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Statcast Review: Alex Reyes, Buster Posey, Randy Arozarena (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Maher | @mikeMaher | Featured Writer
May 12, 2021

Welcome back to another Statcast Review. Last week, we focused on hard hit numbers and discovered that Giancarlo Stanton‘s Hard Hit % was flirting with 70%, while no hitter in baseball had a better Hard Hit % per Swing number than Pavin Smith, just as we all predicted. We also learned that no pitcher was allowing less hard contact than…Ryan Yarbrough?

Throughout this series, we’ll look at different Statcast metrics for batters and pitchers each week. We’ll talk numbers and what they mean, and I’ll provide some player-specific notes after each section. The metrics themselves will change on a weekly basis, and we’ll circle back to some of our favorites every few weeks to see what trends we can identify.

Have something you want me to cover in this space or just want to talk baseball? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher with questions or feedback anytime.

Quality of Contact

This week, we’re taking a look at quality of contact numbers. Specifically, we’ll look at wOBA and pitchers and batters who have an expected wOBA significantly higher (for pitchers) or lower (for batters). As I explained in our Week 1 Quick Grades piece, wOBA isn’t a fantasy stat per se but is a great indicator of “quality of contact” based on the idea that not all hits are created equal. xwOBA is formulated using launch angle, exit velocity, and sprint speed for certain batted balls and removes defense from the equation. In short, it replaces actual outcomes with expected outcomes. By subtracting xwOBA from wOBA for pitchers and batters, we can see are over- or underperforming their expected results.

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Quality of Contact Overachievers – Pitchers

Below is a list of every qualifying pitcher with a wOBA minus xwOBA of -.052 or greater. For pitchers, wOBA indicates wOBA against, so lower numbers are better. Thus, a negative wOBA minus xwOBA indicates the pitcher has been outperforming their expected outcomes.

Note: This table is sortable and searchable, so feel free to look around!

Notes

  • Not only does Ervin Santana have the highest wOBA minus xwOBA on this list, but his .412 xwOBA against is the second-highest on the list behind only Alex Colome‘s .428. He tossed three scoreless innings in relief on Tuesday night and now has his ERA down to 2.51 on the season. But don’t rush out to grab the veteran for innings or potential starts, even in deeper leagues.

  • Alex Reyes has been one of the best closers in baseball through the first several weeks of the season. But as his numbers above indicate, there are some terrifying things going on under the hood. His walk rate is in the 1st percentile as he has walked 16 batters through 19 innings. He’s being saved by his excellent stuff and a .179 BABIP, so there are likely going to be some bumps in the road soon. He may very well continue to be one of the better closers, but don’t bank on this sustained dominance all season.
  • Wade Miley makes the list, but that’s mostly because his actual wOBA is very low right now. His xwOBA of .295 is still excellent. Ditto for John Means and his .195 – .268. Michael Wacha, on the other hand…
  • Carlos Martinez just landed on the 10-day IL with an ankle injury, but there were plenty of red flags behind his recent run of success even before he allowed five runs against the Rockies.

Quality of Contact Overachievers – Batters

Below is a list of every batter with a wOBA minus xwOBA of .032 or greater. For batters, we want the wOBA to be both high overall and higher than the xwOBA (or at least close to it) because that indicates a higher quality of contact. Thus, a high wOBA minus xwOBA indicates the batter has been outperforming their expected outcomes.

Note: This table is sortable and searchable, so feel free to look around!

Notes

  • Francisco Mejia leads the way with a .075 difference here, but he just qualified for this list with 67 PA and 51 BIP, so he is partially the victim of a small sample size here.
  • It isn’t necessarily surprising to see both Jesse Winker and Buster Posey near the top of this list given their hot starts, but even their significantly lower xwOBA numbers are still elite right now. Their .472 and .503 wOBAs are otherworldly, but .398 and .432 are still both excellent.

  • Randy Arozarena is a popular sell-high candidate right now. Expected statistics like his .262 xwOBA, which is in the bottom 10% of all of baseball, are why.
  • Didi Gregorius is struggling for the Phillies right now, and his underlying metrics are, well, not good. His xwOBA is in the 2nd percentile, and his Average Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, xSLG, Barrel %, and BB% are all 10th percentile or worse.

That’s all for this week, friends. See someone above you’d like to talk more about, or just have a general question? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher anytime.

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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaherand visit his Philadelphia Eagles blogThe Birds Blitz.