Hitter xwOBA Overperformers — May 12, 2022

Yesterday, I reviewed the hitters who have underperformed their xwOBA marks the most. Now let’s flip over to the overperformers. Once again, I acknowledge the flaws in the metric and the existence of consistent underperformers and overperformers. If one of the hitters on this list has consistently overperformed, I’ll note it.

xwOBA Overperformers
Nolan Arenado 0.338 15.2% 0.330 0.287 0.621 0.513 0.443 0.371 0.072
Owen Miller 0.397 14.3% 0.338 0.282 0.584 0.446 0.425 0.357 0.068
Manny Machado 0.424 18.4% 0.381 0.314 0.628 0.543 0.470 0.407 0.063
Eric Hosmer 0.395 16.7% 0.350 0.304 0.520 0.442 0.412 0.354 0.058
Jeff McNeil 0.366 3.6% 0.323 0.272 0.448 0.405 0.373 0.326 0.047
J.P. Crawford 0.367 16.7% 0.340 0.319 0.546 0.471 0.432 0.387 0.045
Xander Bogaerts 0.432 10.5% 0.343 0.285 0.472 0.452 0.386 0.341 0.045
Randal Grichuk 0.356 25.0% 0.281 0.255 0.449 0.405 0.342 0.299 0.043

Man, you would have possibly expected to find Nolan Arenado’s name on the xwOBA overperformer list when he was on the Rockies, but not now, as he plays half his games in a pitcher friendly home park! In fact, he significantly overperformed his xwOBA while with the Rockies over the entire Statcast era (since 2015). With so many fly balls and pop-ups, Statcast doesn’t believe his .338 BABIP is real, which has driven up his batting average. His HR/FB rate has inched up again, but apparently it’s still too high, as his xSLG is more than .100 below his actual mark. There’s lots of good here though, as a .371 xwOBA is still excellent and amazingly would actually represent a career best in the metric. It suggests he’s fully healthy now, but clearly should suffer from some regression over the rest of the way.

No one believes Owen Miller is going to sustain this level of performance, though every fantasy owner did rush to pick him up after a hot start. The .397 BABIP and batting average is obviously inflated, but he’s posted an elite batted ball distribution, heavy on line drives and light on pop-ups. His plate discipline has rebounded back to his minor league days, and does have a history of high BABIP marks. That said, Statcast doesn’t care about history and simply doesn’t believe in his power. It’s doubtful a sell high trade here would bear a whole lot of fruit, so I’d imagine all owners could do right now is just hold on for the ride and hope he doesn’t fall too dramatically. The skills here are excellent, but with potentially just mediocre power and little speed, he might not end up being worth much in shallow mixed leagues.

The only real difference in Manny Machado’s start is his insane BABIP, despite a near identical batted ball profile heavy on pop-ups, as usual. As an owner, I’m thrilled about his six steals already, but that rate is going to automatically slow down once his OBP declines from its current .454 mark. He’s not a bad name to float around to sell, but I valued him as the second most valuable third baseman heading into the season, so unless you’re trading for Jose Ramirez, you’re going to take an offensive hit at the slot. It doesn’t mean you can gain value from a trade though, but it makes it tougher to put together an offer since you’ll almost assuredly be downgrading Machado’s spot.

Gosh, what’s in the water in San Diego?! Eric Hosmer has improved his strikeout rate to a career best, but his BABIP has skyrocketed as well, despite a career worst IFFB%. Then again, his FB% has dipped again, so the high IFFB% is based on a low rate of flies and mostly harmless. This looks like a slightly better Hosmer with a career best walk rate, combined with that strikeout rate, but he’s going to need to reach 20 homers to be worthwhile in shallow mixed leagues.

Gosh, it’s bad when an xwOBA overperformer owns just a .125 ISO. That means that he’s only delivering value via batting average, and since he’s on the list, it means his batting average has been mostly smoke and mirrors. Jeff McNeil has basically done nothing aside from contribute in batting average and that’s tough to bank on continuing. I was actually just offered him as part of a 4-player trade that was clearly an attempt at selling high and I quickly rejected. His 2019 power output is quickly looking like the outlier, rather than a level to eventually return to.

Like some others on this list, it’s true that J.P. Crawford is overperforming. Of course he is with a .367 BABIP. But even a .387 xwOBA is elite, especially for a guy who’s coming off just a .297 mark and has never posted an actual wOBA above .314. His walk and strikeout rates are both sitting at career bests, while his batted ball profile has become elite, though not ideal for hitting home runs. It’s too bad he doesn’t steal bases, as he’ll need this power spike to stick to be worth starting in shallow mixed leagues.

Xander Bogaerts is no stranger to xwOBA overperformance, as he’s done it every single season of his career. In a park that inflates BABIP, that makes sense, especially considering he owns a career .372 wOBA at home and just a .327 mark away. Talk about home field advantage! xwOBA doesn’t account for park, so it’s clearly missing the benefit Bogaerts is getting from Fenway. Interestingly, the overperformance here has nothing to do with power, but all about his BABIP and batting average. Obviously, no park is hitter friendly enough to boost BABIP to his current .432 mark. Since he hasn’t done a whole lot else other than hit singles, he’s clearly not a sell high candidate. And since there are few shortstops projected to earn more value than him to begin with, it can almost be argued this is a slow start and his fantasy value will improve from here.

I’m surprised Randal Grichuk is the only Rockies batter on here, but so far, it hasn’t entirely been Coors Field that’s responsible for the overperformance. Sure, he has posted a .362 home wOBA vs .320 away, but that’s mostly because of an insane 40% strikeout rate in away parks and just a 2.2% walk rate. Shockingly, he has posted a higher BABIP and ISO in away parks! Without checking the splits, the knee-jerk reaction would definitely be that Coors has aided him. Also concerning is a collapse in his FB% to below 30% for the first time. Heck, it’s only the second time it’s fallen below even 40%! Ideally, he hits lots of flies to fully take advantage of Coors’ home run friendly effects.

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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6 months ago

You’re tellin me Owen Miller hitting .338/.400/.568 with average BBD is unsustainable??? Pshaw

6 months ago
Reply to  hombremomento

As he noted, the real story is that he’s displayed real skills. He probably is worth a roster spot in most fantasy leagues.

6 months ago
Reply to  Werthless

Oh yeah he definitely has legit skills in departments relevant to OBP and AVG, but the power absolutely isn’t going to stay so great