Last 30 Day NL Hitter HardHit% Gainers — Aug 10, 2021

Yesterday, I reviewed and discussed the hitters who had posted the largest HardHit% gains over the last 30 days. In inadvertently filtered for AL batters only, so today, I’ll flip on over to the NL hitters. Remember this HardHit% includes all batted ball types, so an increase shouldn’t necessarily drive a higher HR/FB rate.

HardHit% Gainers
Name HR/FB Through 7/9 HR/FB 7/10 to 8/8 HardHit% Through 7/9 HardHit% 7/10 to 8/8 HardHit% Diff
Willson Contreras 22.0% 25.0% 44.8% 60.9% 16.1%
Donovan Solano 5.9% 10.0% 30.2% 44.6% 14.4%
Bryce Harper 23.4% 22.7% 43.6% 57.6% 14.0%
Tyler O’Neill 23.8% 16.7% 52.3% 66.0% 13.7%
Michael Conforto 6.3% 17.9% 35.1% 48.4% 13.3%
Bryan Reynolds 18.5% 14.3% 37.0% 49.3% 12.3%

Willson Contreras has pumped his HardHit% to an elite level over the last 30 days, while his HR/FB has remained in the 20% range. The 29-year-old has struck out at a career worst rate, continuing the upward trend, as it’s now risen each year beginning in 2018. He also doesn’t hit as many fly balls as you’d like to see from someone with substantial power, as his career high rate sits at just 34%, and he’s been between that mark and this year’s 33% each of the last three years. There’s no doubting his power though as his maxEV hit a new career high and is also at an elite 115.4 MPH.

With a career .093 ISO and best mark of just .137, notched last season, Donovan Solano isn’t who comes to mind when you think of power hitters. But he’s revved up that power over the last 30 days, pushing his HardHit% above the league average. His HR/FB rate has spiked as well, though remains below the league average. With no speed, he needs to flash more power to avoid being just a batting average guy. The problem is that when his BABIP comes crashing back to reality, like right now, he doesn’t do enough anywhere to be anything more than a deep league option, unless he could continue to grow his power. At age 33, it’s hard to believe there’s more growth coming.

Bryce Harper is another of these names that has enjoyed a strong HardHit% spike over the last 30 days, but his HR/FB rate is actually down. Of course, this recent surge merely brought his season mark from below his career average to above it. He has been unable to maintain last year’s FB% gains, but the rebound to a 20% HR/FB rate has helped offset that effect. It’s surprising to me given his consistently elite maxEV marks that he’s only once posted a HR/FB rate above 24%.

Welcome another member of the increased HardHit% and decreased HR/FB rate club…Tyler O’Neill. It’s crazy to see a 66% HardHit% mark, but just a mid-teen HR/FB rate. O’Neill’s power has jumped back up, with a HR/FB rate back over 20% and ISO back over .200, after dipping below those arbitrary thresholds the last two seasons. It’s helped him become a real fantasy force this year, as his BABIP is back into stratospheric levels, helping offset the high strikeout rate, and he’s swiped nine bases. This is the type of profile that could get very overvalued next year, depending on how he finishes, as you’ll be hoping he sustains the inflated BABIP and he continues to swipe bases.

Michael Conforto missed a little over a month due to a strained hamstring, and while his FB% has partially rebounded after last year’s low, his HR/FB rate has tumbled. That said, his last 30 days suggests he’s coming out of the power drought, but we’ll see how long that lasts for. A single digit HR/FB rate is not what we expected from him, and a high teen mark, despite it still being just below his career average, is more in the range of expectations. While his maxEV is at its lowest career mark, everything else looks normal here, so I’d expect the Conforto you thought you drafted to be present the rest of the way.

Gosh, add yet another name in Bryan Reynolds to the list of HardHit% surgers losing HR/FB rate. We perhaps mostly remember Reynolds for his monster BABIP in 2019, but he actually owns above average power as well. Last year, the BABIP reversed course and likely made him quite undervalued this year, at which point he is rewarding his new owners with another strong BABIP, and even more power than normal. He’s carried over last year’s FB% gains as well, so the increased HR/FB rate, combined with the improved strikeout rate, has majorly boosted his fantasy value.

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 year ago

Fire Dayton Moore!