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

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

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




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

2019 1st Half xBABIP Outliers - Over-performers

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




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

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Fantasy Baseball – 2019 Rankings Recap: Hits and Misses

After each season comes to a close, I like to take a look back at my proverbial victory laps but also analyze where I missed on certain players and why. I use this time of reflection on my fantasy season to find flaws in my analysis to see where I can improve for next season. In some cases, there was nothing wrong with the process but rather an unexpected incident or variable that derailed a player’s season. One main variable was the ball. We were not privy to any information before the season starter that the ball would be more lively. From the limited information available, MLB does not plan on changing the properties of the ball for 2020 or at least to start the season. This means that valuing hit tool, high contact rates, and fly balls will be important yet again in 2020. It’s something I wish I had valued more in the preseason in 2019 but you’ll see below that I was able to identify players with these skills early on once data determined that the ball was extra bouncy.

I’ll have a complete assessment comparing my projections with the actual 2019 outcomes within the next couple of weeks. Of course, the juiced ball has really inflated offensive numbers while pitchers have taken it on the chin. I’m not expecting the results of the statistical analysis to be as close as they were last year, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The list below is in no means to complete list of my hits and misses. If you’d like to check my preseason rankings, here’s the table. OK, let’s dive in!


Players I got right for 2020

Ketel Marte (2B, SS, OF)
I was extremely high on Ketel Marte coming into the season. I originally had him ranked around 150 overall until the D-Backs decided to sign veteran snoozer, Adam Jones to play Centerfield. I have nothing against Jones, he was a very good player for a long time and by all accounts a great guy. Marte was slated to play a lot of CF along with 2B and SS. That’s nice position flexibility which added to his overall value, especially in deeper formats. Assuming Jones would cut into Marte’s playing time a little bit, I knocked 10-15 games +/- off his projection which dropped him to 175 overall. Yahoo! Must have had a personal vendetta against Marte because they ranked him 274 overall!

When Marte was traded to Arizona in 2017, I was intrigued. His speed combined with high contact skills and developing power was too much to ignore. Going into his age-24 season and I noticed huge gains in hard contact, barrel rate, and extra-base hits in 2018. There was no reason to expect him to decline entering his age-25 season. High batting average and speed potential with moderate power were enough to skyrocket Marte up my ranks. I had him in over 50% of my leagues. I touted him all over, like here in the preseason, and here through two months of 2019, and here on Twitter. I love me some Marte! I’m most proud of this call if you can’t tell.

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
Don’t worry, the rest of my blurbs won’t be as in-depth as my Marte blurb. After a down year in 2018 due to a hand/wrist injury, Bogaerts was coming at a discount in 2019. Given his age and past performance, I compared Bogaerts to Bregman without the fanfare. Go ahead and take a look at both player’s final numbers. Not bad, right? I ranked Bogaerts 26th overall, which was probably higher than anyone (I think). Most big-box sites had him around 45 overall and he slipped to pick 50 in many drafts. On the Razzball Player Rater, he’s ranked 15th overall, so he was worth the lofty rank. I ended up with Bogaerts on many teams because I knew I could wait until the fourth round in most drafts.

Anthony Rendon (3B – WSH) and Eugenio Suarez (3B – CIN)
I’m pairing Rendon and Suarez together because they were both pushed down in the 3B rankings thanks to the helium of Vald Guerrero Jr. and the Kris Bryant believers. I had both Rendon over Bryant and Suarez over Guerrero. It sounds crazy now but almost everywhere you looked, both Bryant and Guerrero were ranked ahead of these guys. Rendon is ranked seventh on the Player Rater and Suarez is 32nd. Bryant is around 60 while Guerrero is much further down. I’ve always loved Rendon and he’s criminally underrated every year who also showed up on my HR/BRL underperformers this offseason. Well, he stayed healthy and finally delivered with an MVP-caliber 2019 season. Suarez just keeps getting better. I tweeted this last week. Players aren’t supposed to continue trending up like that! Can he do it again? I’d say no, but then again I have no idea. Either way, I’m just happy I Owned these guys in 67% of my leagues in 2019.


Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL)
I was encouraged by Mancini after diving deep into his Statcast Metrics after 2018. His barrel rate was fantastic but his results in power didn’t quite match up, especially with a favorable park for home runs. The Orioles had no depth on offense (or anywhere, really), so Mancini was going to be a fixture in the middle of their lineup. I thought we could see his first 30-homer season and here we are. Again, thanks in part to the juiced balls but Mancini has taken steps forward and ranks inside the top 40 on the Razzball Player Rater. However, he’s also improved his walk and strikeout rates along with his launch angle. His groundball rate has dropped nearly 10% boosting his expect batting average and home run totals. Sometimes guaranteed playing time and lineup spot matter. Also, in Mancini’s case, Camden Yards is a great place to hit. My analysis, while not all that analytical with Mancini but was correct for 2020.

Matt Boyd (SP – DET)
OK, so Boyd fell off in the second half thanks in part to an insanely elevated home run rate. The strikeouts certainly remained, so he wasn’t a total dud in the second half. While Boyd’s ratios did not improve from 2018, the league-wide ratios went up between 10-15%. Where Boyd improved was the whiffs. He struck out 238 batters this year after just 159 in 2018 with only 15 more innings. That’s a ton of value. He was being ranked between 70 and 90 on most sites and I placed him around the 60th SP. where is he in the Razzball Player Rater? The 43rd SP for 2019. Boom!

Matt Olson (1B – OAK)
Despite breaking a hamate bone in his wrist during the opening series in Japan, Olson has set a new career-high with 36 home runs.  Once again, Olson was yet another player I have interested thanks in part to my analysis on his unlucky home run per barrel rate. He had shown extremely promising Statcast metrics and was coming into his age-25 season. The surrounding lineup in Oakland was encouraging as well with improving stud Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano combined with established veterans Khris Davis and Marcus Semien. Olson has 50-homer power in this environment and will likely be undervalued again in 2020.

Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH)
Corbin was a favorite of mine coming into 2018. I correctly projected him as a top 20 starter coming into 2018 based on past performance, pedigree, and being a second-year removed from Tommy John Surgery. His slider was the catalyst to his success in 2018 and he introduced a “slow slider” that was essentially a third pitch because of its change in velocity. The results against his slider were ridiculous. His chase rate on the pitch was over 50% with a swinging strike rate a hair short of 30% with whiff rates north of 50%! That’s crazy, over half the time hitter offered at his slider, they flat out missed it. While others were expecting regression, I didn’t see anything from 2018 that showed me that hitters were going to change their approach against his slider. And, they haven’t. His numbers are nearly identical in 2019 despite the league-wide jump in ERA.

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
Injuries. That’s the main reason for my skepticism on Correa, especially his back issues. I’ve always been a huge fan of Correa and it’s disappointing how injuries have derailed his last few years. Since the injuries started, he basically stopped running as well. In other words, Correa required the trifecta to provide value at his ADP of power, batting average, and health. I wasn’t going to risk spending a pick in the first four to five rounds on Correa given the low probability that all three would come to fruition. That and the depth at Shortstop was vast.

Matt Carpenter (3B – STL)
I highlighted Carpenter in the preseason as a third baseman to avoid coming into 2019 here at Pitcher List. Typically I stay away from older, established players coming off of career-years. Carp had a fantastic 2018 where he went nuts for about three months. He also was finally healthy. Previously, he had nagging injuries that either sapped his performance or forced him to miss time. I was not interested in betting on that to happen two years in a row given his age and history. This was kind of an easy call. However, you’ll see below when I discuss Josh Donaldson how this strategy backfired.




Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
Fantasy baseball is funny because I was big on Nimmo’s breakout before the 2018 season. I tabbed his potential power riser after he began increasing his loft and fly ball rate in the preseason. Throughout the season his power played up and his patience made him a massive asset in OBP leagues. I noticed, however, that his contact rates were very poor to start 2019 and knew that he would struggle to keep his strikeout rate below 25%. I ranked him a touch lower than most big-box sites and quickly turned away completely after two weeks in 2019. I discussed how his elevated BABIP was not likely to remain and his contact rates continued to plummet. I didn’t own him anywhere but I recommended that all owners jump off the sinking ship early. 

Jurickson Profar (1B, 2B, 3B, OF – OAK)
The post-post-post hype sleeper finally delivered in 2018 with the Rangers. I, however, was not buying it. He popped up on my HR/BRL over-performers this offseason and was moving from friendly Globe Life Stadium in Texas to cavernous Oakland Colllusium. He also didn’t show great speed despite double-digit steals as well. His contact and K-BB rates were pedestrian and he didn’t have a position locked in with the Athletics. Ultimately, the juiced ball helped him reach decent power numbers but his batting average completely cratered. Besides, 20 homers aren’t as valuable as it used to be.

