A Quick Look at June Breakouts

The month of June is coming to an end and a quick look at the June leaderboards shows some surprising names (and some not-so-surprising names). Monthly stats, as we know, are subject to all the issues that all other small sample sizes suffer from. But sometimes you can find a guy who made an adjustment and is starting to hit.

I took a look at the top 10 qualified hitters in wOBA in June to see if there were any surprises or anyone worth looking at closer.


Num Name PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
1 Mike Trout 98 7 19 21 5 0.358 0.459 0.765 0.512
2 Scooter Gennett 86 4 20 13 1 0.397 0.447 0.692 0.485
3 Andrew McCutchen 117 8 19 25 5 0.343 0.41 0.686 0.463
4 Carlos Santana 88 6 10 15   0.329 0.443 0.63 0.463
5 J.D. Martinez 82 7 11 21   0.346 0.354 0.731 0.458
6 Aramis Ramirez 93 6 16 19   0.352 0.387 0.648 0.448
7 Jonathan Lucroy 113 6 18 20 1 0.364 0.434 0.606 0.445
8 Evan Gattis 92 6 13 17   0.353 0.402 0.635 0.444
9 Jose Abreu 103 10 15 21   0.316 0.359 0.695 0.441
10 Adrian Beltre 98 4 14 21 1 0.4 0.418 0.622 0.44

Hey guys, look! Mike Trout is really good! Clearly Trout is no surprise, nor is McCutchen. Paul Goldschmidt is just off the list. Yawn.

But how about Scooter! Gennett’s breakout in June is really due to power (his ISO has gone up every month) but if you compare his full 2014 to his half-season in 2013, there are some interesting patterns. His K% is lower this year, and his BB% is higher (and was even higher in June). Gennett is benefitting from a high BABIP, but his BABIP was high last year, too, and his LD% is high. The concern if you try to buy on his June is that the 20% HR/FB rate won’t continue and his FB% was actually down in June. ZiPS and Steamer both see his BB% regressing along with that power drop off, but I think they are underselling his ability to get on base. Don’t pay for his June, but if someone wants to sell based on his ROS projections, that looks reasonable to me.

The other big surprise on the list is Martinez. The Tiger OF has also put up a great month thanks to a great ISO and a high BABIP, but I am far less excited about him (not that I was jumping on Gennett). His FB and HR/FB rates spiked, while his high BABIP is out of line with a dropping LD%. His BB% dropped too. His K% jumped a bit. None of this is particularly uplifting news. The HR/FB rate will drop and when it does, he better correct every other trend here or things will get ugly.

Most of the rest of the list shouldn’t include many surprises, but it is worth noting that Carlos Santana is back, that Evan Gattis is backing up his breakout 2013, and that Jose Abreu and Jonathan Lucroy are not slowing down (at least not yet).

And then there are the two 3B. Ramirez looked like he might be done a month ago (and at 36, who could blame him) before resurrecting himself in June. Unlike Martinez and Gennett, he didn’t need a huge HR/FB to float his June. He started hitting line drives, which helped bring his BABIP back up. But even with that higher LD%, his BABIP in June was higher than he can sustain. If you own Ramirez and can sell him at a vintage price, you should. But don’t feel like you have to get rid of him – he’ll be solid, if not great, the rest of the way.

Beltre is a relative spring chicken at 35, but I am actually less confident in him than Aramis. Beltre isn’t walking and rode a .390 BABIP, despite a decreasing LD%, to his big month. He also put up a K% of just 7.1%, less than half his career number of 14.6%. That number will come up and his BABIP will drop. Like Aramis, Beltre isn’t about to be forced into retirement, but I am not buying the June outburst. I’d sell if you can, particularly in dynasty or keeper leagues, where his value is only getting lower.




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19 Responses to “A Quick Look at June Breakouts”

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  1. Al says:

    I’ve been trying to trade Aramis for a SP over the past week. What do you think is a reasonable level of starter to target? Does Jordan Zimmermann seem right?

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    • Seanito says:

      Wow…if you can get Zimmermann for Aramis you should take it immediately!

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    • Chad Young says:

      Agree with Seanito on this – think that would be a steal for you, particularly in a keeper/dynasty format. Depending on needs, I’d be willing to go after a Lance Lynn or Zach Wheeler. Depends how easily you can replace a solid starting 3B and how badly you need SP.

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  2. scoko says:

    Worth mentioning about JD is that his fly ball distance is 12th best in MLB. Doesnt that somewhat legitimize his HR/FB spike? Even if he cant sustain the HR/FB he should still be a solid source of power with his fly ball distance. I think it is clear his new stance has led to more power.

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    • Chad Young says:

      The issue I have is that his approach right now is to swing at everything and so far pitchers have not adjusted. He is 20th in baseball (100+ PA) in O-Swing% and only a small handful of the guys near him make worse contact on bad pitches. Yet, among those 20 players, he is still seeing the highest percentage of pitches in the zone, except for Reed Johnson. His SwStrk% plus his propensity to hack (poorly) at bad pitches will eventually lead to pitchers making him chase more and giving him fewer pitches to hit. I don’t like what I see.

