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Hitters to Fade in 2020 Using Earned Home Runs and Deserved Barrels

In my last article, I summarized both earned home runs and deserved barrels. Alex Chamberlain of RotoGraphs devised an equation that factors exit velocity and launch angle in the equation to determine a hitter’s deserved barrel rate. He shows that his revision is very reliable and therefore a great tool to use. You can check out his analysis here. Additionally, I look at overperformers using my earned home run metric that factors barrels, non-barrels, FB/LD exit velocity, directional fly balls, and home park factors. My analysis of earned home runs can be seen here.

What I’m doing is combing the data and research from both metrics to find potential values and, for lack of a better word, busts for 2020. The way I think about it is like this. I use a player’s actual barrel rate in addition to other factors to determine how many home runs a player earned (eHR). However, if a player deserved a lower barrel rate (dBRL) and I plugged dBRL into my eHR equation, his earned home run total would be lower. I’m looking for players who were fortunate in both metrics. I reference what each column is telling us below the high profile fades table.


 

The High Profile Fades for 2020

Deserved Barrel% (dBRL%) and Earned Home Runs (eHR)

PlayerdBRL%-BRL%eHR-HR
Alex Bregman1.80%-14.39
Freddie Freeman-3.20%-1.03
Jose Altuve-3.40%-2.65
Gleyber Torres-1.80%-1.65
George Springer-4.70%0.54
Kris Bryant-0.80%-4.29
Eugenio Suarez-2.70%-0.61
Max Muncy-2.70%-3.25

Second column: dBRL%-BRL% is Chamberlain’s deserved barrel percentage minus barrel percentage. For example, Jose Altuve had an actual barrel rate of 8.1% in 2019 but his Deserved barrel rate was just 4.7%. So, his dBRL%-BRL% is -3.4%. The same concept applies to earned home run (eHR) minus home runs (HR). I’ll use Altuve once again. Altuve earned 28.35 eHR in 2019 based on his actual barrel rate. He actually hit 31 HR in 2019. So, 28.35-31 is -2.65 is the third column.

Based on Chamberlain’s deserved barrel%, Alex Bregman earned about nine additional barrels in 2019. That brings him up to 35 BRL on the year but still well short of explaining his 41 home runs. His ability to pull well-hit fly balls is unmatched, so while he’ll typically outperform my earned home run metric, I’m still calling for regression for somewhere between seven and 10 homers in 2020.


Oh no. My earned home run metric essentially justifies what Freddie Freeman did last year smashing a career-best 38 home runs. However, dBRL% cuts his rate by about 20%. It’s not a total disaster but Freeman will likely regress back to the 30-homer, line-drive machine we are used to. That’s just fine and the addition of Marcell Ozuna makes him a virtual lock for 220 combined runs+RBI.

Jose Altuve managed a career-best 31 home runs in only 548 PA in 2019. It’s not difficult to project him for significant negative regression in 2020. His dBRL rate is an extremely weak 4.7% and I have him with 2.65 fewer home runs given his actual barrel rate. His park will help aid in a handful of additional home runs, but I think he settles back to 20-22 next year.

Gleyber Torres doesn’t seem to be a major regression candidate if the ball remains unchanged. However, he was still fortunate in the power department and is probably closer to a 30-32 home run hitter. I can’t understand his ADP inside the top 30. There’s no real speed to speak of and his batting average is decent but doesn’t move the needle. With just 26 combined doubles/triples compared to 38 HR, I would anticipate that ratio being closer to 1:1 in 2020. Torres will not be on any of my redraft teams in 2020.

George Springer: Why are there so many Astros on this list? Look, cheating scandal aside, many Astros hitters overperformed their power metrics, especially right-handed pull hitters. Springer hit a career-high 39 home runs in only 556 plate appearances. Don’t pay for that power spike in 2020.

As a lifelong Cubs fan, this one hurts but I’ve been one of Kris Bryant’s biggest critics since the close of 2017. The injuries have mounted and even in a seemingly healthy season, Bryant was good but not great. Both eHR and dBRL% were not on board in 2019 pegging him closer to 25-26 HR on the season. He has been known for outperforming his metrics but expecting 35+ home runs in 2020 is a mistake.

Eugenio Suarez earned his 49 bombs in 2019 but did not deserve such a high barrel rate. Based on my rough calculations, he should have ended up closer to 39 homers in 2019 rather than the sure to be career-high of 49! I like Suarez but he’s selling out for power which has bumped up his K% while lowering his batting average upside. He’s closer to a .250-.260 hitter with 35-37 home runs.

This is sad because I do love Max Muncy. He backed up his out-of-nowhere 2018 breakout but without elite power metrics. Thanks to the juiced ball, his numbers were essentially repeated. He’s still a strong play but maybe owners should expect something closer to 28-30 homers instead of 35.