Early Season pivot due to performance

Austin Meadows (OF – TBR)
I wasn’t on Meadows in the offseason where I had him ranked between 150 and 200 but wasn’t completely out either. I realized early in the season that the Rays were not going to play games with platooning Meadows against lefties which was a concern coming into 2019.  Here’s what I said in a FantasyPros article on April 15th:

“He walked more frequently than he struck out last week, and his batted-ball profile is a thing of beauty. His hard contact via FanGraphs is 47.6%, and he’s hitting fly balls 42.9% of the time. His barrel rate (BRL%) is 17.9%, nearly triple his 6.4 BRL% from 2018.”

He was so hot at that point it would have been difficult to buy him from an owner but he lived up to the hype. He will be a target of mine in 2020 as I expect big things from Meadows for his encore. He’s an easy 35 homer 10-15 stolen base type of player hitting atop a good (not great) Rays lineup.

Eric Sogard (2B/SS – TOR)
I was able to identify Eric Sogard as a potential value through the first four weeks of 2019. It wasn’t his quality of contact or Statcast metrics but his elite contact rates and consistent playing time. He doesn’t even show up on the NFBC ADP list which covers nearly 1,000 players. The fact that Sogard was 15-team relevant for most of the season and even 12-team relevant for about half the season is pretty amazing. I think valuing guaranteed playing time and high contact rates are undervalued, especially in this era. Sogard was a huge plus in batting average without completely killing you in power and speed. It’s part of the reason I am interested in Luis Arraez next year.

Players I missed on for 2019 and why

Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)
I was really buying into the approach with Winker. He already had mastered plate discipline walking nearly as often as he strikes out. He was basically becoming a young Votto. Younger players with a good hit tool and approach can often develop more power as they age. I was expecting that jump in 2019 for Winker, but I was wrong. His hard contact rates dipped and he wasn’t walking as frequently. I think he’ll be dirt cheap and still young enough to improve. I’ll be back in is his ADP is after 250 for 2020.

Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE/CIN)
Trusting a pitcher with more than four years of MLB experience with one ace-level production was partially where I went wrong here. The other variable that clouded my judgment of Bauer was his constant tinkering. While I looked at his relationship with Driveline as a positive based on his performance in 2018, I failed to see it as a potential issue in 2019. Given his mentality, he’s always going to want to get better and improve even after a Cy Young caliber 2018. I think he’s also stubborn. My analysis of Bauer and his metrics was not wrong, but understanding the person behind the numbers is where I missed.


Jackie Bradely Jr. (OF – BOS)
I went in hard on JBJ this offseason and boy was I wrong. Sure, he improved on his power, but so did everyone! I fell in love with his power/Statcast metrics and figured it would translate into a huge bump in production. Combining 20+ homers with 15ish SB on one of the best offensive clubs in the league was intriguing to me this offseason. I failed to ignore the poor approach and contact rates and his slumps were just too deep to dig out of. After another sub-.230 season with under 10 steals, I’ll probably be out on JBJ next year. 

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
The youth of Flaherty is why I shied away. His walk rate was high, his BABIP was low, and his strand rate was high. I included those items in my negative regression article this offseason for FantasyPros. When comparing his season on a historical basis, he was bound for negative regression. So again, the process was not wrong. However, not realizing his true talent and youth/ability to improve was not factored into play. That’s my mistake. Flaherty was coming off an impressive season and was just 23 years old! To my surprise, Flaherty has cut his walk rate by over two percent, decreased his BABIP against, and increased the runners he’s stranded. Thanks in part to an increase in velocity and first-pitch strike rate, Flaherty has turned into an ace.

Josh Donaldson (3B – ATL)
The analysis of Donaldson was strictly injury based. Given his recent injury history and age, I was not expecting 500+ plate appearances in 2019 from JD. I also was put off by his increasing strikeout rate which was backed by a trend of decreasing contact rates. Those may not have been skills deterioration but rather a result of his nagging injuries. So, I missed on Donaldson but hit on Carpenter. I will bet against injury and age more often than not and when they are combined, I’ll bet against it nearly 100% of the time. I just have to face the facts that I will be wrong every once and a while.

