The Weird and the Wonderful – 8/5/20

What I love about the first couple of weeks in the baseball season is all the crazy rates players are posting. In small samples, the variance in all metrics is much wider than in a larger sample. Obviously, the larger the sample, the more a player’s performance will revert toward his true talent level. In only around 10 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:

    Andrew Benintendi
    Mike Yastrzemski
    Matt Olson
    Yandy Diaz
    Carlos Santana

    This is a fun group of hitters. I was bullish on Yastrzemski following up on last season’s partial season breakout and he’s looking good so far.

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

    Jonathan Schoop
    Enrique Hernandez
    Maikel Franco
    Jose Peraza
    Amed Rosario
    Whit Merrifield

  • Joey Votto leads baseball (among 30+ PA hitters) with the lowest strikeout rate at just 2.8%. That’s one strikeout. While he didn’t quite make it among the walk rate leaders, he continues to do his thing, walking 16.7% of the time.
  • Meanwhile, these hitters have all struck out at least 40% of the time:

    Niko Goodrum
    Ryan McMahon
    Dansby Swanson
    Evan White
    Willson Contreras

    Welp, this isn’t the group of hitters you expected to be at the top. What on Earth is Goodrum doing?! I couldn’t understand why White was handed the Mariners first base job with just 18 career plate appearances above Double-A, and so far, he hasn’t done anything to make one think he’s ready to succeed at the MLB level.

  • Speaking of Dansby Swanson, he’s the proud owner of the worst BB%-K% at -38.6%. That’s right, to go along with his sky high 40.9% strikeout rate, he has walked just 2.8% of the time. Yup, that’s a 1/18 BB/K ratio from the guy who has been pretty consistent with his walk and strikeout rates throughout his career.
  • These hitters lead baseball in BB%-K% as the only three members of the over 10% club:

    Joey Votto
    Tommy La Stella
    Yandy Diaz

    There’s Votto again and Yandy, who we saw in the high walk rate club.

  • These hitters have struggled — majorly — to make contact, as the four members of the over 20% SwStk% club:

    Luis Robert
    Keston Hiura
    Josh Bell
    Franmil Reyes

    Robert?! I’M SHOCKED! You likely forgot by now that in early March, I published a diatribe on why he was ridiculously overvalued in drafts. He’s managed to make me look silly so far with two homers, three steals, and a .350 average, but it all seems to be built on a house of cards. His BABIP is an insane .462, while that SwStk% suggests high risk his strikeout rate jumps higher. Right now, he’s swinging at everything, which is the only reason his strikeout rate remains sub-30%.

  • Who has the power (Besides He-Man, of course)? These guys are in the rarified .500+ ISO club:

    Aaron Judge
    Nicholas Castellanos
    Teoscar Hernandez

    After Judge’s home run streak, it’s no surprise to see him here. Ya think Castellanos’ Detroit ballpark was holding back his home run power output? Umm yes, yes I do.

  • However, this list of the next guys down in the ISO rankings is far more interesting:

    Colin Moran
    Christian Vazquez
    Joey Gallo
    JaCoby Jones

    Years ago, we (or maybe it was just me?) heard that Moran had changed his swing and joined the fly ball revolution. This happened in the minors and his surging FB% confirmed the change. But the change failed to carry over to the Majors and he hasn’t shown any power as a result. Perhaps something finally clicked, because now his FB% has spiked and he has combined that with an absurd 55.6% HR/FB rate. An early indication of a true breakout? Maaaaaaybe. It’s still hard for me to believe that the former strong defensively, but can’t hit, Vazquez is suddenly a power hitter.

  • These hitters’ balls in play are finding every single hole as members of the .500+ BABIP club:

    Kyle Lewis
    Dansby Swanson
    Donovan Solano
    Michael Brantley
    Willson Contreras
    Willy Adames

    Lewis has been one of the talks in the early going, but c’mon now! He homered in his first two games to get everyone hyped, but he has homered just once since and his ridiculous BABIP is what is propping up his performance now. He’s either the next Joey Gallo or is going to fall hard. I find it hilarious when guys like Donovan Solano get added in leagues, solely as a result of his inflated BABIP. The guy has no power or speed and plays on a weak Giants offense. Do fantasy owners really think the hits will just keep on falling?

  • These hitters just can’t get their batted balls to fall in for hits. I present to you the sub-.100 BABIP club:

    Jurickson Profar
    Nick Ahmed
    Miguel Cabrera
    Justin Upton
    Albert Pujols

    It’s no surprise that two of the league’s slowest hitters (Cabrera and Pujols) appear here, but obviously no MLB hitter is so slow that a sub-.100 BABIP is justified. Man, who’s buying Upton?!

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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