It is the final stretch of the season. Things are coming down to the wire in the Fantasy Baseball season. Whether you are starting the playoffs or are in a tight battle in a roto league, finding the right players to fill your lineup is critical. In today’s edition of statcast standouts, I dive in on several hitters who are underperforming their xBA. Could they get hot over the final month and a half? Or is it time to move on? Let’s dive in.
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xBA Under Performers: Can These Hitters Get It Going?
Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets
Needless to say, Michael Conforto has been a major bust for fantasy purposes in 2021. With an average draft pick of 71.65, according to NFBC in the spring, players who roster Conforto had high expectations. He missed much of May and June due to a hamstring injury. But when on the field, the production has not been there. Over his 317 plate appearances, Conforto has posted a .217/.338/.363 slash with just eight home runs.
After a dominant 2020 where he hit nine home runs over 233 plate appearances and posted a .322/.412/.515 slash; Conforto has been disappointing in 2021. You would have been wise to expect regression considering Conforto’s .412 BABIP last season. Conforto has had some bad luck swing his way this year, considering he has just a .265 BABIP.
Conforto is one of the largest xBA underperformers, according to Baseball Savant. He currently has an xBA of .253 but an actual batting average of .217. Conforto has also largely underperformed his xSLG of .436. So on the positive, things could be looking up for Conforto from an expected stats standpoint.
Since August 1, Conforto has a slash line of .300/.397/.520 with two home runs. Conforto is only rostered in 64 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Yes, I know. I write for Fantrax and used Yahoo! roster rates. With the number of dynasty leagues on Fantrax, Yahoo! better portrays that number. If Conforto is available in your league, I would scoop him up as I believe he could help you down the stretch.
Anthony Santander, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Like Conforto, Anthony Santander has had a bumpy season and missed time due to injury. He missed over a month between April and May due to an ankle sprain and missed ten days in July on the COVID IL. Santander is currently day-to-day nursing a sore ankle. Hopefully, he stays day-to-day as Santander was heating up.
Santander owns a .241/.289/.413 slash line with just ten home runs and one stolen base on the year. But since returning from the COVID IL in late July, he has a .279/.323/.508 slash with four of those home runs. That is over just 65 plate appearances.
This should not come as a surprise, as Santander has had some bad luck swing his way. According to Baseball Savant, his xBA for the season is .276, which is close to the number he has posted since returning from the IL. He is also supporting a career-high in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate this year. Santander’s average exit velocity of 90.7 mph is a career-high by over one mph and two mph higher than last season. His hard-hit rate of 42.7 percent is six percent higher than last season, which was his career-high.
Considering Santander is heating up, and he is one of the largest xBA underperformers, he is a good addition if he is not rostered. I would monitor the ankle injury, but I would pick him up if he is good to go. He is available in nearly 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies
Father time catches up with everyone, but has it caught up with Charlie Blackmon? Blackmon turned 35 in July and is having arguably the worst season of his 11-year career. Blackmon, a career .301 hitter, has just a .269/.352/.402 slash over 437 plate appearances this season. His power has also disappeared. After averaging nearly 32 home runs per season between 2016 and 2019, Blackmon hit just six last year over 247 plate appearances and has nine this year in 437 plate appearances.
Blackmon has always run high BABIP’s throughout his career. Much of this could be credited to Coors Field, which runs the highest BABIP of any stadium. Since 2016, Blackmon has a .346 BABIP, but this year, that number is down to just .294. Blackmon’s xBA is .293, which is in the 95th percentile among all hitters in baseball, according to Baseball Savant.
Looking at other statcast metrics on Baseball Savant, Blackmon has the best hard-hit rate of his career at 40.4 percent. His average exit velocity of 87.6 mph is actually pretty low, but it is right in line with his average between 2016 and 2018. Blackmon’s strikeout rate is also one of the best in baseball at 12.6 percent.
Over the last month, Blackmon has begun to get things on track. He has five home runs and two stolen bases to pair with a .281/.324/.510 slash. He also has a home run in each of his last two games (8/16 and 8/17). I expect the power to tick up over the last six weeks of the season. Blackmon’s spray chart, plus his 14.4 xHR, suggests he has had some bad home run luck. If you are looking for a lift in the outfield and Blackmon is available, I would look to pick him up.
Thanks for taking the time to read this week’s edition of “Statcast Standouts,” looking at xBA underperformers. I hope you finish well in your leagues, and best of luck down the stretch. In the meantime, be sure to check out all our great Fantasy Baseball content at FantraxHQ.
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