Travis Shaw (1B, 2B, 3B – MIL)
Ugh. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t higher on a guy in his prime coming off of two 30-homer campaigns with a shrinking K/BB ratio hitting in the middle of a very good Brewers lineup. It turns out, I was the idiot. Shaw was a disaster with contact rates as low as Joey Gallo without a fraction of the contact quality. He was a complete disaster. I’m not sure how I could have seen a 32.3% strikeout rate coming when his previous career-high was 25.1%. Aside from the extreme contact rates, his BABIP dropped to 0.060 points below his career rate and while a five percent jump in fly ball rate explains a portion of the decrease, it doesn’t cover it all. Either way, he’s a mess and I’m out on his next year.

Early Season pivot due to skills performance

Cody Bellinger (1B, OF – LAD)
So, as you can see in my preseason ranks, I was not a believer that Bellinger would recapture his brilliance from his rookie campaign. I had looked at Bellinger as a hitter with a hole in his swing which had been exploited, limiting him in batting average and some power. However, that assessment was wrong as he clearly made adjustments. After just two weeks of games, he had improved on his hard contact/barrel rates and saw massive improvements to his contact rate. Here’s what I said in April:

“We already knew he could mash but his plate discipline is on another level early this year. He’s swinging outside the zone less often and his contact rates have jumped up. As a result, his strikeout rate is down nearly 10%. If he can manage improved contact rates, Bellinger could provide first-round value and a huge profit for those who drafted him this offseason.”


Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)
Like many “experts,” I don’t love that word, I was high on Pivetta coming into 2019 based on his K-BB rate and ERA-estimators. However, after just one start, I was able to identify an issue with Pivetta that carried over from 2019. His fastball location and pitch selection were poor. It was a little more clear to me that his elevated BABIP and possibly home run rate were going to continue to plague him. Here’s the blurb I wrote at FantasyPros in my Risers/Fallers article.

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


Photo by Fred Thornhill / The Canadian Press via AP

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Rankings: Top 30 Hitters for 2019

TOP 30 HITTERS FOR 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Left Out of the top 30

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

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

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

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

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

 

 

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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

Weekly Rundown – Bye-Bye Hanley Hello Moreland

So, Hanley Ramirez was DFA’ed by the Red Sox yesterday. He is due $15 Million if the Red Sox can’t find a trade partner.  Ramirez was 0 for his last 20 prior to being released but there could be more to the story. If I’m an owner in a shallow league, he’s gone but if I’m in a 15-team league or deeper, I’m holding until I know where he lands (and hopefully that happens soon).  This helps J.D. Martinez move to DH more often and gives Mitch Moreland more playing time. I’d pick up Moreland as a flyer, he’s hit 2 bombs in the last 2 games.

HOT Hitters
Remember how Mike Trout had a slow week in last week’s rundown? It was written is jest because we all know Mike Trout doesn’t slump. He takes a quick break and reals of 3 homers and 4 steals in a week. Trout must be getting jealous of all the Mookie Betts talk and now with 15 homers and 12 steals through 50 games and is on pace for 48 HR and 38 SB. Is that good?

Gleyber Torres has largely been regarded by scouts as a great MLB prospect but the fantasy community was luke warm on him. The buzz was all over Ronald Acuna and recently Juan Soto and for good reason. All Torres has done has hit 6 homers in the past seven days while driving in 12 runs and hitting .348. In this current home run culture, it’s difficult to predict how well a player’s minor league power production will translate to the big leagues. At this point, I’m adding about 30% on to whatever the projection system tells us. Torres looks like a top 12 player at the position ROS.

Jesus Aguilar has taken advantage of the Eric Thames and Ryan Braun injuries by blasting 4 homers and driving in 9 runs in the last seven days. Aguilar is 27 years old and has always had power, but struggled in 2017 with strikeouts. He’s below a 23% K rate this year. He doesn’t have great plate discipline, but has improved on his contact rate from last year. Braun is back but I would continue to own Aguilar until further notice. His average should drop, but he’s hitting a ton of valuable fly balls and hitting the ball harder than ever.

Don’t look now but Alex Bregman is getting hot in May. Sound familiar? Well, he didn’t hit his first homer until mid-May last year. He’s hitting .400 with 2 HR and 2 SB this past week. Bregman’s batted ball profile is almost identical to 2017 except he’s hitting the ball little harder; that’s good! You know what’s even better? He’s walking at a 14.6% clip and striking out at an 11.4% clip. You read that right, his O-Swing is below 20%, which is elite, and his contact rate is nearly 88%, also elite. Little Breggy is about to go nuts the remaining four months and I’m buying everywhere (but you should have bought him on draft day).

