Where Has Their Power Gone?

In my chat last night, I got several questions on Joey Votto and his power loss. I decided I investigate the drop along with several other regulars who currently have an isolated power (ISO) less than their projected Steam projections.

To get a list of hitters, I took the hitter with a least 150 PA this season and compared their projected and actual ISO’s. Here the top 20.

Hitters Under Performing Their Projected ISO
Name Age Projected Actual Difference
Chris Davis 32 .249 .079 .170
Kole Calhoun 30 .171 .035 .137
Rougned Odor 24 .224 .088 .135
Giancarlo Stanton 28 .367 .244 .123
Jay Bruce 31 .225 .109 .115
Marcell Ozuna 27 .227 .113 .114
Neil Walker 32 .197 .088 .109
Domingo Santana 25 .211 .107 .104
Joey Votto 34 .225 .134 .092
Addison Russell 24 .192 .102 .090
Michael Conforto 25 .231 .144 .087
Yulieski Gurriel 34 .182 .101 .081
Jackie Bradley Jr. 28 .187 .110 .076
Rhys Hoskins 25 .268 .191 .076
Orlando Arcia 23 .143 .067 .076
Adrian Beltre 39 .184 .109 .076
Anthony Rizzo 28 .261 .187 .074
Jose Pirela 28 .151 .078 .073
Kendrys Morales 35 .210 .138 .073
Josh Donaldson 32 .261 .190 .072

When analyzing these players, the first item I look for is an injury (see Josh Donaldson). The next item is to compare their StatCast data, exit velocity, launch angle, and distance to see if the hitter has changed their approach (i.e. launch angle) or are weaker.

While I won’t cover all the players listed, here are my thoughts on some:

Chris Davis
In my opinion, Davis was a buy-low option coming into last season because he played through a hand injury in 2016. Since that injury, he’s been useless as a fantasy option. He’s either aging quickly into uselessness or hiding a major injury.

Right now, there is nothing positive to point to. A 0.23 BB/K is his lowest since 2012. His 46% GB% is a career high. Hard hit rate (34%) is the lowest since 2011. There is nothing positive with his batting profile, no power or plate discipline, to make him a fantasy asset. The only thing keeping him on the field right now is the ~$100M he is owed on his contract.

Kole Calhoun

What a mess. Everything points to him hiding an injury and at least he’s finally on the DL for an oblique.

Giancarlo Stanton

A power hitter is going to struggle when they put the ball on the ground 46% of the time.

Marcell Ozuna

The more I dive into his profile, I think his 2018 production is in line with his historical outputs, especially home runs. Here are his HR/FB% since 2014.

Season: HR/FB%
2014: 17%
2015: 9%
2016: 14%
2017: 23%
2018: 10%
Career: 15%

A 10% HR/FB% is not an outlier consider his 15% career value. It’s just a stark contrast to the 23% mark from last season.

One issue which does worry me is his 50% GB%. That’s way too high for a power hitter.

Domingo Santana

While a surplus of Brewer outfielders has cut into his playing time, he’s not helped his cause while playing by hitting only 3 HR in 200 PA. Like with several of the other hitters I wrote about, he has a 50% GB%. He’s hitting hard grounders and with his speed, he has a spiffy .371 BABIP (.357 on career). Otherwise, I can’t find a smoking gun for his power outage.

Joey Votto

The only part of Votto’s game which is suffering is his power. In previous seasons, his HR/FB% was near 20%. Now, it is hovering around 11%. After examining his StatCast data, the only item which really stood out is his Barrell rate dropping from being consistently over 6% to under 4%.

Finding a reason behind Votto’s struggles is easy. His back is giving him issues. The first time his back pain came to light was when he left a game on May 14th.

He missed some more time after this game as he tried to heal.

I think his back had been a problem up to that point and continues to be. His ISO continues to slide.

Month: ISO
Apr: .140
May: .130
Jun: .125

It will be interesting to see if and when his power returns.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

Why was Chris Davis projected for such a high ISO? He hasn’t surpassed that projection since 2015, and only has 3 times in his 10 year career (including year 1 – so really could say 2 times in the last 9 years).

5 years ago
Reply to  tb.25

Baltimore should have stood firm when they pulled the contract they offered him when he was a free agent since he was trying to use it as leverage for a better deal. I *think* most people thought he already hit his ceiling.