Yesterday, I shared with you the leaders and laggards of one of the components of my xHR/FB ratio, average absolute angle. Today, I check in on the leaders and laggards of the other non-distance variable of my equation, the standard deviation of distance (SDD). The SDD is much more stable year to year than the average absolute angle, coming in a bit below batted ball distance with a 0.50 correlation.
What the SDD does is remind us that the same average distance isn’t necessarily created equally. A batter with a 300 foot distance might look great when trying to project his HR/FB rate, but if that average distance was the result of 150 fly balls that traveled exactly 300 feet each, a whopping zero of them are going to leave the yard and his SDD is going to be 0. If, instead, this batters alternates between 400 foot shots and 200 footers, then he’s going to hit a lot of homers. But both would average the same 300 feet. So the SDD provides some important information.
The average SDD for the group is about 56.5.
Without further ado, here are your leaders:
|Scott Van Slyke||70.89|
We see a lot of top power hitters here, which makes sense. Guys with limited power won’t ever reach a max distance high enough to result in a large range of distance outcomes.
Jay Bruce has nearly always been above 60, but this season was a career high. Unfortunately, his batted ball distance dipped below 290 feet for just the second time and marked a career low. There’s probably good profit potential here just because he’ll come cheaper than ever and he remains young enough to assume a nearly full rebound.
Todd Frazier scored a hat trick, setting new career highs in distance, angle and SDD! But his stolen base output will be the real key to how close he comes to a repeat of his fantasy value.
Man, if only Christian Yelich didn’t hate worms and hit grounders 60% of the time, he could be an elite fantasy outfielder. He’s got real HR/FB rate upside, but that pathetic fly ball rate is going to cap his homer output.
Devin Mesoraco’s distance climbed by 20 feet and his SDD jumped by nearly 10. Yeah, that equals a power breakout. He seemingly sold out for power as he made significantly less contact, so we’ll see if he continues down that path again.
And now for the laggards:
|Tommy La Stella||46.56|
Aaaand, here’s your list of the powerless. It’s a bunch of hitters with tiny HR/FB rates, for the most part.
This doesn’t bode well for Mookie Betts‘ near-term homer potential. His distance was near league average though, but his angle was below. It’s not real important though, as he’ll basically pull a Shane Victorino, contributing in average and stolen bases.
Nick Castellanos posted a slightly above average distance and solid angle, but the SDD killed his HR/FB rate potential. While I expect better power this year, a big breakout is probably not in the cards.
This was the first time Ben Zobrist’s SDD fell below 50 and his xHR/FB has tumbled since his 2009 breakout. Too bad he moves from one pitcher’s park to another, so he’s going to be a boring 10/10 potential guy yet again.
I was always under the impression that Adam Eaton had 10 homer upside. With his minor league stolen base output, I was thinking he could be a fantasy star, consistently posting 10/30 seasons. But his distance ranked just 271st out of 298 batters and his SDD is far too low. Even playing half his game in a top hitter’s park for homers wasn’t enough to yield more than one measly homer.
It still boggles my mind how Joe Mauer hit 28 homers in 2009. How did that happen?!?! His distance reached a career high of 300 feet, the only time it creeped above 90 feet. And his SDD was at 61, a full six points higher than his second best mark!
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.