The Weird and the Wonderful Pt. 2 — 4/13/21

Yesterday, I discussed a whole bunch of hitting metrics and who currently leads and lags the league. Things be crazy this early in a season. I didn’t quite finish diving into all the metrics I wanted to, so today I’ll check in on the batted ball type related metrics. Let’s find out who is part of the weird and wonderful today.

  • 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!):

    Ty France
    Corey Seager
    Colin Moran
    Starling Marte

    France’s big spring training meant he was no longer a sleeper, as his draft price surged, which increased the output he needed to produce in order to break even for his new owners. So far, it’s been a weird start to his year, as he’s striking out more than ever before, but making the most of his balls in play with a ton of line drives and no pop-ups. Personally, I was quite ticked he went off in Spring to raise his price, as I was a fan heading into the year after his 2019 Triple-A power outburst.

    Corey Seager has been really good over his 45 plate appearances…but has yet to homer. That’s because he’s too busy lacing liners all over the field and has only posted a 17.2% FB%. Colin Moran enjoyed a power spike last year, so for his next trick, he’s just going to go line drive bananas and post a BABIP over .500.

  • Who needs line drives?! These guys have posted LD% marks below 5%:

    Freddie Freeman
    Phillip Evans
    Justin Upton
    Asdrubal Cabrera
    Giancarlo Stanton

    Seeing Freeman’s name at the bottom of the LD% leaders list is shocking. He owns a career 27.77% mark, making him one of the best (if not, the best) line drive hitter of the past decade. It also explains why his BABIP is a hilariously low .045! Phillip Evans is coming out of nowhere to do a lot of things well over his first 31 plate appearances, but hitting liners isn’t one of them. A weird, but productive start. If you’re a Stanton owner, all you care about is a FB% rebound after it dipped well below 30% last year during an injured shortened short season.

  • Who hates worms? These hitters do! This pair has posted a GB% over 70%:

    Mike Yastrzemski
    Nick Madrigal

  • One of these names does not belong here, the other I’m totes cool with. Can you guess which belongs in which group? I believed in a Yastrzemski repeat (well, except for the BABIP), but obviously that ain’t happening if he isn’t hitting flies. On the other hand, all you want to see from Madrigal is liners and grounders. He’s got the grounders part so far, but not the liners. With three walks and just one strikeout, supported by a microscopic 0.8% SwStk%, his skill set is one of a kind and fascinating to follow.

  • This pair has been anointed chief execs of the Fly Ball Revolution this season, both sporting FB% marks above 60%:

    Marcell Ozuna
    Eugenio Suarez

    At least these are two names you want hitting lots of flies, but perhaps 60% is a little too many. Fly balls are great for homers, of course, but they are BABIP killers. Still, it’s a balancing act to maximize wOBA. What’s funny is despite all the flies, Ozuna has yet to homer.

  • These hitters are popping up all over the place, leading baseball with five apiece:

    Christian Vazquez
    Miguel Sano

    All those pop-ups haven’t hurt Vazquez’s production yet, as he’s sitting pretty with a .407 BABIP. But that’s not going to continue, even without the pop-ups. Sano is redefining “three true outcomes” and expanding it to four of them, as he’s either struck out, walked, hit a fly ball, or a line drive. You would think/hope by now he would have improved his strikeout rate, but his career best mark remains his 2015 debut year at 35.5%. Perhaps one of these years we’ll get 500 plate appearances from him.

  • These hitters are making the most of their fly balls, posting HR/FB rates of at least 60%:

    Randy Arozarena
    Adam Eaton
    Javier Baez

    After his torrid regular and postseason, we all figured Arozarena would post at least a 50% HR/FB rate over the full 2021 season, right? While things have been good so far, don’t totally ignore his 1:12 BB:K ratio and 19.1% SwStk% at the moment. Okay seriously, Adam Eaton?!!?!? Not mentioned ini the preceding Arozarena sentence is that his mark resulted from two homers on just three flies. Eaton is the same way. The pair have only hit three fly balls, but two of them have sailed over the wall. Obviously, this is exactly what Eaton owners drafted him for. A rebound back above a 20% mark would be nice for Baez owners, but that won’t fix his bigger and bigger struggles to make contact, or his inability to take a walk

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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Jolly Good Show
Jolly Good Show

Yastrzemski injured his hand right at the end of spring training. I suspect that this is the root cause of his lack of performance.