Boy, does it not feel good to be back thinking about Fantasy Baseball all the time.
Is there anything more important than making daily waiver decisions, setting your lineup, and fielding trade offers? Nothing comes to mind.
Over the first month of the season, we will be building the analytical foundation that will help us throughout the 2016 campaign. We will touch on all of the statistics that will aid in determining what production is sustainable and what is a farce.
Fantasy owners tend to gravitate towards the headline numbers, especially over small sample sizes, and jump to incorrect conclusions. By looking at the bigger picture, you can greatly increase your team’s Fantasy production over the long haul. The underlying statistics will not guarantee success, in reality nothing will; however, the correct analysis will increase your probability of success.
In last week’s Fantasy Lookout, we discussed a few trends that are developing in Fantasy Baseball. In this week’s column, we will touch on a few topics including Trevor Story’s incredible start, a couple of closer situations, and then we will close things out with an analysis of the average construction of a power hitter.
The Fantasy Lookout
Trevor’s Mile High Story
Speaking of a power hitter, let’s kick things off with the Story that Trevor has been writing in Colorado. Since he has already locked up the NL MVP and NL Rookie of the Year awards, the only thing left to determine is who will finish second. Wow, his value is through the roof right now. If there was ever a sell high opportunity, this has to be it. Let all the small sample size extrapolators know he is on the block and cash that chip in now. That is how you manage your assets.
Even the most bullish owners out there know he won’t maintain this torrid pace, but his brief minor league track record suggests that he will struggle to reach 20 home runs this year. Across Double-A and Triple-A last year, he hit .279 along with 20 homers. That came after seasons of 18, 12, and 14 long balls. You also have to add in the possibility that Jose Reyes returns at some point this year and playing time becomes another question mark.
All hot starts are not created equally. Take Robinson Cano for example, as his four home runs during the opening week has rekindled the memories of his prime. Following last year’s superb second half, Cano seems like a great bet to reach the 25, or even 30 home run plateau again in 2016. The confidence in Story for the remainder of the year has to be a fraction when compared to Cano.
As the any Fantasy season gets underway, the words “Don’t panic” are often heard. While I do believe this to be true, especially with veterans, there is one instance where I think panic is warranted … closers.
The closer role in the Fantasy world is unique, as the role has a greater impact than skill. Turnover at the closer position is common and when you combine poor performance by the incumbent with quality alternatives, the stage is set. There are a couple of potential closer changes that could be brewing.
Santiago Casilla, who was unspectacular last year, has already blown a save and with Sergio Romo and Hunter Strickland as options, his leash has to be extremely short.
Shawn Tolleson has not had a good start to the year. Remember that last year in Game 1 of the ALDS, manager Jeff Banister didn’t even use him as the closer. With Sam Dyson and Keone Kela ready and waiting, a change at some point seems inevitable.
Building a Power Hitter
In order to analyze what we are looking for in a power hitter, let’s first breakdown their common attributes. In the following chart, we first sorted all qualified hitters by their 2015 HR/AB ratio. We then separated them into quartiles. For each of the four groups, various statistics were chosen that seem to show an explainable relationship.
The top power hitters (first quartile) tend to put the ball in the air at a higher rate than the norm. They also have the lowest ground ball rate. The non-power hitters (fourth quartile) have a much higher ground ball to fly ball ratio, and as we all know, it is extremely tough to have a ground ball leave the yard.
Power hitters don’t get cheated at the plate. In their constant attempt to hit the long ball, plenty of empty swings tend to be the result. Therefore, it can’t be a surprise that they have the lowest contact rate along with the highest swinging strike rate.
While many home run hitters have the ability to hit the ball out of the park the other way, it is much more common to generate power when you pull the ball. You can see that the top power hitters nearly have a two-to-one ratio in terms of pull rate versus opposite field rate. While the non-power hitters have ratios that approaches one-to-one.
The key to hitting the ball far is to first hit the ball hard. Consistent weak contact is not a trademark of a home run hitter. With the highest hard hit rate and the lowest soft hit rate, you can see that power hitters tend to square up the ball with regularity.
In summary, on average, the top power hitters hit fly balls, pull the ball, and make solid contact. Unfortunately, this also tends to result in a lot of swings and misses. These statistics will come in handy throughout the year as you attempt to determine the validity of a player’s HR/FB ratio. As long as a hitter has the ingredients of a power hitter, the long balls should come.
Next week we will dig into the key attributes of the top batting average hitters, along with other Fantasy news. Until next week, enjoy the games!
Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
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