Eight HR/FB Rate Surgers

There is just so much fun you can have analyzing the batted ball distance leaderboard. The possibilities are seemingly endless and we haven’t even scratched the surface of exactly how we could use this data. But since we know distance is highly correlated with HR/FB rate, we could look at the leaders and laggards to predict who might be in for a surge or decline in their respective HR/FB rates. The key, of course, is that the player maintains a similar batted ball distance. We’re still dealing with a relatively small sample size here, so these potential surgers will only surge if they keep hitting balls as far as they have on average.

Name Distance HR/FB
Starling Marte 302.97 8.7%
Andrew McCutchen 300.92 10.5%
Adam Jones 300.57 9.3%
Jayson Werth 296.48 9.3%
Adrian Beltre 296.18 9.1%
Edwin Encarnacion 292.59 10.9%
Austin Jackson 289.32 4.5%
Matt Holliday 288.54 5.1%

Starling Marte finished 2013 with a distance of around 290 feet, so a well above average distance isn’t foreign to him. His HR/FB rate was just above 12%, which may have been slightly low given his distance, but not significantly out of line. This year, his distance has increased by more than 10 feet, yet his HR/FB rate has dipped below 10%. That he’s striking out and swinging and missing more is a concern of course, but he’s also walking more and still stealing bases at a high success rate. His power upside might be higher than you think. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Carlos Gomez like breakout one of these years.

It took me a while to believe that Andrew McCutchen‘s power was for real, but he has consistently posted batted ball distances in the 290 to 305 range, which is excellent. With the exception of his 2012 season, his HR/FB rates have been below his xHR/FB rate marks. Perhaps he’s just an example of the equation missing something. At the very least, he should manage to bring his HR/FB rate to at least his 2011 and 2013 marks over 12%.

The majority of the rest of the names are your established vets who have gotten off to relatively slow starts in the power department. For Adam Jones, Jayson Werth, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, and Matt Holliday owners, take your finger off the panic button. Their batted ball distances all suggest their early HR/FB rate struggles (for them at least) are a fluke and the homers are bound to come in short order.

Austin Jackson is an interesting case. Throughout his career, he’s been extremely consistent, posting batted ball distance marks between 280 and 288 feet. This year he’s just barely sitting at a career high, but it’s a mark that normally corresponds to a low teen HR/FB rate. He’s at just 4.5%.

Beyond just the low HR/FB rate, we find a completely new Jackson. This is one that suddenly hits a ton of fly balls and now makes excellent contact, striking out at a below average clip. He isn’t even requiring a massively inflated BABIP like he usually does to hit his current .301. The leap forward in skills suggests a major breakout could be looming. This is especially true if he could manage to maintain an above average BABIP even while hitting so many fly balls.

Print This Post

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Francis C
Francis C

Wish David Wright was on this list, but no, his batted ball distance is in the mere 260’s. I guess that helps explain why he only has 2 HRs