Another prospect, Austin “Dewy” Meadows has been raking. We all have prospect fatigue with Meadows because he wasn’t great at age 22. Come on guys, prospect growth is not linear. Say it with me, JK, don’t. The kid is hitting .440 with 3 bombs and a steal since the call up. Obviously, super small sample but his exit velocity has been great and he’s making a ton of contact. He’s not a BUY yet, but I’d be holding him during this hot streak. Marte is back so wait to see how the playing time shakes out between Meadows and Polanco.

Jose Rondon has 2 homers and 2 steals in only 4 games this past week. Wait, who the hell is Jose Rondon? Is he a cross between Jose Ramirez and Hector Rondon? Does he throw 95 but also hit a billion extra-base hits? No, he’s actually a middle infielder for the White Sox. He’s hot right now, but has below average power and plate discipline, so you can move along once he cools off or starts seeing the bench.

Ronald “McDonald” Guzman is hitting .368 with 4 homers and 8 RBI in the last seven days plus he’s serving up double quarter pounders and Big Macs! Busy week. This is his second hot streak this year but I don’t expect it to last. His 23.4% HR/FB with a 31% hard contact rate will not last. He hits a ton of popups and strikeout too much, nothing to see here.

Hot Pitchers
I think people are leaving Jacob deGrom off of the list of best pitchers in the game. In his last 2 starts he’s given up 1 ER and struck of 21 batters in only 14 IP. This is his best season yet as he approaches 30, his K rate has risen the last 3 seasons while his walk rate remains stable. His velocity is great, he is inducing a career high IFFB%, and has 3 great pitches. He’s the only contender to Max Scherzer for the NL Cy Young, That’s right, no one else matters!

Ross Stripling or as I call him “The Stripler” has been strilpling batters of hits in his last two starts. He somehow has 19 Ks in his last 12.2 IP with only 1 ER and 2 W. Should you buy into this? Could you use a near 11 K/9 and a sub 2 BB/9, then yes, absolutely BUY! Most of Stripling’s numbers are legit, his soft contact is over 20% and he’s inducing a ton of popups. His fastball isn’t great but his slider and curve are very effective. The K rate may drop a little bit but his command and skills are solid.

Mmmm, what’s that smell? That’s the sweet aroma of Blake Snell who’s gone 14 IP, 2 ER 16 Ks and 2 W in his last 2 starts. I really wish I owned him everywhere and I’m surprised I don’t because I wrote a sleeper post on him coming into the year. Did you know Snell is averaging over 96 mph on his fastball and has 3 plus pitches? That fastball is up 1.5 mph from last year and his SwStr bump justifies the 9+K/9. His walk rate is down over 2%, there’s no reason Snell shouldn’t post a sub-3.50 ERA. Owners should enjoy the profit.

Tyson Ross took a few years off to help make chicken, but he’s back and looks like vintage Ross. I always thought his little brother Joe would be great, buuuut that hasn’t happened, so we will settle for big Tyson. In his last 12.2 IP, Ross has 2 W, 11 K 3 ER. He’s probably not going to boost your K rate; yes I know it’s currently over 9.5/9 but he’s got a high walk rate and his zone% is 37%. I think walks will be an issue and as the strikeouts go down, we may see some blowups. Either that or his arm falls off with a 44% slider%. I’d try and sell him as a top 35 SP.

Michael Wacha has seemed to right to ship after alternating good and bad starts. He’s strung together 4 very good starts capped off with his last two where he went 12.2 IP with 14 K, 3 ER 11 H+BB. That’s great but a 21.4% K rate and a 9% walk rate along with a 40% ground ball rate doesn’t get me excited. He’s done all that with a reduction in HR%. I think the HR rate jumps up and when that does, the walks wiil really come back to bite him. Oh, did I mention his velocity is down over 1 mph from last year? No, well I’d be selling. I think he should be rostered in 12 team and deeper leagues, but he’s not a top 40 SP.

The Dylan Bundy roller coaster ride continues. He has been good in his last two starts after being basically the worst pitcher in baseball for three straight starts. It’s all about Bundy’s fastball as to whether or not he will be sucessful. If he fastball has good command and his veloicty is over 92 mph, he can twirl gems like he did against the Chi-Sox. I understand that t was the White Sox and they are terrible, but I like what I’ve seen the last couple of starts. I’m trustung him until he crushes me again.