 Youthful Breakouts, what to expect for 2020

Deserved Barrel% (dBRL%) and Earned Home Runs (eHR)

PlayerdBRL%-BRL%eHR-HR
Austin Riley-2.20%-1.67
Michael Chavis-3.80%-0.45
Mike Yastrzemski-0.70%-2.61
Daniel Vogelbach-0.90%-3.41
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.-2.30%-1.01
Tim Anderson-0.10%-5.58



Austin Riley certainly has power but I think he’s going to take his lumps in the Majors before figuring it out. I won’t be buying in for 2020 but would love to see some improvements with his contact rate. If he displays some minor improvements in 2020 I might be interested in Riley as a potential breakout in 2021. Riley is the type of player that typically takes time to adapt to the next level. Same with Michael Chavis, I’m going to pass on him for 2020. The playing time is not guaranteed and his swing and miss tendencies have me worried. His power is real but not elite. I’m not risking his floor in 2020.

No, Mike Yastrzemski isn’t young, but he hasn’t had much experience in the big leagues. As a left-handed hitter in Oracle Park, it’s rough, just ask Brandon Belt. The fences will be moved in a little bit, so that should help but still won’t make it a hitters park. Yaz is a really nice story but I don’t expect much of a step forward in 2020 if any at all. At least on a per plate appearance basis.

Dan Vogelbach: Both earned home runs and deserved barrels views the large first baseman as more of a low-to-mid 20s home run type of hitter. His contact rate plummeted while his quality of contact decreased. His average exit velocity is near the 50th percentile. He’s also likely to lose playing time to Evan White who signed a new contract this offseason, so I’m 100% out on Vogelbach in 2020 except maybe in OBP formats.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is still very young and also talented. He’s one of the few under-performers that I’m not all that worried about. Based on his overall improvements, I think he’s still growing as a player. He managed 20 homers in just 84 games which is a 162-game pace of 39. Using eHR and dBRL, it’s closer to 32 which is still impressive. With everyday at-bats, I expect close to 30 homers from Gurriel in 2020. That can certainly play if he hits in the middle of an improving Blue Jays lineup.


Tim Anderson‘s barrel rate is justified but he did not earn his home run total in 2019. His home park is favorable but I also include a factor for that in my eHR equation. He’s still young and has now shown decent power in two straight seasons. I won’t peg him as a complete regression candidate, especially if he’s fully healthy for 2020 but his value lies mostly with stolen bases.

Veterans and Catchers to Fade in 2020

Deserved Barrel% (dBRL%) and Earned Home Runs (eHR)

PlayerdBRL%-BRL%eHR-HR
Eduardo Escobar-0.60%-7.17
Roberto Perez-3.80%-3.12
Willson Contreras-3.50%-2.07
Mitch Garver-5.00%-2.72
Matt Carpenter-1.00%-2.55
Mark Canha-1.90%-2.55
Carson Kelly-0.90%-4.22
Dexter Fowler-2.60%-2.30
Tim Beckham-3.50%-0.97
Nick Ahmed-3.00%-2.35
Tommy La Stella-0.80%-6.27
Brett Gardner0.00%-10.42
Omar Narvaez0.50%-9.26
Christian Vazquez0.50%-5.72

Eduardo Escobar is another hitter with a tight launch angle variance. Regression is coming but maybe he’s developed into a 25-27 homer hitter as opposed to the 20-22 homer hitter he was in Minnesota. So in a sense, I’m partially buying into his new approach to maximize his fly balls by pulling them at a career clip. However, it’s not a stable profile year-to-year so I won’t be drafting him expecting 90% of his production from 2019.

Yikes, Chamberlain’s bDRL% has Roberto Perez at about 10 fewer barrels in 2019 docking him approx six-seven homers. My eHR metric has him earning three fewer home runs giving him an earned/deserved HR total of a measly 13 home runs last season. His history of extremely low batting average has me concerned making him borderline top-20 catcher for 2020.


Another reason to not be a slave to Statcast metrics. My eHR metric has Willson Contreras earning only two fewer HR in 2019 bringing his total to a still-solid 22. However, his dBRL% cut his barrel rate in half. He’s another catcher who was a beneficiary of the juiced ball. He’s shown power in the past so I trust him more than Perez but 20+ homers in 2020 is not a projection I feel confident about.

Mitch Garver crushes the ball, there’s no doubt but 31 homers in 359 PA is just crazy. Of course, he’s due some major regression as dBRL docks him 11 barrels! Even given a bump in plate appearances, I’d project him for 20-22 home runs in 2020. That’s in about 450 PA+/- for a catcher. He still should provide solid value but I’m not reaching. I’m actually thinking about dropping him in my ranks.

I tried to tell you not to pay for a career year from a player in his early-mid 30s. Did you listen? I hope so. Despite a massive drop in ADP, I’m still not buying back in on Matt Carpenter. He dealt with injuries in 2019 but that’s nothing new for Carpenter. Expect more of the same with inconsistent results in 2020.

Mark Canha‘s 26 home runs in about three-quarters of a season is solid power production. However, he earned closer 20 homers last year. He’s a nice story and probably batting sixth in a stacked lineup, so he holds some value this coming season, I’m just not a believer in him as a 30-homer bat.

I love Carson Kelly but he might not be the 20-25 home run hitter I was hoping for. He’ll be in the backend of my top 10 catchers and I expect a decent batting average with 15-18 home runs in 2020. Nothing sexy but solid production.

Dexter Fowler is just about done in my opinion. He is morphing into a 10 homer, five steal player. Busch Stadium in St Louis is a tough park for home runs and the Cardinals have so many young outfielders, it feels like Fowler will be in a four-man rotation. There’s nothing to see here.

