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With the trade deadline likely in the rearview mirror in most leagues, most Fantasy owners are just left with start/sit decisions, along with waiver wire transactions. Leagues with deep benches allow for the active owners to constantly play the right matchups. In roto league leagues, category positioning has to be the single most important data point from here on out.

With that in mind, in this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will take a look into three hot hitters that have been on fire over the past month or so. We will try and shed some light on the sustainability of the hot streak for the remainder of this year and 2017.

Each of these hot hitters rank within the Top 10 according to Yahoo over the past 30 days based on their 5×5 roto stats.

When trying to determine the legitimacy of a player’s performance, it helps to look at their past performance along with the underlying data. Players can improve, no doubt, but if an increase in roto stats is not accompanied with an increase in peripherals, then you need to be cautious.

Now that the temperature is so hot, let’s see if anything can cool these hot hitters down.

 

The Fantasy Lookout: Hot Hitters; Are these guys for real?

 

Brad Miller, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

R HR RBI SB AVG FB% Hard% Pull% HR/FB%
Last 30 days 20 10 22 2 .330 33.8% 40.0% 49.2% 45.5%
2016 58 25 57 6 .265 35.6% 34.2% 41.4% 23.1%
Career 34.4% 30.9% 38.1% 13.5%

 

I have always thought of Miller as a cheap, mid-range power-speed type of hitter. One that could hit 15 homers and swipe 15 bags over a full season and would be available late in drafts. This year, the moderate speed has been there, since he has six stolen bases to his credit.

However, the real story has been his power explosion, as he has launched 25 long balls already with 15 of them coming since July 1. When you look at his under-hood-stats, they are all within a reasonable range from his career figures, except for his HR/FB ratio. Currently, Miller is sporting a 23.1-percent HR/FB mark after seasons of 9.9-percent, 9.6-percent, and 10.3-percent.

Miller does have a slightly increased hard hit rate and pull rate, both which are positively correlated to power numbers, but the magnitude is so minor that it hardly explains the massive increase in home runs. On the plus side, Miller has seen a material jump, almost 20 feet, in his average fly ball distance, so that bodes well for sustainability.

Overall, I think that Miller is going through a hot stretch and he is unlikely to approach his 2016 home run total ever again. Maybe I need to adjust my opinion of Miller to more of a 20/10 type of hitter, and not a 15/15 type of hitter, which is still a very valuable middle infield resource in Fantasy Baseball.

 

Yasmany Tomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

R HR RBI SB AVG FB% Hard% Pull% HR/FB%
Last 30 days 20 12 23 0 .323 38.9% 50.0% 48.6% 42.9%
2016 57 25 57 2 .269 31.8% 42.5% 43.2% 26.9%
Career 27.5% 36.7% 37.4% 21.0%

 

Tomas has had a different approach this year and the results have been positive. He too has experienced a power surge and the underlying data suggests it is likely to continue.

He has seen a material increase in his fly ball rate, pull rate, and hard hit rate. In fact, his hard rate of 42.5-percent is good for seventh in all of baseball among qualified hitters. All of these changes have allowed Tomas to hit 25 home runs already. His HR/FB ratio of 26.9-percent, which ranks second in baseball, is a tad inflated; however, a mark north of 20-percent is realistic given the underlying data.

Tomas has been white hot since the All-Star Break, where he has hit 12 home runs in just 101 at-bats. However, even his first half pace of 26 home runs, 74 runs, and 68 RBI, shows significant improvement. Given the across the board advances in his power indicators, I think Tomas should be considered a legit 30 home run threat over the next few years.

 

Hernan Perez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

R HR RBI SB AVG FB% Hard% Pull% HR/FB%
Last 30 days 21 6 16 12 .309 39.3% 34.4% 48.9% 17.1%
2016 34 11 40 22 .285 36.5% 33.8% 39.7% 15.1%
Career 35.2% 30.5% 36.7% 7.4%

 

Perez has taken full advantage of his opportunity with the Brew Crew, especially since he landed an everyday gig after the Aaron Hill trade in early July. He has been one of the most productive hitters since the All-Star Break, as he has hit .313 along with seven home runs, 22 runs, 21 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.

His stolen base total of 22 so far this year, despite only registering 256 at-bats, has only been a mild surprise. Perez recorded four consecutive seasons with at least 21 steals in the minors from 2011 though 2014, so you can see that speed has always been a part of his game. Perez has also benefited from the fact that the Brewers are not afraid to run as they lead baseball in both stolen bases and caught stealing.

The real shocker has to do with the long ball. Prior to this year, Perez had never exceeded eight home runs in a single season in the minor leagues. Plus, in the year that he did hit eight, Perez required over 500 at-bats to do it, essentially double the amount that he has registered this year.

Given that Perez’s 2016 batted ball profile is so similar to the league average, I guess it is possible that he can maintain his 15.1-percent HR/FB ratio. It would just be a touch surprising since he has never consistently exhibited that type of power before. All things considered, the power does not seem sustainable, but the speed (for the most part) does. I would forecast a 2017 season with a home run total right around 10 and a stolen base mark close to 30.

 

Anytime that you are dealing with hot hitters, the first thing you need to do is to look at their underlying stats. An analysis of a player’s batted ball profile is a great way gauge the sustainability of a hot streak as long as the sample size is large enough. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games.

Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com

 

 

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Fabian Taylor
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Fabian Taylor

Fabian Taylor lives in Vancouver, BC. In his previous life, he traded natural gas for a couple firms in Calgary. He now trades stocks, bonds, and commodities out of a float home office. Family, finance and Fantasy Sports -- Is there anything else?
Fabian Taylor
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