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Statcast Review: Jesse Winker, Whit Merrifield, Mitch Keller (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

May 5, 2022
Jesse Winker

Jesse Winker remains a top candidate for improvement based on Statcast data.

We looked at players whose expected statistics differed significantly from their actual numbers in the past two weeks. The two metrics were wOBA — weighted on-base average — and slugging percentage. The third number often associated with expected ratios is used in almost every fantasy baseball league: batting average.

Some formats have moved from batting average to on-base percentage, but the vast majority — especially those listed as “standard” — lean on batting average as one of the main categories. Even if it does not pertain directly, we can, again, look at the discrepancy between the surface numbers and what lies beneath them.

CTAs

Actual vs. Expected Batting Average – Batters

Below is a table of batters sorted by difference between xBA and BA to identify the players who have the most significant gap. Players with at least 70 batted balls in play were used. For batters, a negative difference is better, suggesting a positive correction. For reference, the league averages as of the time this table was created are .232 BA, .251 xBA, and a -0.019 difference.

Player BIP BA xBA Difference
Jesse Winker 72 0.179 0.322 -0.143
Whit Merrifield 80 0.154 0.258 -0.104
Nelson Cruz 74 0.143 0.240 -0.097
Alex Verdugo 80 0.238 0.305 -0.067
Jake Cronenworth 70 0.212 0.272 -0.06
Ozzie Albies 84 0.214 0.273 -0.059
Michael Brantley 71 0.268 0.324 -0.056
Bo Bichette 77 0.236 0.291 -0.055
Marcell Ozuna 84 0.221 0.275 -0.054
Austin Riley 71 0.268 0.317 -0.049
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 70 0.287 0.328 -0.041
Wander Franco 82 0.319 0.358 -0.039
Anthony Rizzo 71 0.253 0.290 -0.037
Corey Seager 74 0.270 0.305 -0.035
Juan Soto 72 0.258 0.292 -0.034
Cedric Mullins 74 0.221 0.251 -0.03
Enrique Hernandez 71 0.187 0.215 -0.028
Adam Frazier 83 0.237 0.264 -0.027
Francisco Lindor 82 0.248 0.274 -0.026
Matt Olson 73 0.292 0.311 -0.019
Alex Bregman 70 0.229 0.247 -0.018
Rafael Devers 85 0.297 0.314 -0.017
Marcus Semien 75 0.163 0.180 -0.017
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 77 0.275 0.280 -0.005
Dylan Carlson 72 0.188 0.191 -0.003
Freddie Freeman 71 0.298 0.299 -0.001
George Springer 70 0.289 0.290 -0.001
Ty France 85 0.344 0.343 0.001
Pete Alonso 79 0.255 0.252 0.003
Connor Joe 70 0.273 0.270 0.003
Starling Marte 84 0.253 0.245 0.008
Cesar Hernandez 85 0.274 0.264 0.01
Maikel Franco 75 0.274 0.258 0.016
Jose Ramirez 74 0.337 0.319 0.018
Thairo Estrada 72 0.247 0.225 0.022
J.P. Crawford 74 0.353 0.324 0.029
Josh Bell 70 0.366 0.330 0.036
Jeff McNeil 74 0.341 0.279 0.062
Nolan Arenado 71 0.353 0.287 0.066
Manny Machado 73 0.382 0.300 0.082
Andrew Benintendi 72 0.358 0.261 0.097


Notes

  • Jesse Winker is solidifying himself as the poster child for these articles. Not only was he mentioned in a previous installment, but he was also highlighted as one of the players with a positive correction in his future. Two weeks have passed since that article was written, and he remains a top candidate for improvement. Look at how vast the difference is between what he is doing and what he should be doing, and note that he would be among the best hitters in the game if he were actually delivering to his .322 xBA. Instead, he’s hitting under .200. If possible, I would be trying to add Winker at a low cost.
  • Whit Merrifield and Nelson Cruz follow Winker as the next two players most underperforming relative to their current batting averages. Still, the future is not necessarily as bright for this pair. Even if Merrifield and Cruz improve as anticipated, they would only be slightly above the league’s current batting average. As always, the direction of the move is important — so Merrifield and Cruz have potential — but let’s not ask for a complete recovery to the point that either is surging past .300.
  • Andrew Benintendi may be the aforementioned Merrifield’s teammate, but he is at risk of moving in the complete opposite direction. What’s worse for Benintendi is that his decline might be severe. He’s currently hitting almost 100 points higher than his expected batting average, and he is the definition of “overperforming” by that account. Only one other player has a “difference” between BA and xBA of at least 0.070, and it’s Manny Machado. However, Machado is in a separate category as his xBA is still so high that regression is natural and should not destroy his fantasy value.
  • I always like to close out a section with players performing at a high level and showing signs that they will remain there. Ty France is the clear leader in that department, as his BA and xBA are aligned and extremely high. This is what we would want to see in a breakout candidate, and France fits the mold. Freddie Freeman and George Springer are two more players who deserve recognition in this area, although to a much lesser degree than France.

Actual vs. Expected Batting Average – Pitchers

Below is a table of pitchers sorted by difference between xBA and BA to identify the players who have the most significant gap. Players with at least 70 batted balls in play were used. For pitchers, a positive difference is better, suggesting a positive correction. For reference, the league averages as of the time this table was created are .232 BA, .251 xBA, and a -0.019 difference.