Anyone expecting a bounceback from free agent Tim Beckham can stop dreaming. He managed a 20.5% HR/FB rate despite a 33.5% hard-hit rate (bottom 31% of the league). He will likely be signed as a backup, so even in deep leagues, I’m staying away.

Nick Ahmed put together a solid overall season and it’s likely going to be the best of his career. The 19 home runs were a career-best but so was his plate appearance total. I’ll set the over/under for home runs at 13.5 in 2020. Is that exciting in today’s game or no?

Tommy La Stella‘s quality of contact was actually decent and his extremely high contact rate provides a nice batting average floor. That being said, anyone expecting 30 home runs across a full season from La Stella will be sorely disappointed. I don’t honestly think anyone out there is expecting 30 homers but I’d be hard-pressed to project him anything more than his total of 16 home runs across 550-600 PA. Maybe the Angels feel comfortable with La Stella as their leadoff hitter and that would be great for his value. Otherwise, he’s just a .280-15 hitter without any speed.


If Brett Gardner played in a neutral park to right field without the juiced ball, he’d be hardpressed to surpass 10 home runs. As it stands, he set a new career-high in home runs at 28 in 2019 at age-35. His HR/FB rate was six percent higher than his previous career-best back in 2017, the last time the ball was juiced. Nobody is expecting a repeat in 2020 but projection systems aren’t fully fading him. I’ll take the under on 15 home runs in 2020.

Omar Narvaez receives a park upgrade in Milwaukee but can he continue to outperform his metrics? He’s done it two years running and his hit tool seems to be his best asset offensively. I’m not fully fading him in 2020 but would not expect 20 home runs. I’m comfortable projecting around 15 homers with a .260 batting average. You could do much worse at catcher. Ditto, what I said about Narvaez for Christian Vazquez. The only difference is Vazquez has only done it for one year, where Narvaez has proven to be more reliable. I’ve ranked Narvaez 10th in catcher rankings with Vazquez at 13 if you’re curious.

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


Image credit: Scott Cunningham

Last Year’s Power Overperformers Based on HR/BRL (Fantasy Baseball)

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

 HR2018 BRLHR/BRL
Josh Reddick1714121.4%
Ozzie Albies242596.9%
Tim Anderson2020100.6%
Miguel Andujar273089.3%
Charlie Blackmon293290.1%
Scooter Gennett232784.9%
Jed Lowrie232592.1%
Johan Camargo1918105.8%
Jurickson Profar202290.9%
Jose Peraza141498.2%
Jonathan Schoop2118115.7%
Odubel Herrera2221104.4%

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


 

Weekly Rundown – Here’s the Story with Machado

HOT HITTERS
Paul Goldschmidt has finally broken out of his two month slump and is hitting .448 with six homers in the past eight days. If you visit the site, you know that back in mid-May I wrote a post about Goldschmidt’s struggles. There was a point in mid-May where Goldy had a .171 wOBA, a 20% hard contact, and a 42% K rate. The wOBA was the lowest of his career and his K rate was its highest since 2012. I haven’t dug deep yet into the numbers but this appears to have been a mental block with Goldy. Good for the owners that stuck it out, hopefully he didn’t dig you in too big of a hole.

Trevor Story is hitting a blistering .500 with three dingers, nine RBI and a steal this past week. He’s actually started to hit on the road for the first time this year and that could be dangerous. Story is making strides in the contact department now with a 6% jump from 2017, a career low SwStr rate and that has helped cut his K rate down below 27%. He’s basically looking a lot like his rookie season with a lower strikeout rate. He’s been a little unlucky in terms of power and he just stole his 9th base of the season, a new career high. His sprint speed is in the top 98 percentile. Add Coors to the mix and he could be a .270-35-18 type player this year.

Max Muncy continues his onslaught on the league mashing .350 with four bombs in the last seven days. Muncy is an OBP league’s dream. I recently compared his 45 games stretch (now 47 games) to Hoskins’ 50 game run at the end of 2017 and they are nearly identical. Muncy’s patience and great plate discipline makes him a viable option in all leagues. Sure, regression is coming but his clear swing and approach change makes him a solid .250-ish hitter with good power. Injuries and poor performance has given Muncy an everyday role and he can play almost anywhere.

Future 2018 NL MVP Freddie Freeman is hitting .409 with four homers and a steal this past week. Freddie keeps getting better, he’s cut his K rate for the third straight year and he continues to steal bases 6 for 8 on the season. He’s everything you hoped Paul Goldschmidt would be this year. Combine that with a career high hard contact and pull% and Freeman’s HR rate may actually improve. I can envision Freeman going .330-35-120-14 this year.

The Seattle Bombers Ryon Healy, Nelson Cruz, and Mitch Haniger have combined for 12 HR and 18 RBI this past week. What, only 18 RBI? Haha, that’s right, they kept hitting back-to-back bombs so no one was on base. Anyways, I read a comment on Twitter @bdentrek that the Seattle hitters busted into Cano’s medicine cabinet. LOL, that’s joke but damn, the ball seems to be flying out of Safeco. Cruz’s early season struggles are behind him, I’m convinced he can hit 40 homers until he’s 50 at this point. I love Haniger and the Diamondbacks have to be kicking themselves right now. Healy is on a hot streak, but I don’t love him in shallow formats. If I’m ranking them ROS, I’m going Cruz at 1A, Haniger at 1B, and Healy in a distant third.

