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Statcast Review: Nelson Cruz, Patrick Sandoval, Gerrit Cole (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Maher | @mikeMaher | Featured Writer
Aug 4, 2021
Gerrit Cole

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: 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 for batters and 250 plate appearances for pitchers. Here’s what that means. By focusing on a rolling window of plate appearances, we are looking at a player’s last 200 (for 100) and 500 (for 250) plate appearances. The first 100 or 250 PAs will be captured in the charts as “THEN,” and the more recent PAs will be labeled “NOW.” 100 + 100 = 200, and 250 +250 = 500. Easy, right?

  • 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.’

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!

Now, very important note here. These plate appearances are specific to the batter. That means they are for each individual batter’s last 200 plate appearances, regardless of injuries or when those plate appearances occurred. That means you are going to see some injured players in the chart below.

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


  • Mitch Garver is one of those injured players we talked about above. He had exactly one plate appearance in June and 23 in July, and he doesn't even have 200 plate appearances on the season yet. But he has the biggest increase in xwOBA from his previous 100 plate appearances to his most recent 100, going from .266 to .450. Through seven games to start the second half, he is batting .273 with three home runs.
  • Garver's .450 xwOBA over his last 100 plate appearances isn't the highest number, though. That honor belongs to, of course, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Vlad is incredibly consistent in his category. He doesn't stand out on the chart when it's sorted by biggest delta because his .467 number over his recent plate appearances is only slightly higher than the .439 number he put up over his previous 100.
  • The player with the largest negative delta between THEN and NOW is...Nelson Cruz? Cruz is batting just .206 since his trade to the Rays and .193 in the second half. Most of his Statcast data is off the charts, however, and it's likely that Cruz's recent foot injury has contributed to his struggles. As long as he can put that behind him, he should bounce back like he always does.

  • Also near the bottom of the list is Tommy Pham. Pham has had a strange season of hot and cold streaks. Look at these monthly splits:
    • Mar/Apr: .179 AVG, 0 HR, 1 XBH, 2 SB
    • May: .253 AVG, 3 HR, 3 XBH, 4 SB
    • June: .341 AVG, 6 HR, 7 XBH, 6 SB
    • July: .227 AVG, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 1 SB
  • A player even streakier than Pham has been Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins is walking less often than at any other point in his career, though his batting average remains low. The power has remained consistent, though his splits are quite remarkable:
    • Mar/Apr: .231, 8 HR
    • May: .302, 3 HR
    • June: .135, 6 HR
    • July: .310, 6 HR
  • Xander Bogaerts is still batting above .300 on the season, but he is batting just .205 in the second half after batting .234 in July. He was above .300 in each of the first three months of the season, including hitting .347 in June. His -.104 THEN - NOW number reflects those struggles. He has 16 home runs on the season but just three of them since June 15.

Rolling 250 PA xwOBA - Pitchers

Below is a chart showing the rolling windows per 250 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!

  • Somehow, Madison Bumgarner has the biggest negative delta from his last 250 PAs to his most recent 250 PAs against, at -.116. He was awful at the end of May and into June, allowing 16 earned runs over a span of 12 innings. I wouldn't recommend Bumgarner to fantasy managers outside of the deepest formats, but it's certainly interesting to see him at the top of this list given how his roller-coaster of a season has gone. He has a 2.00 ERA through 18 innings to start the second half.
  • It's much less surprising to see Patrick Sandoval near the top of this list. The Angels don't do many things right, but Sandoval had a 2.70 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 33 1/3 innings in July and has a 2.53 ERA to start the second half. The concerns for the rest of the season are that 1.) The Angels aren't very good, and 2.) They may opt to lessen Sandoval's workload down the stretch. His 10.13 K/9 is easily his best mark since being called up to The Show, though his 3.72 BB/9 is not ideal.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, Garrett Richards is certainly headed in the wrong direction. He has been open about his struggles and adjustments since the league started cracking down on the use of "sticky stuff" for pitchers, and his subsequent results have been mixed at best. His xwOBA against has increased by 100 points to .420 over the last 250 PAs against, and he continues to be a work-in-progress on the mound as he tinkers with a new changeup and tries to rediscover his curveball. Richards had a 2.97 ERA in May. The league announced their sticky stuff crackdown in June, and the numbers aren't good for Richards since then. In June, he had a 7.16 ERA. In July, 5.95. And his ERA through 13 2/3 innings to start the second half is 7.24. That isn't someone fantasy managers, even in deeper leagues, should rely on down the stretch.
  • We don't have to spend any time on J.A. Happ or Dylan Bundy, right?
  • Gerrit Cole's .302 xwOBA against is still a solid number, but it's up significantly from his .232 xwOBA against over his previous 250 PAs against. Cole is another pitcher who was clearly benefitting from sticky substances, but he is a good enough pitcher to adapt to a new way of pitching. Still, the early returns are certainly eye-opening. Consider these monthly splits (and they come with a 6.06 ERA through 16 1/3 innings to start the second half, as well):
    • Mar/Apr: 1.43 ERA, 62 Ks, 37 2/3 IP
    • May: 2.18 ERA, 35 Ks, 33 IP
    • June: 4.65 ERA, 32 Ks, 31 IP
    • July: 4.71 ERA, 47 Ks, 28 2/3 IP

  • Cole is on the COVID-19 IL and should hopefully return soon for fantasy managers, but his days of being a Top 3 pitcher in all of baseball may be over. That doesn't mean he isn't still going to be a good (and probably even closer to great) pitcher. By all indications, he should be fine. He might just not be as elite as we have seen over the last few seasons.

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

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