Hitter Average FB/LD Exit Velocity Decliners — 8/4/20

Yesterday, I listed and discussed a selection of hitters who have gained the most flyball/line drive exit velocity this year versus last. Today, I’ll list and discuss the hitters on the flip side — those that have lost the most EV. What follows is a list of hitters who have lost at least six miles per hour of FB/LD EV. Small sample caveats apply.

FB/LD EV Decliners
Player 2019 FB/LD EV 2020 FB/LD EV Diff
Alex Verdugo 93.1 84.2 -8.9
Jackie Bradley Jr. 95.1 86.6 -8.5
Rougned Odor 96.2 88.5 -7.7
Victor Caratini 92.5 85.2 -7.3
Josh Bell 96.1 89.2 -6.9
Adam Engel 90.4 83.9 -6.5
David Peralta 94.5 88.0 -6.5
Joey Votto 91.4 85.0 -6.4
Edwin Encarnacion 94.6 88.4 -6.2
Jarrod Dyson 88.4 82.4 -6.0

Alex Verdugo had the luxury of extra time to recover from a stress fracture in his back suffered a year ago, but so far, he hasn’t benefited from it at all. Aside from the significant loss of exit velocity, his strikeout rate has nearly doubled, while his GB% has skyrocketed to an insane 84.2%. The sample size is tiny, but these underlying metrics don’t match up with a hitter who is healthy. I think there’s a good chance he’s still not quite right.

What is up with Red Sox outfielders? Verdugo teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. sits second on this list, and once again, not only has he lost exit velocity, but he’s also hitting nearly everything on the ground! He always seems to be on the verge of losing his job and then gets hot. Last year was the first time he posted a negative UZR, so now he might not have his defense keeping him in the lineup. If that defense doesn’t rebound, he cannot afford any more offensive slumps.

Gosh Rougned Odor is frustrating. So many intriguing skills, and yet so many flaws at the plate. A plummeting exit velocity won’t help rebound from last year’s .302 wOBA.

The National League DH has given Victor Caratini an expanded opportunity, and being catcher eligible, it could make him a valuable fantasy commodity. But he hasn’t done anything with that opportunity yet and it makes you wonder if last year’s power outburst was the fluke. Of course, we’ll need much more than seven flies + liners to make that determination.

Josh Bell was one of last year’s surprise breakouts. So far this season, his skills have been a disaster. Not only has he lost EV, but he has walked just once (2.9% rate) versus 11 strikeouts (32.4% rate) and he’s whiffing like crazy (20.2% SwStk%). It’ll take a while longer to learn whether last season’s power spike was a total fluke, but the early returns aren’t promising.

I don’t understand how Adam Engel keeps getting playing time with his .266 career wOBA, but his early EV suggests weak offensive output is right around the corner again.

It was an injury-shortened season, but David Peralta couldn’t repeat his power breakout from 2018 last year. He’ll continue to have a difficult time doing so if he can’t get his EV back above 90 MPH. Note that he hasn’t posted a FB% above 30% since his 2014 debut, so he’s already limiting his home run potential with his lack of fly balls.

There were some exciting underlying skills in Joey Votto’s stat line, despite the drop in EV, before hitting the IL. Now it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll return and how whatever ailment he’s enduring affects him. EDIT: He’s back already!

Yikes, Edwin Encarnacion’s skills right now look like a man whose career is about to end. He has walked just once (3.2% rate), versus 12 strikeouts (38.7% rate), has posted a career high 15.1% SwStk% (has never posted a mark higher than 10.8% previously), and is suffering from a loss of EV. It was likely to happen at some point and at age 37, that point may very well be this season. I would be hesitant to include him on a buy low list.

LOL at Jarrod Dyson, who, by the way, hasn’t even stolen a base yet.





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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Jackie T.
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Jackie T.

This list, and the concept, seems a lot less useful. Anybody, even elite hitters, can have a stretch where they aren’t making solid contact. Elite EV can only come from elite underlying skill/tools.

Anon
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Anon

Agree. Still way too early to draw any real conclusions. I would also add that it is early enough that we haven’t had an even distribution of strength of opposing pitcher. Five different Braves have had to face deGrom 5 times and 2 other guys 4 times which is more than 10% of their PA totals.

Jim
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Jim

Hey, guys, you are essentially correct. But, don’t forget, Mike and the guys need something to write about.