 and one of the slowest players in the majors, he’s still posted better than average BABIP. Even xBABIP thinks so. But I digress, there’s no value here. He’s turning into empty batting average much like Joe Mauer circa 2015. Trevor Story put together a hell of a season. He outperformed his BABIP in the first half but managed to match his xBABIP in the second half. Despite posting back to back seasons with a batting average over .290, the projection systems and his xBABIP peg him as a 275 hitter. What do you think?

I’m not sure Christian Vazquez will maintain a .300+ BABIP again but it’s fun to look at 2019 as an outlier. Gleyber Torres only hit 5.7% of hit ground balls to the opposite field yet managed an above-average BABIP on balls hit on the ground. He was shifted on 33% of his plate appearances. I expect that to rise while his BABIP on ground balls plummets. Projections have his BABIP over .300 which I think is a mistake, especially if he continues to hit pop-ups at an above-average clip. What happens if Gleyber is a .250 hitter?

The second half metrics were strong for Corey Seager but xBABIP isn’t buying it. If he never fully develops into a 30-homer hitter, he could be another boring .280-20-HR type player that does very little for me. Elvis Andrus was dealing with an injury but even still, he was never going to maintain a BABIP near .350. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and his sprint speed is scary low for a player with 30 swipes in 2019. We may be looking at the beginning of the end for Andrus.

Christian Yelich: The un-regressionable candidate: Ideal launch angle for batting average, elite hard contact, great foot speed, the list goes on. He’s the s%$t. Hey, look! I nailed this one – Thanks for making me look good Brian Goodwin. Marcus Semien just keeps getting better. He bounced back spitting in the face of his first-half xBABIP crushing it in the second half. I think we saw the peak Semien season in 2019 but he should be a solid fantasy player going forward. Just not at his current price.

Austin Meadows xBABIP was a solid .332 in the first half and he came all the way down to .300 in the second half. Do we have enough data on Meadows to know what kind of hitter he is? I’m not so sure. For those expecting batting average as one of Meadows’ major assets could be disappointed in 2020. I see him hitting anywhere from .250 to .290. Hi Tim Anderson! Major shrug emoji here. He did hit the ball harder, at lower launch angles, plus he’s got great speed. Even still, Anderson is likely to hit .270 next year and that’s just fine given his power/speed combo.

Yeah, we didn’t believe you either Jorge Polanco. He is like a poor man’s Jeff McNeil. There’s value here but also no need to reach at all. What type of fantasy player is Jeff McNeil if he has a .289 BABIP? Well, he hit .276 in the second half. His power did jump up, but I don’t believe it’s fully sustainable. The good news is, I actually believe he can carry a .330 BABIP going forward based on the data from a majority of two seasons but expecting 23 homers again is a fool’s errand.

We have to accept that Adalberto Mondesi is always going to outperform his xBABIP. It’s likely due to his batting average on ground balls. His batting average minus expected batting average (BA-xBA) on ground balls was .035. I don’t think Statcast fully takes into account the elite speed aspect of his game. He will always outperform his xBA on grounders. However, he was fortunate on line drives by about 100 points, so expecting a BABIP of .350 again is not wise.

For Xander Bogaerts, here’s my explanation. His continued overperformance is a little bit of luck and a little bit due to his home park, Fenway. His BA-xBA on balls in play was .012. So, a little lucky, but nothing crazy. However, if we isolate his balls in play in Fenway Park, his BA-xBA is .059! We should anticipate another BABIP north of .310 from Bogaerts but with neutral luck, we are looking at something close to .320.

Overcorrection much? Juan Soto may have been lucky on his BABIP in the first half but it came all the way back and then some in the second half. I know Soto is a lefty but he sprays balls all over the field and rarely pops up. He’ll continue to carry a .300+ BABIP while smashing 30+ homers. He’s still just 21. I think before he’s 26, we will see a .325-40-120 season from Childish Bambino. One can dream. Joey Votto is kind of in the same camp for me as Miguel Cabrera. After an extended period of greatness, their time has passed. Stay tuned for the underperforming list next week.


