Early in the offseason, I covered so hitters who greatly underperformed their homer uns per barrel rate (HR/BRL%). It’s a simple metric that includes barrels which is the best indicator of power we have. There are many factors that can sway this rate such as the home ballpark, weather, and the horizontal launch angle (essentially, what part of the park was the ball hit). I’ll cover some hitters that overperformed based on this metric in 2018 and their outlooks for this upcoming season. If you want to see my underperformers, click here. Keep in mind since the ball was de-juiced last season, the MLB average HR/BRL was 66.1%. There are a number of factors including home park, weather, and part of the park the barreled ball was hit to that could sway a hitter’s overall HR/BRL one way or the other.
Last Years HR/BRL Overperformers
Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)
I was a huge fan of Albies coming into 2018 and I saw significant upside due to his great contact rates, speed, and developing power. He was a steal going around pick 150 last year but the helium has caught Albies ADP this year now going around 62 overall. He smashed 24 homers as a 21-year-old, so naturally, he’s considered a mid-20s hitter with speed. Well, Statcast shows us that Albies is in the bottom 25% for average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls (EV LD/FB) and the bottom 15% in balls hit over 95 MPH. He’s nuzzled right in between known slap hitters Joe Panik and Orlando Arcia. Talk about maximizing his hard contact! From June 1st through the end of the season Albies hit just 10 homers. I believe this is where his power currently sits. Referencing Eno Sarris’ new research on park factors, SunTrust Park is in the bottom six for home runs per high drive%. I love Albies longterm, but he does not have many factors on his side that point towards a repeat of his power output from 2018.
Jonathan Schoop (2B/SS – MIN)
Schoop averaged 28.5 home runs per years between 2016 and 2017. Last year, however, his power metrics were on par with Albies and in fact, his EV LD/FB was actually 1.5 MPH lower than Albies. Schoop has been fortunate to play his home games in Camden Yards in Baltimore which by Sarris’ article, measures as the second best park for HR/HD%. The move in the second half to Milwaukee certainly wasn’t much of a downgrade either. Managing 21 home runs after nearly 29 per season is a disappointment. Will he bounce back? I’m skeptical. In 2017, he managed 32 homers on just 34 barrels. Based on league average numbers, he should have hit more like 26. Last year, he managed just 18 barreled balls but was extremely fortunate to hit those 21 homers. Now in Minnesota and likely hitting in sixth or even seventh, he should see a steep decrease in HR/BRL%. Target Field plays in the bottom third of all parks for power.
Johan Camargo (SS/3B – ATL)
Camargo was a surprising breakout in 2018 but unfortunately for him, the Braves signed Josh Donaldson for a one-year prove it deal. Camargo goes back to a bit of a utility role where he can fill in a 3B, SS, and even the outfield. Donaldson is far from a pillar of success, so Camargo still could have some value in 2019. He hit 19 homers last year on just 359 balls in play with a 15% HR/FB rate. Prior to 2018, he hadn’t posted a double-digit HR/FB at any level where he played more than 33 games. We already know SunTrust isn’t a great park for power, but Camargo was able to reach his 19 homers on just 18 barreled balls. Without a clear path to playing time, I’d stay away from Camargo because he doesn’t have any real speed to fall back on if the power takes a significant hit.
Josh Reddick (OF – HOU)
Reddick may have been the luckiest hitter in terms of HR/BRL% on 2018. He totaled a weak 14 barrels but smacked 17 homers and averaged a sub-90 MPH on average on his line drives and fly balls. Maybe the Crawford boxes stole a few outs which helped his totals. I’m not sure, Minute Maid Park plays near league-average overall but right-handed hitters get an edge. While only slightly above league-average in HR/BRL in 2017, one would think he would regress some with the de-juiced ball. His power metrics are clearly on the decline and he did not earn a jump in his HR?FB rate. I feel like the 32-year-old Reddick is about to come back down to earth ceding playing time to prospect Kyle Tucker.
Tim Anderson (SS – CHW)
Anderson hit 20 homers on 20 barrels in 2018 but plays in a favorable park in Chicago. Typically a player who can hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases is a sought after commodity in the fantasy realm. However, Anderson is going just outside of the top 150 overall. It doesn’t feel like the fantasy community is believing in Anderson’s power either. His poor plate discipline leaves Anderson susceptible to long lulls within the season. His inability to get on base (.281 OBP in 2018) is likely to drop him to eighth or ninth in the lineup. Anderson has back-to-back 606 plate appearance seasons and I seem to think a repeat is unlikely. Anderson’s speed provides some value but the rest of his profile seems a little less appealing.
Jed Lowrie (2B – NYM)
How Lowrie was unlucky in 2017 with the juiced balls but was fortunate in 2018 with the de-juiced balls, I don’t know. It’s not as though Oakland is hitter’s haven but Lowrie had a late-season breakout of sorts. An unlikely career-high home run total of 23 from a 34-year-old seemingly on the decline had people buzzing. The Mets picked him and the oft-injured second basemen will be starting the year on the IL. I suppose we could have seen this coming after Lowrie managed 28 barrels in 2017 but his total dropped to 25 in 2018. Without a juiced ball, it appears Lowrie was a bit fortunate last year. Given his start on the IL, I’d be surprised if he plays every day instead, splitting time with Jeff McNeil. To expect anything more 12-15 homers this year would be a fools’ prediction.
Odubel Herrera (OF – PHI)
Herrera has literally been showing up on all of my pessimistic lists and here he is again. This is a guy who barreled fewer balls in 2018 than he did in 2017 but ended up with a career-high 22 home runs after just 14 in 2017. How does that work when the ball was clearly de-juiced in 2018? Well, that can I say, the man was lucky. The Phillies appear to be hitting him sixth after the opening day game on Thursday. I’d like to give the Phillies a pro-tip and drop him the eighth. I’d rather see Cesar Hernandez and even Maikel Franco hitting ahead of him. The one aspect going Herrera’s way is the home ballpark. Even with calling Citizen’s Bank Ballpark home, he hadn’t reached double-digit in terms of HR/FB rate until 2018. Some might say he’s improving but his batted ball profile was the worst of his career. His hard contact was career-low and his soft contact and popup rates were career-highs. He looks like more of a 15 homer/6-8 SB type of player.
Miguel Andujar (3B – NYY)
Andujar benefits from playing his home games at Yankee Stadium but not as much as you’d think. He’s a right-handed hitter who has a very high pull rate so he doesn’t benefit from the short porch in right field. He’s also a hitter who puts a high volume of balls in play. He swings often and makes a ton of contact. So, he’ll keep his strikeout rate low along with his walk rate. That’s a risky approach that can result in a lot of weak contact chasing pitches outside the zone. Checking his power metrics tell me that he truly requires a high volume of balls in play to hit for high power. He’s right near the 50th percentile for average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls (EV LD/FB) and only averaged 389 feet on his home runs in 2018. That’s in the bottom 25% last year tied with Johan Camargo and Ian Kinsler. He’s only 24 years old so power growth is certainly a possibility, but I’ll take the under on 27 homers for 2019.
You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats