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Blast Zone Launch Angle – Climbers and Fallers

In the introduction to Blast Zone Barrels (BZB), I determined the parameters for the metric based on barreled balls that result in home runs at the highest frequency. I ran correlations and concluded that while it certainly (and quite obviously) has a strong correlation to power, it also has a moderate correlation year over year. I also took a look at outliers over the last three seasons. While Part one covered the genesis of the metric, part two will expand the metric by looking at all batted balls hit within the Blast Zone launch angle band (23-35 degrees). It’s a similar concept to what my colleague, Dan Richards wrote over at Pitcher List last season. Give the article a read, it’s very intriguing. 

Part Two of this series will hopefully provide a little more value for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. First, a quick reminder of the parameters of a BZB. It’s a barreled ball hit between 23 degrees and 35 degrees of launch angle. But, what it ignores is the balls hit at those launch angles that do not qualify as a barrel. In other words, balls that are hit at ideal launch angles for home runs without the extremely high exit velocity. The table below displays the league-wide average exit velocity of all batted balls between 23 degrees and 35 degrees.



AVERAGE EXIT VELOCITY ON BALLS HIT WITHIN BLAST ZONE BARREL LAUNCH ANGLE (23 -25 DEGREES)

2017 (AVG EV) 2018 (AVG EV)

2019 (AVG EV)

90.6 MPH 90.9 MPH

91.3 MPH

As a whole, balls are being hit harder at ideal launch angles over the last three seasons. Part of that can be attributed to the juiced ball. It’s also likely that players are “swinging for the fences” more often which has increased power production but has attributed to the league-wide elevated strikeout rate. Knowing this, let’s look at some three-year trends. I set the parameters for at least 40 batted balls hit within the launch angle band of 23 and 35 degrees for each of the last three seasons. To be fair, I relaxed the qualifying threshold to 25 BBEs for a single season if a player qualified with 40+ BBE in the other two seasons. 

What trends would we expect in regards to average exit velocity on balls hit in this range based on age? Well, naturally, we would expect the trend for aging veterans to be declining, right? You also might expect younger hitters to improve their exit velocity. If that’s what you assumed, then you’d be correct. Shocker! Of the sample I conducted, the list featuring the largest fallers had an average age of 34.7. The List featuring the largest climbers were a hair younger than 30 at 29.7 years to be exact. Below is the list of climbers with over the last three seasons and their current age.

Average Exit Velocity of Balls Hit at Launch Angles Between 23 - 35 Degrees - Climbers

PlayerAge2017 (MPH)2018 (MPH)2019 (MPH)Diff (19-17)
Yoan Moncada2594.890.995.91.1
Starling Marte3187.092.796.89.8
Shin Soo Choo3791.394.995.84.5
Nick Castellanos2892.693.194.01.4
Nelson Cruz4096.397.399.93.6
Mike Trout2893.894.095.31.5
Kyle Seager3290.691.495.14.5
Kole Calhoun3290.891.993.42.6
Josh Bell2791.094.294.53.5
Eugenio Suarez2889.992.093.63.7
Anthony Rendon3091.992.094.72.8
Alex Bregman2690.692.694.13.5
Christian Yelich2890.793.996.45.7
Didi Gregorius3087.288.892.45.2
D.J. LeMahieu3187.59295.58.0
Jason Jeyward3086.987.690.33.4
Kris Bryant2890.991.293.82.9
Matt Chapman2794.493.998.84.4
Xander Bogaerts2785.193.7948.9



A couple of quick points. Mike Trout continues to be the best player and baseball AND is still getting better! There isn’t much he can’t do. Nick Castellanos is my boy! I covered him extensively in Part 1 and love his new landing spot. He’s going to ball out in Cincy and is essentially a J.D. Martinez clone. I included Yoan Moncada because of his huge boost in exit velocity from 2018 to 2019. Was he hiding an injury in 2018? He smoked the ball in his debut back in 2017 but fell way back in 2018. Either way, he absolutely crushed the ball at all launch angles last year and is still just 25 years old. He’s my dark horse to win the AL MVP.

Can we talk about Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo for a second who appear to be defying the aging curve? Without these two old heads, the average age of the climbers falls to 28.7 which sounds more reasonable. Now, we all know Cruz is a monster and lights up the Statcast page but how has he gotten even better from age 37 to age 39? Averaging a tick under 100 mph within the blast zone launch angle puts him third behind only Joey Gallo and Miguel Sano (both averaged over 100 mph). If you’re expecting a decline from him this year, don’t. Only an injury or God forbid COVID could stop him from crushing in the shortened season. I bet you didn’t expect to see Choo here. On average, he actually hits the ball harder at ideal launch angles than Mike Trout! Think about that for a second. Given the short season, maybe move him up a few spots. He’s certainly is not finished just yet.


Let’s touch on a couple of other veterans who could be sleepers in 2020. Kyle Seager and Kole Calhoun have both steadily increased their exit velocity on ideal launch angles. Calhoun’s playing time could be spotty and news recently came out that he tested positive for COVID. At this point, he’s slight fade until we have more information. However, Seager should hit third or fourth in Seattle, albeit in an awful lineup. Even still, he should provide pop with decent run production. Did you notice Jason Heyward in the mix here? I almost fell asleep writing his name. His metrics aren’t great but he’s shown steady improvement over the last three years. He improved his walk rate and ISO last year and his defense should keep him in the lineup most days. Maybe he can put it together for two months in 2020?

Christian Yelich is just ridiculous. At age-28, he should continue to be an MVP candidate for the next three to five years. He’s my top pick going into the abbreviated 2020 season. Would you look at Alex Bregman? His barrel rate may be brutal and he scored poorly on my Blast Zone Barrels metric, but here we are. The reason he’s been so good in addition to his unbelievable plate discipline is this. He has improved on consistently hitting batted balls at ideal launch angles with authority. He doesn’t need to hit the ball 105 mph to hit a home run. I’m fading him less as a result of this research. 

The steady growth from Eugenio Suarez over the last four seasons has been fun to watch. He’s been successful in a similar manner to Bregman but without elite plate skills. Still, given his home park and this metric, I’d expect another great season from him. Josh Bell has arrived! He didn’t quite put it all together in 2019 but had an MVP-like first half. I’m a believer that he’s closer to the first half Bell than the 2018/second half Bell we saw. I’m buying and might jump him over an aging first baseman I’ll cover below.

