2018 Potential HR/FB Decliners

Yesterday, I listed and discussed the hitters whose xHR/FB rates most exceeded their actual HR/FB rates, suggesting the potential for dramatic upside in the near term. Today, let’s check in on those hitters on the opposite side of the ledger — those whose actual HR/FB rates most exceed their xHR/FB marks. This is the group at major risk of regression.

HR/FB Rate Decliners
Player Brls/True FB FB Pull% FB Oppo% Avg FB Distance HR/FB xHR/FB HR/FB – xHR/FB
Ian Desmond 33.3% 0.0% 58.3% 363 33.3% 20.0% 13.3%
Bryce Harper 39.1% 25.0% 41.7% 342 33.3% 24.2% 9.1%
Kyle Schwarber 56.3% 31.6% 31.6% 329 36.8% 28.0% 8.8%
Josh Reddick 22.7% 39.3% 35.7% 309 21.4% 14.6% 6.8%
Matt Davidson 75.0% 41.2% 29.4% 377 52.9% 46.3% 6.7%
Didi Gregorius 24.3% 34.1% 24.4% 324 24.4% 17.9% 6.5%
Jose Peraza 3.7% 17.9% 39.3% 262 7.1% 0.7% 6.5%
Mike Trout 35.1% 17.5% 37.5% 321 25.0% 18.7% 6.3%
Howie Kendrick 27.8% 10.5% 36.8% 329 21.1% 15.0% 6.0%
Justin Bour 31.3% 21.1% 52.6% 301 21.1% 15.1% 6.0%
Population Average 26.2% 22.9% 40.8% 320 12.8% 15.4% -2.6%

Man, is Ian Desmond’s statistical profile crazy or what?! That’s a big fat zero for his FB Pull%. And a look at his batted ball profile reveals that he’s hit few fly balls at just a 17.1% rate. This would mark the sixth straight season of FB% decline. Insane! It’s nice that the few fly balls he has hit have been crushed though. Still, he can’t maintain a 30%+ HR/FB rate, and since he rarely hits flies to begin with, he might struggle to reach 20 homers.

Bryce Harper has been doing everything right so far, but he hasn’t been this good. Expect some regression here, but you’re really just praying he remains healthy all season.

Is this the major breakout we’ve been waiting for from Kyle Schwarber? He has cut his SwStk% and resulting strikeout rate to his lowest career marks. And he’s still hitting for massive power. Who knows if that’s sustainable, but he’s looking quite good. And note that his xHR/FB ranks eighth, so even though we know he won’t sustain his current mark, he has been one of the best.

Josh Reddicks owns a below average Brls/True FB and Avg FB Distance, and yet has managed a HR/FB rate above 20%. His xHR/FB only gets into the mid-teens thanks to a big FB Pull%. While that might be sustainable, his HR/FB rate is sure to tumble back into the teens.

Okay, seriously…MATT DAVIDSON?!?!?! We knew he had power, but he has been ridiculous so far. Check out that combination of Brls/True FB and Avg FB Distance!! I guess his minor league track record did suggest his plate discipline would improve, but no one saw a breakout of this magnitude coming. You won’t get a top five rounder for him if you tried selling high, so I’d just hold and enjoy.

Didi Gregorius is in the midst of a clear breakout, as his walk rate has more than tripled, and his strikeout rate has improved for a fourth straight season. xHR/FB rate isn’t totally buying the power outburst, but even a 17.9% HR/FB rate would easily eclipse his previous high set last season.

LOL on Jose Peraza. You’d think it would be hard to get lucky with just a 7.1% HR/FB rate, but xHR/FB surely thinks he has. That Avg FB Distance is second worst in baseball. It’s hard to believe he finishes the season with a full-time job.

Mike Trout’s Avg FB Distance is at a career low going back to 2015 when we have the Statcast data. He has failed to make up for it with increases in Brls/True FB or FB Pull%. It’s fine, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about of course. But he might lose some ticks off that HR/FB rate.

It still amazes me that Howie Kendrick couldn’t find an every day job.

It would appear that Justin Bour is picking up right where he left off last year in the HR/FB rate department. But his Brls/True FB is down below both his 2017 and 2016 marks, while his Avg FB Distance has plummeted. Surrounded by a weak supporting cast that will limit his RBI and runs scored opportunities, I’m not interested in shallow mixed leagues.

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.

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4 years ago

Ian Desmond is such a dumpster fire. 73% GB-rate and career-high soft contact. Worst impulse buy ever. “It’ll be nice to get those steals from the 1B slot” I told myself…

4 years ago
Reply to  Rotoholic

steals from 1B and surely at Coors he can hit 25 HRs…every freaking year…he’ll retire someday and then I won’t be able to draft him

4 years ago
Reply to  jcutiger

Somebody downvoted this? I thought it was funny

4 years ago
Reply to  Rotoholic

It’s time for the Rockies to see what they have in McMahon. I understand he hasn’t been good so far but give him two weeks where the job is his and see what he does – he certainly can’t be worse than Desmond at this point.

Ruki Motomiya
4 years ago
Reply to  Rotoholic

Wil Myers my man