Statcast Trends: Dynasty Hitting Risers
Its Tuesday, which means it is time for another edition of “Statcast Trends.” Each week has focused on a different idea or topic relating to statcast data. Last week, I broke down statcast data for “First Half Surprising Stars.” This week will focus on the dynasty side of things. Which players have done the most to raise their value in dynasty leagues, and does statcast data support what they are doing? Let’s dive in on five hitters who have seen a nice rise in dynasty league value.
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Dynasty League Risers Based on Statcast Data
Manny Machado, 3B/SS, San Diego Padres
There is no denying the talent level of Manny Machado. There also might not be a player whose Fantasy value changes from year-to-year as much as Machado. The reality is, it seems like when he is having fun and his team is performing well, Machado performs at a high level. Well, the Padres are having fun and performing well, and Machado is back to performing at a high level this season.
While it feels like Machado has been around forever, he is still just 28 years old and has many good years ahead of him. In 186 plate appearances this season, he is slashing .301/.366/.583 with 12 home runs and three stolen bases. His strikeout rate has dropped from 19.4 percent to 15.6 percent this season, and he is walking more. The 2020 version of Machado looks like the 2015 and 2016 version that finished top-five in MVP voting both seasons.
Machado’s statcast page stands out at first glance as he ranks 75th percentile or better in almost every hitting category and 90th percentile or better in several statistics. But looking a little deeper, in Machado’s best hitting seasons, he usually carries a BABIP of around .300. So far, in 2020, he is supporting a BABIP of .294. It is worth pointing out that Machado has lowered his standard deviation launch angle by nearly three degrees from last season. Alex Chamberlin notes that a tighter launch angle usually means a higher BABIP and shows a player has improved bat control. To a smaller degree, it also indicates repeatable exit velocity. While Machado’s average exit velocity is just 90 miles-per-hour, his max exit velocity is tenth in baseball at 115.7 mph. On fly balls and line drives, his exit velocity is 94.4 mph, which is encouraging.
All of Machado’s underlying data suggest that his 2020 performance is legitimate, and he is someone who is rising in value in dynasty leagues. If he continues this strong performance to finish the year, Machado should find himself back within the top-25 of many dynasty rankings.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
It makes me smile to see Corey Seager have a strong resurgence in 2020. Through 154 plate appearances, Seager has a slash line of .331/.377/.634 with 11 home runs. He is vastly outperforming his 2016 season when he won the National League Rookie of the Year award and finished third in the MVP voting. Seager’s current 162 game pace is .331 with 50 home runs/120 runs/143 RBI. That looks like an MVP season to me.
How good has Corey Seager been?
.331/.377/.634 11 HR/26 R/31 RBI/1 SB
162 Game Pace:
50 HR/120 R/143 RBI
– 1st in Brls/PA(14.3%)
– 1st in xSLG (.765)
– 2nd in xwOBA (.482)
– 3rd in xBA (.372)
– 4th in EV on FB/LD (99.2 mph)
– 5th in Hard-Hit rate (57.1%) pic.twitter.com/cH3FPDZB8c
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) September 7, 2020
As you can see in my tweet above, Seager has also been a statcast darling. He is barrelling balls at the highest rate in baseball at 14.3 percent and is also first in expected slugging percentage. It is clear Seager is hitting the ball well, especially those hit in the air (99.2 mpg exit velocity on LD/FB). Statcast data supports Seager’s strong season and suggests he has underperformed. It was not long ago that Seager was considered a top-25 dynasty asset, and he is working his way back to that tier. It is also essential to remember Seager is still young at 26 and is just entering his prime. If you can buy him at a reasonable price in dynasty leagues, I would do so now.
Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs
Since returning from triple-A in late July 2019, Ian Happ has produced a slash line of .282/.371/.608 in 98 games. Happ also cut his strikeout rate from 36.1 percent in 2018 to below 25 percent during that time with 23 home runs. At that same time, his walk rate has also increased to 14.6% this season, which gives Happ a nice boost in OBP leagues. Happ’s talent has been undeniable, dating back to his days as a high-end prospect.
One of the most notable changes in Happ’s statcast profile is that he is swinging less on pitches outside of the zone dropping from 34 percent last year to 25.4 percent this season. His line-drive rate is also up nearly ten percentage points, and he is hitting those balls hard at 95.7 mph. Happ is also 11th in baseball, with a hard-hit rate of 53.7 percent.
Happ’s most prominent issues have always been his plate discipline, but he has made evident changes to his approach. If he can continue to show the discipline, he could continue rising and find himself as a top-100 dynasty asset.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
It is such a shame that Teoscar Hernandez injured his ribs and is likely to miss “significant time” after a strong start in 2020. Hernandez has always hit the ball hard, but his batting average was always suspect until this season. In 159 plate appearances, Hernandez was slashing .308/.358/.637. The good news is that his statcast expected slash line is even better at .331/.443/.707. While still striking out a high rate, Hernandez cut his strikeout rate by nearly five percentage points this season.
Baseball Savant has Hernandez ranked in the 95th percentile or better in exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and barrel percentage. Hernandez’s launch angle tightness of 23.7 degrees is 10th best in baseball and supports his improved BABIP this season. His strong performance seems to be wholly supported by underlying data. Hernandez might not play again in 2020, but he has done everything he can to raise his dynasty value significantly. He will only be 28 next season, meaning he could just be entering his prime. Teoscar Hernandez is a player that I want to own moving forward in dynasty leagues.
Mike Yastrzemski, OF, San Francisco Giants
The Minor League journeyman, Mike Yastrzemski, has been a league winner for Fantasy Baseball this season. The former 14th-round pick spent seven years in the minors before finally getting his chance in the big leagues. After hitting 21 home runs in 411 plate appearances in 2019, Yastrzemski has done nothing but continue to hit in 2020. His current slash line is .296/.409/.579 with eight home runs, 32 runs, and 27 RBI. This puts “Yaz” on pace to hit 31 home runs, score 126 runs, and drive in 107. It is an impressive pace that would be hard to sustain, but that is how well he has performed. Yastrzemski has also seen a notable drop in his strikeout rate by over three percent and has doubled his walk rate up to 14.4 percent.
At first glance of his statcast page, nothing pops off the page, like looking at Teoscar Hernandez’s. Yastrzemski has a low exit velocity of 87.8 miles-per-hour, which ranks him in the 27th percentile among hitters. The good news is that the majority of his weak hits are groundballs. On line drives and fly balls, Yastrzemski’s exit velocity jumps nearly six mph to 93.7 mph. He rates well in hard-hit rate and has 45 batted balls at 95 mph or higher. Overall, there is plenty of reason to believe in what Mike Yastrzemski is doing. His dynasty value has risen significantly, despite being 30 years old. He has the kind of profile that sets him up for success for many years to come.
Speaking of dynasty leagues, Eric Cross just updated his “Top 500 Dynasty Rankings.”
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