The Weird and the Wonderful — 4/18/22

What I love about the first couple of weeks of the baseball season is all the crazy rates players are posting. In small samples, the range recorded in all metrics is much wider than over a larger sample. Obviously, the larger the sample, the more a player’s performance will revert toward his true talent level. In only nine to 11 games, anything goes! So for fun, let’s take a gander at some of the weird and wonderful rates that have been posted by hitters so far.

So there’s at least some care given to sample size, I limited my dive to hitters who have recorded at least 30 plate appearances.

  • These hitters have been super patient, all walking at least 20% of the time:

    Jesse Winker
    Matt Olson
    Seiya Suzuki
    Juan Soto
    Eduardo Escobar
    Anthony Santander
    Steven Kwan
    Rhys Hoskins
    Francisco Lindor
    Max Muncy
    Daulton Varsho

    There are some really interesting names on this list. It’s always challenging to forecast players coming over from a foreign league, but so far, Seiya Suzuki has been better than anyone could have imagined. He has walked as often as he has struck out, posted a tiny 4.7% SwStk%, has hit tons of fly balls, and made the most of them with a 27.3% HR/FB rate. It’s only been 30 PAs and you would expect some adjustments to be made from pitchers, so we’ll see how long Suzuki can remain an elite hitter. Not this elite, of course, as no one expects him to maintain a .575 wOBA!

    I love seeing guys who have rarely walked in the past show up here. Anthony Santander has never posted a walk rate over 6.1%, yet here he is, posting a mark over 20% over a tiny sample. He’s posted a .435 wOBA so far, but since the Orioles offense has stunk up the joint, Santander has only record one RBI and run scored.

  • These hitters have yet to take a base on balls this season:

    C.J. Cron
    Chad Pinder
    Cristian Pache
    Salvador Perez
    Amed Rosario
    Keibert Ruiz
    Bo Bichette
    Jonathan Schoop
    Randy Arozarena

    I guess when you’re C.J. Cron, toting a .545 ISO, who needs to take pitches?! But when you’re Cristian Pache and don’t possess that much power, you need to be getting on base any way you can. Luckily, Pache’s defense and the rebuilding efforts in Oakland should give him a long leash to threaten double digit homers and steals.

    Randy Arozarena, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts. He has massively overperformed his xwOBA since debuting, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he disappoints and loses some playing time.

  • These hitters have all struck out 8% or less of the time:

    J.P. Crawford
    Steven Kwan
    Jose Ramirez

    J.P. Crawford owns a tasty 4:1 BB:K ratio, en route to a delightful .443 wOBA. He has even stolen a base already, but unsurprisingly, has yet to homer. Given his typical spot toward the bottom of the lineup, there’s not a lot to like here from a fantasy perspective unless/until he experiences a power surge.

    You’ve all been made well aware that Steven Kwan has been kwantastic to start the year, but is 0 for 11 over his last three games. It was bound to happen! His plate skills have always been fabulous, but will he hit for enough power and steal enough bases to be relevant in shallower leagues? He’s already likely to sit against left-handers. His value gets a big boost in OBP leagues. He’s essentially Joe Mauer when Mauer only qualified at first. Don’t get carried away here because of a .400 BABIP.

  • These hitters have all struck out at least 38% of the time:

    Julio Rodríguez
    Dansby Swanson
    Chad Pinder

    Uh oh, that’s uber prospect Julio Rodríguez atop the strikeout rate “leader”board. He’s walked three times versus 16 strikeouts over 31 PAs. That’s not a good start. He never had an at-bat at the Triple-A level, and I’m always skeptical of hitters making the leap from Double-A to the Majors. Remember that the sample here is tiny, so it’s too early to make a claim that he’s not ready. But, it’s very possible that he isn’t given his age and lack of upper minors experience. When Kyle Lewis returns and if Rodríguez hasn’t turned things around, he may very well find himself back in the minors to get that much needed Triple-A experience.

    My gosh, what has happened to Dansby Swanson?! The odd thing is that his SwStk% is right in line with his past two seasons, yet his strikeout rate has skyrocketed from the mid-20% range to just over 40%. That’s because he’s suddenly become ultra passive, swinging far less at pitches inside the strike zone, resulting in a career worst 20.9% CStr%. I’m guessing that won’t continue, but it’s weird to see.

    Chad Pinder is lucky he plays on a team without any acceptable alternatives. That 0:13 BB:K ratio is uuuuuugly!

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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Joe Wilkeymember
2 months ago

The way pitchers have approached J.P. Crawford to this (admittedly very early) point makes no sense. Here’s a guy who has a well below average ISO along with a well below average O-Swing% throughout his career, and his Zone% is under 40%. I anticipate it won’t be too long until pitchers start challenging him in the strike zone again and he goes back to being fantasy irrelevant.

2 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wilkey

I’m wondering if it’s just a lack of command early in the season by those pitchers.