Despite a few scares across baseball regarding COVID-19 outbreaks with the Marlins and Cardinals both having a significant amount of players and coaches testing positive, we’ve basically made it through two weeks of the baseball season! Samples are getting larger and we can put a little more stock in the numbers that we are seeing players put up to this point in the season.
On this week’s Statcast Roundup we’ve expanded the chart below to include wOBA and xwOBA (along with wOBA-xWOBA) to go along with the stats we’ve used last week. Last week I focused mostly on batted ball stats but from here on out we’ll add in plate discipline metrics as well. To go along with the wOBA inclusion, we also have pitching performances added into the roundup.
Who’s Hot? – Batters
MLB Leaders in xwOBA (stats as of 8/6)
|John Ryan Murphy||.273||.422||-.149||.275||.511||-.236||20%|
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers – I wrote about Seager last week as well, but he deserves more attention as he jumps to the top spot in the Statcast Roundup now that we’ve incorporated the switch over to xwOBA. The ridiculous part is that he’s .435 wOBA still has him under-performing his expected stats by almost .200 points. He’s still running an extremely high barrel rate at 25% and hit exit velocity is still sitting in the 97th percentile two weeks in.
Nicholas Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds – Castellanos is a new, and certainly deserving, addition to the leaderboard with a .559 xwOBA. He’s reaped the benefits that we all expected after leaving Comerica Park and finding a new home in Great American Ballpark, an absolute launching pad. Since the calendar switched to August, he’s already belted four homers in just five games and he’s knocked at least one base hit in every game for the Reds this season. His 28.5% barrel rate ranks in the 100th percentile for the league and his .404 xBA ranks in the 98th percentile for all of the league. He’s still a liability on defense, but that’s something that moving to GAB isn’t possible to fix. He’s still starting in the outfield everyday for the Reds but they do have the option to eventually DH him if they’d choose to. He was a trendy pick this year to explode after leaving the Tigers, and he’s proving a lot of people right so far.
Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins – Most players on this list run a wOBA-xwOBA that sits in the negative because typically with numbers north of .500, but Rojas is sitting on the other end of the spectrum. A small asterisk can be slapped on his whole statline though as the Marlins haven’t played nearly as many game as other teams due to their COVID-19 outbreak, but Rojas still ran a .798 wOBA over the first week of the season fueled by some ridiculous batted ball stats. He’s running a 98th percentile average exit velocity at 95 MPH and a 92nd percentile hard hit rate, but his Statcast page is missing something that most pages have… A barrel percentile slider. Rojas has been hitting the ball extremely hard, but he’s not elevating the ball very much with just a 5.7° so that will limit the amount of balls that can classify as a barrel. It has me slightly concerned though that Rojas at his best barrel rate last year at 2.6%, but he didn’t have this level of hard hit data across the board then either. It’s worth keeping an eye on where he returns to play.
Over-Performers – Batters
Highest wOBA-xWOBA in MLB (stats as of 8/6)
Michael Brantley, Houston Astros – Brantley is a new name to the over-performers list as he’s running a .489 wOBA but sits at just a .337 xWOBA. Brantley is running a slightly above average exit velocity at 89.7 MPH, putting him in the 63rd percentile for the league. Something weird for Brantley that could be the cause of the low xBA is his FB% rate has surged up to 40% despite he’s never posted a FB% rate over 20%. His GB% rate has dropped to just 33%, a number that usually sits around 45%. Unless Brantley has completely sold out for a fly-ball heavy approach, I’d expect him to level out to his normal numbers.
Tyler Flowers, Atlanta Braves – Flowers is slashing .300/.417/.700 over his first 12 at bats of the season which is helping the Braves have above average production from the catcher’s spot after years of mediocrity. He’s hitting literally everything in the air with a 80% LD rate and a 20% FB rate. Flowers is at risk of running things back into Earth though ones he gets a larger sample size (10 batted balls) as he runs a career average 45% GB rate.
