Hitter Last 30 Day Barrel% Gainers & Decliners — Jun 18, 2024

Yesterday, I reviewed the starting pitchers whose SwStk% has changed most over the last 30 days compared to earlier in the season. Now let’s flip over to the hitters. Today, we’ll review Barrel% changes over the last 30 days, which should explain a power surge or decline over that time period.

Barrel% Gainers
Name HR/FB – Through May 17 HR/FB – Last 30 Days Barrel% – Through May 17 Barrel% – Last 30 Days Barrel% Diff
Oneil Cruz 21.9% 9.5% 14.8% 27.1% 12.3%
Corey Seager 9.3% 36.0% 12.7% 23.6% 10.9%
Francisco Lindor 10.6% 15.6% 8.9% 19.3% 10.4%
Anthony Santander 10.3% 22.7% 6.5% 16.7% 10.2%
Ian Happ 6.3% 16.1% 7.8% 18.0% 10.2%

After missing most of last season to injury, Oneil Cruz was a popular fantasy breakout pick in drafts and auctions this year. But it’s been a bizarre last 30 days for him as his Barrel% has skyrocketed from what was already an elite level, but his HR/FB rate has actually slipped into single digits. I didn’t know that was even possible! It’s left him with a season Barrel% of 18.6%, which ranks sixth in baseball, but a HR/FB rate that’s just a bit lower at 17%.

He’s also posted an incredible Stanton-esque 121.5 MPH maxEV, which actually leads baseball, ahead of Giancarlo Stanton himself who typically leads the league with a mark of 120+. You can therefore argue that Cruz might actually possess the most power in baseball, or at worst, a top three level. Unfortunately, he strikes out a lot, as power hitters tend to, and he could afford to hit more fly balls to take advantage of that power.

While I don’t understand how he’s managed that Barrel% and HR/FB rate combination over the last 30 days, it’s pretty clear that his power hasn’t gone anywhere. Owners should remain patient as a home run onslaught is likely imminent.

Well gosh, look at Corey Seager’s rate increases in the last 30 days! Now that checks out. Seager’s early season Barrel% was still pretty good in the low double digits, but his single digit HR/FB rate was uncharacteristic. This hot streak has now pushed his metrics right in line with expectations.

The only thing missing right now is his BABIP, which sits at the second lowest of his career and only second time it’s been below .300. With his power getting results, his batting average is likely the next stat to experience a nice bounce.

Francisco Lindor has more than doubled his Barrel% over the last 30 days, though his HR/FB rate has only increased by five percentage points. His Barrel% is now sitting at a career high, while his HR/FB rate is his lowest since 2020 and below his career average. Weird!

Like Seager, he has also struggled with his BABIP, which sits at a career low, but the good news is his strikeout rate has returned to its pre-2021 days when it spiked into the high teens. Since he continues to steal bases and he’s barreling the ball like never before, expect stronger fantasy value the rest of the way.

Anthony Santander has been on fire over the last 30 days! It seems like every time I check the Orioles box score, he has homered twice. He has overcome an earlier season with a weak 6.5% Barrel% to bring that season mark back into double digits, while his HR/FB rate now sits at its highest since the short 2020 season.

Furthermore, his SwStk% is at a career best, driving his lowest strikeout rate since that same short 2020 year. He has also pushed his FB% up to a crazy 55.4%, the first time it’s stood over 50%, which has boosted his home run total, but crushed his BABIP, reducing it to a career low. It’ll be interesting to see if he tones down the flies.

Ian Happ opened the season completely powerless, with mid-single digit HR/FB rate and Barrel% marks. Since, he has more than doubled both and now sports his highest Barrel% since a partial 2019 season. However, his HR/FB rate still lags behind, sitting at a career low.

What has happened to Happ’s power? He posted three straight stints with a HR/FB rate over 20% from 2019 to 2021, but then has been down in the low double digits ever since. His Barrel% has changed significantly and outside of a big 2020, his HardHit% has remained consistent. Looking at fly ball direction, he hasn’t pulled his flies any less than he had during his higher HR/FB rate seasons. So it’s a mystery to me where his power has gone, unless that three year span was simply a fluke above his true talent level.

Barrel% Decliners
Name HR/FB – Through May 17 HR/FB – Last 30 Days Barrel% – Through May 17 Barrel% – Last 30 Days Barrel% Diff
Shohei Ohtani 27.1% 24.0% 22.5% 11.8% -10.7%
Cal Raleigh 23.3% 8.0% 18.6% 8.3% -10.3%
Salvador Perez 13.3% 10.7% 16.8% 6.8% -9.9%
Andrew McCutchen 16.2% 16.0% 18.2% 9.0% -9.2%
Matt Olson 11.1% 18.2% 15.1% 7.5% -7.6%

Well there’s a shocking name atop the list! It’s no surprise to see Shohei Ohtani’s Barrel% decline over the last 30 days, as a 22.5% mark is extremely difficult to maintain. But it’s been nearly cut in half to a merely above average mark. Surprisingly, his HR/FB rate hasn’t declined much, but maybe he was unlucky early on with only a 27.1% HR/FB rate, given that absolutely elite Barrel%.

On the season now, his Barrel% is right in line with his seasons since 2021, but his HR/FB rate is down from his best years and just below his career average. He has also posted a decline in FB%, which is at its lowest since his first three seasons. On the positive side, his strikeout rate is at a career best thanks to his lowest SwStk%. It’s led to his highest batting average and second highest OBP, despite a drop in walk rate.

For an offense-starved team like the Mariners, they can’t afford for Cal Raleigh’s power to go missing. Of course, a lot of that is likely just regression as he opened the season with significantly higher marks than what he has posted during his last two seasons. After this last 30 day slump, his HR/FB rate and Barrel% are now right in line with those years.

Interestingly, Raleigh’s strikeout rate is up, despite his lowest SwStk%. I would expect that strikeout rate to improve, which should help his batting average, but with such a heavy fly ball tendency, he’s not going to be a positive there anytime soon.

Salvador Perez’s HR/FB rate hasn’t declined as much as his Barrel% would suggest and now his season Barrel% is sitting at the third highest of his career, but his HR/FB rate is at its lowest since 2016. It certainly appears that he deserves better and the improved strikeout rate is encouraging. However, you never know if a 34-year-old catcher’s weaker month is the first sign of the decline phase or it’s just a slump any hitter could go through.

It’s funny to see Andrew McCutchen’s HR/FB rate nearly identical, despite losing almost exactly half his Barrel% over the last 30 days. Incredibly, McCutchen’s Barrel% is sitting in double digits for the first time we have tracking for, is more than double last year, and nearly double his career average. His HR/FB rate is up too, but his Barrel% typically matches with an even higher mark than he has posted.

Perhaps it was just a hot month and a half for the 37-year-old, as it’s hard to believe he has suddenly gained power to the point he’s the most powerful he’s ever been. Like for Perez, you never know when a weaker month is the first sign of decline or just a slump. With a career worst strikeout rate, backed by his highest SwStk%, there are some signs of aging here. Perhaps McCutchen is aware and is trying to compensate by tapping into his power more.

Speaking of bizarro world, what is going on with Matt Olson?! His Barrel% has halved in the last 30 days, but his HR/FB rate has jumped! It’s pretty clear that he deserved significantly better HR/FB rate results early in the season with that 15.1% Barrel%, so it looks as if lady luck is evening things out and rewarding him with those home runs now despite the barrels not being there as frequently.

His Barrel% is now down versus last year and actually at his lowest mark since 2018. It’s led to his lowest career HR/FB rate so far, despite a HardHit% in line with seasons past. There’s nothing that stands out here that would explain the drop in power, so assuming his last 30 day Barrel% is just a down period fluke, he remains a pretty good trade target if you’re in need of home runs.

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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1 month ago

I’m kind of buying McCutchen’s season. He is pretty clearly selling out a little bit as his contact numbers are down and K% up a little bit. BUt other than that, his numbers are not terribly far out of line with his post-peak numbers since 2016 or so. His numbers dipped in 2022 which was the 1st year he primarily DH’d, but as he’s acclimated to DHing, the last 2 years it’s been xwOBAs of .353 and .366.

He seems to me like a guy that’s hanging on to just enough of his physical ability (his bat speed and fast swing #s are solid) and combining it with his accumulated wisdom/know-how to harvest a little bit and continue to put up solid numbers.

Would love to see him outside of Pittsburgh as that ballpark obviously doesn’t do him any favors, but he’s playing everyday, leading off and hitting well.

I say ride it. . . .

EDIT*** – also, his next 4 road series are at 4 of the best HR parks for RH hitters – CIN, ATL, MIL, CHW

Last edited 1 month ago by Anon