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Statcast Standouts: Quietly Performing Stars

We are nearly mid-way through August, and standings are getting tight. Your fantasy trade deadline may be approaching or already passed. If not, maybe there is still time for you to make a big move to help to vault you into the standings. In today’s edition of “Statcast Standouts,” I want to dive in on several high-end players that don’t seem to be getting the love they deserve. I will look under their hood at their statcast data to see if their performances seem legit for 2021 and beyond. All three of these are star players, but have not gotten the publicity they deserve for their performance for fantasy baseball. Let’s dive in on the data.

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Statcast Standouts: Stars Not Getting Love

Bryce Harper

387 PA .299/.411/.565 20 HR/65 R/45 RBI/12 SB

Why are more people not talking about Bryce Harpers season? Outside of the putrid run production, thanks to nearly every home run being a solo shot, Harper has had an incredible season. Over the last month, Harper has a .505 OBP a five home runs with five stolen bases. What’s not to love about the production?

Looking under the hood at Harper’s statcast productio0n, things are encouraging. Harper ranks 90th percentile or better in the following categories; average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and barrel rate.

None of this should come as a surprise as Harper’s exit velocities and hard-hit rates are right in line with last season. I would also say Harper’s batting average concerns are behind him. He has a .308 and .301 xBA over each of the last two seasons.

Bryce Harper Statcast

One of Harper’s biggest improvements this season is against offspeed pitches. Last season he hit just .205 against offspeed pitches, but this year has seen that number rise to .304. He is also showing good power to all fields.

Overall, Harper is quietly having an MVP caliber season. His statcast data has been stellar and helps support his strong season. Expect a strong finish to the season for Harper, and as a 28-year-old, expect high-end performances for several years to come.

Manny Machado

446 PA .287/.359/.518 21 HR/72 R/ 78 RBI/9 SB

Manny Machado is another player that I feel fantasy managers are sleeping on this year. Maybe it was due to his slow start where he slashed just .233/.328/.403 with six home runs and stolen bases over the first two months of the season. Since June 1, Machado has turned it on strong and put up a slash of .332/.384/.612 with 15 home runs. The steals have ticked down, as Machado has just three since June 1.

From a statcast standpoint, Machado is posting career-best numbers. Machado’s hard-hit rate of 54.2 percent is a carer best by nearly six percentage points. It is also nearly ten percentage points higher than his career hard-hit rate since the statcast era began in 2015. Machado’s 93.7 mph average exit velocity is a career-high by over two mph. This also leads to an improved barrel rate of 13.3 percent. Machado is doing all the things you want to see that help support his strong season.

Like Bryce Harper, Machado has made strides against breaking pitches. He hit just .211 against breaking pitches last season, but this season has seen that number jump to .286. He also has eight home runs against breaking pitches. Machado has been legit, and you should expect a strong finish to 2021 and beyond.

Kyle Tucker

416 PA .273/.335/.513 21 HR/57 R/67 RBI/11 SB

There were so many Kyle Tucker doubters coming into 2021. At least one person in each league believed as Tucker’s ADP came in at 33.5 on NFBC. Even still, I talked to many people who had lots of questions about Tucker’s ability to hit breaking and offspeed pitches and hit for average. The power and speed combo were tantalizing enough to make him worth the high ADP. He has happily rewarded those who rostered him with a strong season.

Through 416 plate appearances, Tucker has 21 home runs and 11 stolen bases. His batting average of .273 does not stand out, but he does support an expected batting average of .302, which is 98th percentile among all hitters. His expected slugging percentage of .562 is also 95th percentile. Tucker’s average exit velocity and barrel rate of 91.5 mpg and 11.7 percent are not overly exciting but are 84th and 79th percentile, respectively. Yes, Kyle Tucker’s statcast data is extremely encouraging and fully supports the improvements he has made.

Tucker has also cut his strikeout rate to 17.1 percent and seen his walk rate increase to 8.7 percent. His contact rate is up; his swinging strike rate is down. Does Tucker have trouble with the curve? A little bit. He does have a .289 xBA against breaking pitches as opposed to a .221 actual batting average. Tucker has also significantly improved against offspeed pitches. After hitting just .213 against them last season, Tucker is hitting .339 against offspeed pitches this season with an impressive .312 xBA.

Kyle Tucker Statcast

All signs point to Kyle Tucker continuing to improve, and it is important to remember that he is just 24 years old. Tucker should be great help down the stretch, and I think there is an argument for him to be a top-15 dynasty asset.

Thanks for stopping in for this week’s edition of “Statcast Standouts.” Hopefully, these hitters can lead you to the promised land of a fantasy championship. Best of luck down the stretch! In the meantime, check out Eric Cross’ updated prospect rankings.

Media and Statistical References: Baseball Savant

Thanks for checking out this week’s article. Be sure to check out Eric Cross’s updated Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects.

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