Evan Gattis is hitting .320 with four homers and an amazing 15 RBI in the last seven days! Jesus man, slow down. A week like that from a Catcher will vault you into the top 5. Searching….searching…and he’s the number 1 ranked catcher. OMG, that’s hilarious. Rounding out the top 3 is Grandal and Cerevelli. Realmuto is 4th and I think by season’s end, he’s top 3. This is case and point why you never draft a catcher inside the top 100 overall.

Hot Pitchers
Trevor Bauer seems to be a regular on this list, he’s got 24 Ks in his last two starts with a 2.30 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. If you didn’t believe he was an ace before this week, you should now. If I told you in Mid-May that Bauer would end 2018 with better numbers than Gerrit Cole, you would have punched me in the face and laughed. Sure, the win totals are down for Bauer, but come on, luck can change on dime, all other numbers are almost identical between the two. It’s not a long-shot anymore. Bauer Power!

Anibal Sanchez has somehow managed a 1.46 ERA with a 0.73 WHIP with 2 wins and 11 strikeouts in his last two starts. On the season he’s below 2.00 for an ERA! I think you know just like everyone else, he’s regressing. A near .200 BABIP with a below average K rate means you need get out now before your left rostering him when that blow up happens. I did see that he’s inducing 28% soft contact, so maybe his cutter has improved. Something to watch but he’s still a streamer.

Dylan Covey of the White Sox has put together several solid starts including 2 W with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in his last two. Covey has dropped almost 5.50 off his ERA from last year. Yup, you read that right. It’s odd because his WHIP is 1.30 which doesn’t jive with a 2.29 ERA. Listen I like 61% GB rate and increased velocity but I’m setting the over/under ROS at 4.15. I mean Covey hasn’t even given up a HR yet after allowing, get this 20 HR IN ONLY 70 IP last year. I’m take big the over.

Mike Clevinger has 16 strikeouts with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in his last two starts. Cool but what’s up with his sub-8.0 K/9 though? Yes, he’s around the zone a little more and sacrificing some swings and misses for called strikes and weak contact. He’s another Indians pitcher without a good fastball but has an ELITE slider. He’s finally throwing it over 20% of the time. His change up is pretty good too, if he ups his slider usage, I think his K rate settles in around 9.0/9. Me like

Jhoulys Chacin has managed to grab a couple of wins along with solid ratios and 14 strikeouts in his last two starts. Chacin is so boring, but you know what, he’s been useful with his ratios and has provided 6 wins. That’s about to change, I’d be moving on quick at this point. Everything is pointing in the direction. When your K rate is less than twice your BB rate, we have problems. When the BABIP and HR rate come up, he’s donzo.

The Dodgers Ace Ross Stripling, yeah I said it! Who else can claim that title thus far in 2018? I’m getting tired of writing about him on these rundowns, HAHA JK, it’s great! A near 30% K rate with a 4.2% BB rate, what!?! If I were to tell you a Dodgers pitcher has those ratios at the start of the season, Stripling would probably have been the 7th or 8th choice. Sure, there’s some luck with L-O-B% and I’m still down with O-P-P. However, that BABIP looks just fine, I don’t see regression there. Every pitch he throws has registered a positive pitch value, which is crazy. I said it before, the K rate may drop 3-4% but he’s still a top 30 SP if he keeps this up.

Freezing Hitters
Tim Anderson is 2 for his last 20 with no homers and a steal but somehow has 3 runs. That’s because he’s actually walking! An 8.3% BB rate up from an abysmal 2.3% in 2017, allows him for more stolen bases opportunities to weather these cold streaks. He’s still likely a .240-.250 hitter but with his change in approach (increased patience and increased fly ball rate), he should have no problems reaching 20 HR and 25 steals.

Giancarlo Stanton is 3 for his last 21 with no homers. If I’m being honest, I think Stanton is kind of a jackass but damn he can hit the ball hard. Yes, he’s in a funk right now but his 24% K rate from 2017 is up to nearly 32% this year! He’s also got a career worst 16% SwStr rate and a career low contact rate to back up the elevated strikeouts. Stanton has also decreased fly ball% and is pulling the ball less. So, less contact, lower fly ball rate and less pulled balls equals no where near 58 HR. I’m sorry, the people claiming “this is exactly where he was last year” are wrong. He never has contact issues like this last year. Expect a .250-35-40 HR season from Stanton.

Matt Kemp, what happened? After going nuts this past month, Kemp got old and fat quick, hitting .188 with one homer this past week. Damn, just last week I had him back with Rihanna and now he’s dating one of the Kardashians (and not the good ones). His K rate keeps heading north and his hard contact has dipped a bit. If this is a younger hitter, I’m not concerned but shizz can go sideways with Kemp in a hurry, so I’m keeping a close eye on this one. Another week like this and HE GONE!

Anthony Rendon has never really got on track this year; he’s 4 for his last 20 and no homers and no steals. He’s driving in runs because he’s in a great Nationals lineup, but what’s going on here? Rendon has really taken the launch angle Revolution (is that what’s it’s called now?) to heart the last two years. There are too many popups but he’s still stinging the ball when he doesn’t pop it up, his barrel% is up 5% and he’s nearly doubled league average for value hits. He still makes a ton of contact but he’s expanding the zone a bit which could be the reason for the elevated popups. It don’t matter, I’m buying Rendon right now. DO IT NOW!

