The Weird and the Wonderful Pt. 2 – 8/6/20

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 see who is part of the weird and wonderful today.

  • These guys are proud members of the 35%+ 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!):

    Robinson Cano
    Yasmani Grandal
    Whit Merrifield
    Tony Wolters
    Brandon Crawford
    Ronald Acuna Jr.
    Nicholas Castellanos
    Charlie Blackmon
    Eric Sogard

    It’s too bad Cano hit the IL as he was enjoying a nice start to the season. Woah! Yasmani Grandal has rarely been a model of line drive ability, sporting a career mark of just 18.7% (league average has ranged between 20.3% and 21.7%), so his current 38.1% is a surprise. Maaaaybe the Brewers making Eric Sogard their starting third baseman isn’t as hilarious as I thought.

  • So maybe Vladimir Guerrero Jr. isn’t ready quite yet to begin his Hall of Fame career. He sports the lowest LD% in baseball at just 4%. That’s one line drive out of 25 batted balls. He struggled with liners during his rookie campaign last year as well, but not to this degree!
  • Who hates worms? Alex Verdugo does! Even with extra time for his back injury to heal, his swing might not be right, as he has hit grounders at a ridiculous 81% rate, easily leading baseball.
  • Verdugo isn’t the only worm killer. These hitters have all posted GB% marks over 70%. You can’t hit a homer on a ground ball, well, unless it’s misplayed and not recorded as an error or you’re reeeaaaaaallllllly fast.

    Jackie Bradley Jr.
    Shed Long
    Yandy Diaz
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Tommy Pham

    What’s shocking is this is a list of guys who should be contributing in home runs, so that’s not a good sign. There’s Guerrero again, showing a batted ball distribution no one wants to see from him.

  • These hitters have been anointed chief execs of the Fly Ball Revolution this season, all sporting FB% marks above 55%:

    Matt Chapman
    Trent Grisham
    Alex Dickerson
    Austin Riley

    All else being equal, more fly balls equal more home runs. This is good news for these four in terms of their home run potential, but all these flies may kill their batting averages. However, the small sample size of the season means there will be more BABIP gyration, so I’d buy the power and cross my fingers by the end of the season, the BABIPs fortunately settle higher than they “should”.

  • These hitters are making it easy on defenses by leading baseball in pop-ups with five:

    Matt Chapman
    Yoan Moncada

    There’s Chapman again, which isn’t so surprising considering he also leads baseball in fly balls. Because of swing plane, fly balls are highly correlated with pop-ups. This is even more of a reason to worry about Chapman’s BABIP and ultimately, batting average…if he were to maintain such extreme rates.

  • After Aaron Judge’s home run streak, it’s no surprise to find him easily atop the HR/FB rate leaderboard with an insane 60% mark.
  • Judge isn’t the only hitter knocking a high rate of his fly balls over the wall. These hitters have posted HR/FB rates of at least 50%:

    Nicholas Castellanos
    Nelson Cruz
    DJ LeMahieu
    Giancarlo Stanton
    Kyle Lewis
    Eloy Jimenez

    Seriously, does age mean nothing to Cruz? If we project a major performance decline every season, eventually we’ll be right, RIGHT?

We hoped you liked reading The Weird and the Wonderful Pt. 2 – 8/6/20 by Mike Podhorzer!

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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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