Contact Rate Decliners

Yesterday, I identified the hitters who have experienced the largest increase in their Contact% as compared with last year. So today I will check in on the other side of the coin, the big decliners. Just like the Contact% surgers, an appearance on this list isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Sometimes a hitter consciously decides to swing harder in an attempt to increase their power output, so it’s a trade-off. This is exactly the opposite of what I said might happen for the Contact% surgers, so let’s see if any patterns emerge.

Name 2013 Contact% 2012 Contact% Diff 2013 K% 2012 K% Diff 2013 ISO 2012 ISO Diff
Colby Rasmus 59.0% 75.9% -16.9% 40.6% 23.8% 16.8% 0.175 0.177 -0.002
Jeff Francoeur 67.5% 80.5% -13.0% 24.0% 19.7% 4.3% 0.106 0.143 -0.037
Jason Kipnis 75.9% 83.5% -7.6% 24.7% 16.2% 8.5% 0.157 0.122 0.035
Dan Uggla 63.3% 70.1% -6.8% 35.5% 26.7% 8.8% 0.168 0.164 0.004
Pedro Alvarez 64.2% 70.9% -6.7% 31.8% 30.7% 1.1% 0.149 0.223 -0.074
Garrett Jones 70.1% 76.7% -6.6% 21.3% 20.0% 1.3% 0.186 0.242 -0.056
J.P. Arencibia 67.8% 74.1% -6.3% 37.5% 29.0% 8.5% 0.282 0.202 0.080
Chris Young 75.4% 81.7% -6.3% 19.8% 21.8% -2.0% 0.218 0.203 0.015
Michael Morse 70.6% 76.4% -5.8% 26.5% 22.6% 3.9% 0.269 0.180 0.089
Salvador Perez 85.2% 91.0% -5.8% 19.6% 8.9% 10.7% 0.096 0.170 -0.074

Not surprisingly, 9 of the 10 hitters have seen their strikeout rates increase, while half of the hitters have seen an increase in power. So just like the Contact% surgers have shown us, it’s highly correlated with strikeout rate, but there may be no power with regards to ISO.

It’s now been 100 at-bats, and Colby Rasmus‘s strikeout rate sits at 40.5%. Wow. His SwStk% has skyrocketed from 10.8% to 18.0%. Amazingly, you wouldn’t even notice the huge uptick in strikeout rate by just looking at his batting average, as it sits where it always does. But that’s because his BABIP is an astronomical (for him) .392. He’d be hitting sub-.200 if his BABIP was closer to his career .291 mark.

Jeff Francoeur? Free Wil Myers! Oh, wait….

Normally, you’d wonder if Jason Kipnis‘ elbow was affecting his hitting, but his power is actually better so far than last year, so really, he’s just making less contact. The good news for fantasy owners is that he’s quickly proving that last year’s stolen base output was no fluke. I thought it would have been a reasonable bet to project more homers than steals this year, but that’s clearly not looking to be a winning proposition at this point.

Ughhh for Dan Uggla. If he wasn’t hitting for solid power, he sure looks like he’s on his way to being finished. He is now the epitome of old player skills, which is usually the recipe for a quick and steep decline. His BABIP, though, should improve as he’s hitting fewer fly balls than usual and hitting line drives and pop-ups at fairly acceptable rates. Obviously, not a buy low, but I wouldn’t necessarily drop him as he’s a near lock for another 20+ homers.

Lucky for Pedro Alvarez, significantly less contact hasn’t yet led to more strikeouts. Already the poster boy for swinging and missing, he’s taken that “skill” to an entirely new level this year. How his strikeout rate has managed to barely budge is beyond me. Based on his advanced metrics, he should be competing with Rasmus for strikeout rate king.

The huge uptick in power has so far hidden the fact that J.P. Arencibia simply cannot make contact at an acceptable rate. Perhaps even more comical than his 35.0% K% is his 2/42 BB/K ratio. Really J.P.? He’s certainly making his OBP league owners pay for the power he provides!

I am not a Salvador Perez owner, but if I were, I would be seriously concerned. He has always made excellent contact, but showed atrocious plate patience, unwilling to take the free pass. This season, his hatred of the base on balls has continued with just three walks, but now he’s not making strong contact like he used to. Oddly, he’s actually seeing a higher rate of pitches inside the zone, but he’s just making less contact with them. He also hadn’t really shown a whole lot of power until last year, so it’s not unreasonable to think that last year was more flukey than his true talent level. I don’t think he’s a good buy low candidate.

Here are the rest of the hitters who have seen their Contact% decline.

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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.

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Bennie and the Jets
Bennie and the Jets

Should I drop Salvador Perez for Evan Gattis?


I second that question… will the Braves find enough at bats for him over the course of the season?