The Best Hitters Less Than 50% Rostered in Ottoneu

That title is a bit lengthy, but it also explains exactly what we are doing here, so we don’t have to waste time with a lengthy intro. We’ll look at four high-performing hitters under 50% rostered.

These are the top five hitters by P/G who are rostered in less than half of leagues and have at least 40 PA this season.

Willie Calhoun – 7.19% rostered, 6.17 P/G – I have Calhoun on one of my rosters so I obviously think there is something worth considering here. There are obvious reasons to doubt Calhoun – his track record isn’t great, and while he had some real prospect hype back in the day, he is 29 now. That back in the day is pretty far back. But as of right now, Calhoun is sitting on career-bests in the following:

  • K-rate
  • O-contact%
  • Z-contact%
  • Contact%
  • Average Exit Velocity
  • Hard-hit rate
  • xwOBA
  • xSLG

Yes, he also has an unsustainable line drive rate leading to a .345 BABIP, but he also has a deflated HR/FB rate that should regress in a good way. It’s also worth noting that while his 2023 looks bad, this hot streak really dates back to last May. Calhoun didn’t play after inuring his quad in June of last year, but if you go back to May 3 of last year, he has a 126 wRC+ over 165 PA.

Calhoun, based on an article by Jeff Fletcher with the Orange County Register, credits getting back to the swing that made him such a tantalizing prospect:

“I was always a gap-to-gap guy,” Calhoun said. “I lost that approach when I got (to the majors with the Rangers) and started trying to chase power instead of letting it naturally flow. … It really obviously never worked out for me.”

Interestingly, Calhoun does have the second-highest “center%” – perfecent of balls hit back up the middle – of his career, giving some credence to his quote. While he is going up the middle at basically a career-high rate, he is going the other way at an almost career-low rate. In the past, when Calhoun has used the middle of the field more than 40% of the time, he has also gone the other way more than 20% of the time. Results are almost always better when you can pull the ball, and Calhoun is – for the first time – combining a >40% center% with a >40% pull%.

I wouldn’t often be intrigued by a guy going up the middle more, and I am not sure that it’s a good thing here, but if he feels like his natural (and best) swing uses the big part of the park and using that swing is getting him more contact and more good contact, that seems like a good thing. That might explain why his Sweet Spot rate is a 44.6% this year after just setting a career-high at 35.7% last year. Calhoun is telling us he has his swing back, and I think it is worth taking a shot to see if he is right.

Rob Refsnyder – 3.44% rostered, 5.07 P/G – Refsnyder is a lot less interesting to me. He’s getting by with a .452 BABIP. When you dig deeper, not much looks that exciting. He doesn’t hit many fly balls and he has a low HR/FB rate and he strikes out at a pretty high clip, so BABIP is what he is relying on. He had a .314 wOBA last year with a better K-rate and similar BB-rate, while sporting a .316 BABIP, which just-so-happens to match his career BABIP. He probably brings the K’s down a bit, in line with 2023, but as the BABIP corrects, he is more likely to repeat that season than he is to keep this up.

On top of that, he has appeared in 23 games this year, has started just 14 games and had more than three PA in just 12 of them. The team has played 29 games since he joined the roster, so you are talking about a guy who appears in about 80% of his teams games, but only starts about 50% of their games and when he starts, there is a 14% chance he won’t get enough PA to justify using him. Oh, and if his BABIP falls to merely “a bit high” instead of “super duper high,” he won’t be useful at all.

Heliot Ramos – 5.63% rostered, 5.02 P/G – Ramos, like Refsnyder, has a painfully high BABIP. Unlike Refsnyder, he is playing regularly, having started 10 of his 11 appearances and getting 4+ PA in all 10 of those starts.

BABIP aside, Ramos is stinging the ball. He has 5 barrels among just 28 batted balls, which is good in that it is a high barrel rate, but less good because he has just 28 batted ball events. He would have more if his K-rate weren’t pushing 30%. Now, if he can maintain that barrel rate, we can live with that K-rate. But that would be a top-10 barrel rate in baseball if he had enough PA to qualify. Do you think he is that good? Neither do I.

But while Ramos has disappointed ever since reaching Double-A in  2019, he was once a highly-touted prospect and he seems to have righted the ship, at least in Triple-A, in 2023 and 2024. His overall MLB line is underwhelming, but it is just 126 PA, including the hot start this year, and he is only 24.

As long as he is in the lineup, he has a chance to keep showing that the 2018-2019 hype was real. I don’t know how good I feel about starting him regularly, but there are worse players to have on the end of your roster while we wait and see if he can keep this up.

Patrick Wisdom – 32.5% rostered, 4.97 P/G – I have Patrick Wisdom on five of rosters, so suffice it to say I like some of what I see. Also, don’t let that 4.97 P/G mislead you. Wisdom is not an everyday starter but he PH a lot. Over his last ten games, for example, he has 56.3 points. He also has five games with a single PA as a PH and has -1 total points in those games. So he has 57.3 points in his last five starts.

Wisdom has always had big power, but a high swinging strike right and high chase rate have led to a lot of strikeouts and not-so-many walks. This year, he is making more contact, chasing less, walking more and striking out less. If that all seems like wonderful news, it is!

But before getting too excited, there are a couple of causes for concern. First, this isn’t some new territory for him.

If he had dropped his rolling K-rate to a level he hadn’t seen before, we could have a real “is this a change in skills!?” discussion. But the only thing unique about this run of low-ish (for him) strikeouts is that it is happening to open a season so it is highly visible.

Second, over the last almost-two weeks, his K-rate is back up over 35%. Is the honeymoon already over? And given all this, why do I have him on FIVE rosters?

Well, there are two reasons I have him in so many places. First, he is on all three of my Ottoneu Prestige League rosters, where his combination of power and positional eligiblity makes him a nice end-of-roster type, capable of dropping a big number for me at 1B, 3B or OF. Second, I was pretty caught up in Ke’Bryan Hayes and, as a result, I have a number of rosters short at 3B right now. And have you looked for free agent 3B? Yikes.

So I have Wisdom for now, but yes, I think the honeymoon is over. Or, rather, I think Wisdom is who he has always been, and I am not going to keep him around for long (except maybe for OPL).

 





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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JustAnotherBaseballFanmember
1 month ago

I think Refsnyder is happy to have a job, but hopefully no one is fooled he is going to be anything more than helpful to a Sox team desperate for offense. If he doesn’t look like he’s even going to reach a Brock Holt height, he’s truly a tepid consideration.

ismailadiememember
1 month ago

Hehe Brock Holt height