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Statcast Review: Bryce Harper, Dylan Bundy, John Means (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Maher | @mikeMaher | Featured Writer
Jun 16, 2021
Dylan Bundy

Now that everyday starters have around 250 or so plate appearances (give or take), I thought now was a good time to look at some rolling windows. Rather than looking at year-over-year stats or year-to-date stats, we’re going to look at the current season as two miniature halves split by plate appearances. I’ll go into more detail below about this week’s focus.

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.

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Rolling Windows: 100 PA xwOBA

As mentioned above, we’re going to look at some rolling windows this week. Specifically, we’re going to focus on xwOBA with a rolling window of 100 plate appearances. Here’s what that means. By focusing on a rolling window of 100 plate appearances, we are looking at a player’s last 200 plate appearances. The first 100 PAs will be captured in the charts as “THEN,” and the more recent 100 PAs will be labeled “NOW.” We’ll look at these for both batters and pitchers.

  • THEN: The player’s performance in the selected stat over his previous 100 plate appearances.
  • NOW: The player’s performance in the selected stat over his most recent 100 plate appearances.
  • DIFF: The difference between ‘THEN’ and ‘NOW.’

NOTE: Plate appearances may stretch across multiple seasons. 

Rolling 100 PA xwOBA – Batters

Below is a chart showing the rolling windows per 100 plate appearances for batters. See above for what “THEN, “NOW,” and “DIFF” mean. For batters, obviously, we want higher numbers, especially in the “NOW” column. Higher numbers in the “NOW” and “DIFF” columns indicate the player has been performing better recently. That’s good! Lower numbers and/or a negative number in the “DIFF” column indicate poorer or declining performance. That’s bad!

Again, very important note here: these plate appearances are specific to the batter. That means they are for this particular batter’s last 200 plate appearances, regardless of the season. So, some of these numbers can date back to 2020 for players like Adalberto Mondesi, who only has 26 plate appearances this season.

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

Notes

  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the highest xwOBA over his last 100 plate appearances. Water is wet. No one is impressed. Ok, we're very impressed. We just aren't surprised.
  • If you sort that above chart by the "DIFF" column and look at the negative numbers, you'll find...Bryce Harper at the top? To be fair, his .516 xwOBA over his previous 100 PAs is the highest number found on the chart. That kind of number isn't sustainable. But his large drop indicates just how much he has been slumping for the Phillies and fantasy managers.

  • Right below Harper is Nolan Arenado, with a drop from .391 to .246. Arenado is off to a strong start for the Cardinals, but some of the dips in expected numbers that we saw in 2020 have carried over into 2021. I don't really have any concerns about Arenado long-term, but you would obviously prefer not to see his name at this end of the list.
  • An interesting name on the other end is Elvis Andrus. Andrus got off to an awful start for Oakland this season and was dropped by many fantasy managers even in deeper leagues. But is he quietly turning things around? His .105 increase in xwOBA is fifth-highest in baseball, and he's batting .304 through the first two weeks in June. He has yet to homer and has just four stolen bases through 66 games, but he is finally showing signs of life at the plate and could once again be an option in deeper formats.
  • Another player who has been hitting well and appears near the top of the xwOBA gainers is Cleveland's Harold Ramirez. He received a strong grade in my recent Week 11 Quick Grades piece, and it is not surprising to see him making a big jump here in the xwOBA department. He's available in more than 90% of leagues and could be a candidate to contribute in deeper formats.

Rolling 100 PA xwOBA - Pitchers

Below is a chart showing the rolling windows per 100 plate appearances for pitchers. See above for what "THEN, "NOW," and "DIFF" mean. Two notes for pitchers: these are, of course, plate appearances against (as in, batters faced). And whereas we wanted these numbers to be higher for batters, we want them to be lower for pitchers.

Now, let's take a look at this chart and then get to some notes below.

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

Notes

  • Jimmy Nelson! Jimmy bleeping Nelson has the second-lowest xwOBA over his last 100 PAs against, behind only Jacob deGrom?! We didn't see Nelson in 2020, but he has been quietly excellent for the Dodgers this season. The problem is that he hasn't been starting or pitching late in games, so his fantasy value has been minimal. He does have three holds, so there's that? And he hasn't allowed a home run through 21 2/3 innings pitched. And his .241 drop from .436 to .195 is the biggest dip of anyone on this list, by A LOT.
  • Corbin Burnes's rolling xwOBA against is .210 over his last 100 PA against. That's the fifth-lowest in all of baseball, and it's actually UP from .191 over his previous 100 PAs against! Burnes and Jacob deGrom are the only two names in the Top 5 in both columns ("THEN" and "NOW") above. deGrom is actually first in both.

  • Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel are also two of the biggest xwOBA droppers (in a good way) here. Barnes is in the Top 5 for lowest xwOBA overall (at .200) and the Top 5 for biggest drops. Their dominating seasons are backed up by the numbers we are seeing here.
  • I have been interested in Dylan Bundy as a buy-low candidate for a while now, but he continues to pitch poorly. And now, his expected numbers are starting to creep closer to the actual numbers we're seeing from him. His sinker is his worst pitch, and he is inexplicably throwing it more often this season. His increase in xwOBA from .285 to .430 over his last 100 PAs against is the third-highest in baseball. As Peter Campbell would say, "Not great, Bob!" Even worse, now there are some spin rate concerns...

  • Ruh-roh. John Means is near the top of this chart in a bad way. Is he starting to trend in the wrong direction, or is this just a minor blip on the radar? Over his last 100 PAs against, Means has seen his xwOBA rise from .234 (over his previous 100 PAs) to .371. He is currently on the injured list, and it's entirely possible that his injury contributed to his recent struggles, especially since he was dealing with some shoulder fatigue. His season-long numbers indicate some moderate negative regression could be on the way:
    • ERA: 2.28
    • FIP: 4.19
    • xFIP: 3.91
    • SIERA: 3.73
    • xERA: 3.64

Take a look through both of the above charts. Who stands out to you among the biggest gainers or losers?

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

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