The 2017 HR/FB Surgers

On Monday, I introduced my new Statcast fueled batter xHR/FB rate, adjusted for home park. Let’s finally get to the part you have been eagerly awaiting — the potential 2017 home run surgers. These are the guys whose xHR/FB rates far exceeded their actual HR/FB rates.

And now for the six cherry-picked fantasy relevant names that have big HR/FB rate upside this season, with 2016 stats…

2017 Home Run Surgers
Name Pull% + Oppo% Brls/BBE  HR/FB Park Adj xHR/FB HR/FB – Park Adj xHR/FB
Raul Mondesi 73.3% 9.7% 6.7% 16.0% -9.3%
Brandon Belt 57.1% 12.1% 9.3% 17.3% -8.0%
Ryan Schimpf 63.7% 16.3% 17.7% 24.1% -6.4%
Byung-ho Park 56.9% 18.7% 20.7% 26.5% -5.8%
Nick Castellanos 58.0% 12.8% 13.7% 19.1% -5.4%
Matt Carpenter 60.1% 11.7% 13.3% 17.7% -4.4%

You all had Raul Mondesi as the top upside guy, right? So Mondesi recorded just 149 plate appearances and hit just two homers. He also struck out a ton and rarely drew a walk. But he showed real power potential in that bat, as his Brls/BBE number was identical to the likes of Kyle Seager and Carlos Santana. We’re all excited about his speed, but it’s his power that could surprise this season. Of course, he’s going to first have to win the Royals second base job and dramatically cut down on his whiffs. I’m not super confident he remains in the Majors all season, but he shouldn’t cost much and could seriously contribute in stolen bases, while not hurting you in home runs.

Brandon Belt seems like a mainstay on these lists as his ballpark has killed him. So why bother including him again when he’s still calling San Francisco home? Well, because his HR/FB rate tumbled to its lowest mark since 2012, but his Brls/BBE mark remain in the top tier. His company included Adam Duvall and Edwin Encarnacion. Even with the park lowering his ceiling, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be consistently posting mid-teen HR/FB rate marks.

Man, do I have to talk about Ryan Schimpf again?! You may remember that he appeared on yesterday’s Brls/BBE leader list, and that very placement suggests that maybe there’s even further upside from that seemingly inflated 17.7% HR/FB rate. I don’t know where this guy came from and he’s already 28, so I’m guessing most will discount his performance and let someone else take the chance.

Byung-ho Park is another name from yesterday’s list and I think he perfectly qualifies for the sleeper tag. His BABIP will rebound off that ugly .230 mark, and not only was the power legit, but it may even increase. Kennys Vargas is no sure thing, so Park is a worthy speculation.

So Nick Castellanos‘ HR/FB rate spiked from 9.2% to 13.7%, and yet he may have gotten unlucky?! Castellanos was one of the season’s biggest Brls/BBE gainers and he continues to rope liners and spray balls all over the field. He didn’t sell out for power, he just owns a beautiful batting profile that has finally translated into power. He even has the option of hitting it toward the lines more often (either pulling or going the opposite way), since his Pull% + Oppo% is so low. That would likely knock down his BABIP, but push his power even higher. Either way, this is an exciting power skill set.

It seems silly to find a veteran like Matt Carpenter on here, especially coming off his two best HR/FB rate seasons. But his Brls/BBE actually jumped from 2015 when he posted his career high HR/FB rate, and he doubled his Pull%. So his xHR/FB rate actually rose by 2.5%, all the while his actual HR/FB rate fell by the same amount. Since injuries curbed his counting stats, he might end up being a surprisingly profitable investment.

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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5 years ago

Do we have any idea how predictive and ‘sticky’ Brls% is yet? I suspect it may not be as predictive as we’d like since the actual number of barreled balls is small. Using statcast data for 2016, there were 375 hitters with at least 100 batted balls and this group averaged 268 BBE (batted ball events). The average number of Barrels for this group? Only 18! So my point is – if you get lucky and barrel an extra 6-8 balls during the year that can really skew your Brls%. Ps – love the park adj xHR/FB analysis