Over the final month of the season, the Fantasy Lookout column will be taking on a slightly different approach.
It will be split into two components; the first portion will focus on the remainder of the 2015 campaign and the second portion will focus on a look ahead to the 2016 season.
In the opening segment this week, we will discuss three players who have been too lucky for their own good. Regression should occur and Fantasy owners need to get in front of the oncoming change.
In the second segment, we will analyze three players who will disappoint owners in 2016 based on some divergent data in 2015. This is a warning to not pay the market price for these players based off of their solid 2015 campaigns.
Well, let’s get to it!
The Fantasy Lookout
Inflated BABIP. Look out below!
A couple weeks ago, we talked about a few players who had a temporarily low BABIP. In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will look at the other end of the spectrum and identify three hitters who have a temporarily inflated BABIP.
All of the stats that we used this week are second half numbers; this gives us the best idea of who has been unsustainably hot.
Players who sustain a high BABIP typically have a few common traits. First, they tend produce more than their fair share of line drives and hard hits. Second, they find a way to avoid the easy outs on balls that are put into play; therefore a fewer than normal amount of popups and soft hits. Finally, speed can be a huge BABIP booster; legging out infield hits can make up for some of the previously mentioned attributes.
Now, let’s see which players are about to experience the BABIP fade.
The chart below has second half data on the three players who are expected to see a fall in their BABIP over the remainder of the year. The league average is also added to provide context.
LD%: All three of these guys have a marginal line drive rate, at best. In fact, Xander Bogaerts is the only one amongst the group who hits line drives at a rate better than the league average.
Hard%: All three players have a hard hit percentage that is significantly less than the league average. If you don’t hit the ball hard, the ball seems to find fewer holes.
IFFB%: Francisco Lindor is just hitting too many popups. However, for both Xander Bogaerts and Didi Gregorius, popups are not the reason to expect a BABIP fall.
Soft%: Bogaerts has done a reasonable job of limiting the number of softly hit balls; however, the same can’t be said for Lindor or Gregorius.
Speed: Based off of stolen base totals, Lindor appears to be the only player of the three that would have above average speed.
Based on the above metrics, it seems that these three players should have a BABIP closer to the league average, not their current marks that are 60 to 90 points higher. Of the group, Boagerts has the best peripherals; however, a fall in his rest of season BABIP of at least 50 points does not seem to be an aggressive expectation.
A high BABIP does not always result in regression to the mean. There are a few factors that can result in a sustainable, strong BABIP. However, if these important factors are not present, luck can be the cause and the expectation is that the trap door will open and the BABIP will take the long tumble down.
Hitters to Fade in 2016
We are at the time of year where Fantasy owners start to think about next year, especially those in keeper and dynasty leagues. Over the next few weeks we will touch on a few hitters and pitchers that may have a 2016 campaign that doesn’t look like their 2015 season.
This week we will start things off with three players to fade going into 2016. All three of the following players rank within the Top 60 in terms of overall player ranking according to Yahoo. There is a decent shot that all three end up outside the Top 100 next year.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Seattle Mariners
Nelson Cruz has defied the odds and Safeco Field this year, while putting together a monster season. A repeat next year seems unlikely given his crazy career high HR/FB ratio paired with a career average year in terms of hard hit rate. Interestingly, he has a career low fly ball rate and a career high ground ball rate so far this year; not a great trend for a home run hitter. Also, his BABIP seems very high given his league average line drive rate. Expect across the board regression next year.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies
CarGo has been absolutely on fire in the second half with 23 bombs since the All-Star Break. For the season as a whole, his career high HR/FB ratio seems ripe for regression, especially when you compare his line drive and hard hit rates to his career norms. He also does not run anymore, as he only has five stolen bases since the start of the 2014 season. You are playing with fire if you expect a repeat from this injury prone player.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
In some ways Albert Pujols has turned back the clock this year. He has a HR/FB ratio that is consistent with his prime. However, his line drive rate and hard hit rates are his lowest in the past five years. Given his trending career, age, and mounting injuries, it seems like a stretch that he approaches 30 home runs next year, let alone a 40 home run season that he is on pace for this year. Most of his peripherals in 2015 remind you of the declining player that he has been with the Angels and not the stud that he was with the Cards. The decline of The Machine will continue, and possibly accelerate, in 2016 and beyond.
Let someone else pick these players too early next year. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!
Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
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