Skip to main content

Statcast Review: Alex Cobb, Max Scherzer, David Fletcher (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Maher | @mikeMaher | Featured Writer
Jul 21, 2021
Statcast Review, Alex Cobb

Greetings, friends. We’re now on the other side of the All-Star break and are back to looking at Statcast data. This week, we’re circling back to barrels, which is something we first looked at about two months ago. Let’s see where things stand now that we have two additional months of data.

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.

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Lineup & Trade advice >>

Barrels

For those who are unaware, a “barrel” in this context refers to the metric created by Statcast a few years ago that focuses on the exit velocity and launch angle of batted balls. When Statcast announced the new metric, they offered this definition for a barrel: “a well-struck ball where the combination of exit velocity and launch angle generally leads to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.” Barreled balls need to have an exit velocity of at least 98 MPH, and the required launch angle changes depending on the exit velocity. A higher exit velocity results in a larger range for the launch angle.

In short, a barrel means the hitter made solid contact and hit the ball hard enough to do some damage. Barrels are very good for batters and very bad for pitchers. Let’s take a look at the data.

Barrels – Batters

Below is a list of qualified batters for the 2021 season, sorted by Barrels per Plate Appearance. Also included are the total BBEs, total barrels, and barrels per BBE.  Batters who barrel balls are more likely to drive the ball and make an impact. Just look at the top of the list here. You’ll see some of the same players that you see in highlights every night. Barrels help us identify who is consistently making impactful contact, and they’re a perfect stat for identifying power potential for fantasy managers.

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

Notes

  • When we first looked at these numbers in May, Shohei Ohtani led the way with a Barrels per Plate Appearance number of 13.8 and a Barrels per BBE of 21.5. Fast forward a couple of months, and those numbers have actually gone UP. Ohtani still leads both categories with numbers of 15.0 and 25.8. His truly remarkable season just keeps getting better. No wonder Joe Pisapia talks about him every morning on Leading Off.
  • Fernando Tatis Jrhas shot up the leaderboard after not qualifying the last time we looked at these numbers.
  • David Fletcher still doesn't have a single barrel in 2021. No other qualifying batter has fewer than three, and only Tommy Edman has more BBEs than Fletcher's 323. Fletcher has been on fire for the Angels and fantasy managers lately, but it's a good thing fantasy leagues don't count barrels.

  • Tommy Edman leads all of baseball with 325 BBEs, but his 2.8 Barrel per PA number is near the bottom of the league. It is, however, slightly better than Whit Merrifield's 2.5 number.
  • It's a bummer that Brandon Crawford just landed on the injured list because he was having a ridiculous season at 34 years old. He is somehow in the Top 10 for Barrels per PA in 2021.
  • It's interesting to see where some of the bigger "swing-and-miss" guys like Joey Gallo land on these lists. Gallo's 19.0 Barrels per BBE number is Top 5, but his 9.1 Barrels per PA number is 20th. When he hits the ball, he makes it count.

As mentioned above, that table is sortable and searchable. Play around with the columns and search for players you're curious about to see where they land.

Barrels - Pitchers

Below is a list of qualified pitchers, sorted by barrels per plate appearance. Also included are the total BBEs (batted ball events), total barrels, and barrels per BBE. As mentioned above, barrels are bad for pitchers, so we want lower numbers here. So, lower numbers will be in the dark blue here (that's good!), and the higher numbers will be a lighter green/yellow (that's bad). But this list is sortable, so you can click on any of the below columns and sort that view.

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

Notes

  • When we looked at these numbers back in May, Alex Wood led all qualifying pitchers with a 1.4 Barrels per PA and a 2.2 Barrels per BBE. He had allowed just two barrels out of 93 BBEs. The world has since corrected itself, but Wood's 4.1 and 6.3 numbers are still respectable.
  • Corbin Burnes leads all qualifying pitchers in Barrels per PA (1.9) and Barrels per BBE (3.3). No other pitcher has a Barrels per PA number below 2.0. Out of 215 batted ball events, just seven of them have been barrels.
  • Part of this is because of the sample size because he has missed time this season, but it's interesting that Jacob deGrom is outside of the Top 10 in both of these categories. His 3.4 and 6.6 numbers are fine overall, but those aren't the elite numbers we're accustomed to seeing from deGrom. These numbers put him below the likes of Jon Gray, Luis Castillo, Charlie Morton, and Wade Miley.
  • Do you know who has the third-best Barrels per PA among qualifying pitchers? Alex Cobb at 2.3. Only Burnes and German Marquez (2.2) have a lower Barrels per PA this season. What? Cobb's last three starts: 19 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 17 K, but he does have eight walks over that span.

  • Tarik Skubal is not a name I expected to see near the bottom of this leaderboard, but only Justus Sheffield and J.A. Happ have worse Barrels per PA numbers than Skubal's 8.0. And Skubal's 12.9 Barrels per BBE is the worst in baseball. Out of 240 BBEs, 31 have been barrels.
  • Uhh, Max Scherzer is in the Bottom 5 for Barrels per BBE? His 6.7 Barrels per PA is...fine. It isn't great, but it's OK. But his 11.7 Barrels per BBE is in the same ballpark as the three pitchers mentioned above. Scherzer's overall numbers are solid, and he's still a great pitcher. But he has allowed 11 earned runs over his last 10 2/3 innings, so this is something to keep an eye on as we head into fantasy baseball trade deadline season.

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.

Import your team to My Playbook for custom advice all season >>


SubscribeApple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant - that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much - we've got you covered this fantasy baseball season.

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 read some Eagles news at his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.

Featured, Featured Link, MLB, Weekly Advice