Batted Ball Distance Decliners: April

Yesterday, I discussed the April batted ball distance surgers. So naturally, today I’ll check in on the decliners. Because regression to the mean is such a powerful force, a distance decline sticks more often than a surge does. In other words, I would be more concerned about a decliner than excited about a surger.

Name 2014 Distance 2013 Distance Diff
Eric Hosmer 257.06 296.97 -39.91
Bryce Harper 264.65 299.23 -34.58
David Wright 262.47 291.35 -28.88
Chris Johnson 260.72 288.64 -27.92
Jonathan Lucroy 258.58 286.06 -27.48
Hanley Ramirez 282.74 309.03 -26.29
Carlos Beltran 258.57 282.89 -24.32
Josh Reddick 255.04 278.08 -23.04
Wil Myers 269.98 293.01 -23.03
Brandon Moss 272.99 295.67 -22.68
Evan Longoria 268.98 291.17 -22.19
Ryan Raburn 264.38 286.07 -21.69
Raul Ibanez 275.99 297.62 -21.63
Derek Dietrich 267.32 288.82 -21.5
Nate Schierholtz 263.17 284.61 -21.44
Yonder Alonso 245.93 266.96 -21.03
Dan Uggla 275.75 296.58 -20.83

Wow. It has not been a good year for Eric Hosmer. On quick glance, it doesn’t look so terrible since he does own a fine .286 batting average. But with zeroes in both the homers and steals columns, he ain’t givin’ fantasy owners much to smile about. He’s still just 24, so it’s odd to find him atop the distance decliner leaderboard. Even worse, he ranks 210th out of 219 batters in distance! Since his fantasy value was propped up by the handful of steals he has provided at a position that speed is so difficult to attain, it may be even more concerning that he has attempted just one all year. As usual, it depends on your potential cost to acquire him, but I don’t think he makes for a good buy low candidate.

David Wright is already 31, which makes me feel old, but his power has been so consistent, it’s strange to see it having fallen off a cliff during this first month. He’s also walking significantly less and swinging and missing more. The batted ball distribution looks great, which has fueled his typical high BABIP. I don’t know, I think he’s a better target than Hosmer. Probably.

Don’t look now, but Chris Johnson is actually hitting even more line drives than last year. He may be unlucky at the moment with just a .325 BABIP. But, without any semblance of power, he’s pretty worthless.

Maybe last year really was just a career half season for Hanley Ramirez and not a return to the ultra elite. Still, 20 homers and 15 to 20 steals at the shortstop position means he remains a top option.

Carlos Beltran‘s distance has plummeted (and he ranks right above Hosmer at 206th overall), yet his HR/FB rate and ISO haven’t budged. Something’s gotta give, but at age 37, you have to wonder if it’s the power results that are going to follow the distance, rather than the other way around.

Wil Myers has picked it up lately, though his latest homer was of the inside the park variety. His strikeout rate hasn’t been as bad as I feared, he’s willing to take a walk, and has a touch of speed. I think he’ll be a star in time, but fantasy owners need to reign in expectations and not project stardom so quickly.

Raul Ibanez has maintained a strong HR/FB rate, but his overall ISO has dropped precipitously. Furthermore, he’s swinging and missing at a career high rate, which has led to an increased strikeout rate. This is what the end looks like, my friends. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets DFA’d over the next couple of weeks, especially if recent call-ups C.J. Cron and Grant Green perform admirably.

I guess last year was Nate Schierholtz‘s career year. I didn’t expect a repeat, but I did think he would be able to hold onto most of his gains.

I still fail to understand Yonder Alonso. He’s a big guy. He looks like a power hitter in the batter’s box. But he owns a pathetic .111 career ISO and his distance ranks second to last this year.

I chose to include Dan Uggla as the last hitter here given the recent speculation that prospect Tommy La Stella would soon be taking over second base duties in Atlanta. While last year Uggla’s strikeout rate jumped and his batting average dropped below the Mendoza line, he still walked at a strong clip and continued to show good power. Now, he’s not even showing his typical power and suddenly forgot how to take a walk. His .240 wOBA is eighth lowest in baseball among everyday players. I can no longer defend him, it’s time to stick a fork in him.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: 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.

14 Responses to “Batted Ball Distance Decliners: April”

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  1. Johnny Rockets says:

    When looking at the data at baseballheatmaps, how do you interpret the angle? For example, Stanton and Abreu hover around 0, while Votto is at -16 and McCutchen at 17.

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    • Matt says:

      That tells you how much of a pull hitter they are. 0 means they hit their fly balls to midfield. Votto and McCutchen have more pull power.

      I think the main thing is it tells you how their power plays in different parks that favor left or right-handed hitters.

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  2. Free Bryan LaHair says:

    this Chris Johnson assessment made me laugh aloud
    “But, without any semblance of power, he’s pretty worthless.”

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  3. Jon L. says:

    I was inclined to strongly disagree with the idea that David Wright’s power has been “so consistent.” He’s always struck me as a particular inconsistent power hitter. We’re talking about a guy who posted consecutive home run totals of 33, 10, 29, 14 (from 2008-2011) with ISO’s of .232, .140, .220, and .172. He may have played through injuries in that last season, but his 2009 batting line looks quite good, minus the usual power.

    His worst full-month ISO, even in 2009, was .102, which looks a lot better than his .056 this April. A little bit more similar is his .087 in the midst of a pretty good season in August of 2012. But his most similar month to this one had to be March/April of 2007, when he posted an .067 with 0 home runs in 108 PA’s. He finished that year with 30 home runs, a .222 ISO, and a wRC+ of 151, suggesting he may well snap out of this and wind up having his usual good season with 20+ home runs, or maybe just 8.

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    • Emcee Peepants says:

      I think you can chalk up Wright’s HR fluctuation to Citi Field and injury. The 10 he hit in 2009 are likely due to some growing pains in the new park and the 14 he hit in 2011 were in only 102 games where he spent 2 months on the DL for a back injury. Throw out those 2 seasons and he has has had ISOs between .186 and .232 in his remaining 8 seasons, with 7 of those having an ISO above .200. Seems pretty consistent to me.

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  4. Scott says:

    For some reason Beltran is listed twice with his total hits split in half on the leaderboard at baseballheatmaps. If you lookup his player page it has his 2014 distance as 281.70 on 27 hits.

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  5. Greg says:

    How about the other side of the coin? Who has increased their distance?

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  6. jason shure says:

    Mike — thanks for this, and a quick question. I’ve seen such posts in the past; have you done any looking into their predictive power? Like, what does this tell us about Hosmer et al for the rest of this year? Future years? etc

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