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




(Photo credit: Andy Marlin, Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

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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

Comparing FreezeStats Rankings vs Yahoo! Rankings (Fantasy Baseball)

Earlier this week I covered players I was higher/lower on compared to ESPN rankings. Today, I’m looking into Yahoo! rankings and comparing where we differ. After reviewing both sets of rankings, I think Yahoo! is a little bit more accurate with their rankings compared to ESPN. I’ll be highlighting a few players on each end of the spectrum to help you prepare and find values in your draft this weekend. First, let’s start with players I’m higher on and the guys I’m targeting in Yahoo! leagues.

FreezeStats vs Yahoo! Rankings - Players I'm Higher On

PlayerFreezeStats RankYahoo RankDifference
Jose Ramirez, CLE3107
Francisco Lindor, CLE12219
Manny Machado, SD132310
Xander Bogaerts, BOS263913
Trevor Bauer, CLE254621
Patrick Corbin, WSH486113
Marcell Ozuna, STL406424
Adalberto Mondesi, KC516514
Justin Upton, LAA597415
Matt Olson, OAK639128
Luis Severino, NYY529644
Michael Conforto, NYM589739
Joey Gallo, TEX719827
Matt Chapman, OAK8910314
Robinson Cano, NYM7011141
Aaron Hicks, NYY8211230
Max Muncy, LAD8711932
Eloy Jimenez, CWS10512015
Craig Kimbrel,6212159
German Marquez, COL8412945
Stephen Piscotty, OAK10913627
Travis Shaw, MIL7714063
Yadier Molina, STL13516126
Nick Pivetta, PHI13616226
Ryan Braun, MIL12017050
Kenta Maeda, LAD16018222
Max Kepler, MIN15018838
Domingo Santana, SEA16620337
Jackie Bradley Jr, BOS14920455
Hunter Renfroe, SD16120948
Jesse Winker, CIN16821446
Ramon Laureano, OAK15421763
Shohei Ohtani, LAA13923293
Tyler Skaggs, LAA17423965
Joe Musgrove, PIT147250103
Ketel Marte, ARI17527499
Trey Mancini, BAL19028393
Danny Jansen, TOR20428480
Jimmy Nelson, MIL191291100
Anibal Sanchez, WAS201N/R-

This is the second straight year Yahoo has disrespected Jose Ramirez. He was WAY down in the 60s last year believe it or not. I guess a jump to 10th overall is an improvement. There’s a lot of talk about his second half because he hit .218 on a .208 BABIP. I’m sorry, but that BABIP won’t happen again. He might not reach .300 but a .275-.280 BABIP makes a lot more sense. Besides, even with the poor BABIP his full season pace using his second-half numbers comes out to 25 homers, 35 steals, 104 runs, and 88 RBI! You know I love Trevor Bauer, no surprise there, but Yahoo doesn’t seem to like Patrick Corbin either, gimme that slider! Marcell Ozuna and Justin Upton are guys who are slipping in rankings but shouldn’t be. They have not shown any signs of decline in their profiles, I’ll take both as my number two OF but could finish borderline top 12. Maybe Yahoo is devaluing power a little bit with their rankings of Matt Olson, Michael Conforto, and Joey Gallo. Did they know that power was down across the board last year? Kimbrel is low because he doesn’t have a job, so I’ll gladly grab him at his ranking.

I will gladly take 220 strikeouts from German Marquez at pick 129 overall. Thank you! Looks like I’m waiting until Ryan Braun through Ramon Laureano to grab my third outfielder. There’s a ton of talent there with power and/or speed there. I have another question. Why does Yahoo! hate players with multi-position eligibility who hit cleanup for one of the best lineups in the league and have back-to-back 30 homer seasons? Hi Travis Shaw. If you think I hate catchers, just look at Yadier Molina and Danny Jansen. Looks like those guys are my catchers in Yahoo leagues!

