On Saturday, I analyzed the five hitters whose HR/FB ratios have increased the most since last season and using various tools and metrics, tried to determine whether we might see a decline in the second half. Today I will look at the opposite end of the spectrum, those hitters whose HR/FB ratios have declined the most. Will they experience a second half power surge?
|Name||2012 HR/FB||2011 HR/FB||Diff||2012 Avg Fly + HR Distance||2011 Avg Fly + HR Distance|
Adrian Gonzalez‘s missing power stroke has been one of the bigger stories of the fantasy season and something that many fantasy owners are asking about in the comments. Aside from a recent back issue, there has been absolutely no news about any type of injury or any whispers that his shoulder has been bothering him during any part of the season. But with his HR/FB ratio down significantly and his fly balls traveling shorter distances, you have to wonder if he is indeed 100% healthy. The doubles are still there, but that is probably just a function of the Green Monster and possibly the fact that he just doesn’t have the power to muscle those balls over the wall. Also, curiously his walk rate is way down and well below the league average for the first time. I wish I had a clue what was wrong, but without the power and BABIP magic of last year, he’s obviously nowhere near the elite at first base.
Carlos Santana is the anti-position scarcity’s example this year of why you shouldn’t draft a catcher early. It’s a weak argument since it’s just cherry picking a bust at the position, which you can do at any position. That said, Santana has been quite the disappointment with just 5 homers, after hitting 27 last year. Since he still has BABIP issues, he is suddenly a near replacement level catcher after being universally ranked among the top two at the position in the pre-season. He has experienced a similar drop in average fly ball distance to Gonzalez, so his power is clearly off this year. Unlike Gonzalez though, Santana has dealt with his share of injuries. Between a minor concussion, back and side soreness and the daily grind of catching (he caught only 59% of his games played last year versus 76% so far this season), his health has likely affecting his hitting performance. The good news is his walk and strikeout rates are normal, but it would be nice to see more fly balls. His current batted ball distribution actually suggests a much better BABIP. Depending on how cheaply you can acquire him, I think he makes for a better rebound candidate toward pre-season value than Gonzalez.
With Nelson Cruz‘s power down, everyone automatically assumes he’s not fully healthy. The oft-injured outfielder actually hasn’t been injured all season (unless I am forgetting a time). Unlike the first two names, Cruz’s power is still above average, but simply down from where he typically sits. He’s striking out more than usual, but everything else looks normal. His average fly ball distance is easily down the most of the players on the above list, which is discouraging. Since he’s only a bit off his normal pace and striking out more frequently, I don’t think he’s really a great buy low target. And of course, the injury risk will always loom.
Howie Kendrick makes this list solely because of his magical 2011 season that saw him hit a surprising 18 homers. It should have been obvious that was a fluke as Kendrick sustaining a mid-teens HR/FB ratio was quite unlikely. So this is just Kendrick returning to his standard power level. What’s interesting is how his average distance hasn’t declined very much from last year. Just goes to show how flukely that HR/FB ratio was. So unfortunately for his owners, you’ll probably have to endure more of the same in the second half.
After many fantasy owners projected a breakout for years, Alex Gordon finally made good last season, swatting 23 homers and batting over .300 on the heels of an inflated BABIP. Though most expected his average to tumble, the power appeared real. But, now it’s gone again and he’s looking closer to the pre-2011 Gordon. The good news is that his average fly ball distance is only down a couple of ticks from last year. He is also the American League leader in doubles, so has power hasn’t completely vanished. A 5.5% HR/FB ratio is simply way too low to continue, as even before Gordon broke out, he still posted rates of at least 8.5%, and over 11% from 2009-2011. More fly balls would help his home run total as well, but I think he should rebound in the second half. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been running as much this year, so his value is really predicated on his power returning.
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