Under-Performers – Batters
Lowest wOBA-xWOBA in MLB (stats as of 8/6)
Franchy Cordero, Kansas City Royals – Franchy Cordero is absolutely annihilating baseballs and has nothing at all to show for it. He ranked in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and K% while still posting a sprint speed in the 80th percentile. He’s posted an average exit velocity over 90 MPH in every season in the major leagues, along with posting barrel rates over 10% in two of his three “full” seasons. He’s absolutely worth rostering at this point because everything under the hood makes it look like he’s about to explode.
Abraham Toro, Hoston Astros – Toro has been getting at bats as a DH this year and he’s been hitting the ball well, even if the results aren’t entirely there. Over 15 batted balls, he’s hitting the sweet spot of the bat 46% of the time with a barrel rate of 6.7%. He’s hitting a line drive or fly ball on 93% of his batted balls. The Astros team is extremely crowded with great players, without even factoring that Yordan Alvarez is on his way back, but if Toro can keep making solid contact like he has been then he should continue to get at least semi-regular at bats.
|PLAYER||K%||xwOBA||wOBA-xwOBA||AVG EXIT VELO||BARREL RATE||WHIFF%|
James Paxton, New York Yankees – As someone who is a tremendous fan of Paxton, I’m nervous. Really nervous. Paxton is getting absolutely smoked every time out and he only has four innings pitched across two starts. He’s lost around four MPH off of his fastball, his xwOBA is in the bottom 4% of the league, and his whiff rate has dropped from the 81st percentile in 2019 to the 31st percentile in 2020. Aaron Boone said this week that Paxton’s early season struggles aren’t related to health either, something he’s had issues with over the last few years. An underlying injury would have made sense to see everything take such a dramatic falloff from one year to the rest, but since he’s apparently healthy as of now my optimism from here on out is really slim.
Aaron Civale, Cleveland Indians – If you’ve read Pitcher List a decent amount of the last few months (why wouldn’t you?) you’d have seen a flurry of articles that talk about Civale and how he looks like the next arm in the Indians Ace Factory. Daniel Port also wrote about Civale in March about how he was starting to mirror Corey Kluber with the way he pitched, The Indians Own Dolly the Sheep. Civale appears on this list of over-performers, but that’s not exactly how we should view him. While he technically is outperforming his metrics, his metrics are still extremely good. His xwOBA puts him in the 83rd percetile in the league and he is pushing a 40% strikeout rate that is just shy of being in the top 10% of the league. The Statcast bubble for him that isn’t red is his hard hit rate, which is right around the league average of 34%.
Under-Performers – Pitchers
|PLAYER||K%||xwOBA||wOBA-xwOBA||AVG EXIT VELO||BARREL RATE||WHIFF%|
Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers – Walker Buehler has gotten off to a really rough start in 2020 with an ERA of 5.19 over his first 8.2 innings. He’s giving up a ton of hard contact, and not generating many whiff compared to what we saw Buehler do last season when he was in the 82nd percentile for strikeouts. Buehler is self-admittedly a slow started and said that he typically feels like he’s been behind everyone at the start of seasons. Looking through his pitch mix though brings out something staggering, Buehler is throwing his fastball 10% less than he did last season and we’ve seen that 10% dispersed between all of his other offerings. I generally am in favor of increasing pitch mix but the probably here is that Buehler’s fastball is really good. Really, really good. The pitched posted a pVal last season of 24.4 which trailed only Gerrit Cole and Jack Flaherty. Now pVal is a descriptive stat rather than predictive, but being at that level labels a pitch among the best in the league. The key for him will most likely rely on finding that fastball back and being able to execute it like years prior.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros – It’s prefect timing that Valdez shows up in this list as he’s earned a rotation spot after 6.2 innings of scoreless relief last Sunday. Valdez will start game two (Saturday) of the series this weekend with Oakland. Valdez’s Statcast chart isn’t much to look at right now, but he’s currently posted a 30% whiff rate whit a strikeout rate that lags behind at just 23%. He’s getting hit fairly hard this year but benefits from his sinker heavy approach that has led to just a 5.7° launch angle, which is actually a career high for him with his average launch angle for his career being -1.5°. Let’s see what happens with Valdez this weekend in his start, but there’s some intrigue here for me with him generating swings and misses along with a groundball heavy approach.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm)