A week ago, I reviewed the average fly ball distance laggards and discussed the surprising names. Today, let’s look at the decliners, those hitters who lost the most average fly ball distance (AFBD) versus 2019. There will likely be some overlap with the laggards list, so I won’t discuss the same names again. Once again, I’ll require a minimum of 10 Statcast fly balls to qualify for the list.
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A week ago, I reviewed the average fly ball distance leaders and discussed the surprising names. Today, let’s look at the surgers, those hitters who increased their average fly ball distance (AFBD) the most versus 2019. There will likely be some overlap with the leaders list, so I won’t discuss the same names again. Once again, I’ll require a minimum of 10 Statcast fly balls to qualify for the list.
Last week, I listed and discussed the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) surgers versus 2019. I apparently totally forgot to review the decliners, instead moving on to average fly ball distance leaders and laggards. So let’s get back to Brls/TFB analysis and check out the biggest decliners.
On Monday, I listed and discussed the surprises among the 2020 average fly ball distance leaders. Today, let’s do the same for the laggards.
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.
With fewer games for extreme performances to regress back toward player and league averages, it stands to reason that surger and decliner lists are going to be pretty lengthy and more surprising than normal. In addition, the degree in which the metric being analyzed surged or declined is likely to be much greater than in past, full seasons. So let’s remember that when reviewing 2020 numbers and put much less stock into the fact that a player doubled or tripled some rate from 2019, and instead simply consider that the player may have enjoyed skills growth that could potentially carry over into 2021. Today, let’s review the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) surgers. Many of these same names appeared on the leaders list posted on Tuesday, so I’ll try discussing only those not on that list.
Yesterday, I listed and discussed surprises among the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) leaders. Today, let’s flip to the laggards and discuss surprising names at the bottom. We’re going to have to include a much longer list of names to find surprises, compared to the leader list.
In just a 60 game season, all the numbers and rates I typically analyze and include as components in my various equations will look wackier than normal. The small the sample size, the greater the chance a rate settles in at the extreme end of expectations. This is why we’ll have to heavily regress this year’s numbers when developing 2021 projections. That said, it’s still worth reviewing 2020 rates, as skill changes obviously still did occur. So we’ll start with one of my favorite metrics, barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB). This is my own metric that is used as a component in my xHR/FB rate equation. It simply takes Statcast’s barrel and divides by Fangraphs’ fly balls minus infield fly balls.
Back in late August, about a month into the season, I proclaimed that the big Kevin Gausman breakout has arrived. At the time, he had thrown 31 innings and was sitting with an unattractive 4.65 ERA. How could a pitcher’s breakout have arrived if his ERA was actually worse than the 4.48 MLB average?! It’s easy really, it’s all about the peripherals, or underlying skills as I call them. ERA, especially over a small sample like 31 innings, is pretty meaningless and doesn’t tell you a whole lot about how a pitcher has actually pitched. So we dive deeper, look at those underlying skills, which ultimately drive SIERA, a much better indicator of a pitcher’s performance, again, especially over a small sample. We now know that since I posted my breakout article, Gausman posted a sterling 2.51 ERA the rest of the way over 28.2 inning. So yeah, the breakout arrived. Let’s see if anything actually changed though, or if it was merely the luck metrics (BABIP, HR/FB, LOB%) that reverted back toward the league average.
Yesterday, I reviewed the hitters that enjoyed a fly ball rate surge early on in the season to see how they performed the rest of the way. Today, let’s review the decliners. Did they rebound back to their 2019 level or was the early season slump an indication of a season-long decreased FB%?