FreezeStats vs Yahoo! Rankings - Players I'm Lower On

PlayerFreezeStats RankYahoo RankDifference
Nolan Arenado, COL936
Javier Baez, CHC24177
Corey Kluber, CLE32257
Juan Soto, WSH392712
Starling Marte, PIT39309
Carlos Correa, HOU573522
Vladimir Guerrero Jr, TOR674918
Jack Flaherty, STL1005149
Corey Seager, LAD975443
Jameson Taillon, PIT865531
Jose Berrios, MIN986335
Gleyber Torres, NYY856817
Eddie Rosario, MIN916922
Matt Carpenter, STL79709
Jonathan Villar, BAL957817
Josh Donaldson, ATL1247945
David Price, BOS1068719
AJ Pollock, LAD1079512
Dee Gordon, SEA14110635
Tim Anderson, CWS17710968
Cesar Hernandez, PHI18413252
Kyle Schwarber, CHC23113893
Miguel Cabrera, DET245143102
Willson Contreras, CHC18814444
Billy Hamilton, KC23914891
Eric Hosmer, SD17914930
Dallas Keuchel,20815256
Buster Posey, SF18215527
Rick Porcello, BOS25516392
Jonathan Schoop, MIN24316578
Byron Buxton, MIN25417678
Jake Arrieta, PHI24618363
Odubel Herrera, PHI293187106
Gregory Polanco, PIT26019466
Jon Gray, COL29519798
Kyle Seager, SEA26720265
Alex Colome, CWS325222103
Arodys Vizcaino, ATL30822583
Miguel Sano, MIN28923851
Brandon Morrow, CHC340240100
Chris Paddack, SD30524758
Julio Teheran, ATL34127764

Oh my goodness Juan Soto! Yahoo! is extremely high on Soto expecting him to finish inside the top 30 overall. For reference, last season on the Razzball Player Rater, Paul Goldschmidt finished as the 28th player overall. Goldy hit .290 with 33 homers, 7 steals, and over 170 combined runs + RBI. Do we really expect Soto to pull that off this year? I’m out on Soto (for this year at least). So Jack Flaherty is an ace now? There are way too many question marks with Flaherty and quite a bit of regression in his numbers. He managed a .257 BABIP with a 9.6% walk rate, 79.3% strand rate, and a 1.19 HR/9. His zone rate was only 41.8% nearly four percent below league average and he didn’t induce swings outside the zone at an above-average rate. I don’t see a decrease in his walk rate and once the BABIP and strand rate stabilize, those home runs are going to hurt a lot more. Other 2nd & 3rd tier pitchers like Jameson Taillon and Jose Berrios are also being inflated in Yahoo’s rankings, I’ll be passing there as well. I’d much rather have Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin in the 4th and 6th rounds and basically have two aces.

Josh Donaldson and Miguel Cabrera are two old/broken veterans that I will be avoiding in my drafts. I think they both still have some of their skills intact but I just can’t trust them to stay healthy at all. Cesar Hernandez is a guy I really like but with the additions of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, he’s likely relegated to the bottom of the lineup where his counting stats will take a big hit. Tim Anderson is simply too high. He will be at the bottom of a not so great White Sox lineup. He should provide solid power and speed, but I’d rather have Yoan Moncada at a cheaper price. I mentioned how I don’t like the rabbits the other day and again, I’m the low man on them.

I’m not buying back into Byron Buxton this year. Hitting ninth is not good, I don’t care if he has a ton of homers this spring. Why is Gregory Polanco ranked inside of the top 200 overall? He’s out at least through May and likely to be sluggish upon his return. I’m not paying top 200 for a player who might just give you three months of production. Yahoo! has clearly bought into the Chris Paddack hype but is he going to give more than 100 innings?  I doubt it. I like him a ton and he’s shown his skills this spring but give me teammate Matt Strahm or Joe Musgrove instead.

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



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Rankings: Top 30 Hitters for 2019

TOP 30 HITTERS FOR 2018

ANNNNNND WE’RE BACK!! FreezeStats is already pumping out player projections and rankings along with individual player profiles for our second season.  I want to start with early hitter rankings here in December for the upcoming 2019 season. Remember, it’s never too early for fantasy baseball. I’ve included the rankings on a simple table below.  I will be coming out with positional rankings as well as my full projections throughout January, February and into March (draft season).  I will touch on a few players at the bottom of this article including some surprise rankings and a few omissions. You won’t see any catchers here, sorry guys but I don’t see any catchers cracking my top 50 hitters. Ok, without further ado, I give you the top 30 hitters for 2019!