Edwin Encarnacion is only 1 for his last 16 and he’s even seen the bench a couple games. I believe he’s harboring an injury. Either that or he’s finally aging and it’s showing. His fly ball rate has increased along with his K rate, but it’s become a detriment to his batting average. His hard contact and HR/FB rate still looks great but if he continues to sell out for power, his value will drop. The walk rate is also no longer elite and his O-Swing and SwStr rates are at career highs. He still might hit 35+ HR but it may come at a .230 AVG and a .310 OBP. I’d sell, but not at a draft day discount.

Speaking of high strikeout rates, Joey Gallo has a measly two hits this past week although one of them was a bomb last night.  All of that talk of him lowering his strikeout rate is out the window as he’s back above 36% on the season. This makes me sad and I thought Gallo was going to take a step forward this year. He still can and I do believe his 0.088 BABIP of fly balls and 0.171 BABIP on ground balls should rise, but he’s still pulling too many balls into the shift. I guess Gallo is just a .210-.220 hitter with 40+ homer power. Sigh

I was going to write about Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado but they both hit bombs last night and had multi-hit nights, so…. Let’s talk about Manny Machado. Machado is only 3 for his last 18 with no homers, runs, RBI, but 1 steal! I guess you’re the only top tier 3B that sucks Machado! Totally JK obviously. Machado is still killing it this year. The K rate and BB rate are at career bests and his BABIP normalized from last year’s outlier. I don’t love his batted ball profile, he’s hitting too many popups as he continues to increase his fly ball rate, so a 40 homer season is a possibility but not at a .300 average. Although a 91% zone contact rate goes a long way in terms of batting average. Machado will be on the move before the deadline, so a lot will depend on where he goes. Either way, I think he can be around .285 with 40 bombs with his first 100 RBI season. 

Freezing Pitchers
Vincent Velasquez is here mostly due to his 10 ER outing against the Brewers last weekend. He actually fired a solid 6.2 IP with 2 ER this week. Point is, his 12 ER in the past 10+ IP does not look pretty. These past two starts are great examples of VV’s volatility. Come to think of it, VV stands for very volatile. However, there are improvements, his K%-BB% is 20%, a career high. He’s also allowing less hard contact, his 1.2 HR/9 isn’t great, but it’s playable. If his LOB% and BABIP normalize just a little, he’s a 3.50 ERA guy with a great K rate.

Zack Greinke has given up 8 ER in his last two starts. He’s uncharacteristically given up 6 walks and 3 HR in that span. Greinke is averaging under 90 mph on his fastball. In the Spring, Greinke messes around and throws mid-80s but I think this lower velocity is real. Stinky Greinke is crafty AF but as the velocity continues to drop, his margins are razor thin. I’d look to move him while his K rate and BB rates are still fantastic. I think you can get 100 cents on the dollar for him (yes, that’s the same thing, I know that) but it needs to be done now. Try to get a Tommy Pham or Christian Yelich for him.

Luke Weaver, everyone’s second favorite young starter coming into the 2018 (first being Luis Castillo The question is, where did the strikeouts go? His Contact, SwStr, and O-Swing match last year’s number but his K/9 is down almost 3.0 to a sub-par 7.8 K/9. I think you can move on from Weaver this year, he’s still only 24 years old and I do like him long term to be a solid #2 on your fantasy team in the future. See if you can get anything for him, but if not, he’s safe to drop.

Jake Arrieta got absolutely blown up last night giving up 8 run but only 4 ER in 3.1 IP. In his last three starts, he’s given up 13 ER while striking out only 9 batters. That’s not good. His K rate sits at a career low 16.2% combined with an 8% walk rate. I don’t see anything in his profile that tells me that his K rate will rise much. He’s probably going to be around a 17-18% K rate guy while limiting homers. I just don’t see him being successful giving up that much contact, especially if he doesn’t have a great walk rate.

Whoa James Paxton, what happened? I don’t want to use the “I” word but how can you not when he’s always hurt and usually super effective when healthy. Big Maple has given up 8 ER in his last two starts but what’s also concerning is the 20 hits he’s given up in his last 17 IP. Well, let’s check his velocity, uhoh, it’s down about 2 mph in his last start. Ok, that could explain the ineffectiveness. If I’m the mariners, I’m putting him on the DL to skip a couple starts and give him some rest. You don’t keep going down this road with Paxton. Keep a close eye on his velocity in his next start if they don’t put him on the DL. Look for 95.5+, if it’s 94, we’ve got problems.

Weekly Rundown – Finding Nimmo at a Stripling Club

Jose Altuve is back to doing MVP type things. I’ll be honest, I was worried for a minute. He’s going to be fine but he is making slightly less (but still elite) contact and hitting a ton of extra-base hits. I still think he finishes the season around 20 homers and 25 steals with a .310 batting average. It’s not quite the 25/35 you had hoped for but if you don’t win your league, it won’t be Altuve’s fault.

