As we continue into the second half of the season, it’s time to check back into the batted ball distance leaderboard. As usual, I am identifying potential HR/FB rate improvers by comparing a hitter’s mark to his distance. However, distance alone doesn’t tell the complete story, so this isn’t a perfect analysis. I found that batted ball angle and the standard deviation of fly balls were also quite important. But since this data isn’t publicly available yet, we have to do the best with what we have. So without further ado, here are your power surgers.
Miguel Cabrera is having a down season by his standards, but of course nearly every hitter would kill to post a .386 wOBA and be considered disappointing. There have been questions about whether or not his groin injury is still affecting him, but if it has, it seems to have barely made a dent in how far he is hitting the ball. His distance is down a mere four feet from last year and still ranks 10th in baseball. Aside from the fact that you just assume the man with a career HR/FB rate near 20% should be expected to improve from a current 12.5% mark, his distance suggests that he should be sitting near his career average. While you can never buy low on Cabrera, perhaps you could acquire him at less than the 2nd best fantasy player in baseball prices.
I still haven’t heard the end of it from Anthony Rendon fans after I included him as a bearish Pod’s Pick and then foolishly boldly predicted that Marcus Semien outearns him. Of course, my bearishness was based on his mediocre 277 foot distance of last year. He has upped that by a whopping 20 feet this year, yet his HR/FB rate still sits in league average territory. He has a chance to make me look even sillier over the final months of the season.
Starling Marte appeared on my last surger list as well, and his distance has predictably declined, but his HR/FB rate has nudged up slightly. I still believe a Carlos Gomez like power breakout is in his future. It will be interesting to see if he could cut down on the swings and misses, while maintaining or boosting his power.
Russell Martin‘s distance is sitting at a career high, though barely, but his HR/FB rate it at its lowest mark since 2010. His doubles have dried up as well, which has led his ISO to tumble down to just .116. This is also very strange coming from a guy averaging over 290 feet on his homers and flies. Since his BABIP is sitting at a career high, meaning that his batting average could crater, he should be a rare all-around contributor at catcher the rest of the way. In a deeper league, he’s a good target if you need a catcher.
Jayson Werth also made my prior surgers list and like Marte, has seen a slight decline in distance, but a small increase in HR/FB rate. After hitting just two homers over May and June, Werth has finally found his home run strike in July, swatting six long balls during the month. He’s already hit just two fewer doubles than he did all of last year, so it seems that early on, his fly balls are falling just short of going over the fence. It could be a sign of a true loss in home run power, or just a missing gust of wind that will carry some extra balls over the rest of the way.
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