Yesterday, I identified and discussed eight hitters who boosted their fly ball rates from May to June by the greatest amount. Today, I’ll check in on batters whose fly ball rates have plummeted from May to June. For some, this is actually a positive, while for others, it’s a potentially ominous sign for their power.
|Name||May FB%||June FB%||Diff|
When you’re a power only guy with a high strikeout rate, you need to elevate the ball and make the most of that power by giving yourself as many home run opportunities as possible. Ian Happ did that in May, but not in June. But these monthly rates are a perfect example of why we shouldn’t overreact to small samples. Most hitter metrics oscillate over different date ranges, but ultimately, they usually settle in where we expected them to. Though Happ’s fly ball rate has been up and down, his season mark is almost 43%, which is just above where he landed last year. Owners beware — his BABIP sits at an absurd .410 and I don’t need to do any xBABIP math to be sure that’s going to collapse at some point.
Enrique Hernandez has hit 14 homers?!?! Where the heck have I been? I guess he’s a good example of not really paying attention to guys you don’t own. Hernandez was a fly ball machine in May, and although that FB% has naturally regressed some in June, it was still well above his historical marks. Sadly, he doesn’t really have a full-time job and probably won’t without an injury. Enjoy his production in NL-Only leagues, but I can’t imagine him earning any shallow mixed league value the rest of the way.
Martin Maldonado is your standard second catcher in a deep mixed or AL-Only league and he hit more fly balls than ever in May, but followed that up with a mark well below what he’s done in the past. The good news is he’s pulling his flies at the highest rate of his career, so there’s a good chance his HR/FB rate rebounds back into the low teens.
After a down first five months, Carlos Gonzalez’s sizzling September gave some of us hope that he would rebound this year, but instead, his wOBA has declined again. With Coors Field’s home run inflating ways, you probably want to hit more fly balls, but CarGo’s FB% dropped to a ridiculously low mark in June. That’s not what you want to see from a supposed power hitter. I’m still holding in the 15-team mixed LABR league, but I’m losing hope of any sort of upcoming hot streak.
Billy Hamilton’s FB% should never be above 40%. Maybe he learned his lesson in June.
Part of Brandon Nimmo’s breakout appeal was the increased fly ball rate, but that fell back to Earth in June. He’s still sporting a 20% HR/FB rate, but without a lofty FB%, you’re hoping he can maintain the power surge. It’s also questionable he could maintain a .344 BABIP with a below average line drive rate and worse than average IFFB%.
It’s difficult to get a sense of exactly how much power Hunter Dozier has in his bat given that his ISO marks and HR/FB rates have jumped around from the mid-single digits to the teens (and even nearly 30% at Double-A in 2016) during his minor league career. But he has generally held FB% marks in the high 30% and low 40% range, so his May looks more like what we should expect moving forward. A mark above 50% would have killed his offense since he doesn’t hit enough of those flies out of the park to offset all the fly ball outs.
Scott Kingery is more of a speed than power guy, so he probably shouldn’t be above 40% in fly ball rate. He has shown some pop though, so a sub-30% mark seems too low. I would guess that a league average mark would give him the best combination of power and BABIP potential. As a rookie, he’s got time to reach that optimum level.
Aaron Judge’s immense power means you do want lots of fly balls, so his June mark was a head scratcher. There’s absolutely no reason for Judge posting a FB% of just about 26%. Owners should hope he returns to his normal fly ball ways in July.
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.