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Home Run / Barrel (HR/BRL) Under-Performers from 2018

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

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

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

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

Home Runs Per Barrel Under-Performers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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Low-Ownership Hitters to Add – Ramon Laurea-(k)no(ws) Best

All right fam, this is it! In many leagues, next week is Championship week or at last the Semi-finals. It’s now or never!  This will likely be my waiver wire article for hitters this season. I will be posting another starting pitcher streamer article on Sunday, so stay tuned. Also, follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats for helpful tidbits I’ll be throwing out there the final week of the season. Last week, I highlighted some guys and some of which are still widely available like Adalberto Mondesi (available in 70% of leagues), Harrison Bader (82%), Francisco Mejia (85%), Brandon Lowe (94%), and Ryan O’Hearn whom I lead with below.


Analyzing Low-Ownership Hitters – Last 30 Days

Ryan O’Hearn (KC – 1B)
I wrote about O’Hearn last week and his ownership has only jumped 3% from 7% to 10% in the past week. All he’s done in the last 30 days is hit .291 with 8 homers and 18 RBI. The Royals have 7 games next week, @PIT and @DET, not exactly the mecca for starting pitchers.  There’s no reason O’Hearn should be sitting on waivers for teams who are competing. I believe in this run for O’Hearn for a few reasons. As a young player, I love the patience, his 14% walk rate is fantastic and he’s providing plenty of power with a .365 ISO backed up by a 49.3% hard contact rate. It makes his 27% K rate more palatable. He’s a must add in all OBP leagues and should be owned in Standard 12-teamers and deeper.

Billy McKinney (TOR – OF), 7% owned
McKinney hasn’t been as hot lately, but over the last month, he’s been a hit machine batting .333 with 4 homers and 11 RBI.  McKinney likely won’t hit for a ton of power or steal many bases but all he does is hit. He’s sporting a 90% contact rate at balls in the zone (85% league average) and has always posted high line drive rates in the Minors. McKinney should provide a solid BA with great OBP and run into a few home runs. As long as the Blue Jays keep him near the top of the lineup, he’ll provide good run totals as well.

Dansby Swanson (ATL – SS), 18% owned
Swanson is not living up to his prospect hype early in his career but he’s made some positive changes recently. He’s been more aggressive at the plate attacking mistakes early and increasing his hard contact rate. In the last 30 days, Swanson has joined my 40-40-45 club. (That’s a club I’ve made up, still working on the name). That’s a 40% fly ball rate, 40% pull rate, and a 45% hard contact rate. That’s great and he’s produced 6 of his 14 home runs on the year in the last month. He’s also chipped in with 4 steals. Anyone in need of SS or MI help should add him immediately, especially with the Braves 7-game schedule next week. The power is starting to develop and the speed is a nice bonus. Swanson could be a potential sleeper next year with 20 HR 15 SB upside.

Ramon Laureano (OAK – OF), 15% owned
This previously unknown outfielder for the Athletics has a pretty solid .304 average with five homers and four steals over the last 30 days. His 49% hard contact in that span ranks him inside the top 15 in MLB. In the Minors, Laureano’s best skill was his speed, the power was just moderate but has really improved this year. His plate discipline is actually above-average despite a high-strikeout rate. His patience should provide some walks which is likely to lead to a few steals. Laureano is a great power/speed option I could see hitting a few homers and stealing a few bases down the stretch.


Greg Allen (CLE – OF), 6% owned
This is strictly a deep league speed option. Allen has stolen seven bases in the last month, tied for fourth in baseball. Allen is a very good defensive center fielder, but because of his below-average stick, he may only play 4-5 games a week. That’s OK, just add Allen to your bench for depth and throw him in there if you have the need for speed in your weekly match-up. Remember, with expanded rosters, teams are giving more players opportunities which means more days off for all players. I think it’s goidmove to expand your bench on the offensive side.

Adam Frazier (PIT – 2B/OF), 7% owned
Frazier is a high-contact hitter and has begun showing a bit of power with 4 home runs in his last 89 plate appearances with eight HR on the season. Over the last month, Frazier has displayed fantastic ball striking with a 49% hard contact rate, same as our man Laureano above. Personally, I prefer Laureano thanks to the speed but Frazier is eligible at 2B. If you’re looking for MI help, Frazier has a nice batting average floor and is showing some serviceable pop.

Statistics Last – 14 Days

Ji-Man Choi (TB – 1B), 5% owned
Choi is another first baseman owned in far too few leagues, but all he’s done is hit .324 with 4 homers and 12 RBI in the last two weeks. Choi is currently on the strong side of the 1B platoon with ice-cold Jake Bauers flanking the short side. The Rays have a 7-game slate next week against the Rangers and the Blue Jays who both offer weak pitching staffs and should see at least four to five matchups against righties next week. I don’t love Choi’s contact rates, but he’s another guy that hits the ball hard (45%) when he does make contact. Choi is hitting .296 with a .397 wOBA against RHP, so make sure he’s in your lineup against them next week.

Kevin Kiermaier (TB – OF), 26% owned
Has everyone forgotten about the power/speed combo of Kiermaier? He hasn’t shown the speed since he’s been back off the DL but he’s hitting a blistering .452 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in the last two weeks. Forget the season stats for KK, it’s been a lost year but he’s actually healthy coming off an illness this week that has caused him to miss a couple games. But, he’s back, hitting his fourth triple in the last month. He’s being ultra-aggressive, so watch him and make sure he doesn’t start getting out of control with his strikeouts. If that happens, go ahead and drop him. I’ve already mentioned the seven-game slate next week for the Rays, so he’s a great add.

Alex Gordon (KC – OF), 4% owned
This is a blast from the past! Gordon has been nearly useless for about two seasons now. Yet, he’s hit 2 homers and has 4 steals in the last two weeks with 8 steals in the last month! He’s only hit .230 the last month, but he’s been sporting a near 47% hard contact rate this month. Is this for real? I believe that it is, kind of, at least for the rest of this season. He’s actually been a bit unlucky with a .254 BABIP despite the consistent hard contact and a 29% line drive rate. With his strikeout and walk rates looking healthy, there’s no reason he shouldn’t hit .275 the rest of the way. The Royals are obviously letting him run wild and are batting him in the #3 spot behind Merrifield and Mondesi who have been on fire. Gordon is my favorite deep-league add next week.




Robbie Grossman (MIN – OF), 1% owned
This is more of a speculative add for super-deep 15-team and AL-Only leagues. He’s hitting .359 with a 20% walk rate and only a 6% strikeout rate in the last two weeks. He’s also been playing every day, good things are coming. His 36% hard contact in that period isn’t anything special (still just above league average), but it’s an improvement from his 32% hard contact thus far in 2018. If you’re in contention, and the waiver wire looks barren AF, give Grossman a look, he could turn a nice profit down the stretch.