Exit velocity is an underlying skill that drives results. I like analyzing underlying skills. So let’s check in on the average fly ball and line drive exit velocity (FB/LD EV) surgers. Though the metric didn’t make it into my newest version of xHR/FB rate, it still correlates with offensive output and power.
|Player||2018 HR/FB||2018 FB/LD Exit Velocity||2017 FB/LD Exit Velocity||Diff|
And to think that this EV reading doesn’t include Starling Marte’s perfect 5 for 5 day yesterday with a homer. Aside from an elevated IFFB%, all his skills have surged. It’s quickly looking like last year’s down performance was the fluke.
Jed Lowrie, power hitter? Like Marte, this mark doesn’t even include his performance yesterday when he homered. Only three teams in his career has he posted a HR/FB in the double digits, and never higher than 11.4%. At age 34 (tomorrow), it’s hard to believe he’s suddenly doing something differently. I’d figure this is just an early season hot streak.
So is Eric Thames just a fast starter or just another data point to stop paying so much attention to split half stats? I lean toward the latter.
Dixon Machado is the most interesting name so far. He’s the only one on here who has yet to homer, but is hangin’ around the big boys in EV. His fly ball rate is also way up, so perhaps he’s quietly another new participant of the fly ball revolution, but with results that have yet to materialize? He has never shown any power in the minors, so it would take a huge leap of faith to forecast any sort of offensive or power breakout now from this early EV and FB% surge.
Well hey, it’s about time Xander Bogaerts shows off the power that everyone knew he had. Too bad he’s stuck on the DL, but the early signs are that he should return to his 2016 performance level.
A depressed BABIP has somewhat hidden what has been a complete breakout for Javier Baez. A walk rate spike coupled with an improved strikeout rate, a jump in FB%, and massive power. I would still worry about all the swinging and missing, but he’s shown this kind of power once before in the minors.
It’s been an odd season so far for Francisco Lindor. On the one hand, his EV and Hard% support his power growth, and suggest his HR/FB rate should get back into the teens soon enough. On the other hand, he’s swinging and missing more than ever before, which has led to a career high strikeout rate, and the FB% spike he enjoyed last year has not been sustained. If someone is beginning to doubt the power spike from last year, buy. But remember that he’s unlikely to hit fly balls at a 40%+ clip again, so 30 homers isn’t looking good.
Strikeouts were always the concern with Yoan Moncada and he’s doing nothing so far to quell those concerns. The power (along with a massive 52% Hard%), suggests that HR/FB is heading into the teens in short order. But if he continues to swing and miss like he has, he’s going to kill you in batting average, or worse, find himself back in the minors.
After his fifth homer yesterday, DJ LeMahieu deserves an entire article. If you want confirmation of the newest fly ball revolution participant, he looks like it. His FB% has surged to a career high above 30%, the first time it has exceeded 24.9%, and he’s pulling those flies more than ever before. I’ve literally never “bought high” in my life before, but if there was a player to buy high on whose value I don’t think is that high, he’s it.
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.