Earlier this year, I finally derived an official equation that highlighted the value batted ball distance has and its strong correlation with home runs. While we still don’t have a lot of vital information, such as how quickly batted ball distance stabilizes, it is probably still worth taking a peek at the leader board. It might very well explain some of the early home run spikes. Whether or not the hitter will continue hitting balls that far on average is unknown, but it will at least validate what has already happened.
The unweighted average HR/FB rate of these hitters is 21.3%, so immediately you can say how strongly it correlates to batted ball distance.
Hunter Pence is giving everyone who was so focused on his poor second half last year the finger. It’s just another reminder that second half split stats are routinely given too much weight when projecting performance the following season. Am I cherry picking? Well, sure, but there are also studies that confirm this. Anyhow, Pence is obviously fine.
On both The Sleeper and the Bust podcast and The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable radio show, I’ve been saying that all of Chris Davis‘ advanced metrics point to this be a true monster career year. The batted ball distance is just another point in his favor. I’m not selling high.
Be patient Nolan Arenado owners, he may be even better in fantasy leagues than most expected. He’s hitting just .241 now but is making excellent contact and has been bitten by a .227 BABIP. We know he is going to contribute in batting average and the early batted ball distance data suggests he may also be at least a 20 homer guy in a full season of at bats.
Carl Crawford?! He’s the first guy on this list who is truly a surprise. Since 2007, he has never exceeded an average batted ball distance of 288 feet, which is actually higher than one might expect given his below league average career HR/FB rate. He’s also striking out less and walking more than previous years and his line drive rate easily stands at a career best. I have no idea if he could keep this up, obviously history suggests not. But at least it does validate his current power surge.
Out of nowhere, Russell Martin‘s HR/FB rate is on a three season climb. His batted ball distance was identical the last two seasons at 289 feet, which is pretty good, but doesn’t match with that nearly 20% HR/FB rate from last year. What’s amazing is that this power surge is coinciding with a significant increase in Contact% and decline in strikeout rate. That’s pretty impressive. Like Crawford, I have no idea if this will continue, but darn has Martin been legitimately good.
And finally, we reach our first strong buy low candidate in Adam LaRoche. In the “which HR/FB rate does not belong” game, LaRoche’s is by far the lowest of this group and corresponds more closely to a 275-280 foot average distance, which is where the league average usually sits. For the most part, this is the same LaRoche as always. And in fact his batted ball distribution actually suggests a much better BABIP given that he’s hitting a ton of line drives and avoiding the infield fly ball.
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