Hitter xwOBA Underperformers — June 29, 2021, A Review

Finally, we’re at the last of the in-season metric reviews! Today, we return to Statcast’s xwOBA. If you recall, earlier I reviewed the underperformers through early May, so the sample here is much larger. You would expect xwOBA to mean a little less, and actual wOBA to mean a little more over the larger sample. Let’s find out if that ended up being true for this small group.

xwOBA Underperformers
Name ISO – Through June 27 BABIP – Through June 27 wOBA – Through June 27 xwOBA – Through June 27 wOBA RoS wOBA Diff
Marcell Ozuna 0.144 0.244 0.286 0.350 #N/A #N/A
Kyle Tucker 0.226 0.272 0.347 0.409 0.422 0.075
Juan Soto 0.152 0.306 0.359 0.419 0.466 0.107
Freddie Freeman 0.215 0.267 0.354 0.411 0.405 0.051
Alec Bohm 0.083 0.310 0.260 0.316 0.342 0.082
Paul Goldschmidt 0.163 0.288 0.319 0.373 0.424 0.105
Jed Lowrie 0.129 0.300 0.309 0.360 0.316 0.007
Elvis Andrus 0.070 0.271 0.246 0.296 0.296 0.050
Unweighted Avg 0.313 0.369 0.382

It’s a clean sweep! All seven hitters (Marcell Ozuna’s last plate appearance came on May 25 due to injury, and then legal trouble) posted rest of season wOBA marks above their marks through June 27. Six of the seven posted rest of season wOBA marks significantly above their early marks, exceeding them by at least .050, which is equivalent to a .300 wOBA rising to .350. That’s huge! As a group, they posted a wOBA just above their early xwOBA, so not only did their luck return, but they performed even better.

Kyle Tucker has appeared in several of my metric review articles as one of the most obvious surge candidates after a slow start. He did exactly that and rewarded his patient owners and those who were fortunate enough to steal him from the impatient owners who had drafted him. With a final season .383 wOBA, he likely ended up exceeding all preseason projections, which is a testament to how well he rebounded.

Juan Soto laughed at his bad luck and decided to post an insane .466 wOBA the rest of the way. Clearly, a .152 ISO early on was not what we expected from him, but that improved immensely the rest of the way, as he finished with a .221 mark, which still set a new career low. The only problem now is his ground ball tendency, resulting in a sub-30% fly ball rate. A hitter with that much power should really be hitting more fly balls, though it’s hard to argue he should change after two straight wOBA marks well above .400.

Freddie Freeman was also a common sight on these review lists as he suffered through an early season BABIP slump that was guaranteed to reverse. He was back to the Freeman we expected, posting a wOBA just over .400 the rest of the way and his BABIP eventually jumped back over .300. He owns one of the league’s most elite batted ball profiles, so until that changes, he should always be posting a well above average BABIP.

Alec Bohm was a disappointment in his first full season, but he was significantly better over the second half. Pushing his wOBA up to .342 should give potential owners confidence to draft him, but as of now, his skill set doesn’t seem quite good enough to be much of a shallow mixed league asset. He needs to hit more fly balls, flash more power, and/or bring his strikeout rate down closer to his minor league days. He would be quite intriguing if he could do all that, as he’d be a solid power, high contact guy, resulting in both home runs and batting average.

It would have been easy to just assume Paul Goldschmidt was in the decline phase of his career and not expect much of a rebound off that .319 wOBA. instead, he went nuts the rest of the way, posting vintage Goldschmidt numbers, including a .424 wOBA. Oddly, his walk rate slipped below 10% for the first time in his career, which might be the first sign of impending decline. I also wouldn’t expect another double digit steals, so there appears to be far more downside here as he enters his age 34 season, but his draft day price will determine whether he’ll be worth it.

Jed Lowrie was the group’s smallest wOBA gainer and his value was limited to deep leagues only. At his advanced age, I wouldn’t expect much more.

Elvis Andrus was brutal in the early going and got him dropped in many leagues. While he technically improved dramatically over the rest of the way, he still posted a sub-.300 wOBA, showing absolutely no power, and just barely reached double digit steals. While he still sits atop the shortstop depth chart in Oakland, and Roster Resource even has him hitting second, it’s hard to imagine the season starting with either of those two remaining true, especially his spot in the batting order.

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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