Yesterday, I used my xHR/FB rate equation to identify and discuss eight hitters whose marks suggest an imminent surge in their actual HR/FB rates. Today, let’s check in on seven fantasy relevant hitters on the other side of the coin — those whose xHR/FB rates are well below their actual marks, suggesting near-term downside.
|Player||Brls/TFB||FB Pull%||FB Oppo%||Avg FB Dist||HR/FB||xHR/FB||HR/FB – xHR/FB|
Although he appears at the top of this list, Ian Desmond is proving that last year’s power decline was a fluke. Obviously, he’s not going to maintain a near 40% HR/FB rate, but that xHR/FB is easily his highest going back to 2015. He’s never been a pulled fly ball guy, but he’s taken his avoidance to a new level.
I hope you’re not counting on Gorkys Hernandez to continue delivering fantasy value, regardless of league format. His xHR/FB rate is essentially league average and has transformed into a low walk, high strikeout guy. While that could work for a hitter with big power, it won’t for Gorkys whose power is in for a plunge. Oh, and let’s not even get into that .378 BABIP. Making things tougher is the competition for playing time, as the Giants are currently running with two outfielders on the bench that have started in the past and could and will steal playing time.
Ronald Guzman has surprisingly remained up with the Rangers as Joey Gallo continues to man left field. But with just a .315 wOBA, and a HR/FB rate that looks to tumble, he might not be up for much longer. Since he won’t contribute in batting average with all those strikeouts, he’s going to become useless real soon. Those aren’t typos — he’s really sporting well below average Brls/True FB and Avg FB Distance marks.
So far, this clearly looks like Nomar Mazara’s breakout season. And while xHR/FB rate suggests things shouldn’t be going that swimmingly, the mark still represents an easy career best, and the first time above 15%. He has doubled his Brls/True FB rate and his Avg FB Dist has spiked. If his pulled fly ball rate was at his career average, perhaps his current HR/FB rate would be justified. It does give him the upside of actually justifying it if he starts getting back to his previous pull ways. I don’t think I’d look to sell.
With two Rockies on this list, you might be tempted to chalk up the overperformance to Coors Field. But remember, the thin air increases their Avg FB Distance and then their xHR/FB rates get another boost from the park’s home run factor. If anything, we’re essentially double counting the effects, seemingly overprojecting them. But Nolan Arenado has nearly matched his xHR/FB rates the last two seasons, but this year that has tumbled. His Brls/True FB and Avg FB Dist have remained steady, but his pulled fly ball rate has plummeted. I’d be concerned that the Coors effect wouldn’t be enough to keep his HR/FB rate in the mid-to-high teens.
Brandon Crawford is reminding us of his 2015 power breakout that he hasn’t able to replicate. But his xHR/FB is actually at its lowest mark since I’ve kept track. That’s thanks to a marginal decline in Brls/True FB, but a significant drop in his Avg FB Distance. He also rarely pulls his flies, but that’s probably a good thing in his park. Since his .401 BABIP is due to collapse (though a 28% line drive rate is currently supporting that), he may be worthless in 12-team mixed leagues the rest of the way.
Those who took a chance on Jonathan Villar after he lost his job last year must be pretty satisfied right now. He’s back to his high-BABIPing ways, while offering an exciting combination of speed and power. While the mid 20% HR/FB rate doesn’t appear real, his xHR/FB rate is right where he’s been the last two seasons. His only problem is how infrequently he actually hits fly balls. And that’s part of the reason he owns a .346 career BABIP. I’d hold if I were an owner and cross my fingers he continues to get his at-bats on a regular basis.
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.