Finally, can we talk about the elephant in the room? Starling Marte, WTF!?! His average exit velocity on balls hit between 23 and 35 degrees jumped nearly 10 mph from 2017! That was the year he was busted for PEDs. Hmmm? Unfortunately, his ground ball rate continues to hover around 50%. But, his career-best 18.5% HR/FB rate in 2019 was certainly justified. Even with some negative regression, Marte could still provide plenty of pop. Will Marte transform into a power hitter late into his career? It would require a launch angle adjustment but could certainly prolong his career as his speed declines. Xander Bogaerts’ presence on this list is largely due to a wrist injury in 2017 that sapped his power. He’s essentially been the same guy the last two seasons and at age-27, it doesn’t appear anything is going to change. Oh, hello there D.J. LeMahieu! The research I’ve done on D.J. points his results from 2019 being mostly sustainable. Bet against him if you will but he hits the ball as hard as Trout at ideal launch angles and has the short porch in right field.

Below is a graphical representation of the largest risers covered above.

Average Exit Velocity of Balls Hit at Launch Angles Between 23 - 35 Degrees - Fallers

PlayerAge2017 (MPH)2018 (MPH)2019 (MPH)Diff (19-17)
Daniel Murphy3591.088.485.9-5.1
Yuli Gurriel3689.689.788.4-1.2
Yadier Molina3793.391.290.3-3.0
Whit Merrifield3191.790.687.8-3.9
Paul Goldschmidt3297.393.493.3-4.0
Justin Smoak3394.894.093.0-1.8
Josh Reddick3388.589.286.9-1.6
Joey Votto3691.393.490.1-1.2
J.D. Martinez3296.396.094.3-2.0
Albert Pujols4092.493.690.3-2.1
Kurt Suzuki3693.891.186.7-7.1

This is a shorter list. I won’t spend too much time on these guys because many of them aren’t fantasy relevant outside of deeper formats. Kurt Suzuki had a nice run in his mid-30s, but he may just be cooked. Yadier Molina isn’t far behind. He may be able to contribute with moderate power this year but after 2020, I think his career is just about over. Same for Albert Pujols and potentially Joey Votto. Everyone knows about Pujols but the metrics on Votto are just as ugly. Even in the favorable home park, I will not be betting on bounceback. FREE KYLE TUCKER! It’s getting embarrassing with Josh Reddick and the Astros. He’s hardly a plus defender anymore and can’t hit with a 94 wRC+ and a .134 ISO last season. Come on Astros.

Daniel Murphy’s 2019 can be attributed to a finger injury, but even the metrics from 2018 are pretty scary. Coors Field could help but I’m not betting on a power resurgence. Then again, if health is on his side for the short season, I could envision Murphy putting together a fortunate .350 BA – 7 HR type season. Yuli Gurriel’s Statcast metrics have never been great and at age-36, his exit velocity is declining. He was unbelievably fortunate in 2019 and I’d be surprised if he hit more than seven homers in 2020. Justin Smoak is interesting. He’s 33 years old and has shown natural regression in terms of BZ launch angle exit velo. However, 93.0 mph is still well-above the league average. He’ll get a boost with the DH and with his new home park, so I wouldn’t give up on him just yet, just don’t expect much in 2021.


Now to the fantasy-relevant players. J.D. Martinez went from being elite to very good. Should we be concerned? He’s 32 years old and there’s some evidence of player’s declining at that age. The Red Sox are still stacked even without Mookie Betts, but that means fewer RBI opportunities. Remember how I mentioned earlier that Nick Castellanos was J.D. part two? Well, if the trend continues, Nicky C could outperform JDM in 2020. Bold or not? Paul Goldschmidt falls into a similar category as JDM. They are the same age and have shown signs of declining. Not only has Goldy’s BZ EV fallen quite significantly since 2017, but he’s also a full mile per hour lower on average than JDM. I absolutely hate Busch Stadium for home runs and will very likely dock him given this information. I mentioned Josh Bell earlier and could see Bell outpacing Goldy in 2020. To Bell’s dismay, his surrounding lineup is awful, so I think Goldy bests him in run production. That being said, I’ll take Bell in batting average and home runs.

Finally, there’s Whit Merrifield. The late bloomer who helped players win championships in 2017 and 2018. He came out of nowhere in his late twenties to hit 19 homers and steal 34 bags back in 2017. Then as an encore, hit 12 bombs and stole 45 bags with a .304 BA in 2018. In 2019, the average stayed and the power returned (somewhat to 16 HR) but his steals were cut in half. The trend in the table above is extremely worrisome. He was saved by the juiced ball last year but now at age-31, I don’t think his power will play. His sprint speed is still in the top 15 percentile but is clearly falling. Over a full 162, I’d be hard-pressed to project more than 10 homers and 20 steals. What does that mean over 60 games? How about 4 homers and 8 steals. Yikes. He’s teetering very close to contributing an empty batting average. I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s nearly undraftable in 2021.




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Home Run Park Factors Part 2 – (Conversion to a Plus Metric, HRPF+)

In order to display my home run park factors in a way that is much more palatable for the readers, I’ve developed FreezeStats Park Factor for Home Runs (PFHR+) metric. It is used the same way other plus metrics are used such as ERA+ or wRC+. It measures how much better or worse a certain ballpark performs compared to the league average with 100 being average. We know if a player finishes the season with a 150 wRC+, he was 50% better than league average offensively. That’s the same premise behind my park factor metric. A park with a 150+ PFHR+ is 50% better than league average for home runs. 

All ballparks are not created equal, dimensions and irregularities within the same ballpark can vary quite a bit. So, I’ve broken the PFHR+ for each field or direction (Left-field, Center-field, right-field). The focus of directional park factors is important when evaluating a player’s tendencies and batted ball profile. It’s also interesting when looking at evaluating pitchers. I’ll analyze pitchers for my next article with respect to this metric in the next couple of weeks. For this article, I’ll cover nine hitters below who have changed teams. I’ll dive into the park change and what type of power output we can expect, both positive and negative based on the team/park change. 


First, I want to look at an example to help explain the park factors. Yankee Stadium is widely viewed as a great place to hit home runs. Part of this is true and part of it is not. It’s perception more than anything. The Yankees have some massive power bats including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. These guys are mashers regardless of where they hit. As you’ll see below, right-field is extremely favorable for home runs at Yankee Stadium. In fact, it’s ranked number one in all of baseball based on my PFHR+ when compared to all right fields! This explains much of Brett Gardner’s late-career success and Didi Gregorius’s 20+ home run power seasons. These left-handed hitters pulled a high percentage of their fly balls to take advantage of the short right-field dimensions. However, Yankee Stadium grades out slightly below-average for home runs to center and left field respectively. 

The slightly unfavorable left-field dimensions don’t hurt the right-handed sluggers on the Yankees because a 450-foot fly ball is a home run anywhere. It actually helps when looking at Aaron Judge. He’s been hitting more and more opposite-field fly balls, up to 49.5% and 48% each of the last two seasons. His HR/FB% on opposite-field fly balls last season was an incredible 37.8% which was significantly higher than his HR/FB% to centerfield. These Home Run Park Factors+ (HRPF+) bare this out. If you take a look at the table below, you can see that Yankee Stadium has a 146 HRPF+ to right field and just an 83 HRPF+ to centerfield. That means Yankee Stadium is 46% better than league average for home runs to right field but 17% below the league average for home runs to centerfield.

To give you an example of the criteria I’m looking at to determine these home run park factors, here’s a three-year snapshot of right field at Yankee Stadium (NYY) and Oracle Park (SFG), the best and worse parks for home runs to right field respectively.

Venue (Rightfield) HR/BRL% (LHB) Non-BRL HR (LHB) HR/BRL% (RHB) Non-BRL HR (RHB)
Yankee Stadium 88.7% 73 77.4% 52
Oracle Park 48.7% 24 15.3% 8
League Average 73.6% 40 49.7% 13

Based on this information, you can see that both left-handed batters and right-handed batters benefit at Yankee Stadium when hitting the ball to right field and the opposite is true at Oracle Park. This is true based on the percentage of barreled balls that become home runs (HR/BRL%) and based on the total number of non-barreled home runs at each venue. The numbers seem a bit confusing and difficult to digest when displayed like this. That’s why I’ve created HRPF+. If you’re interested in the more granular data, feel free to DM me on Twitter or write in the comments below and I’ll share the Google Sheet.


Introducting HRPF+ (Home Run Park Factors Plus)

Park/VenueTeamLF - HRPF+CF - HRPF+RF - HRPF+
Oriole ParkBAL121134100
Comerica ParkDET1042897
T-Mobile ParkSEA97106103
Yankee StadiumNYY9183146
Rogers CentreTOR110101102
Target FieldMIN978294
Minute Maid ParkHOU13673129
Oakland ColiseumOAK9910184
Angel StadiumLAA8214799
Nationals ParkWSH10212485
Kauffman StadiumKCR886677
Fenway ParkBOS966875
Chase FieldARI1066897
Petco ParkSDP11011291
Citizens Bank ParkPHI11591114
Globe Life ParkTEX91110121
Citi FieldNYM110107105
Guaranteed Rate FldCHW110107113
Coors FieldCOL109134113
Dodger StadiumLAD9815095
Busch StadiumSTL8010581
GABPCIN121132136
Marlins ParkMIA868091
Tropicana FieldTBR1028295
SunTrust ParkATL88100100
Miller ParkMIL91134117
Wrigley FieldCHC10510679
Oracle ParkSFG896557
Progressive FieldCLE87108112
PNC ParkPIT7810596

Notes: Columns are sortable! Data for Globe Life in Texas is no longer valid. A new park will be used in 2020. 

Mookie Betts (OF – LAD) formerly with the Red Sox

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Fenway Park (BOS) 96 68 75
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95

I don’t think people realize how much of a boost Betts could see in terms of his power with the move the LA. It’s important to note that while the left field HRPF+ is essentially the same in each park they play differently. Fenway allows more non-barreled home runs to left field (61 HR to 38 HR) where Dodger Stadium has a higher HR/BRL% (74% to 67.2%). That’s the Green Monster at play. The barreled balls with low launch angles smack off the high wall but balls hit at high launch angles that don’t qualify as barrels sneak over the monster. Right field is also more favorable but Betts does not have good power to right field so I don’t expect a huge boost in power production there.

Enough about left field, let’s talk about where Betts is really going to benefit. He’s going from Fenway where the HRPF+ was 38% below league-average to Dodger Stadium that plays 51% better than league-average to CF! Let’s try to quantify this. Betts has increased his fly ball% to centerfield each of the last five years (36.8% to 42.1%). I fully expect Betts, who has an elite hit tool to take advantage of centerfield. His HR/FB% to centerfield over the last three seasons is about 50% below the league average. However, when looking at his average exit velocity and average fly ball distance on fly balls to center, he falls in the top 30% of the league. That’s Fenway Park holding him back. Based on this information, I’d expect Betts to finish with a better than league average HR/FB% to center in 2020. To give some context, I’d expect somewhere between four and six more home runs to centerfield in 2020. 

Anthony Rendon (3B – LAA) – formerly with the Washington Nationals

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Nationals Pk (WSH) 102 124 85
Angel Sta (LAA) 82 147 99

Nationals Park plays surprisingly well, especially for right-handed batters, so Rendon takes a hit there. He should see some benefits to center and right field though. His batted ball profile on fly balls is pretty evenly distributed. He hit 23 of his 34 home runs to left field in 2019 with a career-best HR/FB% on fly balls to left field. I expect that number to drop However, he improved his quality of contact on fly balls to center and right, respectively but didn’t see many gains in 2019. So while I expect Rendon to hit more home runs to center and right, it should even out with a decline in homers to left. Expecting a repeat of 34 home runs is probably not wise but 28-30 seems like it’ll be in the cards.


Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN) – formerly with the Detroit Tigers

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Comerica (DET) 104 28 97
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

I think the baseball world went nuts when they saw this overlay I Tweeted out including Castellanos’ line drives and fly balls over the GABP. 


It’s absolutely nuts. Some people were counting as many as 30 additional home runs based on the overlay. Obviously, that’s not how this works, plus he’s only playing half his games in the GABP. But, going from Comerica that plays like the worst park for home runs to centerfield at 72% below-league average to a top-five park to center is going to do wonders. Castellanos hit 41.5% of his fly balls to center last year but it’s fluctuated over the years. In the final two months of 2019, he benefited from playing in Wrigley which has a 106 HRPF+ to center, so he already took advantage over the final two months of last season. His HR/FB% has consistently been just under 14% for his career and there’s no doubt in my mind, he crushes that rate within a new career-high. I won’t peg him for a 20% HR/FB rate but would probably project him for something around 18% in 2020. Using his 2019 fly ball total, that would bring him to 34 home runs. 

Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL) – formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Busch Stadium (STL) 80 105 81
Suntrust Park (ATL) 88 100 100

I just found out that SunTrust Park had a name change and is now Truist Park. The park remains unchanged otherwise in terms of dimensions, so the park factors should be accurate. Overall, Ozuna will receive a park upgrade but it’s not as drastic as some of the players above. Ozuna was a massive underperformer based on my earned home run (eHR) metric last year, so I think he’s due for some positive regression regardless of his location. The park change just reiterates this point. His 22.1% HR/FB rate last year was the second-highest of his career but his barrel rate, hard hit%, expected metrics, etc were by far the best of his career. The question is whether or not he can keep his elite batted ball metrics for 2020. If he can, he should hit 35-40 home runs across 600+ PA, otherwise, he’s still a safe bet for 30 home runs.


Mike Moustakas (2B, 3B – CIN) formerly with the Milwaukee Brewers

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Miller Park (MIL) 91 134 117
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

While Miller Park in Milwaukee is favorable for home runs, Cincinnati is simply the best park in baseball for home runs, as I discussed with Nicky C. Unfortunately, Moose bats from the left side limiting his overall benefit from the park change. Leftfield in the GABP is 30% better than Miller Park and right field is almost 20% better. Believe it or not, the slugger has just seven opposite-field home runs in his career. Four of those seven came last season. He did improve his hard contact on fly balls to left field, so if I was a betting man, I’d expect Mosse to hit more than four homers to the opposite field in 2020. But, where Moustakas makes his money is on pulled fly balls. His HR/FB% on pulled FBs typically sits around 35% but I have a feeling, it’ll push 40% next year. I’m beginning to think that Moustakas can hit 40-45 home runs next year. In fact, I’ll throw down a bold prediction about Moose & Casteallnos totaling a combined 80 home runs in 2020. This is bold because even if I combine both player’s career-high home run totals, we come up with 65 home runs (38 for Mosse, 27 for Castellanos). Combining for 15 home runs above their career-bests is a long shot but I think they have a chance. 

Starling Marte (OF – ARI) – formerly with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
PNC Park (PIT) 78 105 96
Chase Field (ARI) 106 68 97

Chase Field had the humidor installed before the 2018 season, so I’m not 100% confident in the data. However, one thing is for sure, Marte’s power will benefit to left field and is going to take a hit to center. Unfortunately, he regularly pulls fly balls at a below-average clip. However, he crushes pulled fly balls and line drives to the tune of 97.7 mph over the last two seasons. Those exit velocities on LD/FB put him in company with teammate Josh Bell, Edwin Encarnacion, and Khris Davis. If Marte can modify his approach and pull more fly balls, he could reach a new career-high in home runs. But, with a total of 20 pulled home runs over the last two years and 18 home runs to center, Marte’s move may just be neutral if his approach remains unchanged.

Didi Gregorius (SS – PHI) – formerly with the New York Yankees

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Yankee Stadium (NYY) 91 83 146
Citizen’s Bank (PHI) 115 91 114

We can completely ignore left field when discussing Gregorius’ power. He has NEVER hit a home run to left field and has hit just nine homers to centerfield. Now, he goes from a park that played 46% better than league-average to right field to a park that’s 14% better than league-average. Now that Didi is more than a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, I don’t have any doubts that he’ll enter 2020 healthy. Even in an abbreviated season, he was on pace for just under 30 home runs. The switch in his home park probably leads to three-four fewer home runs to right field. The difference to centerfield is about 3% in terms of a three-year HR/BRL%, so that’s relatively minimal. If Didi is a 25-homer hitter in New York, he’s a 22-homer guy in 2020 in Philly.

Avisail Garcia (OF – MIL) – formerly with the Tampa Bay Rays

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Tropicana (TBR) 102 82 95
Miller Park (MIL) 91 134 117

Let’s see, 11% worse to left field, 52% better the center, and 22% better to right. Is this not enough for you to buy into Garcia who reached 20 home runs for the first time in 2019? He actually earned 28 home runs based on eHR last year, so if he can maintain his impressive quality of contact, he’s a bargain in 2020. He’s notoriously a heavy ground ball hitter but as I highlighted in my potential power breakouts article on Pitcher List, Garcia has decreased his ground ball in four straight seasons. It’s interesting to note that Garcia doesn’t pull many of his fly balls. Will you look at that? Miller Park plays a little less favorably to left field. It’s almost as if the Brewers saw an advantage others didn’t. Nearly, 86% of his fly balls last year went to center or right field. Here’s the spray chart from last year overlayed at Miller Park.

Miller Park plays very favorable to LCF and RCF. I feel very strongly that Garcia improves significantly on his HR/FB% from 2019 and if given 550+ PA, he should hit 25 homers.



C.J. Cron (OF – DET) – formerly with the Minnesota Twins

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Target Field (MIN) 97 82 94
Comerica (DET) 104 28 97

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Cron’s move to Comerica Park is going to kill any power he has to centerfield. Not that Target Field was all that great for fly balls to centerfield but if you remember, Cron played for the Angels prior to 2018. We now know that Angels Stadium is a homer haven to centerfield. While Cron boosted his barrel rate and hard hit% in 2019, he’s trending in the wrong direction in terms of the percentage of pulled fly balls. His pulled FB% has dropped the last three seasons from 32.7% in 2017 to 24.2% last year. He’s going to want to adjust his approach back to the 2017 version of himself to take advantage of Comerica’s most favorable part of the park, left field. His range of outcomes in terms of home runs is huge. Fortunately, he should play every day because he’s basically the Tigers’ best hitter (at worst, second-best). If his pulled fly ball rate continues to drop and his fly-ball rate to center jumps to 40%, he could end up with a home run total in the low-20s. If he gets back to his pull-heavy approach, I could see him reach 30 home runs with the potential for even more.

If you prefer the color-coded version of the HRPF+, it’s below. Although, it’s not sortable like the table above.

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





Photo Source : MLB and Lou Spirito

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Weekly Rundown – You Spell Khrush with a K

Player’s Weekend is upon us and I think my favorite nickname is Rich Hill who has been dubbed, “Dick Mountain.” You really can’t top that. I read somewhere that Brock Holt coined that nickname for Rich back in his Red Sox days. Turns out Brock Holt is useful! The next best nickname is Brad Boxberger’s in which the back of his jersey simply displays an emoji of a cardboard box and a cheeseburger. Clever. Ok, let’s dive in!

Hot Hitters
Kendrys Morales has woken up in the month August and is hitting a blistering .500 with 6 homers with 9 RBI as he’s your Flavor of the Week. Over at BaseballSavant, he’s the hitter who has underperformed based on xwOBA-wOBA more than any other hitter in the league. While I don’t fully trust MLB’s expected numbers, Morales is clearly starting to catch up to his career numbers. I understand that’s cliche, but look at Morales’ last four seasons, he’s a .260 hitter with mid-20s pop at this point in his career.  

Khris “The New Krush” Davis is at it again against the Rangers, well, all teams really. This beast has an MLB leading 39 homers thanks to 5 homers this past week. He also has 10 RBI in that span with 103 on the season. Davis has cut his K rate by nearly 5%, upped his hard-hit rate by 5% (although everyone has), and increased his fly ball rate by 6%. He’s likely going to slow down (well obviously), he has 18 homers in 32 games since the break! I think he’s a lock to go in the second round next year as he finally gets some well-deserved respeKeD.

David Peralta is hitting nearly .500 with 3 homers and 6 RBI this past week. Peralta has always been a guy who has shown moderate power with a little bit of speed and good contact skills. He’s a guy that always seems to be available on shallow league waiver wires. Until this year, of course. Is this for real? The answer, kind of. He’s only increased his fly ball rate slightly from the high-20s to 30%. Meh, but his hard contact is WAY up to 47% and has doubled his HR/FB from last year. He’s also hit fewer infield flys, so do I think he’s a .300, 30 HR hitter next year? Not quite, but a.290 with 22-25 HR hitter, yes sir.

Xander Bogaerts has been an RBI machine with 10 RBI in the last 7 days with 2 homers and a .357 average. Bogaerts was sick of his soft contact ways of 2017 where he barreled 1.3% of his batted balls in 2017 (brutal) and is up to 10.5% this year. I was down on Bogaerts coming into the year because his fly ball rate was low, his hard contact was bad, and his IFFB% was way up. This year, he’s improved in all three aspects. At 25, Bogaerts looks like a .300-25-10 guy for the foreseeable future.

Whit Merrifeld and Jose Peraza both have two homers and two steals apiece with .400 averages. I lump them together not only because their stat lines are so similar this past week but are they really that different? Sure Merrifield has shown more power in the past with 19 home runs last year so he’s not quite a White Rabbit. Merrifield has 9 homers and 28 steals in 548 plate appearances this year. Peraza has 8 homers and 20 steals in 540 plate appearances. Sure, I prefer Merrifield, but Peraza is a nice consolation prize going into 2019 and he’s five years younger.

Justin Turner just hit his third home run in the last seven days to go along with 9 RBI and even threw in a stolen base! Is Turner the Red Rocket or is Kole Calhoun? I think Turner’s nickname is just Red. Anyways, Turner is Red-Hot! Ok, I’m done. Seriously though, it took Turner a little while upon his return to get his power back, but since the All-Star break, Turner is .390 with 5 homers, 8 doubles, and a triple in only 89 plate appearances, good for an ISO of .325! If you waited it out with Turner, you have been handsomely rewarded.

Hot Pitchers
David Price has given up only 2 earned runs with a 0.67 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in his last two starts. He’s starting to look like the top 25 pitcher I envisioned in my preseason rankings. Since Price’s July 1st 8-run blow up, he’s essentially been an ace. His fastball and cutter have combined for a 12.0 pitch value in only 8 starts! That’s insane. Unfortunately, he has no other good pitches. I don’t think Price is an ace anymore but he’s a smart veteran pitcher who can be your #2.



Now, this is an ace! Aaron Nola is Str8 Ballin’ and making his case for NL Cy Young with a 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in his last two starts. Nola does so many things well, but the best skill he has is home run suppression with his 0.46 HR/9. He’s rocking a 50% ground ball rate and an elevated IFFB rate which is how he can limit those dingers. In addition, Nola has boosted his swinging strike rate by nearly 2% but his K rate remains slightly lower than 2017. You know what this means? I’m expecting a strikeout bump next year, and Nola will be in my top 5 SPs going into 2019.

Walker Buehler really has lived up to the hype as he’s gone 20 innings giving up just 1 earned run with a 0.85 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in the last two weeks. Yes, that’s cheating, but his last two starts have been dominant as well, I just wanted to point out how great he’s been. Buehler threw just about 100 innings last year and is currently at 103 IP this year. We are dealing with the Dodgers, so we have to be careful with Buehler and an innings limit which I think will be about 130-140. If the Dodgers believe Buehler will be part of their Postseason rotation, he could be skipped a couple of times before the regular season is done. Owners, be aware.

Cole Hamels continues his dominance with the Cubs who desperately needed pitching help. He’s rocking a 0.56 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP in his last two starts. He’s not getting the strikeouts, but that’s fine, he’s basically the Cubs ace right now. It’s odd because Hamel’s four-seam fastball has not been good this year but he’s finding a way to be successful with it since joining the Cubs and is actually throwing it more! Maybe, it’s location, when he’s up in the zone with the pitch, it’s yielded some positive results. Let’s hope it continues because velocity is not his game anymore.

CC Sabathia is 38 years old, has dealt with issues with alcohol, went to rehab and is still killing it in the mound. Yes, he qualifies as a Return of the Mac. In his last two starts, CC has 15 Ks, a 1.50 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 12 IP.  Sabathia now has 2,960 strikeouts in his career which is 17th all time just behind John Smoltz. He’s also 6 wins short of 250 which I think are milestones that get him into the Hall of Fame. Congrats on a great career CC and being fantasy relevant at almost 40.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Mookie Betts is ice cold everyone. I know, it’s sad, but he’s hitting just .172 with no homers or steals this past week. He’s even got eight strikeouts to only one walk, this isn’t the Mookie-VP we know and love. Other than a few extra strikeouts, I’m not seeing anything in Mookie’s profile that concerns me. This is just a mini-slump got Mookie before he makes his MVP-push in September.



Ozzie Albies is 3 for his last 26 with no homers and no steals. This is not just one cold week for Albies, it’s been the better part of two months now. Albies is a player I’m worried about because his overall season numbers look solid (especially for a 21-year-old), but remember he was the hottest hitter to start the season in April. Since the All-Star Break, Albies is hitting .237 with 1 HR and 3 steals. His hard contact is down and he’s expanding the zone too much. He’s still making enough contact, but I think he’s being too aggressive. He might be over-drafted next year and should set up for a discount in 2020, I know I’m thinking way too far ahead.

Jose Ramirez is hitting just .160 without a home or an RBI this past week but has chipped in with a steal thanks to a healthy walk rate. Remember when Ramirez was hitting like .160 in April thanks to an extremely low BABIP? Yeah, this is the same situation. Since August 4th, he’s got a .222 BABIP but he’s still walking more than striking out and is making MORE contact. His quality of contact is down a bit, but that’s the only issue. Jo-Ram is just fine, he’s already given you 140% of his projected stats, be happy.

Rhys Hoskins is hitting just .192 with no HRs, no RBI, 2 runs, and a steal in the last 7 days. It’s essentially been a month-long slump for Hoskins as his .196 BABIP is the culprit. His hard contact is down and his line drive rate is at 15%. Hoskins hits a lot of fly balls and doesn’t run well, so unless he can maintain a 20+% HR/FB, he’s a .250-.260 hitter. Combine that with 30 homers and 90-100 RBI and you have a poor man’s E5. That’s a top 100 pick but not much higher. OBP leagues, he’s still borderline top 50 though.

Kole Calhoun, the red rocket, has fallen back on hard times after a blistering month and a half. Kole is hitting .182 with no homers or steals and carries a 43.5% K rate in the last 7 days.

I had to include a graph of Calhoun’s 15-game rolling averages because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a wOBA fluctuation from 0.089 to 0.525 in the same season. Fear not, the hard contact continues to trend upwards. I’m not telling you to buy him, but continue to hold unless the strikeout rate gets out of control.

Starling Marte again! Yes, he’s hitting .160 with zeros across the board. Oh, he did have stolen base last night though, so that’s good. His K rate is up and he’s expanding the zone with a nearly 40% O-Swing (swings outside the zone) in August. You know what helps in these “Dog Days” of summer? PEDs! Ouch, low blow bro! I’m sorry, but Marte was a guy who struggled to stay healthy for 162 and we all know how healthy Ryan Braun has been since getting busted. I’m going to be out on Marte next year, he turns 30 and he’s not getting faster. He’ll be over-drafted thanks to around 20 HR and 35 steals this year.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Lance Lynn’s success with the Yankees has halted quickly where he’s been punished by the Blue Jays and Marlins of all teams. He’s given up 10 earned runs 19 baserunners in his last two starts. It was starting to look like Lynn was the saving grace after the horrific run by Sonny Gray. I can’t judge (All Rise) Lynn’s performances with the Yankees yet because his getting 11.6 K.9 with a 49% groundball rate but also has a .375 BABIP and a 66.4% LOB. His SwStr% is nowhere near matching his elevated K rate either. I’m chalking this up to small samples and using him as a streamer against weaker opponents.

My boy (he’s not my boy) Big Game James Shields is back to getting roughed up after a mini-resurgence with a 6.59 ERA, 19 baserunners and 3 homers in his last 13.2 IP. I admit I did recommend him once as a streamer this year. The start was OK, it didn’t kill your ratios or your week. The reason I was optimistic was his home run rate has been down (for him) and he’s getting more swings and misses but with a lower K rate. I think my (slim) optimism is gone. Good-Bye Big Game James, it’s been real, it’s been nice, but it hasn’t been real nice.

Zack Godley’s stretch of good starts is long gone as he’s given up 11 earned runs and 19 baserunners in his last two starts that spans 10 innings. The lone bright spot is his 14 strikeouts. Why is Godley bad this year? Well, his walks are up, his BABIP is 50 points higher, and he’s stranding fewer runners. His home run suppression remains intact but he really only has one plus pitch this year, the curve. Last year, his cutter was utilized much better, currently, it’s received a pitch value of -8.6 compared to 7.3 PV last year. I don’t trust him anymore.

Andrew Heaney has struggled in his last two starts posting an 8.74 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in that timeframe. His last month has actually been relatively poor. He currently has thrown 146 innings this year coming off only about 50 innings last year and 6 IP the prior year. I just think Heaney is out of gas. He’s got a good changeup and breaking ball, so I think Heaney will be on my sleeper list for next year. At this point, he will probably throw a couple more starts then be shut down for the rest of the year. I like him to reach 175+ next year with solid ratios.

Clayton Richard’s nightmare season continues. In his last 8.2 IP, Richards is sporting an 11.42 ERA with a 2.31 WHIP with only six strikeouts. I understand Richard isn’t all that fantasy relevant but last year against lefty-heavy lineups, he was a solid streamer. Then there’s the home/road splits, his 3.94 ERA and 1.22 WHIP at home is playable but the 6.67 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP on the road is just brutal. Am I really recommending Richard as a streaming option at home against lefty-heavy lineups? I guess so, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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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.

What’s up? BABIP, that’s what – June Update

BABIP across Major League baseball normalizes right around .300 league-wide. It’s a number we always look at when a player is running a very low or very high BABIP. We typically point to the outlier and expect it to regress back to the mean. Unfortunately, there are many factors that can sway a players BABIP one way or the other such as: sprint speed, hard/soft contact, fly ball%, line drive%, pull% on ground balls into the shift, etc. I could go on, but you get the point, not all BABIPs are created equal.

I’m focusing on players with elevated BABIPs and comparing them to xStats.org definition of xBABIP. I’ll also be referring to value hits, poor hits, and high drives so check the definitions here. xStats isn’t perfect, but what is? Even mlb.com Baseballsavant has issues with its expected stats. It’s still a great tool to use and is considerably more accurate than other expected stats. You’ll notice that many players with high sprint speed will often run a lower xBABIP than their actual BABIP. Knowing that, we can use that to our advantage. However, other players who are not graced with a high quantity of quick-twitch muscle fibers will have to rely of line drives and hard contact to boost their BABIP. Without further ado, here’s the

NameBABIPxBABIPDiffAVGxAVGDiff
Ian Happ0.3850.297-0.0880.2370.188-0.049
Matt Kemp0.40.32-0.080.3440.295-0.049
Starling Marte0.3520.291-0.0610.2940.248-0.046
Albert Almora0.3650.312-0.0530.310.261-0.049
Domingo Santana0.3680.308-0.060.260.239-0.021
Scooter Gennett0.3890.341-0.0480.3440.294-0.05
Nick Castellanos0.4110.356-0.0550.3360.304-0.032

Well, there’s Ian Happ. After a disastrous April which involves a near 50% K rate, he’s righted the ship a bit. But alas, his BABIP is an unsustainable .385! Not only should he regress, but xStats is calling for a drop of 0.091 and should have a batting average below the mendoza line.  Happ has above average speed, so I don’t expect full regression, but if he maintains his 40% strikeout rate, I don’t see him hitting over .220 this year. He’s getting by with a very good high drive percentage which has maximized many of his batted balls. But, how long can he keep this up with a 40% strikeout rate? I like Happ longterm, but he’s in a hole this year and is too risky to make it HAPPen.

No one is going to mistake Matt Kemp for having great speed now that he’s well into his 30s, so a BABIP of .400 is insane! What’s interesting, is how xStats still pegs him for a .320 BABIP which can still yield positive results, unlike Happ. What’s also interesting is his high percentage of value hits and a solid 15.5 degree launch angle. His expected home runs currently sits at a very impressive 12.2, he currently sits at 10 HR on the season. His plate discipline is poor (but it’s always been below average) however, he’s got a hard contact% of over 45% with a 12% soft contact rate. I’m not buying Kemp at face value, but while the average will come down, his power may jump a little. Maybe he’s got one more 30 HR 95 RBI season in him.

I won’t spend much time on Starling Marte. As I mentioned in the introduction, speed tends to trick xStats a little in terms of xBABIP. In fact, Marte has outperformed his xBABIP by nearly .030 on average the last three seasons. That being said, his current 0.061 difference is double last year’s difference. While his power looks just about right, there is some cause for concern with his low high drive (LOL sounds weird) rate and high poor hit percentages. I’m not completely selling Marte, but I’d expect him in the .280 range for batting average by season’s end. He’s still a valuable piece with mid-teens power and around 30 steals.

Albert Almora is basically getting by with smoke and mirrors. Sure an expected average of .261 isn’t the end of the world. The Cubs are deploying Almora in the lead off spot basically because they have no one else. That at least should give him a cushion, but he doesn’t walk much and has a xOBP of .317. It’s more than just outperforming in terms of average too though, he’s barreled a total of one ball out of 139 batted balls in 2018. His average exit velocity is 85.7 mph which puts him the bottom 10% for all qualified hitters. Get this, his xwOBA against off-speed and breaking pitches is under .210! No, that’s not his expecting batting average, it’s the expected weighted on-base average you guys! I don’t need to ramble because he’s hardly fantasy relevant, but a guy with no power and no speed should not be owned. If someone is loving this average boost move him immediately.

Domingo Santana has not followed his breakout with much success at all. He’s lost some playing time with the additions of Cain and Yelich and he’s really struggled to get on track. Would you believe me if I told you than Santana had a .363 BABIP and a 30.9% HR/FB rate in 2017? Yup, and that was in over 600 plate appearances. The difference is, he actually earned that elevated BABIP last year with an xBABIP of .373! Previously, he was a line drive machine, which other than speed will fuel a high BABIP. This year, he’s down about 5% from his previous two seasons. Here’s the deal, he strikes out 30% of the time, hits over 50% of his batted balls on the ground, and have average speed at best. He hits the ball hard but you probably got his career year last year. He could get hot, but should be left on the wire in shallow mixed leagues.

Nicky C, MY BOY! The hard contact King! The Exit Velo C-Lo-anoes. Annnnd we’re back. He somehow has a 48% hard contact rate with a sub-10% HR/FB rate. What!?!? The good news is xstats believes he should still be very good in terms of average and has been unlucky in terms of power. The bad news is, I don’t have any but it’s time to do the splits. Not that kind, the hitter splits. Castellanos is hitting .458 with a .543 BABIP against lefties! I’m not an psychic but I think that might not stick. There are no home/road splits and he’s hitting well to all fields. Here’s the issue with his power, nearly 78% of his fly balls are to center or the opposite field. He’s hit a total of 1 HR to center and 0 HR the other way. Detroit isn’t a great park for power and center is where homers go to die. He doesn’t hit the ball as hard the other way, so Nicky C needs to start yanking fly balls to the pull side if he wants to hit 30 ding dongs like I projected. Come on dude, pick it up to make me look good!

Last, but not least, may favorite non vespa, Mr. Scooter Gennett. His breakout last year involved a four homer game and a couple of multi-homer games. For some reason, fantasy owners held that against him as if to say, you’re not that good, you only a handful of great games! As good as he’s been this year, it’s nice to see his expected average above .290. The rest of his xStats metrics are relatively average in terms of exit velocity, launch angle, and value hits. That means he’s been extremely lucky in terms of home runs, xStats has him at about four homers less than his 12 to date. His 26% line drive rate is fueling the high BABIP and batting average, so I expect his average to creep back to or below .300 to match his expected batting average. I also would expect less home runs going forward but keep in mind, he out performed all of his metrics last year and is performing similar in terms of skills in 2018. I’d think of selling, but don’t take a discount on him. Try to get a top 50-75 player, if not, keep rolling with him.

Outfield – Speed

This is a new feature I’m doing for the month of March since draft season is in full swing. I’m comparing similar players at the same position using ZIPS Projections. The feature is called “The Choice is Yours.”For those of you who were either born in the 90s (or later) may not be familiar with the Hip Hop group Black Sheep or the song The Choice is Yours. Go ahead and give it a go, the lyrics are often giving you the option to either “get with this or you can get with that.” Of course, I’ll reveal the players in the table below and also give my personal analysis and thoughts on each player. So without further ado, I give you group of five relatively similar outfielders whose primary asset is speed.

ZIPS Projections      
OFNFBC
PlayerAVGHRRRBISBADP
Player A0.2781165522851
Player B0.2831476592268
Player C0.291989482291
Player D0.23415605625200
Player E0.2448722133210

Clearly, players A, B, and C are the most complete in terms of all-around talent with high batting averages 9-14 HR power and 20+ steals. Players D and E while don’t hit for a very good average, still provide similar power numbers and as much or more speed than the first three. The difference is you can wait 110 to 150 picks later to grab them. So who are these mystery players? Remember ZIPS is a little bit conservative with their projections and I’ll be sure to let you know where my projections are for each player after I reveal them.

