Surprises Among the 2020 Barrels Per True Fly Ball Laggards

Yesterday, I listed and discussed surprises among the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) leaders. Today, let’s flip to the laggards and discuss surprising names at the bottom. We’re going to have to include a much longer list of names to find surprises, compared to the leader list.

2020 Brls/TFB Laggards
Player 2020 HR/FB 2020 Brls/TFB
Andrelton Simmons 0.0% 0.0%
Carter Kieboom 0.0% 0.0%
Eric Sogard 3.2% 0.0%
Isaac Paredes 4.2% 0.0%
Nick Madrigal 0.0% 0.0%
Tony Wolters 0.0% 0.0%
Kolten Wong 2.3% 2.7%
Kevin Newman 2.4% 2.8%
Miguel Rojas 10.8% 2.9%
David Fletcher 7.9% 3.1%
Ender Inciarte 3.1% 3.4%
Willie Calhoun 2.9% 3.6%
Shogo Akiyama 0.0% 3.8%
Tony Kemp 0.0% 4.0%
Hanser Alberto 5.3% 4.2%
Joe Panik 3.7% 4.2%
Austin Barnes 4.2% 5.0%
Brock Holt 0.0% 5.0%
Mike Tauchman 0.0% 5.3%
Tyler Wade 13.6% 5.3%
Nico Hoerner 0.0% 5.6%
Victor Robles 7.7% 5.7%
Delino DeShields 0.0% 5.9%
Josh Fuentes 10.5% 5.9%
J.P. Crawford 3.7% 6.1%
Yadier Molina 8.7% 6.8%
Jorge Polanco 5.8% 7.6%
Kurt Suzuki 4.9% 7.7%
Luis Rengifo 5.9% 7.7%
Nick Markakis 3.4% 7.7%
Jonathan Villar 7.1% 8.0%
Jeff McNeil 7.7% 8.3%
Cole Tucker 3.7% 8.7%
Danny Mendick 12.5% 9.1%
Ehire Adrianza 0.0% 9.1%
Luis Urias 0.0% 9.1%
Nicky Lopez 4.2% 9.1%
Gleyber Torres 7.1% 9.8%
Raimel Tapia 3.1% 10.0%
Yuli Gurriel 7.5% 10.0%
Alex Bregman 11.3% 10.2%
Ji-Man Choi 8.3% 10.7%

Sure, the sample size was small with only 17 true fly balls, but still, you assumed Carter Kieboom would hit at least one barrel, right?! The top prospect was ranked as the best Nationals prospect heading into the season and showed pretty respectable skills during his short time with the club this season. However, what wasn’t part of that skill display was power. He failed to homer and hit just one double over 99 at-bats for a this-must-be-a-typo .010 ISO. I have no idea why the power was completely lacking, but it’s been just 138 MLB at-bats so far, so let’s give him more time, like a lot more time. He seems like a nice trade target in keeper leagues if his owner is disappointed and ready to give up on him.

It can’t be easy to come to the plate again after fracturing your jaw from a fastball, so Willie Calhoun definitely deserves a mulligan for the season. While he once again displayed fantastic contact ability, he did little else. His power was nonexistent, he hit too many pop-ups and not enough line drives. Hopefully the Rangers give him another chance to open the season as a starter next year and give him at least a month or two to prove he has fully recovered. Low strikeout hitters with ample power are hard to find and could be highly productive.

Yeah, we know that Victor Robles isn’t exactly a Statcast darling, but he took his already below average power metrics to an entirely new and even worse level this year. Not only did his barrel rate plummet, but that happened along with a spike in strikeout rate. That’s a surprise and a discouraging sign, as often time a hitter seemingly changes his approach to sell out for power. You’ll see the hitter’s strikeout rate rise along with his power output making you believe he’s consciously trying to hit for more power at the expense of contact. Robles gave up contact, but no additional power came! With only four steals as well, he was one of the quieter busts of the shortened season. Perhaps now his draft day price will finally be reasonable.

Jonathan Villar will only be 30 next year, but I wonder if his poor sub-.300 wOBA season will make it impossible for him to find a starting job. His power slipped to its worst output in his career, which essentially made him a speed only hitter. Since his defense won’t keep him in the lineup, he needs that power to be a valuable offensive contributor. Since he’s a free agent, I’m real curious to see which team signs him and what role they intend to give him at the start. He could end up being a fantasy bargain if he ends up getting 500+ at-bats, even if he doesn’t hit 20 homers again.

What on Earth happened to Gleyber Torres?! Sure, he missed a couple of weeks due to a strained hamstring, but that was in late August and he actually hit his best after he returned from the injury in September. Everything actually looked really good here, from the spike in walk rate into double digits to the dramatic drop in both strikeout rate and SwStk%. The only disappointment came from his power, as his HR/FB rate fell into single digits, bringing his ISO down to just less than half his 2019 mark. I would guess this is just small sample size noise, but if it brings his price down next year, then fantastic.

Did you know that Alex Bregman’s Statcast power metrics are really nothing special? His home run power is mostly driven by his strong strikeout rate and 40%+ fly ball rate. He’s kind of a better version of what Ian Kinsler used to be. So while Bregman might appear to be a surprise this season with a low Brls/TFB rate, that mark is only slightly below his 2019 full season mark. Aside from the lack of power, he also didn’t even attempt a steal. If we’re assuming little no no additional fantasy value from steals moving forward, then he’ll be an interesting player to see valued next year.

In his first near full season, Ji-Man Choi performed exactly how you would project given his history. It’s amazing it took until age 28 to get that extended opportunity. But this season, that power suddenly vanished, even though the rest of his underlying skills remained stable. Because of the Rays’ love of mixing and matching and trotting out a different lineup every day, Choi’s playing time outlook is going to continue remaining murky, especially with limited defensive value. Obviously, his power needs to rebound for any chance of maintaining strong side platoon at-bats.





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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Kevbot034
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Kevbot034

Torres was the most confusing of these and I can’t help but wonder if he also was an approach change, but in the opposite direction. Sell out for more contact and get on base more? BABIP, walk rate were dramatic increases from his career. And though the BABIP isn’t sustainable in any way shape or form, it’s still interesting to see.