2021 Review: Hitter Average Distance FB+LD Leaders

This week, let’s move on to another important variable in my hitter xHR/FB rate equation, average distance of fly balls and line drives (ADFBLD). This metric is pretty straightforward to understand, as it’s simply calculating the average distance a hitter’s fly balls and line drives traveled during the season. Obviously, if you want power, the higher the ADFBLD, the better. So let’s review the leaders in the metric and discuss any surprising names. I used a minimum of 30 FB+LD to get my list.

Average Distance FB+LD Leaders
Player HR/FB Avg Dist FB+LD
Adalberto Mondesi 17.6% 324
Mike Zunino 30.3% 322
Jordan Luplow 19.3% 315
Fernando Tatis Jr. 32.1% 314
Khris Davis 10.3% 313
Shohei Ohtani 32.9% 312
DJ Peters 18.6% 312
Sam Hilliard 29.2% 312
Joey Gallo 27.1% 310
Lewin Diaz 16.7% 310
Roberto Perez 24.1% 309
Yasmani Grandal 28.4% 309
Darin Ruf 러프 29.1% 308
Population Average 13.7% 287

How many guesses would it have taken to say Adalberto Mondesi’s name as the leader? I’m betting a lot! He also appeared on the Barrel FB% leader list last week, so his appearance here is yet another reminder of how much power he showed last year. Combined with his speed, the fantasy upside here is incredible. Unfortunately, staying healthy has been impossible and simply getting on base at a respectable clip has been illusive. That means his playing time, or favorable spot in the lineup, will always remain at risk, as the Royals don’t care about how strong a fantasy player he might be if he’s not contributing positive offensive value to the team.

It says a lot about Mike Zunino’s contact skills when he hit a career high 33 homers with a career best 30.3% HR/FB rate, and yet still hit just .216. We know he has power, he always has, he just showed a bit more of it this year than he has before.

Jordan Luplow coming in third is a shocker! Obviously, this was over a small sample size, and clearly the Indians and Rays weren’t impressed with his power enough to keep him. While he has been significantly better against lefties over his career, that wasn’t the case in 2021, as he was actually better against same-handed pitchers this time. Again, small sample size, but it was needed as he tries to shake off his reputation as just a platoon bat. With strong plate patience and an extreme fly ball tendency, he would be interesting with regular at-bats.

Hmmm, I thought Khris Davis’ power was gone! I’m very surprised to find his name as one of the ADFBLD, given that he posted just a 10.3% HR/FB rate and .157 ISO. His xHR/FB rate suggests he deserved better results, though “better” was still well below his peak years.

Too bad DJ Peters signed with a team in the KBO, as he was another high strikeout, big power guy whose minor league record suggested better than what he did during his 2021 debut.

C’mon Rockies, just give Sam Hilliard 600 plate appearances already!

Lewin Diaz is an important name on this list. The rookie rarely walked and posted a weak BABIP, en route to a measly .288 wOBA. But he hit a ton of fly balls and posted an elite ADFBLD, suggesting serious future home run potential. There are things to work on here for sure, but also lots to like that make him an excellent speculation for cheap this season.

Have you noticed what Darin Ruf has done since returning to the States from the KBO in 2020?! Over 412 PAs, he has posted a .383 wOBA, .246 ISO, and 27.6% HR/FB rate. While he has been better against lefties, he has been plenty good against righties as well. He hasn’t been terrible defensively, but it’s clearly not his strong suit. Some team needs to give him regular at-bats, preferably at DH, and let him hit. If the DH comes to the NL for good this year, he’ll be a sneaky good late pick, especially in OBP 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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