RankNamePositionTeam
1Mike TroutOFLAA
2Mookie BettsOFBOS
3Jose Ramirez2B/3BCLE
4Francisco LindorSSCLE
5J.D MartinezOF/DHBOS
6Trea TurnerSSWAS
7Christian YelichOFMIL
8Manny MachadoSS/3BFA
9Ronald AcunaOFATL
10Nolan Arenado3BCOL
11Freddie Freeman1BATL
12Jose Altuve2BHOU
13Trevor StorySSCOL
14Alex BregmanSS/3BHOU
15Aaron JudgeOFNYY
16Paul Goldschmidt1BSTL
17Bryce HarperOFFA
18Andrew BenintendiOFBOS
19Giancarlo StantonOFNYY
20Javier Baez2B/SSCHC
21Charlie BlackmonOFCOL
22Xander BogaertsSSBOS
23Anthony Rizzo1BCHC
24Anthony Rendon3BWAS
25Whit Merrifield2B/OFKC
26Starling MarteOFPIT
27Marcell OzunaOFSTL
28Eugenio Suarez3BCIN
29Khris DavisOFOAK
30Kris Bryant3BCHC

Mookie Betts is coming off his best offensive season hitting a career-high .346 with 32 HR, 30 steals, an MVP and a World Series ring. Oh, and he and his wife had a baby this offseason and Betts is an incredible bowler. There’s not much he can’t do, except make it to the number one spot on my fantasy baseball rankings. That spot goes to the incredible Mike Trout. To be fair, based on my projections, Betts would be my number one earner. However, on a per-game basis, that honor goes to Trout. These two are 1 and 1A. I couldn’t pull the trigger on Betts over Trout because if Trout plays 162 games, we are probably looking at a 45 HR 30 steal season, that’s something I can’t see from Betts. If you want Betts over Trout, I have zero issues with that.

I could see moving Bryce Harper up a little bit if he signs in Philadelphia or to another favorable park with a solid line up. As of now, his inconsistent batting average drops him down a bit. Harper followed up his poor first half with a second half that we all expected from Harper coming into 2018 but he was clearly hurt by the shift throughout the season. He’s still a solid bet for 35 homer and 10+ steals, so he still needs to be inside the top 20.

Andrew Benintendi may seem like a reach in front of Stanton, Baez, and Blackmon but I see the arrow pointing up with Benintendi. His power dipped a bit in 2018 but I think he was a bit unlucky and should drop a few more over the Green Monster next year. The move to the leadoff spot will hurt his RBI production but will help his run total, so it’s a wash. Besides, Betts, Just Dong, and Bogaerts (who I will discuss right after) are hitting behind him. He’s the favorite right now to lead MLB in runs, I’ll put him at 115 for 2019. Now, back to Xander Bogearts. I recently compared my projections for X to Alex Bregman on Twitter. I believe Xander’s hand injury lingered in 2017 which completely killed his power. His power returned in 2018 and he even missed about 20 games. Bogaerts has a solid approach, good contact skills, above average power, and some speed. What’s not to love? Oh and hitting behind three of the top 20 hitters in the game helps.

Left Out of the top 30

Some of you may be surprised to not see teenage phenom Juan Soto on this list. To be fair, I have him 31st, he just missed. I love the plate skills but the batted ball profile was far from elite. Yes, he’s so damn young and will be a stud, but there isn’t any speed (5 SB in 2018) where three came in one game. I’d bump him up a bit in OBP leagues but I think he’s around a .280 hitter with mid-20s power and a ton of runs. That’s great but I’ll take Kris Bryant just ahead of him, especially if he comes into the season healthy. It’s close and I don’t fully trust Bryant given how his last two seasons went, but for Soto to justify a top 30 spot without speed, he needs to really mash. He’s great, but I want to see how he responds to a full offseason of adjustments.

Rhys Hoskins is a guy I absolutely loved coming into 2018 and while he didn’t quite meet the lofty expectations, he didn’t disappoint either. Unfortunately, Hoskins’ batted ball quality took a pretty big dip last year and I think his batting average is capped around .270 given his fly ball tendencies. That being said, he’s probably going to end up around .250 with 30-35 HR and good counting stats. Of course, there’s no speed, so Hoskins is a guy I’m taking around 50 overall, but not any sooner.

Joey Votto not inside the top 30 may not be a surprise, but I do think he was dealt some very bad luck in 2018 in terms of power and RBI production. Votto is still Votto. What I mean by that is  he still take a billion walks, makes good contact and is just flat out smart. He should provide a very solid batting average with 20ish homers with well above-average run production. Unfortunately, that’s not top 300. He falls around 40 for me overall. A similar player going into 2019 is Baby Vlad. Vlad Jr. is projected to be a monster and I have him hitting .300 with mid-20s pop and that’s in under 600 plate appearances. If he was guaranteed to be up Opening Day, he might slot right in front of Soto and KB.