Player BIP BA xBA Difference
Mitch Keller 76 0.278 0.226 0.052
Antonio Senzatela 77 0.413 0.364 0.049
Zach Eflin 78 0.274 0.241 0.033
Tyler Mahle 80 0.286 0.255 0.031
Jameson Taillon 80 0.273 0.247 0.026
Luis Severino 72 0.255 0.231 0.024
Logan Webb 100 0.275 0.252 0.023
Elieser Hernandez 70 0.256 0.234 0.022
Sandy Alcantara 82 0.243 0.222 0.021
Jordan Lyles 85 0.308 0.292 0.016
German Marquez 95 0.336 0.327 0.009
Kyle Freeland 85 0.283 0.275 0.008
Adam Wainwright 80 0.286 0.281 0.005
Marco Gonzales 72 0.287 0.287 0
Kyle Wright 73 0.209 0.211 -0.002
Charlie Morton 79 0.287 0.290 -0.003
Ranger Suarez 82 0.295 0.300 -0.005
Joe Musgrove 86 0.227 0.236 -0.009
Kevin Gausman 81 0.256 0.265 -0.009
Daulton Jefferies 82 0.276 0.288 -0.012
Yu Darvish 74 0.214 0.228 -0.014
Steven Matz 71 0.296 0.313 -0.017
Walker Buehler 86 0.232 0.250 -0.018
Miles Mikolas 85 0.193 0.213 -0.02
Eduardo Rodriguez 80 0.248 0.268 -0.02
Dane Dunning 76 0.255 0.276 -0.021
Robbie Ray 86 0.234 0.260 -0.026
Zach Davies 71 0.235 0.261 -0.026
Kyle Gibson 74 0.184 0.211 -0.027
Michael Lorenzen 71 0.212 0.239 -0.027
Noah Syndergaard 75 0.207 0.236 -0.029
Cole Irvin 87 0.238 0.268 -0.03
Chris Bassitt 76 0.193 0.223 -0.03
Frankie Montas 77 0.194 0.227 -0.033
Joan Adon 74 0.277 0.311 -0.034
Nathan Eovaldi 78 0.218 0.253 -0.035
Madison Bumgarner 72 0.186 0.222 -0.036
Alek Manoah 77 0.167 0.204 -0.037
Erick Fedde 77 0.268 0.307 -0.039
Kyle Hendricks 76 0.268 0.307 -0.039
Dakota Hudson 73 0.222 0.262 -0.04
Max Fried 87 0.221 0.262 -0.041
Carlos Carrasco 85 0.212 0.253 -0.041
Marcus Stroman 79 0.240 0.281 -0.041
Framber Valdez 75 0.194 0.237 -0.043
Zach Plesac 79 0.275 0.319 -0.044
Jordan Montgomery 74 0.217 0.261 -0.044
Jose Berrios 81 0.287 0.334 -0.047
Sean Manaea 80 0.193 0.240 -0.047
Merrill Kelly 80 0.208 0.255 -0.047
Pablo Lopez 70 0.190 0.238 -0.048
Shane Bieber 79 0.208 0.261 -0.053
Chris Flexen 89 0.231 0.286 -0.055
Tylor Megill 76 0.175 0.236 -0.061
Michael Wacha 70 0.148 0.212 -0.064
Logan Gilbert 73 0.180 0.254 -0.074
Brad Keller 88 0.168 0.244 -0.076
Zack Greinke 95 0.242 0.325 -0.083


Notes

  • I wrote about Jesse Winker as a mainstay in these articles, but it looks like I might need to copy and paste Mitch Keller‘s name every week. He’s here again, and he’s underperforming again. And he’s showing signs that he could improve. Again. It isn’t inspiring, though, as he will need to put together the numbers on the surface sometime soon before all hope is lost with him — both on the Pittsburgh Pirates and for fantasy managers. Still, keep him on your radar just in case he finally makes the necessary strides.
  • We usually can’t ask for too much from a pitcher whose home ballpark is in Colorado, but Antonio Senzatela is an interesting case. He is due for a positive correction as per the “difference” we see in the chart, but the number to which he would move is still frighteningly high. The best way to use this information is probably to streak Senzatela into a lineup when he is pitching on the road. This isn’t noteworthy in itself — plenty of people look to stream pitchers and avoid hitter-friendly ballparks — but the positive for Senzatela is that we can foresee some improvement.
  • I’m disappointed, but Logan Gilbert has now shifted to the bottom of the chart. Why “disappointed”? Because Gilbert was listed in the first article in this series as someone who had performed well and indicated that he would continue along that path. Now, he is arguably overextended to the point that, if he were to regress, it could be too severe in the wrong direction.
  • The good news is that Kyle Wright was listed in the same section as the aforementioned Gilbert two weeks ago, and Wright has been absolutely dominant this season. Nothing has changed for him and his underlying numbers, as he is giving all the signals of a player who is on the brink of a tremendous season. Joe Musgrove and Kevin Gausman are two other players who fall into the same category, albeit to a lesser extent than Wright.

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


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Mario Mergola is a featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros and the creator and content editor of Sporfolio. For more from Mario, check out his archive and follow him @MarioMergola.

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