Early 2018 Fly Ball & Line Drive Exit Velocity Decliners

Yesterday, I discussed the early fly ball & line drive exit velocity surgers. Today, let’s dive into the decliners. Explanations for such a dramatic drop in exit velocity ranges from a small sample cold streak, playing through injury, or good old deterioration of power skills. If only we knew which of those explanations applied to each player!

FB/LD Exit Velocity Decliners
Player 2018 HR/FB 2018 FB/LD Exit Velocity (MPH) 2017 FB/LD Exit Velocity (MPH) Diff
Lucas Duda 20.0% 85.5 95.1 -9.6
Hunter Pence 0.0% 86.8 94.0 -7.2
Evan Gattis 0.0% 85.2 92.4 -7.2
Gerardo Parra 9.1% 85.2 91.0 -5.8
Aaron Judge 23.1% 95.1 100.3 -5.2
Adeiny Hechavarria 0.0% 86.6 91.4 -4.8
Jonathan Schoop 6.7% 87.9 92.7 -4.8
Eric Sogard 0.0% 84.3 88.7 -4.4
Nomar Mazara 8.3% 90.7 94.9 -4.2
Nick Ahmed 15.4% 87.6 91.7 -4.1

You would never know Lucas Duda’s EV had plummeted, as his HR/FB rate sits at 20% and even his BABIP is at a career high .346. But daaaaamn, that’s a really pathetic EV for a power hitter. It’s not like you could sell high, but in a bad lineup and home park, he’s borderline shallow mixed league material.

Man, Hunter Pence used to be as consistent as it gets. Now his underlying skills are scary, and it’s not just the drastic drop in EV. He’s also whiffing more than ever before and his strikeout rate has skyrocketed above 30%. Since the decline began last year, it’s possible this is just a continuation and he’s done being an offensive asset, regardless of format.

Evan Gattis was a sneaky draft day option given that he was still catcher eligible, but figured to earn the lion’s share of the DH plate appearances in Houston. No one expected him to suddenly lose the ability to hit! Perhaps the oddest pair of statistics is in Gattis’ profile — his SwStk% is just 4.9%, but his strikeout rate is 32.7%! How is that even possible? Part of that answer is that he’s stopped swinging at all pitches, whether inside or outside the strike zone, and he’s also seen a career high rate of pitches in the zone. Sounds like he’s letting strike three pass by quite frequently this year. Weird.

I guess it was inevitable that Aaron Judge would appear on an EV decliner list as his mark last year was absurdly good. Odds were strong he’d suffer at least some regression. This number excludes last night, when he homered, so perhaps it’s higher now.

With no speed, fantasy owners are counting on Jonathan Schoop to provide the homers. That’s not going to happen unless he start hitting the ball harder! Also worth noting is his BB/K ratio is a gruesome 1/19. Someone needs to learn some plate discipline.

This is the second season in a row I thought Nomar Mazara has been overvalued as fantasy owners keep assuming a big breakout is coming. Any young player could break out, but nothing in Mazara’s profile suggests that breakout is imminent. It’s pretty impressive that he’s managed just two RBI, despite hitting in the middle of the Rangers order all season.

With Elvis Andrus going down on my LABR Mixed team, I was forced to choose a replacement among a collection of scraps. One of those scraps was Nick Ahmed. Before seeing his EV decline, I was becoming a believer of the new level of skill that includes power. Now, I’m a little less optimistic. Of course, he’s also hitting a career high rate of fly balls, so he does seem like a new man.

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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4 years ago

As I Gattis owner I was looking at his start and saw the huge K rate and immediately scrolled for SwST% and was shocked. Swing the bat dude!

Schoop is concerning but plate discipline has always been an issue but the key for him has been making lots of contact

4 years ago
Reply to  dukebd555

Gattis has always struggled with the bat from the DH position. The splits are real enough and have a large enough sample that unless the Astros announce that they plan to use him as C, I’d be selling.