I’m looking to get the top 20 or 25 Starting Pitchers out next week along with more player profiles.

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Weekly Rundown – Jesus, this Eflin’ Soto is HOT Pham!

We are just about smack dab in the middle of the season. Most teams have played between 79 and 81 games. Ok, so let’s just double every player’s stats to figure out their final season numbers. Unfortunately we can’t just extrapolate, but it’s a fun exercise and we there is sufficient sample size to back it up. Let’s roll right into the this week’s rundown.

Hot Hitters
I almost led with JDM (see below), then 19-year-old phenom, Juan Soto blasting two more bombs last night. SOTO IS GOD! He now has 8 homers in his first 35 games as a big leaguer! Let’s marvel at his slash line of .336/.446/.621! No, that’s not Mike Trout’s line, that’s a 19-year-old’s slash. I don’t know what to say! Is a 26.7% HR/FB sustainable, probably not with his batted ball profile, but his plate discipline is that of a veteran. In keeper leagues, owners stumbled upon a goldmine. I think he ends up around .290 with 18-20 HR but in redrafts you could probably get a top 25 player for him right now. He could present an interesting sell opportunity. Let me be clear, in keeper and dynasty, you don’t take anything less than Mike Trout if you’re selling. Hell, just hold him in keeper/dynasty.

This just in, J.D. Martinez is good a hitting baseballs! After his 25th home run on Tuesday night, he now has an astonishing 71 home runs in his last 200 games! He’s on pace for 52 homers this year and has been healthy. There’s no better slugger in the game right now than JD. What might be overlooked in his game is his batting average. He hasn’t hit under .300 since 2015 when he hit .282 for the Tigers. This is a guy who understands hitting and launch angles, his high drive percentage is more than double the league average! I wish I had the guts to rank him over Stanton in the preseason, but alas I stuck JD around 15 and Stanton just inside the top 10.

Cody Bellinger has picked up the pace hitting .333 with 4 HR and 8 RBI this past week. Anyone who wrote him off after a poor first two months definitely jumped the gun. Bellinger’s 23rd birthday is next month. Look Bellinger doesn’t have a perfect batted ball profile, he swings and misses a bit too much and hits too many popups. What he does do well is hit for power, he pulls a high percentage of fly balls, so he should still hit around 35 homers this year. It just might come with a .245 batting average. The walks are coming back, so he gets a bump in OBP leagues.


Jesus Aguilar is a monster! He’s hitting .444 with 5 dingers and 7 RBI this past week. How does a 1.809 OPS sound? Pretty, pretty, pretty good. Here’s a guy with a superior batted ball profile to Bellinger. He’s older and slower than Bellinger, but that doesn’t mean the breakout isn’t real. His plate discipline could use some work, so I doubt he hits .300, but .280 with 35+ homers is possible.

Matt Carpenter kind of put that terrible April behind him and is hitting .524 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and an amazing 10 runs in the last 7 days! Carpenter along J.D. Martinez, Betts and maybe two or three others are the only batters with more than double the league average in high drive percentage. Carpenter is on fire and probably should be hitting .290 with 20 HR right now if he weren’t so unlucky in April and part of May. I don’t love that he’s kind of selling out because his K rate is nearing 25% and he usually can’t stay healthy. If he stays hot the next couple weeks, I’d sell high on Carp.

Jose Peraza is running! Jose Peraza is hitting homers! Peraza is doing it all hitting .320 with 2 HR, 4 SB, 7 runs, and 4 RBI in the last 7 days. Talk about a buffet of statistics. The things to remember here are, he only strikes out 10% of the time and is fast. He makes contact with pitches he swings at in the zone 96% of the time! If he had Billy Hamilton;s speed, he’d hit .325 with 75 steals. But he doesn’t. So I’d expect this type of production going forward. If he’s available, pick him up. He’s like a cheap Whit Merrifield. He should be good for a .270 average with 6-8 HR and 25-30 steals.