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      • atoms says:

        I don’t see anything that JD is doing that stands out as particularly unsustainable. Yeah, he’ll start to get fewer strikes eventually, but he’s still punishing the ones he does see. Unless you’re similarly concerned about, say, Jose Abreu, I don’t see why you think JD is uniquely destined to fail with his approach.

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      • Chad Young says:

        Abreu is walking about as much and striking out about as much as Martinez. He is swinging at more bad pitches and fewer good ones, which is concerning. But right now Abreu is being pitched like a power hitter. Among the 273 players with 150+ PA, his Zone% is the 19th lowest – pitchers are working around him and are still unable to stop him from crushing the ball.

        Out of that same group of hitters, Martinez has the 50th highest zone% – he’s surrounded by guys like Nava, Bradley Jr., Altuve, Cowgill. Basically, he is being pitched like a guy with no power who you want to force to put the ball in play. If we assume that the surge in batted ball distance is legit, then pitchers will adjust, and his zone% will likely drop by a good amount (maybe by as much as 10 percentage points), and then we’ll get a look at what kind of adjustment he makes.

        Basically, I do have concerns about Abreu and how he’ll adjust as pitchers get a book on him, his zone% has already moved down (42.9% in May, 40.2 in June) and pitchers are already treating him with kid gloves. And he has responded by continuing to crush the ball. If Martinez starts getting treated like this and continues to hit how he has, I’ll feel much better about him going forward. But for now, I think it’s just a matter of time before pitchers change their approach and he suffers a bad slump.

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      • atoms says:

        Thanks for the substantive reply! I’ll be sure to keep an eye on his zone% and see if he responds by being a little more selective. I took a peek at his heatmaps, and his swing heatmap and his SLG/ISO heatmaps look very similar and cover a pretty big chunk of the strike zone. That seems pretty encouraging, doesn’t it? He doesn’t have a lot of obvious holes to exploit.

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      • scoko says:

        Doesn’t his lineup spot have some effect on that though? He is always up with guys on base, so pitchers cant be overly careful. Seeing strikes comes with the territory of hitting behind Miggy and V-mart, no?

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      • Chad Young says:

        If you haven’t, read Jeff Sullivan’s piece on Martinez: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/j-d-martinez-changes-everything-changes-everything/ He goes into more depth than I did and comes away with a somewhat different take – he calls for less regression than I am. Good read.

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      • Chad Young says:

        Re: men on base – Abreu has 138 PA with men on our of 296 total. 76 out of 150 for Martinez. So JD has guys on base 50.6% of the time vs. 46.6% for Abreu. So that could be it. I can’t get a zone% split for men on base, so I can’t tell you how big the impact is.

        The problem I see is that when I look at JD’s approach, I see no reason to be more aggressive with men on. He isn’t being patient, so why worry about walking him? The chances are, he’ll avoid the walk for you.

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  3. kman says:

    Aramis Ramirez does have a history over the past several seasons of doing nothing in April-May, and then being an all-star from June-September. I know he’s not getting any younger, but is there any indication that he’s not just continuing this pattern this year?

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    • Chad Young says:

      The data suggest that there isn’t any predictive power in those kind of patterns – basically, just because a guy has had a bad April and bounced back in the past doesn’t mean he is likely to do it again.

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  4. JdeWitt88 says:

    what about #11 on the list Corey Dickerson? real deal?

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    • Chad Young says:

      Dickerson is an interesting comp for Martinez. As noted above, JD is hacking and pitchers are still giving him stuff to hit. Dickerson, on the other hand, hacks less, makes better contact when he does, and is seeing fewer pitches in the zone – but with enough added patience that he benefits from those balls (JD does not, at least so far). Dickerson is not going to carry a .400+ BABIP or a 31% LD rate or a 22% HR/FB rate all year, but a .340 OBP and .500 SLG? I don’t see why not. That would be serious regression from where he is today, but I would take it. If you can find an owner who thinks they are selling high, I’d engage in talks – he isn’t THIS good, but I am much more confident in him going forward.

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  5. Frank says:

    Great post Chad. please do more of those breakout monthly posts if possible.
    I picked up Dickerson off waivers and very happy with his contribution.
    Also last week traded Abreu for Bumgarner (leading in HR/RBIs).
    Do you think that was a fair deal? I drafted Abreu in the 12th round of our draft.

    Thanks

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    • majnun says:

      Why does it matter where you drafted him?

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      • jasen74 says:

        Yeah and also I’ll ditto what manjun said. Where a player is drafted, subject to your particular league and if it’s a keeper/dynasty rules, is ultimately moot

        I drafted Abreu in the 11th, so kudos on the good pick, however, I wouldn’t hesitate dealing him for a later round pick that fills a void.

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    • jasen74 says:

      At this point in the season, the holes in your lineup that are dragging down the categories that you need to be addressed more aggressively. Fairness of trades shouldn’t be what you’re concerned with. Winning your league should be. If I need K’s I’ll trade away what may seem to be an unbalanced deal to boost that cat.

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