Statcast Looks – Hernandez, Alonso and Moran

In addition to regularly checking the leaderboards here, at FanGraphs, I also routinely peruse the leaderboards at Baseball Savant, too. Below are a trio a players who stood out upon examination of their Statcast data.

Teoscar Hernandez (OF – TOR): Yahoo! – 48%, ESPN – 32%

Hernandez is a true Statcast stud. His 96.6 MPH average exit velocity is highest among hitters with a minimum of 25 batted ball events. That’s up substantially from his 2017 average exit velocity of 87.0 MPH. He’s hitting the balls on the screws through his first 38 plate appearances with the Blue Jays this year, has an average launch angle of 13.9 degrees, 34.6% LD%, 53.8% Hard% and just a 3.8% Soft%. He’s parlayed his dreamy batted-ball data into a .343/.395/.743 slash with three homers. Remarkably, Baseball Savant and peg him as a little unlucky on his batted balls with expected stat slash lines of .399/.451/.891 (Baseball Savant doesn’t have an xOBP, so I simply added the additional points for batting average onto his OBP) and .373/.422/.783, respectively.

He’s also been a dinger-hitting machine with the Blue Jays organization. He ripped eight homers in 95 plate appearances with them last year, and with his three hit in 38 plate appearances this season, he has 11 homers in just 133 plate appearances in Toronto. Hernandez has also mashed eight in 127 plate appearances at the Triple-A level in their organization, and he’s hit .231/.291/.530 with a 6.3% BB% and 29.1% K% for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, dating back to last year. As the walk and strikeout rates suggest, he’s not a hitter without faults, but he’s doing extraordinary damage when he puts the ball in play. Furthermore, in his 133 plate appearances with the Blue Jays, he’s sporting a respectable 32.5% O-Swing% and an aggressive in-zone approach with a 74.4% Z-Swing% that should help offset some of his swing-and-miss issues (16.2% SwStr%).

Additionally, his dreamy Statcast data doesn’t begin and end with his batted balls. The 25-year-old outfielder has above average speed that’s resulted in a tie for 55th in sprint speed (28.3 ft/sec) out 332 players with a minimum of 10 opportunities. He’s already stolen one base this year for the Blue Jays, and he stole two in just four games for the Bisons before his promotion. Hernandez also stole 16 bases in 105 games played at the Triple-A level last year, and he eclipsed 30 stolen bases in each minor-league season from 2014-2016.

Yonder Alonso (1B – CLE): Yahoo! – 24%, ESPN – 40%

Alonso is a hitter I was very bullish on entering the season, and while he hasn’t gotten off to the start I’d hoped for, he’s been rather unlucky. He was hitting just .225/.295/.465 entering play last night, but Baseball Savant has his expected stat line at .297/.367/.691. His expected line at isn’t as flattering, but a .251/.318/.529 mark would be a sizable improvement over what he’s actually currently hitting.

As you’re almost certainly aware, Alonso enjoyed a breakout 2017 thanks in large part to joining the elevate-and-celebrate crowd. Last year, he hit a career high 43.2% of his balls in the air and a career low 33.9% of his balls in play into the ground. This year, he’s pounded 45.5% of his batted balls into the ground, but that’s mostly come at the expense of his line drives (22.8% LD% in 2017 compared to 14.5% LD% this year). He hasn’t simply reverted back to a ground-ball hitter, as his 40.0% FB% thus far would easily eclipse his pre-2017 FB% of 32.6%. The 31-year-old first baseman’s five homers this year in 78 plate appearances are more in line with his homer pace from last year than his pre-2017 form which resulted in only 39 roundtrippers in 2,314 plate appearances. If you’re rostering Alonso, give him some more leash to work out of his early-season funk, and if you’re needy at first base or corner infield, you might want to check the waiver wire — look at his ownership rates above — or kick the tires on acquiring him on the cheap via trade if he hasn’t been dumped.

Colin Moran (1B/3B – PIT): Yahoo! – 8%, ESPN – 18%

Let’s start with the negatives for Moran. First, he’s in a platoon with David Freese at the hot corner for the Buccos. The left-handed hitting third baseman has ceded the bulk of starts against southpaw starting pitchers to Freese. Having said that, he’s obviously on the preferred — heavy side — of the platoon. Second, his runs and RBIs potential is further reduced by a down-order lineup spot. The majority of Moran’s plate appearances have come from the seventh spot in the order. Now that I’ve divulged the biggest drawbacks to rostering Moran, let’s look at some positives.

His 27.7% O-Swing% this season is below the league average of 29.1%, and his Zone% of 72.0% and Z-Contact% of 85.6% are both north of the league averages of 66.1% and 85.0%, respectively. The latter is barely above the league average, but it’s above the league average nonetheless, and his approach has yielded a respectable 20.0% K% that’s better than the league average of 23.0%. Moran also owns a sweet batted-ball profile, too.

His previously discussed re-tooled swing has helped him rip off a LD/GB/FB% line of 28/36/36% with a 42.0% Hard%. The left-handed hitting third baseman has an average exit velocity of 89.3 mph and an average launch angle of 17.8 degrees — right in the middle of what MLB’s glossary entry for launch angle defines as a line drive (not surprising given his robust LD% so far this year). He’s hitting an uninspiring .270/.329/.381, but his expected slash line, per Baseball Savant, is .276/.335/.465 and is .276/.335/.461, according to Moran’s unlikely to reach the seats a ton, but he should hit for more extra-base thump going forward, which would enhance his value in points leagues and leagues with non-traditional stats such as total bases or extra-base hits. He’s by no means a must-own player in 12-team mixers or shallower formats, but he’s a defensible own in 12-team mixers, and he’s a solid option in deeper leagues.

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so what do you recommend for Teoscar? a must-add even in 10-teamers?