Jesse Winker has started to heat up as he’s hitting just under .500 this past week with 3 homers and 8 RBI. That’s kind of a big deal because he only has six HR on the year. I went deep on Winker in an article on the SportsDegens last week. Basically, I Winker has incredible plate discipline and doesn’t strike out much. His power is still developing but he’s increased his launch angle. He’s a must add in deeper OBP leagues and shallow leagues need to start taking notice if he gets every day playing time.

Hot Pitchers
Madison Bumgarner just ripped off a couple nice starts striking out 16 batters in 15 IP without giving up a run. Is Mad Bum back? As long as he doesn’t go on some dirt biking vacation during the All-Star break, we should be good. Look I like Mad Bum, but it’s now about a year and a half since we’ve seen dominate Bumgarner. I’m concerned about his K rate in a day and age where everyone and their mother is striking out a batter per inning or more.His .226 BABIP and 83.3% LOB probably come back to earth a little. I think he’s a 3.40-3.50 ERA guy with a solid WHIP and just under K/9.

Lance McCullers is finally tantalizing us with ace-like outings. He’s got 16 strikeouts in his last 13.1 IP with a 2.08 ERA nd a 0.85 WHIP. Speaking of strikeouts, this guy’s got em! His K rate is lower than last year, but WAIT, it’s actually the same! His K/9 is lower but his K% is nearly identical. His SwStr% is better this year and contact against is lower. He may actually be a little bit better than the numbers indicate. If can keep the walks down a bit and improve on his LOB%, he could be a top 15 SP.

Zack Wheeler has looked sharp striking out a batter per inning with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in his last two starts. His velocity continues to climb. He’s averaging 96 mph but in recent starts was sitting around 97 and touching 100 mph. The fastball is good, no doubt, but I’d like him to use his slide piece a little bit more. Opponents are hitting just .186 off it. I don’t see Wheeler as a huge strikeout pitcher which limits his upside, but a K per inning is great if he can limit walks. I’m buying Wheeler in 12 team and deeper leagues.

Shane Bieber graces this article for the second straight week as he’s earned a couple wins with 14 Ks and only 1 ER allowed in his last 13 IP. There’s a bunch of small sample numbers that are way out of whack in both positive and negative directions. What I do know, is his control is solid and his fastball is terrible. Weird! An Indians pitcher with a bad fastball! Never heard of it. Kidding, obviously. The good news for Biebs is that his slider and curve are great, he just needs to bump the usage of both pitches up near 20%. I’d be buying to see if he makes those changes in almost all leagues right now.

Zach Eflin just keeps Eflin’ dominating! He’s compiled a couple wins with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. His strikeouts aren’t off the charts, but he’s starting to look legit. His velocity is up and he’s always had good control. I do think Eflin has made tangible progress but I don’t think he’s a 9.0 K/9 type pitcher. I see the K9 dropping to 8-8.5/9 which is still solid, especially with the low walks. I’m concerned that as a fly ball pitcher, he’s only allowing 6.5% HR/FB without a ton of popups. There’s a few rough starts coming, but he’s ownable in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Well, it looks like I’ll be taking the L on Joey Gallo this year. Prior to last night’s game Gallo was hitting a pathetic .150 this past week without a HR or an RBI. Of course, he jacks one last night. For the month of June though, here are his numbers: .135 with 4 HR and 33 strikeouts. I get it, a .172 BABIP is part of the problem but so is only 4 homers and a 40% strikeout rate. It’s a little fluky because he had a 60% hard contact rate with a 50% pull rate but his lowest HR/FB of the season. I still think he reaches 40 HR but he’s dropped in the order and is looking more like a .210 hitter than a .250 hitter.

Oh boy, Tommy Pham is hittless in his last 20 ABs. He’s been straight awful in June and wasn’t great in May. I know you don’t want to hear this but Pham was unlucky in May. So far in June, he’s just been bad. He’s expanding the zone and not being patient. His normally PHAM-tastic walk rate is below 4% and his K rate is nearing 30% for the month. I think he’s pressing and just needs a recharge because he’s still mashing the ball when he hits it. It’s all mental Pham.

George Springer Dinger is not hitting dingers these days, instead he’s only 1 for his last 25! It’s not like he’s flailing, he’s only got 6 Ks in his last 7 games. He’s pretty close to the same player he was a year ago expect he’s not hitting the ball quite as hard, hitting a few more popups and few less line drives. That’s it, though. It’s a simple tweak or one good month and he’s right back where he was last year. I’m holding and if he struggles for the next couple weeks, I might try to buy low.

