2020 Review: Surprising Average Fly Ball Distance Leaders by Mike Podhorzer November 2, 2020 For obvious reasons, Statcast’s average fly ball distance correlates highly with HR/FB rate (0.64 in my calculations from 2015-2020). So let’s peruse this shortened season’s leaderboard and discuss any of the surprising names. Below are the top 20 names that hit at least 10 fly balls according to Statcast. Avg FB Dist Leaders Player HR/FB Avg Dist FB Bobby Dalbec 44.4% 370 Ryan McMahon 24.3% 356 Ronald Acuna Jr. 32.6% 352 Nelson Cruz 41.0% 352 Juan Soto 36.1% 351 Austin Hedges 15.0% 349 Kevin Kiermaier 15.8% 347 Chris Taylor 22.9% 345 Edwin Rios 28.6% 345 Teoscar Hernandez 32.7% 342 Marcell Ozuna 26.5% 342 Eric Hosmer 22.5% 341 Jose Abreu 32.8% 340 Matt Olson 24.1% 340 Ryan O’Hearn 8.0% 338 Miguel Sano 34.2% 338 Kole Calhoun 28.6% 337 Eloy Jimenez 31.1% 337 Jake Lamb 12.5% 337 What a debut for Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec. He displayed mammoth power, along with a crazy .394 BABIP (especially crazy given his batted ball profile)…and struck out 42.4% of the time. He just made the cutoff for the list with 10 fly balls, so obviously the sample size here is tiny. He’s always shown power in the minors, but didn’t struggle this much making contact, as his SwStk% was a skyhigh 21.2%. Expect his BABIP to fall back to Earth, which means he’ll join a long list of excellent power, low batting average options for next season. Perhaps given his 20%+ HR/FB rates, Ryan McMahon’s appearance here isn’t all that surprising. I guess it surprised me, as I didn’t even realize he posted a 24.3% HR/FB rate this year. He was even on my shallow 12-team mixed league team for like a week or two and did nothing, so perhaps that’s why I thought he stunk all year. A career .317 wOBA shouldn’t cut it at the corner positions, which is where he belongs, but he keeps getting sent out to show off his poor defense at second base. He’ll continue to be at risk of losing playing time, even if the DH remains. Man, look at Kevin Kiermaier showing off his power! It only led to a marginally higher HR/FB rate versus 2019 and was still below his career best in 2017. As usual, he couldn’t stay healthy all season as he missed a game here and there for a litany of reasons. Encouraging was his walk rate spike which more than doubled from his 2019 mark. If that’s maintained, it’ll be a big boost to his offensive contributions for the Rays and should result in more runs scored. Oh Chris Taylor, your offensive progression has been a sight to behold. As if the Dodgers weren’t already good enough, sure, let’s promote Edwin Rios to hit more bombs. Rios somehow managed to swing and miss a lot but still keep his strikeout rate below the league average, which isn’t going to happen again. But he’s got serious power. Just be aware that if lands a starting job, he struck out over 30% of the time during his last two Triple-A stints and his SwStk% suggests his contact ability hasn’t actually improved any. He’s still a deep league speculation that he gets playing time. Given his mere two homers and .106 ISO, Ryan O’Hearn truly qualifies as a surprise on this list. It would seem to make him a deep, deep sleeper for next year, but you have to ask yourself whether the Royals are going to even bother giving him any more chances. His skill set does have several positives, so all hope definitely isn’t lost. His strikeout rate has risen, but his SwStk% is actually barely worse than the league average. He walks too. If he somehow enters next season as the starting first baseman, I’m not opposed to throwing a buck at him in a deep (probably only AL-Only) league. Welp, the Athletics had to be thrilled with what Jake Lamb gave them in his 49 plate appearances. Lamb was once good, back in 2016 and 2017, but hasn’t sniffed a .300 wOBA since. Injuries are likely the culprit here, but at least he reminded us of what a healthy Lamb could still do. It’ll be interesting if his good Athletics play gives him an opportunity for a larger role heading into next season. Or, the tiny sample size won’t make much of a difference. We’ll have to see. But if he’s handed a role, he could very well be worth a speculative buy, as he will certainly come cheap.