Statcast Update Week 11: Teoscar the Not So Grouch
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)
Let’s start with the xStats disparity leaders.
If you recall, there are qualifiers for this list: a .250 xAVG and a .425 xSLG. To clarify, this list does not mean we expect Matt Carpenter to positively regress to a .527 SLG%. Rather, it means that Matt Carpenter’s batted ball profile supports a .527 SLG% rather than his current .422. For what it’s worth, Carpenter’s SLG rose 14 points in the last week, inching closer to his xSLG.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)- I think it’s time to have a legitimate conversation about Teoscar. I know I normally highlight the previous week’s statcast data, but I want to talk about Teoscar on a season-wide scale. He’s 3rd in barrels per plate appearance, which can be easily defined by looking at the picture below from MLB.com.
Those batted balls came with a batting average of .822 and a SLG of 2.386 in the 2016 season, aka the most valuable batted balls. And Teoscar trails only Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez is that stat so far this year. His .265 AVG and .307 OBP definitely leave something to be desired, but it comes with a .549 SLG, 11 HRs, and a total of 31 XBHs (15 2B and 5 3B) in his 49 games. To put that into context, Hernandez is averaging an extra base hit every 7.03 PAs, 4th best in baseball.
And as you can tell, he is a statcast darling. On top of his barrel production, Hernandez is 26th in baseball in balls hit 95 MPH or higher demonstrating his elite ability for hard contact, and 25th in average exit velocity. But not all batted balls are created equal. Hitting a 95MPH ground ball is not as valuable as hitting a 95 MPH line drive, as the hit probability is notably higher with the latter. In this sense, Hernandez is even more valuable, posting the 5th highest EV on fly balls and line drives at a staggering 98.6 MPH.
I couldn’t help but also show this radial graph of all of Hernandez’s batted balls this season. There are only about eight balls that are squarely in the weak contact category- EIGHT. ALL SEASON. He has made solid contact all season long and there is no reason to think that he won’t continue to from what I can see. There’s more than just statcast data that makes up a ball player, and Teoscar has some work to do in the average and OBP departments, but the guy is raking right now and should be owned in virtually all fantasy leagues.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) – Finally, am I right? Goldschmidt posted a 97.9 MPH average exit velocity this past week as he finally gave fantasy owners something to get excited about. Goldy is gonna be just fine. Maybe not top 10 overall, but he’s still an awesome player.
Jameson Taillon (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Taillon has always flashed excellent ability but has been prone to hard contact. This past week, he settled in and allowed just a 78.6 MPH average exit velocity against the Dodgers. Of the 5 balls hit above 95 MPH, only 2 were fly balls, which helps limit the damage. On the flip side, he also had 5 balls hit 65MPH or below. When you striking out guys like Taillon is and allowing soft contact when the guys ARE making contact, that’s a recipe for success.
I love all the batted balls near home plate- that’s a guy who was aboslutely locked in. Here’s hoping he keeps it going moving forward.
Carlos Rodon (SP- Chicago White Sox)- Rodon made a triumphant return this past week and was largely successful against the Boston Red Sox. But the underlying statcast data isn’t as exciting for his supporters. Of the 16 batted ball events Rodon allowed, only four left the bat below 90 MPH, including one at 89.7 MPH, and only one below 80 MPH.
Rodon was doing his best Rick-Vaughn-in-the-second-act-of-Major-League-II impression. As you can see, the Red Sox were making hard contact left and right against Rodon. Yes, some were hit on the ground, but they were hit right at defenders and that’s not gonna happen every day, or they were rockets that got past defenders. I want to cut him some slack given it was his first game back, but I’m watching this closely.
Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs)- It may also be time to have a conversation about Kris Bryant. In 2015 and 16, Kris Bryant made some of the hardest contact in the game. But that’s not him this year. Bryant is 67th in barrels/plate appearance, 147th in balls hit 95+ MPH, and 145th in average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls this year. He ranked 30th in B/PA just 2 years ago. Bryant averaged just 81.8 MPH on his batted balls over the last two weeks, capping off a massive slump in which he hasn’t homered since May 14th. So what happened? More than anything, it appears to be a declining ability to hit breaking balls. Bryant- in 2015, Bryant held the 3rd best run value against curveballs per 100 thrown in baseball (behind Mookie Betts and Joey Votto at 3.94). This year, Bryant’s -0.61 is 49th worst in baseball. I’m not sure why, but that number has gotten worse each year he’s been in the majors. It’s no coincidence that the percentage of curveballs Bryant has seen has gone up each year. Here’s hoping he turns it around. This is not the deep dive Bryant needs, but it appears to scratch the surface on the problem.