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The Definitive Home Run Tracker Study: The Bad Names

Yesterday, I unveiled the top 10 list of good names with regards to both No Doubt percentage and Just Enough percentage from the home run classification buckets on ESPN Home Run Tracker. Today, I will present the negative nellies. These hitters are at greater risk for HR/FB rate decline this season, so it might not be a bad idea to use as a tie-breaker if debating between a hitter on the list and someone else.

First, here are the 10 hitters with the lowest ND% among all batters who hit at least 10 home runs last year. Scratch that, instead here are the 15 hitters who failed to hit even 1 ND homer last year, sorted by the most home runs:

Player HR/FB HR ND%
David Wright 12.5% 21 0.0%
Ian Kinsler 7.9% 19 0.0%
Gordon Beckham 8.7% 16 0.0%
Austin Jackson 11.4% 16 0.0%
Jed Lowrie 11.3% 16 0.0%
Derek Jeter 16.1% 15 0.0%
Eric Hosmer 11.3% 14 0.0%
A.J. Ellis 12.5% 13 0.0%
Ryan Roberts 7.9% 12 0.0%
Shane Victorino 6.0% 11 0.0%
Coco Crisp 8.0% 11 0.0%
Salvador Perez 13.1% 11 0.0%
Geovany Soto 11.1% 11 0.0%
Casper Wells 11.0% 10 0.0%
Norichika Aoki 7.9% 10 0.0%
Population Avg 14.6% 20 19.0%

Wow, color me surprised to see David Wright‘s name topping the list. He’s only 30 and his power still remains down from his peak. Tough to know what to think here, but since he’s unlikely to be undervalued in any league, this may be reason enough to shy away from paying value.

Every time I see Ian Kinsler‘s low HR/FB rate, it surprises me. He hit 30 home runs twice, and managed to do so with HR/FB rates of just around 12%. Chalk that up to his excellent contact ability and extreme fly ball tendency. He isn’t really all that powerful though. He has literally alternated between single digit and double digit HR/FB rates every year, so he’s due for a rebound season. I wouldn’t count on it though.

Hmm, maybe Austin Jackson‘s power outburst was more fluke than real after all. His average distance was identical to 2011, both years being lower than 2010. Jed Lowrie might really hate his new home park.

Caution to those hoping for an Eric Hosmer rebound. His appearance here is obviously not a good sign. Aside from the hope his BABIP rebounds, another issue is his missing power. He posted just a .127 ISO last year, which is pitiful for a first baseman. Though, his average distance portrays a better picture as it suggests some HR/FB rate upside. So these two factors clash, which makes me throw up my hands and pronounce that I have no idea what Hosmer is going to do this year.

If you didn’t already assume it, no power repeat for A.J. Ellis this season. Well isn’t that interesting. Shane Victorino appears here and also showed up on our low JE% list. In fact, 10 of his 11 homers were of the “Plenty” variety. That’s fine, no concerns here.

Now let’s check out the top 10 in JE%:

Player HR/FB HR JE%
Jed Lowrie 11.3% 16 62.5%
David Wright 12.5% 21 57.1%
Alex Gordon 8.5% 14 57.1%
Drew Stubbs 13.2% 14 57.1%
Carlos Quentin 13.9% 16 56.3%
Melky Cabrera 10.7% 11 54.5%
A.J. Ellis 12.5% 13 53.8%
Jhonny Peralta 8.3% 13 53.8%
Will Middlebrooks 21.4% 15 53.3%
Seth Smith 13.6% 14 50.0%
Population Avg 14.6% 20 19.0%

Oh boy, Lowrie is doomed. He’s the Justin Upton of the bad names list. Wait, maybe that title belongs to Wright. There he is again! So yeah, remember how above I said maybe it’s not worth paying value for Wright? His appearance on these lists is obviously not an automatic death wish, but again, if you have an opportunity to draft him at value, there is little reason to do so knowing this information now.

Alex Gordon baffles me. What happened to the future 30 home run hitter? And his appearance on this list is coming when his HR/FB rate fell below the 10% mark. Stop doing your best Nick Markakis impression and be the 2006 Double-A future superstar!

There’s Ellis again. Not a good sign for Will Middlebrooks, but it’s doubtful anyone expected him to maintain a HR/FB rate anywhere close to what he posted last season anyway.