The Weird and the Wonderful — 4/20/2022

Let’s finish running through the extreme performances on the hitting side before moving to the pitchers. Today I’ll check in on the batted ball type related metrics.

  • These guys are proud members of the 40%+ line drive rate club. Remember, line drives fall for hits the most often of all batted ball types, so a high mark here could confirm an inflated BABIP (though that doesn’t mean the BABIP, and LD%, are sustainable!):

    Chris Taylor
    Jorge Mateo
    Eric Hosmer

    Unsurprisingly, the lowest BABIP of this trio is .450. Chris Taylor has become a nice power/speed contributor and has been a line drive machine throughout his career. He owns a 24.8% career LD%, so hitting them is nothing new. Aside from the liners, he hasn’t popped-up yet, which certainly helps explain his current .476 BABIP!

    A .450 BABIP is clearly what’s driving fantasy owners to pick up Jorge Mateo, but even with that, he’s still sitting with just a .316 wOBA. It’s hard to believe he’s going to hold a starting job all year, as he’s just not a good hitter. Of course, the Orioles don’t have any other real alternatives, so given his steal potential, he could end up a significantly better fantasy contributor than real life player.

    Eric Hosmer is back to rarely hitting fly balls (11.1% FB%), but at least he’s hitting line drives instead of grounders. His HR/FB rate will need to rebound to have any sort of shallow mixed league value, but he’s seemingly looking more like toast in fantasy leagues.

  • Who needs line drives?! These guys have failed to hit a single one so far:

    Salvador Perez
    Eloy Jiménez
    Tommy Pham

    Wow, this is quite the trio of hitters! Far more impressive than the high LD% group, that’s for sure. It’s been a bizarre start for Salvador Perez, as he hasn’t hit a liner or taken a walk yet, 75% of his batted balls have been of the fly ball variety, and his BABIP, unsurprisingly, is below .200.

    Eloy Jiménez has also posted a strange batted ball distribution, with no line drives or pop-ups, and 71.4% of his batted balls on the ground. Small sample fun!

    Tommy Pham has gotten off to a slow start, but I think he’ll be fine in his new park that’s excellent for home runs.

  • Who hates worms? These hitters do! This group has posted a GB% of at least 65%:

    Eloy Jimenez
    Nathaniel Lowe
    Randy Arozarena
    Nick Madrigal
    Ian Happ

    Hmmm, only one of these batters has a legitimate reason to hit ground balls so often. Nick Madrigal, keep it up, and utilize that speed! For the rest of you — what are you doing?!

  • This group has been anointed the board of directors of the Fly Ball Revolution this season, all sporting FB% marks above 65%:

    Salvador Perez
    Miguel Sanó
    Oscar Mercado
    Christian Walker

    There’s Salvador Perez again who has taken his fly ball hitting to the absolute extreme. At least Miguel Sanó has the big power to make the most of all those flies. He hasn’t actually done so yet, though, with just one homer. The good news is his walk and strikeout rates look real good, so I wouldn’t get hung up on the odd batted ball distribution, microscopic BABIP, and just one homer so far.

    Why oh why, Oscar Mercado, are you hitting so many flies? Oh, and you haven’t even taken a walk yet. Time might be running out for him to translate his minor league performance to the Majors, and this start isn’t going to convince anyone he’s deserving of at least semi-regular playing time (ignore the .320 wOBA, which is boosted by a fluky 20% HR/FB rate and three homers).

    Christian Walker was a big disappointment last year and has traded line drives for flies so far. It’s too bad the Diamondbacks lineup is so weak that even if he rebounds somewhat, his RBI and runs scored totals aren’t going to make him much more than replacement level in shallow mixed leagues.

  • This pair is popping up all over the place, leading baseball with at least four infield flies:

    Enrique Hernández
    Whit Merrifield

    Lots of fly balls, plus a high IFFB% has led to a league-leading six pop-ups for Enrique Hernández. It’s one of the reasons his BABIP sits sub-.200. Most everything else looks normal at least.

    This has been a really strange start for Whit Merrifield. Never known for walking, his willingness to take a base on balls has reached a career low, but his strikeout rate has also dropped into single digits. It’s interesting given his SwStk% has jumped into double digits for the first time. What’s happening? His Swing% is at a career high, so he’s just swinging at everything, reducing both his walk and strikeout rates. He has also amazingly posted at least a 30% rate in all four batted ball types, which is quite fun to see. At least he’s swiped three bases already.

  • These hitters are making the most of their fly balls, posting HR/FB rates of at least 40%:

    Ji-Man Choi
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Tommy Edman

    Ji-Man Choi is off to a sizzling start, but he’s still a platoon player and I don’t see how this should change his rest of season projection. So much for last season being Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s peak? Though, his walk rate has plummeted, while both his SwStk% and strikeout rate have spiked. Those are some potential warning signs here that a slowdown could be imminent.

    Tommy Edman showing the power! He appeared on my “2021 Review — Hitter HR/FB Declines That Were FAKE!” list of hitters whose HR/FB rates declined in 2021, but my xHR/FB rate suggested the decline was not deserved. Oddly, he hasn’t even attempted a steal yet, but he’s certainly doing enough overall to justify his draft day cost right now.

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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7 months ago

I love these pieces. Really interesting!