Statcast Roundup – Week 6

Digging through Baseball Savant to find trends for players in 2020.

Welcome back to the Statcast Roundup for week six! Nothing new has changed on the leaderboard this week, but for next week we will expand the leaderboards a bit. We will still have the season-long leaders that we have had up to this week but also add in another leaderboard that highlights the last two weeks so that way we can look to see if anyone is breaking out as we close in on the playoffs.

Time to dive in!

Top Performers

MLB Leaders in xwOBA (Min. 50 PA)

Brad MillerSt Louis Cardinals – Miller had been outstanding for the Cardinals and has finally reached the 50 PA threshold to show up on the leaderboards. I noted him last week as someone who just barely missed the last because of plate appearances, but was producing at an outstanding level this year. Miller continues to crush the ball with three homers over the last two games (Sept 1st and 2nd) pushing his total to five in just 66 at-bats. Miller’s hard-hit rate puts him in the 93rd percentile while his barrel rate sits in the 92nd percentile. His strikeout rate is finally starting to come down to match his whiff rate (10th percentile), but that’s the only thing that has me nervous at the very moment. Miller has always shown power at various times throughout his big league career, and he’s on one of those stretches right now that is worth riding.

Will SmithLos Angeles Dodgers – I know. It’s a broken record at this point. Will Smith is really good. Really really good. The production just still hasn’t come, and unfortunately, we are beginning to run out of time. Smith has been a favorite of mine on the under-performers list but now he has graduated to the top xwOBA in all of baseball list. Smith is still posting an insane walk rate of 22.9% while maintaining a hard-hit rate of 54.5% and a barrel rate of 15.9%. Smith has shaved his chase rate down from 22.6% last season to 11% this year, and he’s making contact on 93% of the pitches he swings at that are in the zone. He does everything you want in a batter, and if the stats don’t end up turning around this year I’ll be targeting him everywhere next year if people get too focused on the .208 batting average and let him slip.

 

Under-Achievers – Hitters

 

Lowest wOBA-xwOBA (Min. 50 PA)

Note: There were a few players on the list that were either released or hurt for a significant time, so they were taken off the leaderboards for some housekeeping.

Gregory PolancoPittsburgh Pirates – Polanco has long been a dream-breakout of mine based on all the tools he has, but it’s something that has never come close to putting it all together. 2020 is weird though as Polanco is hitting the ball as hard as any on in baseball, but is also not hitting that ball as well as anyone in baseball. His hard-hit rate sits in the 97% percentile at 55%, but yet he’s whiffing on 50% of the swings he’s taking which fuels his 40% strikeout rate. Polanco used to strikeout around a 20% clip, but in the last two seasons we’ve seen him jump from 21.9% to 29.3% to the 40% I mentioned before. Before this season, his chase rate has stayed relatively the same despite the K% increase but this season he’s jumped 5% to a 34% chase rate. That increase in chase rate, but a steadily declining zone contact rate (62%) explains why Polanco is posting the rate that he does. While he’s likely due for some positive regression based on his hard-hit rate, his stat line with being completely BABIP fueled because of the ridiculous swing and miss he has right now.

 

Over-Achievers – Hitters

 

Highest wOBA-xwOBA (Min. 50 PA)

Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins – Rojas missed around a month of the season after being diagnosed with COVID-19, and he has sat atop the over-achievers leaderboard for most of the year. A large chunk of that was due to the .750 average he posted for the first half of the season but he’s now settled into a .348/.423/.587 triple slash with a pair of homers and also a pair of steals. Rojas is running a solid hard-hit rate of 37% but hasn’t barrel ball yet this season. Part of that is due to his batted ball profile with a 42% LD%, as it’s hard to register barrels when you’re on such a line drive approach. His x-stats are still extremely good, but he’s just not .348 good.

Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels – Simmons is hitting .320 for the year and has finally returned from his injuries, but it’s not a real pretty .320. Simmons has just a 26.2% hard-hit rate and his 84.2 average exit velocity is a career-low for the shortstop. While Simmons is posting a 26.2% LD%, he’s also hitting the ball on the ground 50% and also has a 14.3% pop-up rate. It’s not a pretty profile right now for Simmons and there should be some regression headed his way quickly.

 

Under-Achievers – Pitchers

Highest wOBA-xwOBA (Min. 50 batters faced)

Michael Wacha, New York Mets – Wacha is an interesting case for the Mets as he gives up a lot of hard contact, but also generates weak contact well and can strike batters out at a high rate. Though, the results are still overall poor with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP. Wacha’s changeup has always been his best offering and in 2020 that’s no different as batters are posting a .576 wOBA against his fastball, a .427 wOBA against his cutter, and a .224 wOBA against his changeup. He’s also getting a 41.5% whiff rate on the pitch and neither of his other pitches tops 20%. With a 31% usage on his change, there is not much more that he can do unless he’s going to commit to throwing the pitch as his most featured offering. His fastball is at 39% and his cutter is at 28%, so he might be well served cutting into those numbers and

Joe MusgrovePittsburgh Pirates – Well Joe Musgrove is back, so we’re all ready to be hurt again. Musgrove returned from the IL on Wednesday to toss three innings against the Cubs, recording four strikeouts and allowing two runs. He’s been right in the middle of the pack this year in most categories including hard-hit rate, xBA, K%, whiff rate, and xSLG but his xwOBA and xERA are hurt by the high walk rate he’s posted this year. He’s at 13.8% for 2020 and that places him in the bottom 7% of the league. Perhaps a silver lining? He didn’t allow a single walk in his outing against the Cubs. I’m not holding onto him anywhere right now besides dynasty, but I can’t help but keep him in the back of my mind.

 

Over-Performers – Pitchers

 

Lowest wOBA-xwOBA (Min. 50 batters faced)

Zach DaviesSan Diego Padres – Davies currently sits with a 2.61 ERA to go with his 5-2 record, but all of his metrics are right at-or below league average aside from his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. Like Wacha above, the majority of Davies’ success comes from his changeup but his cutter is at least a solid second offering with a .265 xwOBA against it. Davies doesn’t throw very hard with an average fastball of 88 MPH so no surprise that a soft(er) throwing pitcher with a great changeup would get comps to Kyle Hendricks based on Baseball Savant’s affinity feature. Davies doesn’t quite generate the same amount of soft contact that Hendricks does, but he does miss bats at a better rate.

Taylor ClarkeArizona Diamondbacks – Clarke has jumped into the rotation from the bullpen and thrown 9.0 innings over his last two starts, allowing just two earned runs while striking out 11 batters. Clarke has some impressive Statcast numbers with a 29% hard-hit rate but shows up on this board even with an outstanding xwOBA of .301. Even though Clarke has only a 29th percentile whiff rate, he still has a 26% strikeout rate which puts him above average compared to the league. His player affinity though is extremely interesting as he has 2019 Zach Plesac and 2019, Shane Bieber, as two of his comparables based on velocity and movement. He’s someone I’m going to watch going forward.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm)

 

Josh Sperry

General fantasy writer and an avid Atlanta Braves fan who is desperately trying to forget the fact that the Braves gave up 10 runs in the first inning of game five of the 2019 NLDS.

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