Freezing Hitters
Nelson Cruz is coming off an elbow injury where he missed a couple of games but he’s 2/14 in his last 5 games with no homers and 1 RBI. He’s not striking out more but he is walking less and his chase rate and swinging strike rates are both up which verifies those numbers. He’s also been hitting the ball into the ground more and popping it up a bit more. Again, he’s been dealing with injuries, so it’s certainly possible he bounces right back once he’s healthy. Then again, he’s also about to turn 38, so once he’s at that cliff, it’s a steep drop. I’m holding or trying to buy low right now though.

CJ Cron was one of my highlighted players last week as he was King Cron. Now it seems like he suffers from Cron’s disease. Ok, sorry for the off-color joke. Here’s the thing with Cron, he strikes out over 25% of the time and walks less than 6% of the time. He is hitting the ball a little harder but hits too many popups. He also isn‘t pulling the ball at a high rate so I dont believe he keeps up this home run pace. He’s probably a .260 hitter with 25 home runs.

Anthony Rendon is 6 for his last 26 with no homers, no RBI, no steals and one run. The production isn’t there but hitting in the middle of the Nationals lineup should provide plenty of opportunities. His approach is just fine, he’s walking almost as much as he’s striking out and he’s hitting the ball harder than last year. His BABIP and HR/FB should go up, I’d be buying if there’s an opportunity.

Xander Bogaerts is 2 for his last 18 after a scorching start to the season. He’s barreled nearly 15% of his batted balls which is fantastic. He’s just had a tough week, but should be just fine going forward. The only thing that concerns me a little bit, and I mean a very little bit, is his increased K rate and decreased BB rate. He’s chasing a little more out of the zone and his contact% is around 77% which is about league average. Nothing too crazy but if that continues he may be prone to a few more cold streaks than usual.

Rhys Hoskins is 3 for his last 27 with a HR and a double. This is not a week long slump, it’s been the entire month. This is not skill based, it’s more about making adjustments. He had a similar 3 week stretch to finish 2017, so I am hopeful he can get it back. He needs to get his timing back. It’s interesting because his high drive% (best type of batted balls per xStats) is double league average and his poor hit% is below league average. He’s been a bit unlucky in the power department. It’s the strikeout rate which is timing based and not skills based as I mentioned earlier.

Freezing Pitchers
Zack Godley was absolutely demolished last time out with a 16.20 ERA and a 3.90 WHIP! I mean, if the WHIP was his ERA that would be ok I guess. Anyways, his outing before than was good, but 3 of his last 4 have been bad so color me concerned. Let’s see, velocity is down, barrels against are up, and ground balls are down (but not literally, his GB% his lower than last year). His Z-Contact is 92% right now which is very, very bad. If you’re in a 10 team league, he’s a drop, but in deeper leagues, keep him on your bench and see if he can turn it around.

Sean Manaea looks completely lost and he’s really had one good start since his no-hitter. What’s going on here? Well, if you remember, at the time of the no-hitter Manaea had a 100% LOB rate with a sub .150 BABIP. You had to know that wasn’t sustainable, right? RIght? He’s currently at a much more reasonable 74% LOB rate and a .225 BABIP which still may regress. I think Manaea is a 3.75 ERA guy, which is fine, so I’d hold him right now.

Rick Porcello started the year off like he was the 2016 Cy Young, HAHAHA. Yeah what a joke, but he’s been very bad recently. Bad is probably an understatement as he’s given up 19 runs and 17 ER in his last 4 starts. Sure, the BABIPs have been high in those starts but the walks have been up as well. Early in the season, he wasn’t walking anyone. Ok, so it doesn’t sound like I’m endorsing Porcello but I am. His GB% is nearly 50%, his soft contact against is over 22%, and his contact% has dipped under 80% for the first time in his career. I’m buying Porcello.

Julio Teheran has come back down to earth unlike his HR/9! Ohhhhh BURNNN!. His 4.20 ERA should go up even more in my opinion. His K rate is bad his walk rate is high, he’s giving up more than 1.5 HR/9. There’s literally nothing to like here. His average fastball is down below 90 mph. If you rode him early on and dropped him a couple weeks ago, that’s great for you. If you still own him, I’m sorry, you need to drop him and move on.

Lucas Giolito oh my goodness! He gave up 7 ER in 1.1 IP his last time out. Would you believe me if I told you his BB rate is 4% MORE than his K rate? He’s last among qualified starters with a 7.53 ERA and he hasn’t even been unlucky. If anything, he’s been lucky, his BABIP is .266 and his HR/FB is only 8.6%! LOL He actually could get worse. It looks like the White Sox will have to take the loss on this one. At least Reynaldo Lopez is pitching well. One out of two ain’t bad.

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