Batted Ball Distance Decliners: April

Yesterday, I discussed the April batted ball distance surgers. So naturally, today I’ll check in on the decliners. Because regression to the mean is such a powerful force, a distance decline sticks more often than a surge does. In other words, I would be more concerned about a decliner than excited about a surger.

Name 2014 Distance 2013 Distance Diff
Eric Hosmer 257.06 296.97 -39.91
Bryce Harper 264.65 299.23 -34.58
David Wright 262.47 291.35 -28.88
Chris Johnson 260.72 288.64 -27.92
Jonathan Lucroy 258.58 286.06 -27.48
Hanley Ramirez 282.74 309.03 -26.29
Carlos Beltran 258.57 282.89 -24.32
Josh Reddick 255.04 278.08 -23.04
Wil Myers 269.98 293.01 -23.03
Brandon Moss 272.99 295.67 -22.68
Evan Longoria 268.98 291.17 -22.19
Ryan Raburn 264.38 286.07 -21.69
Raul Ibanez 275.99 297.62 -21.63
Derek Dietrich 267.32 288.82 -21.5
Nate Schierholtz 263.17 284.61 -21.44
Yonder Alonso 245.93 266.96 -21.03
Dan Uggla 275.75 296.58 -20.83

Wow. It has not been a good year for Eric Hosmer. On quick glance, it doesn’t look so terrible since he does own a fine .286 batting average. But with zeroes in both the homers and steals columns, he ain’t givin’ fantasy owners much to smile about. He’s still just 24, so it’s odd to find him atop the distance decliner leaderboard. Even worse, he ranks 210th out of 219 batters in distance! Since his fantasy value was propped up by the handful of steals he has provided at a position that speed is so difficult to attain, it may be even more concerning that he has attempted just one all year. As usual, it depends on your potential cost to acquire him, but I don’t think he makes for a good buy low candidate.

David Wright is already 31, which makes me feel old, but his power has been so consistent, it’s strange to see it having fallen off a cliff during this first month. He’s also walking significantly less and swinging and missing more. The batted ball distribution looks great, which has fueled his typical high BABIP. I don’t know, I think he’s a better target than Hosmer. Probably.

Don’t look now, but Chris Johnson is actually hitting even more line drives than last year. He may be unlucky at the moment with just a .325 BABIP. But, without any semblance of power, he’s pretty worthless.

Maybe last year really was just a career half season for Hanley Ramirez and not a return to the ultra elite. Still, 20 homers and 15 to 20 steals at the shortstop position means he remains a top option.

Carlos Beltran’s distance has plummeted (and he ranks right above Hosmer at 206th overall), yet his HR/FB rate and ISO haven’t budged. Something’s gotta give, but at age 37, you have to wonder if it’s the power results that are going to follow the distance, rather than the other way around.

Wil Myers has picked it up lately, though his latest homer was of the inside the park variety. His strikeout rate hasn’t been as bad as I feared, he’s willing to take a walk, and has a touch of speed. I think he’ll be a star in time, but fantasy owners need to reign in expectations and not project stardom so quickly.

Raul Ibanez has maintained a strong HR/FB rate, but his overall ISO has dropped precipitously. Furthermore, he’s swinging and missing at a career high rate, which has led to an increased strikeout rate. This is what the end looks like, my friends. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets DFA’d over the next couple of weeks, especially if recent call-ups C.J. Cron and Grant Green perform admirably.

I guess last year was Nate Schierholtz’s career year. I didn’t expect a repeat, but I did think he would be able to hold onto most of his gains.

I still fail to understand Yonder Alonso. He’s a big guy. He looks like a power hitter in the batter’s box. But he owns a pathetic .111 career ISO and his distance ranks second to last this year.

I chose to include Dan Uggla as the last hitter here given the recent speculation that prospect Tommy La Stella would soon be taking over second base duties in Atlanta. While last year Uggla’s strikeout rate jumped and his batting average dropped below the Mendoza line, he still walked at a strong clip and continued to show good power. Now, he’s not even showing his typical power and suddenly forgot how to take a walk. His .240 wOBA is eighth lowest in baseball among everyday players. I can no longer defend him, it’s time to stick a fork in him.

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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Johnny Rockets
8 years ago

When looking at the data at baseballheatmaps, how do you interpret the angle? For example, Stanton and Abreu hover around 0, while Votto is at -16 and McCutchen at 17.

8 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Rockets

That tells you how much of a pull hitter they are. 0 means they hit their fly balls to midfield. Votto and McCutchen have more pull power.

I think the main thing is it tells you how their power plays in different parks that favor left or right-handed hitters.

Johnny Rockets
8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Ah, that makes sense then. Appreciate it.