Based on the ADP, you probably can figure out that Player A is Starling Marte. If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m not touching his this year. He was busted with PEDs last year and his 19 HR season back in 2015 seems to be an outlier. I know power wasn’t likely the reason Marte was taking PEDS, but it may have helped him stay on the field, now at age 29, without PEDs (probably), and coming off a year where is hard contact was a career low 26% and his soft contact at an even higher rate at a whopping 29%, I don’t think he hits more than 10 HRs this year. I have him at 9 HR in about 135 games. I wrote a sleeper post about him back in December, the ADP has come down since, but not far enough. Don’t get with this.

On to Player B, I believe this player provides the most value in terms of fantasy this year. He’s 31 and has got a new team this year where his home park is a significant upgrade from where he was in 2017. Ok, so that gave it away, it’s Lorenzo Cain. Cain has played 133 or more games in three of the last four season and 103 games in 2016. Cain has never stolen 30 bases in a year but here is a look at his 162 game averages since 2014: .300 AVG 14 HR and 30 steals. He’s now going to a team that has added Yelich and is looking to contend in 2018. Craig Counsell, the Manager, is known for his aggressiveness on the base paths and Miller Park is one of the most hitter-friendly in the league. In my opinion, both HR and SB projections by ZIPS are low, I have him around 16-18 HR and 28 steals for 2018 and should much more value than Marte this year. Get with this

Player C has a little less power but the highest projected batting average and run total. Based on this information, he must hit in one of the top two spots in the lineup. My projections are very similar to what Zips projects, and I think his ADP is about right (maybe a touch high). Player C is Ender Inciarte. Inciarte won’t provide the power upside that some of the other players on this list can provide, in fact, I think 12 HR might be somewhat of a ceiling for Inciarte. However, the high contact rate and speed will keep his batting average high and run total up hitting in front of Ozzie Albies (probably) and Freddie Freeman. He doesn’t profile as a player with elite speed either so I can’t see him reaching 30 steals. So the upside is limited but certainly has one of the safer floors in this group. Get with this (kind of), but don’t reach, I like him after pick 100.

Player D is projected for the lowest batting average from this group but also the most home runs. His current ADP is at 200, so the low batting average is baked into the price. Would you believe me if I told you that Player D had the third highest sprint speed in the majors last year behind only Byron Buxton and Billy Hamilton and one spot ahead of Dee Gordon! Well, I guess clicking the link gave this one away. Bradley Zimmer is not only a great athlete, he’s also 6’5″ and 220 pounds. He’s like a leaner more athletic Kris Bryant. I’m really just kidding with that comparison, Bryant and Zimmer are very different as ballplayers, they only have similar body types. Ok, so the K rate is terrible and his contact rates don’t lead to much optimism but Zimmer had shown patience in the minors so I expect his OBP to improve; combine that with a high GB%, elite sprint speed, and above average hard-hit rate. These abilities should lead to an improved OBP and a good amount of SB opportunities. His elite defense will keep him on the field, an OBP around .325 is possible and I could see 35+ attempts over the course of an entire season. Don’t sleep on his power either, 20 HR upside is in his bat down the road. Get with this.

Player E looks a lot like Zimmer but with more speed and less power. What’s confusing to me is how ZIPS projects him for 72 runs but a measly 21 RBI! How is that even possible? It sounds like a strong-side platoon leadoff hitter. if you haven’t guessed this player yet, you will after this comment; he was sixth in sprint speed in 2017. Yes sir, the son of one of my favorite childhood speedsters Delino DeShields. Jr. profile is almost identical to Sr. except he’s a little shorter and a little thicker. Jr. strikes out too much to have a good batting average but his patience will keep him on base and hopefully in the lineup. His defense should keep him in the lineup as well, but there is the risk for a platoon here but even with only 440 PA in 2017, he still stole 29 bases. The risk after pick 200 is going to be there for almost any player but if you need 30-40 steal upside at this point in the draft, then Get with this.

 

Star(t)ling ADP for Marte in 2018

Tags:  Starling Marte , Bust, A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte

Another speedster suspended for PEDs (Gordon in 2016, Marte in 2017).  Starling Marte has more pop than Gordon obviously but will this hurt what power he has left?  I can understand the scarcity of steals in today’s game but a top 35 pick for Marte?  Naw Bro!  Marte’s career high in HRs is 19 back in 2015 (possibly PED aided).  He’s great source of steals with a high of 47 in 2016 and still managed 21 in only 77 games in 2017.  So maybe he can still get 40.  Yeah but Dee Gordon can get 60 at about the same price.  Quick update 60>40.

Digging into Marte’s profile, you’ll notice he’s a bit of a hacker.  He doesn’t walk much, swings at a lot of pitches out of the zone, and makes slightly below average contact.  He’s needed crazy high BABIPs to hit over .290 in the past and he hit .275 last year with a .324 BABIP.  I think that’s about where he will be for 2018.  I’ve already touched on his lack of power and part of that is his low FB% and the other is the below average exit velocities. In 2017 his average exit velocity was 83.21 mph which is terrible and even in 2016 he averaged only 86.3 mph.  That’s Still in the bottom third.  So in my opinion his days of hitting .300 with 20 HRs are gone.

Let me throw out some (freeze)stats for you regarding Marte’s power.  First, we understand that fly balls to the pull side yield by far the most homeruns than to other fields.  In 2017 Marte had 238 Batted ball events.  He pulled 36.3% of those batted balls but only 7% of those balls to the pull side were fly balls!  That’s a total of 6 fly balls hit to the pull side!  Luckily half of those were hit for HRs, that’s a total of 3 folks!  Here’s another one. 47.9% of Marte’s fly balls hit in 2017 were to the opposite field for a total of 36 batted ball events in that category.  Of those 36 fly balls the other way, he hit ZERO HRs!  In case you’re wondering, in 2016 (full season of PA) he also hit zero HRs to the opposite field.  2015 was the last time that happened!  That’s over 860 PA fam, let that sink in.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up with 5-10 HRs in 2018.

Let’s wrap this up!  Listen, I love his speed and he should have no problem getting 30+ steals in 2018.  The Pirates have hit him anywhere from 1st to 4th in the order.  4th makes no sense to me so I’ll say he hits 2ndFor 2018, I’ll give Marte: .274/.325 9 HRs, 33 steals, 83 runs, 51 RBI.  Go ahead and wait 30 picks and get A.J. Pollock (who I have ranked ahead of Marte) or better yet wait 80 picks and get Inciarte. (Marte’s Early ADP sits in the mid-30s, don’t be silly).