(Photo by: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)
Now six weeks into the Major League Baseball season, divisions are starting to take shape and players are starting to settle into their own. We are starting to distance ourselves from the dreaded sample size trap and numbers will soon be stabilizing. Its that time of the week, so here are the hottest and coldest Statcast performers, with at least 10 at-bats, covering the past week of baseball.
The current xStat leaders are basically an entirely different group from last week. We see a couple of familiar names, such as Carlos Santana, who has been a mainstay on the xAVG-AVG leaderboard, but he’s falling as the average corrects to the mean.
We had a long conversation on the Slack channel about Matt Carpenter yesterday and whether he’s done. The xStats don’t think so, at least in the slugging department. Despite leading the league in xAVG-AVG, I don’t like his .225 xAVG at all. This is not the real Matt Carpenter, this is the darkest timeline. My favorite takeaways are that of Bryce Harper and Joey Votto. Harper it seems has been getting pretty unlucky at the plate, so not to fear. Though I don’t think anyone expects him to hit in the .230s all season. His AVG and SLG are in for a nice positive regression. Michael Augustine pointed out Joey Hotto’s hot streak last week. You know what? That was initially a typo, but I chuckled and decided to leave it. He’s starting to pick up and we can see that gorgeous xAVG and xSLG that look a lotto like Votto. I’ll see myself out.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) – It should surprise nobody that Judge is awesome. We spend most of our time on this site writing about guys who either have hidden value or studs who are struggling. But sometimes we have to take a moment and highlight when the best players are doing great things. Just check out this homer off Craig Kimbrel.
For some reason, that’s actually where the Sox wanted that pitch. Judge has 8 batted ball events (BBEs) where he hit the ball over 100 mph leading to an average exit velocity of 100.7 mph. The defense rests.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Now in his age-25 season, some are concerned whether or not Josh Bell will ever hit his ceiling. This past week, we saw Bell’s ceiling. He slashed .353/.455/.706, doing his best impression of another NL Central 1B with that awesome walk rate. To go along with this hot streak, Bell ranked 18th in average exit velocity at 94.5 mph. That’s the good news. The bad news is Bell has taken a step back this season in nearly every xStats category. Here’s hoping last week was the spark he needed to get his SLG at least back over .400.
Matt Kemp (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Here’s an interesting stat that’s totally unrelated to Kemp’s hitting: Matt Kemp is 1.5 ft/s faster this year that last year, placing him in the 16th percentile of all ML outfielders. O/U 40.5 steals for Kemp ROS? Just kidding, but it’s nice to see him getting his wheels back a little bit. Going to his hitting, Kemp ranked 22nd in average exit velocity this past week, and he only hit 4 balls on the ground, which is great to see.
I don’t love the drop in barrel% on breaking balls, but he’s improving against fastballs and off-speed pitches and I’m on board. Let the Matt Kemp renaissaince continue (though it should be noted he’s due for BABIP and AVG regression)!
Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals) – Wait, what? Soler has been tearing the cover off the ball, or maybe he hasn’t? The post-hype love for Soler over the last week or so has been astounding
While Soler has a couple hard hit balls, there are a lot under 80 mph. In fact, over the last week, Soler ranked 208th out of 245 hitters (min 10 ABs) in average exit velocity Not only that, there are too many balls for my liking in that 0-10 and negative 15-20 degree launch angles. The 0-10s are low line drives, that have trouble getting out of the infield at times. Where Soler is struggling is in what xStats calls High Drives: The best type of batted ball because it demonstrates repeatable skill and results in a vast majority of home runs. That cavity you see between 10 and 30 degrees is why Soler is unlikely to repeat his performance in my opinion. He’s lacking in that repeatable batted ball skill. It’s been great to see his brief rejuvenation though.
Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox) – Devers had a rough week going .238/.238.238. That’s what happens when you get no walks and no XBHs. This chart helps explain a little about his performance:
Breaking this down, we can see Devers topped almost 42% of his BBEs, not to mention he struck out over 40% of the time. The only positive were his three flares and burners, which aren’t anything to get too excited about. He almost got solid contact though once! I don’t think this is too much to worry about, but it could be worth monitoring if Devers continues to struggle.
I guess it was just a Soler flare