Christian Yelich’s ground ball rates have looked like this since 2015: 62.5%, 56.5%, 55.4%, and 50.7%. That last one is this year. That’s good, but I still think his best GB% should be around 45%. That being said, he’s hitting the ball harder along with the improved launch angle. What’s also intriguing is his pull percentage on fly balls is up from last year and matches his 2016 output when he had a career high 23.6% HR/FB. That’s probably his upside in terms of HR/FB rate, but we could be looking at 22-25 HR for Yelich this year if he keeps this up. Oh by the way, he’s got 3 steal this past week, so 15-18 steals with that power and average is fantasy gold.

Tim Anderson isn’t going to win the batting title but he’s one of three players with 10+ HR and 10+ steals. The other two are Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, so there’s that. Anderson has 4 HRs and a steal while hitting nearly .400 this week. He’s going to be hot and cold but get this, his pathetic 2.1% BB rate from 2017 is up to 8.2% this year! He’s also been unlucky in terms of BABIP. If the BABIP comes up and he continues to walk, he might start be hitting 1st of 2nd for the White Sox and be a 20/25 type player with a .260+ average.

Yairo Munoz is the starting catcher for the Cardinals with Yadier Molina out. Just kidding! Just because his initials are YM, he plays for the Cardinals, and he’s Hispanic, you assume he’s the catcher! Anyways, no he’s playing shortstop but I’ll get back to Munoz in a sec. I also wanted to write about Harrison Bader because he’s been on fire hitting .435 with 2 homers and 2 steals in the past week. The Cardinals sent Tyler O’Neill back down to Triple-A, so Bader should get plenty of playing time as long as he performs. Anyways, back to Munoz. He’s got a couple of homers and driven in 9 runs in the last 7 days. Munoz has surprising speed, he stole 22 bases in AA last year and has above average pop. He’s striking out a lot but kept it under 20% in the minors. Consider grabbing him in 14 team leagues and deeper in your MI slot.

I’ve had a bit of a man-crush on Brandon Nimmo since late last year. I wrote about him as a potential breakout player this year in the preseason on FanGraphs Community. After the Mets jerked him around a bit, he’s finally playing everyday and leading off. On the year, he’s slashing .294/.436/.597 and has 4 homers and 2 steals this past week. He’s the latest adopter of the flyball revolution evidenced by his 18.1 degree launch angle (up from 9.6 last year) and his ground ball rate is down 12%. He’s now got 18 XBH in only 148 PA and should be owned in all leagues. Yes, I said all leagues, what are you waiting for? He’s a monster in OBP leagues as well with his 14+% BB rate.

David Dahl is hitting .333 with 2 homers and a steal despite not starting in 3 of the last 6 games. I really think the Rockies just need to keep him in the lineup. Between Cargo, Parra, and Desmond, Dahl should be able to start at least 5 games a week. He’s going to go through slumps with his K rate, but there’s 25/15 upside there.
UPDATE: Dahl was placed on the DL last night. This guy appears to be made of glass, unfortunately, he may not get the playing time this year given his injury track record.

John Ryan Murphy has too many first names and he’s a catcher. Yes, super boring, but I’ll make this quick. He’s one of three catchers on the Diamondbacks rosters but easily the most productive. Given the injuries, suspensions, etc at the shallow position if catcher, given JR (Not Smith, gross) Murphy a spin in 12 team and deeper leagues.

HOT Pitchers
How could I not lead with Ross Stripling? He’s struck out 19 batters and given up one ER in his last two starts. The time to grab him was a week or two ago, he’s long gone now. A 30% K rate and 23% soft contact rate means hitters are rarely making good contact against Stripling. His curveball/slider combo has been awesome (yeah I said awesome) and his F-Strike is 70%! That’s fueling his K rate. He can’t keep a 30% K rate but I don’t think I’m selling just yet.

Joe Musgrove has notched a couple of wins with a sub-1.00 ERA and WHIP with 12 strikeouts in his last two starts since coming of the DL. There’s no easing him back into action. There’s only 2 starts of data from Musgrove so I can’t take much stock in that. What I do love is his average fastball velocity is 95 mph up 1.5 mph from last year. His success out of the pen last year saw a jump in FB velo, so I’d stick with Musgrove or scoop him up if he’s available unless the velo drops.

Eduardo Rodriguez has 14 Ks with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in his last two starts. He’s slated for two starts next week and I’m buying him right now. His peripherals look identical to last year when he was a bit unlucky. He’s throwing his fastball less but it’s yielded better results. Go figure. Just throw less fastballs everyone!

Daniel Mengden continues to confuse hitters with his fantastic mustache since he walks no one and strikes out very little, he’s been able to go deep into games. He’s gone 17 IP in his last two starts with a 1.59 ERA and a 0.59 WHIP! What to do with DM? Look, it’s a good story but Mengden probably ends the season with an ERA near 4.00 and with a K rate around 6/9 (nice), there’s little value outside of deep leagues. I’d be selling if I’m an owner.

Aaron Nola, is great, we all know this. I just want him on here because I love me some Nola! His “low” strikeout rate took a jump with 17 Ks in his last two starts with 2 ER and only 7 base runners. I mentioned this on a previous rundown, his SwStr is up about 1% from last year when he had a 26% K rate. I feel like Nola is going to end up with a 2.50 ERA and 200+ Ks this year along with something like 16-17 wins. He’s only 24 and I think he could be a top 10 SP for the next 6-7 years.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Things have not gone well for Jake Lamb since coming off the DL. He may have caught whatever Goldy has, JK. He actually homered last night, no not Goldy LOL, Lamby. Ok so Lamb probably just needed to get his chops back, tehe. We know he can’t hit lefties, but if he can crush righties like he’s done in the past he should be owned. If someone dropped him in your league, you need to grab him.

My boy Tommy Pham has somehow scored 4 runs with 2 RBI while going 3 for his last 26. He’s even hitting the bench now and then with hit Master Bader hitting well. So what’s going on? I’ve always loved Pham for his ability to not expand the zone and crush balls in the zone. The past couple of weeks he’s expanding the zone and his O-Swing is over 25% for the first time since 2016. His contact rate is below 80% the last month and his hard contact while still great is down a bit. He had a couple blips like this in 2017, so normally I wouldn’t be concerned but can I trust Mike Matheny to keep him in there to work out of it? I hope Bader’s hot streak doesn’t affect Pham’s playing time.

Yoan Moncada has gone 4 for his last 25 with a steal and no homers. Would you be surprised to know that Moncada hasn’t hit an infield fly ball all year according to FanGraphs.com? That’s pretty crazy. His typically below average contact rate was on the upswing nearing 75% before this cold streak. I’m more concerned about his dip in hard contact the last 15-20 games. It doesn’t show up on his season numbers because he was sitting around 50% hard contact the first month. The past few weeks, it’s been near 30%. Again, he’s been on the DL, so don’t panik, just watch to make sure the hard contact and exit velocity go back up or there could be another DL stint on the horizon.

Justin Upton is no longer hot and his hot/cold streaks can flip on a dime. He’s only 3 for his last 22 without a HR or steal.  This is J Up you guys. Nothing to see here, he just was on a 3 week tear so naturally he flips the script and will go on a three week slump. I’ve said this before, as much as Upton fluctuates in season, he’s one of the most consistent guys to own in Roto leagues. He’s going to hit .260 with 30 HR and 10 steals with 100 RBI.

I’m old enough to remember Jed Lowrie’s 2018 hot start. His overall numbers are still good but he’s 6 for his last 33 without a homer and only 2 RBI! He somehow scored twice and drove in a run going 0 for 3 last night because the Athletics put up a 16 spot on the depressing Royals. Other than Pinder, he’s the only player without a hit in that one. Ok, here’s what I see, he saw a massive dip in hard contact and his contact rate has dropped. His contact remains down but his hard contact is rebounding. If I’m an owner, I’m holding tight, he might be on the verge of a rebound

Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton have combined to go 4 for their last 45 without any ding dongs! Meanwhile Judge continues to be the best player on the Yankees, sorry Didi. I don’t want to alarm you but Stanton’s recent O-Swing% and SwStr% are higher than at anytime in 2017. If you are expecting 2017 numbers from Stanton, you’ll likely be disappointed. Just be happy with a .250-.260 average and 45 homers. Sanchez has weathered a terrible stretch of contact rate and looks to have rebounded. His ground ball rate is down and his fly ball rate is up but it has come with a dip in hard contact. If the hard contact rebounds along with the launch angle increase, he could go on a huge run.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Sean Manaea is not on FIYA. Sorry fam, but Manaea  has given up 10 ER in 8.2 IP last two starts. His K% has dipped below 20% which is basically the threshold for fantasy relevance. His walk rate is sub-5% so that’s great but his .225 BABIP means there’s still some regression. He’s still giving up a ton of hard contact, so basically Manaea is Mengden without the mustache?!? Not quite, I like him a little more than Mengden and maybe you can flip Mengden for Manaea, but I doubt it.

Oooooh that smell, can’t ya smell that smell. That terrible smell is Jake Odorizzi  who has given up 10 ER in 9 IP last 2 starts with 4 HR given up! You can move on in shallow leagues, he’s giving up 2 HR/9 and has a B.B. rate that’s flirting with 10%. Even deep mixed leagues, he’s going to be a drag, which is the opposite when batters hit off of him, it’s like there’s not drag on the ball. That was a joke, not funny I know. Anyways, does a 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP interest you? I didn’t think so.

Lance McCullers 9 ER in 10.1 IP last two starts with 3 HR given up and only 6 Ks. Oh Lance, WTF bro?! Can you be more consistent like your pitch by teammates? His batting average against is great and his Z-Contact is down 6%. That’s great but why the blowups? It’s almost like when his zone% is low, he’s better. What’s also interesting is McCullers curve, which was basically the best curve in Baseball last year, has a negative pitch value. His change up is his best year itch this year. This is something to monitor this year, but don’t be selling.

Reynaldo Lopez had another blowup giving up  9 ER in 9.2 IP with only 5 Ks and 4 BB, all without giving up a HR. I like Lopez, but he can’t be trusted. I still think Lopez can be a top 40-50 SP long term, but he’s too volatile to be owned. So make like the All American Rejects and Move along.

Jon Gray 8 ER in 9.1 IP with 6 BB but 13 Ks. Oh Mr. Gray. There probably isn’t a pitcher who is more unlucky than Gray. Then again, there’s Coors. Ugh. If Gray played for a team like the Giants, he’d be a top 25 SP, but the reality is, he doesn’t. As much talent as he has, the Coors starts make it difficult for owners to start him. It sucks because a .376 BABIP should be due for significant regression, but it may end up near .340-.350 because of Coors. He’s also dropped his contact against by 8%. His skills are too good to drop in 12 team leagues, but h need to be benched at home. Here are his ER given up at home this season: 7, 6, 0, 0, 6, 4, 4. A couple zeros but your risking ratio killing more often than not.

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Tim Anderson – Player Profile

I want to start doing some deep dives on player profiles as the season progresses. Now that we are in our fourth week of the season, many statistics begin to stabilize.  We can start weeding out some players who had hot starts and find out whether you can drop, hold, or buy these players. The first player I’ll write on is Tim Anderson.

If you slept on Tim Anderson this off-season, please do yourself a favor and check out his category juice to date. I wouldn’t worry about the 5 RBI total, focus in on the power-speed combination. He’s currently ranked second in the league in combined HR + steals with 11 with Mike Trout (of course) leading the way with 14. Not bad for a guy drafted after 175 overall in most drafts this off-season. I was guilty of being off Anderson coming into 2018 mostly due to his 24.6% K-BB rate. No, that’s not his strikeout rate, it’s his strikeout rate after you subtract his walk rate! What’s changed with Anderson this year? The guy who only stole 15 bases in 2017 in over 600 plate appearances now has eight in less than 20 games.

Anderson did steal 49 bases back in 2015 in Double-A and totaled 95 steals in 331 minor league games. That’s about one steal every 3.5 games. Anderson only attempted 16 steals in 2017 and was successful on all but one. Ok, so a 94% success rate is pretty good. The White Sox aren’t winning this year (and most likely next year) so why not get aggressive on the bases? I like the aggressive approach from Manager Ricky Renteria with some of the young athletes the Sox have, that includes Yoan Moncada who is getting hot of late. It’s clear that Anderson has been given the green light evidenced by a stealing a base when down by four runs in the ninth inning of a ball game. Or when he attempted to steal third in a five-run game with Justin Verlander on the mound. This one is just funny. Fantasy owners are going to be just fine with this aggressive approach.

Let’s check out Statcast speed scores. Anderson is tied for 9th best in the league with the usual suspects near the top like Buxton, Hamilton, Gordon, Trevor Story….. Wait, what?? I better dig deeper on Story, but that’s for another day. Part of the issue in 2017 with Anderson was his lack of on-base skills. His .276 OBP was the worst for any leadoff hitter and ranked third from the bottom among qualified hitters. This year, that awful 2.1% BB rate currently sits at 9.0%. Now, that’s only seven walks, but that’s just six less than all of 2017. Is this walk rate for real?

Tim Anderson Plate Discipline  
SeasonZone%Swing%O-Swing%F-Strike%
201643.950.336.467.5
201745.354.741.366.3
201845.753.137.668.0

Not quite. He’s simply swinging just about as much as ever, he has cut down on his O-Swing (or chase rate) a bit but has actually seen more first-pitch strikes. So he’s working from behind more often than he has in the past. The only reason I can muster is the fact that he’s swinging and missing more which of course means his contact rate is down. In reality, this could help his walk rate but should also be a hindrance to his strikeout rate which is actually down about 5% this year. Based on this information, I expect a steep decline in walks going forward, which is bad for his stolen bases.

We haven’t talked about the power yet. In those 331 minor leagues games mentioned earlier, Anderson popped a total of 19 homers. He’s already got 29 bombs in 260 Major League games and three early this year. I believe in his power production, he’s increased his fly ball percentage each of the last three seasons. He currently has an average exit velocity of 93.8 mph on his fly balls and line drives and has barreled nearly 7% of his batted balls. Compare that to last year’s 91.4 mph EV on his FB+LD and only 3.6% of his batted balls were barreled. I know it’s early, but Anderson looks a lot like a 20 homer hitter to me.

This is where shizz gets sexy!  We now know that the 20 homer pop is legit based on the increased fly ball rate, increased hard contact, and his pull percentage which currently at 54% (typically around 42%). This leads me to believe that an improvement from his 14.4% HR/FB rate in 2017 should improve to somewhere between 15-18%. Given about 600 plate appearances, I see 21 dingers from Timmy. Oh, and those steals. Well, given a high ground ball rate and his foot speed, the .294 BABIP should jump up little to somewhere between .325-.335 giving him a .260-.270 batting average. The OBP should sit around .300 which isn’t great but better than 2017.

The positive outlook for Anderson in terms of steals is there because he’s attempting a steal about 30% of his possible opportunities. That’s a blistering pace to keep up, it’s basically a Billy Hamilton-type pace. Even if we drop that to a more realistic 20%-22%, he should push 35-42 SB attempts, call it 38. At a 75% success rate, that’s 29 steals to go along with his 21 HR. Ok, so we have Byron Buxton from 2017 with these projections.

While these are clearly realistic projections, I tend to believe they are more in the range of a 75% projection. That being said, those numbers push top 50 overall and even something similar to last year’s 17 homers with an uptick to about 25 steals means a solid bargain for what owners paid on draft day. I’d be buying for a reasonable price especially if you need speed.