Yesterday, I listed and discussed the hitters who had increased their average fly ball distance (AFBD) by at least 20 feet from 2018 to 2019. Today, I’ll take on the decliners, but expand the group to those that lost at least 15 feet (it’s no surprise given the leaguewide HR/FB rate surge that there are more surgers than decliners). Like I did with the surger list, I’ll only discuss those who did not appear on the barrels per true fly ball decliner list, as there’s overlap. Actually, now that I see the list of overlaps, there’s very little, with the only notable name being Luke Voit on both lists.
Kendrys Morales lost his power and played himself out of a job. At age 36, the end has most likely come.
Don’t focus as much on J.P. Crawford’s distance loss as his 2018 average was over a small sample. Instead, note that his 2019 AFBD is well below average. Crawford was once a top prospect, but he’s a reminder that prospect rankings don’t always equate to future fantasy potential. Without any standout skill, he’s probably a better real life player than fantasy. But perhaps you could hope for low teens homers and high single digit steals at best.
Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar are back-to-back as major Brewers disappointments we expected big-time power from. Instead, Shaw found himself in the minors, while Aguilar was shipped away and lost an every day job. Shaw has landed in a good spot in Toronto, another hitter friendly venue, so he could turn out to be quite a profitable cheap gamble. Aguilar was claimed off waivers (wow) by the Marlins and could act as their starting first baseman. It’s a situation that makes it much tougher for him to rebound.
Despite the AFBD decline and the elevated strikeout rate, I still like Jake Bauers‘ overall skill set and am not ready to give up on him yet. The Indians have a slew of outfielders with seemingly only center field spoken for though, so his playing time outlook is quite murky. We’ll learn more during spring training, but I’m willing to gamble cheap here, especially in OBP leagues, if he figures to grab the lion’s share of at-bats in some corner spot.
Gee, A.J. Pollock once again failed to play a full healthy season. While his AFBD fell, his HR/FB rate actually held onto its gains enjoyed in 2018. In fact, it was just barely a new career high. Don’t believe it though, as his xHR/FB rate was right in line with his 2017 and 2015 rates, suggesting major overperformance. That said, drafting him is hoping for health, with the expectation that he’ll be solid enough for as long as he’s on the field.
Stephen Piscotty pushed his ISO above .200 for the first time in 2018, while setting a career high in HR/FB rate. Sadly, he couldn’t replicate the sorta-breakout, but he missed lots of time with leg injuries, which may have affected his power.
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.