MaxEV Gainers — Apr 5, 2021

Typically after just a couple of games, we would be screaming small sample size for nearly every metric quoted as a reason to pick up or drop a player. But maxEV is different. Sure, the more batted balls, the greater chance of a hitter posting an EV that matches his maximum skill. When looking at maxEV declines, sample size definitely does matter, as all it takes is one batted ball to set that maximum. When we talk gainers, sample size is far less important. A hitter could post their max of the entire season with their first batted ball. For that reason, it’s never too early too look at the maxEV gainers so far. That max will remain at least that high all season long and could suggest an increase in power skill, which might result in a higher HR/FB rate. so let’s check out the gainers versus 2020. I required a minimum of 10 “events” last year to qualify here so we’re not seeing a gainer because he only had one or two poorly hit batted balls last season.

MaxEV Gainers
Name 2020 maxEV 2021 maxEV Diff
Zack Collins 105.6 109.9 4.3
David Dahl 103.6 107.7 4.1
Paul DeJong 105.5 109.5 4.0
Michael Brantley 105.3 109.2 3.9
Eddie Rosario 105.0 108.4 3.4
Ty France 108.2 111.1 2.9
Michael A. Taylor 108.6 111.4 2.8
Matt Olson 112.5 115.3 2.8
Tyler O’Neill 107.4 110.2 2.8

The Eloy Jimenez injury is opening up opportunities for several White Sox hitters, including Zack Collins. He has posted strong walk rates in the minors and acceptable strikeout rates given his power, but has struggled to make contact so far during his short time in the Majors. In only a couple of batted balls, he’s already set a new career high in maxEV, which looks to represent his actual power skills better than his previous marks. In OBP leagues, I’d definitely speculate, especially considering it’s possible he gains catcher eligibility at some point this month.

It’s only been seven batted balls, yet already oft-injured David Dahl has set a new personal high in maxEV! It still remains pretty unimpressive, but still noteworthy considering he had never posted an EV this high in his previous 1020 plate appearances. He’s in a good lineup spot now to accrue some fantasy value hitting second, but the dropoff in park effects is pretty massive. Add in his injury history, and I still don’t know if he’s much more than replacement level in shallow (12-team) mixed leagues.

It’s less exciting than you might think for Paul DeJong owners, as he was merely rebounding off a down 2020. This mark is a good sign that he’s now back to normal, as his HR/FB rate dropped by more than half last year. He should be back to a mid-teen HR/FB rate and I’d essentially ignore last year’s power outage as if it never happened.

This is already Michael Brantley’s highest EV since 2017, but oddly, that was actually his lowest HR/FB rate over the past four seasons! Of course, outside of 2019, his marks have been amazingly stable, so the lowest isn’t much lower than the other non-2019 seasons. The big question here is whether his strikeout rate rebounds after his worst make since his 2009 debut over just 121 plate appearances.

Eddie Rosario’s maxEV was down last year as well, so this is merely a rebound back to his 2018-2019 levels. A rebound in EV can only help him take advantage of his new left-handed home run friendly park. He was my bold AL home run leader, so this is a good start.

After a big spring training, including five homers, Ty France went from cheap sleeper to a guy everyone wanted. His maxEV marks so far in the Majors were pretty solid already, but he’s already boosted it a notch higher. Don’t forget that in 2019 at Triple-A, he broke out to a 30.7% HR/FB rate, but he has never been any better than a 14.3% mark in any other stint. So it makes it tough to determine whether that Triple-A mark was a fluke or a sign of his future MLB potential. He’ll need to hit though as most of his playing time is likely to come from the DH slot.

With a career .296 wOBA and without a starting job in years, it was pretty surprising that the Royals signed Michael A. Taylor and he was immediately handed a starting outfield job. While his HR/FB rates have been rather inconsistent, his maxEV has mostly sat well above 110 MPH, just once dipping below, and that was over a small sample last year. It’s clear he owns good power and the Royals should let him run. But strikeouts have been his bugaboo, so his fantasy value is going to depend on how often he puts the ball in play and how high his BABIP can get.

On this entire list, I’m most impressed by Matt Olson’s appearances. He’s already recorded 1,044 events heading into this season and had never posted an EV over 113.3 MPH. Suddenly seven events in, he’s posted an EV of 115.3 already, which actually leads all of baseball at the moment. Could a second highest HR/FB rate of his career be coming? Because obviously he’s never matching that 40%+ mark from 2017.

Tyler O’Neill has posted big power numbers in the minors, but his HR/FB rates have been stuck in the teens the past two years after a 25% mark during his 2018 debut. Last year, his maxEV declined, so this represents a rebound, but still sits below his 2018 and 2019 marks. Of course, he has more than enough time to raise his current max. Right now, he remains your generic low average slugger, who could chip in a couple of steals.

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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Did this go to press before Ohtani’s 115.1 mph shot last night?