Power Down — Who Would Suffer From Fewer Pulled Fly Balls? — A Review

Yesterday, I reviewed the list of hitters who might benefit from an increased rate of pulled flied balls heading into the season. Today, I’ll recap the hitters who already hit a ton of fly balls in 2017, but posted below average Brls/True FB and Avg FB Dist marks. The thinking here is they needed every bit of that FB Pull% to knock balls over the fence, considering they were below average in the other two metrics. Let’s see how they performed.

2018 FB Pull% Downside
Player 2017 FB Pull% 2018 FB Pull% FB Pull% Diff 2017 HR/FB 2018 HR/FB HR/FB Diff Same Direction?
Zack Cozart 40.3% 32.0% -8.3% 15.6% 6.7% -8.9% Y
Max Kepler 33.8% 24.1% -9.7% 12.1% 9.9% -2.2% Y
Andrelton Simmons 32.5% 37.7% 5.2% 8.4% 6.9% -1.5% N
Jose Ramirez 32.5% 35.5% 3.0% 14.1% 16.9% 2.8% Y
Jason Heyward 32.5% 25.4% -7.1% 9.2% 6.2% -3.0% Y
Mookie Betts 31.2% 27.2% -4.0% 10.1% 16.4% 6.3% N
Ben Zobrist 31.1% 28.1% -3.0% 9.8% 7.4% -2.4% Y
Didi Gregorius 31.1% 26.8% -4.3% 12.1% 14.8% 2.7% N
Eduardo Nunez 30.0% 24.6% -5.4% 10.0% 7.5% -2.5% Y
Gregory Polanco 30.0% 30.5% 0.5% 9.2% 13.8% 4.6% Y
Mikie Mahtook 30.0% 30.0% 0.0% 13.3% 15.0% 1.7% N
Yan Gomes 29.7% 28.0% -1.7% 13.9% 13.6% -0.3% Y
Anthony Rendon 29.4% 27.3% -2.1% 12.3% 12.1% -0.2% Y
Unweighted Avgs 31.9% 29.0% -2.8% 11.5% 11.3% -0.2%

Note that Dustin Pedroia appeared on my original list, but I removed him since he missed the vast majority of the season.

So this analysis performed much better than yesterday’s, which isn’t surprising as I’ve noticed the downside lists typically end up with better results. But, it didn’t really produce any big wins on guys who were costly, but ended up disappointed on the power front. But for a whopping nine of the 13 batters, the FB Pull% and HR/FB rates moved in the same direction.

What does surprise me is that the group only marginally declined in FB Pull%, considering these were guys really high in the metric to begin with. They did decline though, but overall, their HR/FB rates barely budged.

Max Kepler was the biggest FB Pull% loser, and his HR/FB rate did decline, but not by much. Zack Cozart was the second biggest loser, but his HR/FB rate actually did drop along with it and by the largest amount on the list. While he cost his fantasy owners because of it, it was more about an injury costing him half the season than a loss of power. Jason Heyward continues to confound me. Seriously, how does a guy who was such a strong prospect, has the body, and has shown power in the past, post a measly 6.2% HR/FB rate?!

Only three hitters actually increased their FB Pull% and two of them also enjoyed a HR/FB rate spike. Andrelton Simmons increased his FB Pull% to the highest mark on the list, and yet his HR/FB rate still fell.

Mookie Betts finished in the middle of the pack in terms of FB Pull% loss, but boosted his HR/FB rate by the largest degree on the list. Guess what — his Brls/True FB and Avg FB Dist skyrocketed, which more than made up for the decline in FB Pull%. It’s pretty crazy given how consistent he has performed in those two power metrics.



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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. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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