Is the Eduardo Escobar experiment done? Here’s what I’ll tell you, the power is legit. He’s got a very high launch angle with very good hard contact. However, his plate discipline is trash. He’s swinging out of the zone more than 40% of the time and is swinging 54% of the time. As a result, pitchers are not throwing him as many strikes, his zone rate is down to 40% and his K rate is up to 25% in June. Cold stretches are coming but I do think he hits 25+ homers this year but at a .250ish average.


Brandon Belt just hasn’t been the same since he lost an organ last month. He did homer the other night but otherwise is hitting just .208 with 2 RBI this past week and .229 the last two weeks. It’s too bad because we were finally seeing the Belt breakout much like my pants at Thanksgiving. The good news for Belt owners is that he’s hitting the ball harder, so that’s not an issue. He’s not pulling the ball as much which has decreased his power production. I think he bounces back and if he struggles up to the All-Star break, I’d buy low.

Whit Merrifield is hitting .273 this past week which isn’t bad but without any speed or power. He actually hasn’t homered in the month of June and has only stolen 2 bases in the past 2 weeks. Did anyone think he was a 20 home run hitter? I didn’t think so, the 19 last year is going to be his career high. Look, the walk rate is up and his strikeouts are below average. He hits for a solid average and is on pace for 32 steals. You should be happy, he’s probably a .280 10 HR, 30 steal player.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Corey Kluber had a rough start against the Cardinals this week. A 6 ER outing without getting out of the 2nd inning is very un-Kluber like. I didn’t realize that Kluber had given up 16 HR on the year already! He only gave up 21 last year and never more than 22 in a single season! Kluber is giving up a lot more hard contact than he typically does and that justifies the home runs. He’s also getting less swings and misses and is allowing a career high 90% zone contact. The thing is, he never walks anybody and his LOB% is over 80% for the second straight season. Maybe Kluber isn’t a 2.30 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP pitcher this year but he’s still a stud

Remember when Dylan Covey was a thing? I do but only because I streamed him a couple times and the results were good! Covey hadn’t allowed a home run in his first four starts this season. In his last two starts, he’s allowed 5 homers! In those two starts, he’s got a 17.05 ERA with and allowed 17 base runners in only 6.2 IP! I hope you weren’t owning him, he was a decent streamer, but now we can forget about Covey for the time being.

Ahhh Nick Pivetta. He got smoked by the Nationals (again) giving up 7 ER in less than two innings. He’s now given up 15 ER in three starts against the Nationals. I won’t make many excuses for Pivetta, he’s been giving up far to many homers this past month (8 to be exact). That combined with his normally good control has put some crooked numbers on the board. Check this out though, as bad as he’s been since 5/27, his K/9 is 11.7 and his BB/9 is 3.82. Not bad, the walks need to come down oh and by the way his BABIP in that time .391! I’m cautiously optimistic with Pivetta and still holding in 12-team leagues.

Eduardo Rodriguez how now given up 9 ER in his last two starts where’s he’s given up 18 base runners in only 10 IP while only striking out four. E-Rod has also be BABIP’d a bit but he’s also struggling with strikeouts since his 9 K performance against the Mariners. I like E-Rod but he’s coming off a major injury and there will be some bumps this year. He’s basically the same pitcher he was a year ago. He’s introduced a cutter to his pitch mix which is decent but he doesn’t have a dominate pitch right now. I think he’s a 3.75-4.00 ERA pitcher this year but think he can be much better in the future.

Jose Quintana can’t seem to get on track, his last two starts weren’t complete garbage, he’s got a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 IP. However, he’s given up a whopping 16 hits and 5 walks in those 10.1 IP! This is killing me as a Cubs fan because other than Lester pitching way over his head, this pitching staff is on the rocks.For Q, it’s walks, walk, walks. A 10.7% BB rate isn’t going to cut it. His previous career high was 7.7%, and that was last year. What else, soft contact down, HR are up and his fastball is getting smoked to the tune of .288/.382/.477. Last year the numbers off the fastball were .215/.263/.333. This isn’t a buy-low and owners can’t drop him, he’s a vet, let’s hope he figures it out.