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.
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||28||.187||.110||.076|
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:
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.
What a mess. Everything points to him hiding an injury and at least he’s finally on the DL for an oblique.
A power hitter is going to struggle when they put the ball on the ground 46% of the time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Votto left the game with lower back tightness.
— Reds Media Relations (@RedsPR) May 15, 2018
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.
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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.