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Statcast Standouts: Is It Vladdy’s Year?

Another week of baseball is in the books, and it has been a good one. I hope your fantasy teams are off to a great start, but if not, do not fear. We are not even a month into the season. Though it is early, there are trends worth monitoring. We are back for another edition of “Statcast Standouts” to look at statcast trends this season. Which hitters are standing out, and are their statcast numbers sustainable? Let’s take a look.

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Statcast Standouts

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has always been a statcast darling. Since his debut in 2019, Guerrero has consistently ranked at the top of the list for max exit velocity with a career-high of 118.9 and tops of 116.1 over each of the last two seasons. This is not a surprise. Vlad always has mashed baseball. The most notable thing that stands out here is Guerrero’s launch angle.

It is time we stop beating the dead horse that Vlad hits too many ground balls. He might continue to hit ground balls at a high level, but I am a firm believer he can make it work. The good news? Guerrero’s ground ball rate has dropped to 39 percent after being 54.6 percent last season. In the process, Guerrero has seen his average launch angle jump to 11.8 degrees, up from 4.6 degrees last season.

It is also worth noting that Guerrero is chasing fewer pitches out of the zone, which has led to a career-high 15.9 percent walk rate. This happens to be identical to his 15.9 percent strikeout rate. These are positive progressions for Guerrero.

I also want to remind you Vladdy is just 22 years old. He is coming into his own and is just scratching the surface of what he can be. We have seen the upside. Now, let’s see him put it together over the course of the 2021 season.

Pete Alonso

Pete Alonso’s overall stat line may not be what many fantasy owners hoped it would be, but that does not mean he hasn’t been scalding baseballs. Yes, a .250/.311/.450 slash with 2 home runs is not what you hoped for. It is important to remember the Mets’ have had a ton of postponed games, which could prevent players from getting into a rhythm.

When you look a little deeper into Alonso’s profile, you will see that he is killing baseballs. In 22 batted balls, Alonso has an average exit velocity of 99.9 miles per hour, best in baseball. But you have known for several years that Alonso obliterates baseballs. In 2019 and 2020, respectively, he had max exit velocities of 118.3 and 118.4 mph. The interesting thing is, in each of those seasons, Alonso has posted average exit velocities of 90.7 and 90.2 mph. So while it is a small sample, Alonso has been crushing the ball to an average of 99.9 mph this year.

Alonso’s hard-hit rate of 68.2 percent also stands out. But, this is the same Alonso that we know and love. His 36.6 percent strikeout rate is a bit alarming. I would feel comfortable saying that trends closer to his career mark near 25 percent with time. If someone is selling low on Alonso, now could be a great time to buy.

Joey Votto

Sweet Joey Votto, the ageless wonder who turns triple plays and continues to improve at 37 years old. Yes, Votto’s statcast data is some of his best since the statcast era began in 2015. Largely, we know who Joey Votto is at this point of his career. But it’s still fun to see Votto posting career-best numbers in his age-37 season. In his first 15 games of the 2021 season, Votto has set a new career-best max exit velocity of 113.6 mph. He has never been a statcast darling, and before 2020, Votto’s career-high exit velocity was 110.9. Votto’s average exit velocity of 93.5 mph in 48 batted balls is also a career-high. It is hard to imagine that sustaining the entire season, but it is still cool to see.

If you are worried about Votto’s .267/.313/.467 slash, you shouldn’t be. There has been plenty of bad luck thrown Votto’s way, shown by his .222 BABIP. Expected stats paint an entirely different story. Votto’s xBA is .342 while his xwOBA and xSLG are .452 and .708 respectively. Those three expected numbers all rank 92 percentile or better among all hitters.

Surprisingly, Votto is rostered in just 22 percent of Yahoo leagues. I see no reasons why he won’t be a top-15 first basemen in 2021, meaning Votto should be rostered pretty much everywhere. Votto has hit the ball harder than ever and should see his slash line continue to trend upward over time. If you need a first baseman, check the wire and see if Votto is available.

Statcast: Joey Votto

Rafael Devers

After a slow start, Rafael Devers is getting the ship back on track. If you remember, Devers did a similar thing last season where he struggled for the first month. Then, over the final two months of the season, Devers hit .293 with five home runs. The 24-year-old has been picking up the pace over the last two weeks and has posted impressive statcast data. Devers has always hit the ball hard but has a barrel rate of 25 percent and a hard-hit rate of 61.1 percent. His average exit velocity of 95.3 mph is better than all except five hitters. Expected stats also love Devers and give him an expected slash of .330/.497/.806. That will play!

Devers is on the rise and should continue to get back on track. He was an incredible value in drafts this season and should prove his worth to you if you roster him.

Avisaíl García

This name may surprise you a bit after reading the other names on the list. Avisaíl García has been tearing the cover off of baseballs this season. He has always been known for high max exit velocities that ranked at the top of the league. García has not hit a ball close to his max exit velos of the past but has consistently hit the ball hard. His hard-hit rate of 52.6 percent is better than 85 percent of hitters. His 93.3 mph average exit velocity is also 88th percentile among hitters. García’s average launch angle is lower than his career norms at 6.3 degrees, but his sweet spot percentage of 42.1 percent is actually a career-best.

Expected stats also love García. His expected batting average of .351 is one of the best in the league. His xSLG of .670 also towers over his actual .481. García should see everyday playing time moving forward with Yelich on the IL. If he continues to perform, he should play long term. I am buying García everywhere and suggest you do the same.

Thank you for checking out my latest edition of “Statcast Standouts” Be sure to check out Mick Ciallella’s “Rest of Season Rankings” if you are serious about winning.

Media References: SportsNet, Baseball Savant

For more help in getting ready for the coming week, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.


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