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Statcast Review: Jonah Heim, Mike Clevinger, Nick Pivetta (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

May 25, 2022
Jonah Heim

Earlier in this series, “Statcast Review,” we looked into xwOBA as a decent “catch-all” for what we can expect from a hitter or pitcher. It’s not perfect no singular statistic is but it is an essential comparative number where we can place two players side-by-side and gauge their relative performances.

At the time, we looked at the disconnect between the actual wOBA and the “expected” number. Regression in both directions was a key consideration.

We are now nearly two months into the season and have a solid baseline of how expected, and actual statistics are intertwined. We have also seen how they have moved over the first portion of the season.

That’s where rolling statistics come into play.

The “Rolling xwOBA” shows the difference between how a player was performing 100 plate appearances ago and how that same player is performing now.

There is a caveat. Generally, higher numbers especially xwOBA are better for hitters, while lower numbers are better for pitchers. We aren’t only looking at numbers, though. We are looking at the change in numbers the delta over a time period.

It is fair to question whether said delta is a sign of an outlier where regression to the mean is possible or a new trend forming. Unfortunately, this is a critical discussion point in all areas of statistical analysis. For our purposes, we will explore both possibilities.

Rolling xwOBA – Last 100 PA: Batters

Below are two tables for rolling xwOBA over the last 100 PA by batters. “Then” refers to the start of the timeframe, while “now” is the current xwOBA for a player. “Delta” is the difference between the two. The first table is sorted by “Delta” from high-to-low, while the second is sorted from low-to-high.

Sorted High-to-Low

Player Then Now Delta
Max Stassi 0.238 0.382 0.144
Yonathan Daza 0.250 0.391 0.141
Franchy Cordero 0.217 0.350 0.133
Jonah Heim 0.233 0.363 0.130
Trevor Story 0.290 0.415 0.125
Kyle Garlick 0.291 0.416 0.125
Matt Chapman 0.287 0.411 0.124
Kole Calhoun 0.273 0.397 0.124
Danny Jansen 0.320 0.443 0.123
Harold Ramirez 0.278 0.398 0.120
Jo Adell 0.262 0.382 0.120
Pete Alonso 0.332 0.451 0.119
J.D. Martinez 0.360 0.473 0.113
Randy Arozarena 0.242 0.351 0.109
Mookie Betts 0.329 0.435 0.106
Joc Pederson 0.366 0.471 0.105
Darin Ruf 0.305 0.404 0.099
Christian Walker 0.347 0.442 0.095
Mike Brosseau 0.251 0.346 0.095
Max Kepler 0.355 0.447 0.092

Sorted Low-to-High

Player Then Now Delta
Bobby Dalbec 0.418 0.258 -0.160
Adalberto Mondesi 0.388 0.234 -0.154
Jesus Sanchez 0.398 0.253 -0.145
Tyler O’Neill 0.400 0.266 -0.134
Jarred Kelenic 0.395 0.263 -0.132
Chad Pinder 0.402 0.271 -0.131
Joey Votto 0.408 0.277 -0.131
Steven Souza Jr. 0.320 0.191 -0.129
Salvador Perez 0.368 0.240 -0.128
Austin Riley 0.438 0.311 -0.127
Evan Longoria 0.399 0.274 -0.125
Wander Franco 0.407 0.283 -0.124
Brad Miller 0.391 0.270 -0.121
AJ Pollock 0.433 0.312 -0.121
Travis Shaw 0.336 0.217 -0.119
Jake Cronenworth 0.367 0.260 -0.107
Teoscar Hernandez 0.390 0.284 -0.106
Nick Castellanos 0.408 0.302 -0.106
J.P. Crawford 0.384 0.278 -0.106
Mike Zunino 0.367 0.266 -0.101


Notes

  • The most extreme hitters in the positive delta direction are Max Stassi, Yonathan Daza, Francy Cordero, Jonah Heim, and Trevor Story, but we can easily attach a narrative to one. Story has frequently been one of the best fantasy baseball producers of the past few years but entered this season with essentially no time to prepare primarily driven by the delayed offseason and then signing with the Red Sox late in the process. To see that Story’s numbers are vastly improving is almost certainly tied to an overall upward trend. Put another way; we knew he would hit eventually. Now he is.
  • A handful of other names on the list simply don’t share the same pedigree as Story. Will Jonah Heim continue to bat nearly .280 as a catcher? Yonathan Daza obviously gets an offensive boost from playing in Colorado, but is his .350 batting average sustainable? Kyle Garlick is matching or eclipsing his career-best numbers in every category. Ultimately, these are the types of players who are more likely to be experiencing a hot streak, where the final numbers will probably dip from here.
  • From the other side of the chart, the name that stands out among the crowd is Wander Franco. He is clearly slumping, and his trend is undeniably pointing down. Does anyone believe that he won’t recover? Not a chance. If anything, Franco is considered a “buy-low” candidate, although it’s unlikely that too many fantasy managers are thinking about moving on from someone with his name value.
  • Jarred Kelenic, however, is a different argument. Like Franco, Kelenic was a highly-touted, hit-tool-centric prospect. Unlike Franco, Kelenic has yet to establish a long-term level of production that meets his former scouting report. He’s had multiple trips back to the Minor Leagues and carries a .140 batting average with the Mariners. That, in itself, is likely to correct in the positive direction, but the general output is disappointing.

Rolling xwOBA – Last 100 PA: Pitchers

Below are two tables for rolling xwOBA over the last 100 PA by pitchers. “Then” refers to the start of the timeframe, while “now” is the current xwOBA for a player. “Delta” is the difference between the two. The first table is sorted by “Delta” from low-to-high, while the second is sorted from high-to-low.

Sorted Low-to-High

Player Then Now Delta
Mike Clevinger 0.401 0.234 -0.167
Nick Pivetta 0.422 0.278 -0.144
J.P. Feyereisen 0.381 0.244 -0.137
Kyle Barraclough 0.439 0.305 -0.134
Ryan Helsley 0.364 0.240 -0.124
Alex Lange 0.386 0.272 -0.114
Drew Rasmussen 0.358 0.245 -0.113
Trevor Stephan 0.344 0.236 -0.108
Blake Snell 0.345 0.238 -0.107
Nick Martinez 0.394 0.293 -0.101
Joan Adon 0.448 0.350 -0.098
Ryan Yarbrough 0.406 0.310 -0.096
Sam Hentges 0.342 0.247 -0.095
Tarik Skubal 0.345 0.250 -0.095
Jorge Lopez 0.372 0.278 -0.094
Chris Martin 0.340 0.250 -0.090
Will Vest 0.382 0.295 -0.087
Trent Thornton 0.390 0.304 -0.086
Zach Eflin 0.314 0.228 -0.086
Ty Blach 0.412 0.327 -0.085

Sorted High-to-Low

Player Then Now Delta
Paul Fry 0.266 0.429 0.163
Kris Bubic 0.275 0.429 0.154
Jordan Hicks 0.248 0.399 0.151
T.J. McFarland 0.268 0.409 0.141
Ross Detwiler 0.265 0.397 0.132
Dylan Cease 0.213 0.345 0.132
Chad Kuhl 0.265 0.396 0.131
Drew Steckenrider 0.290 0.416 0.126
Hector Neris 0.206 0.331 0.125
Garrett Richards 0.264 0.388 0.124
Anthony Misiewicz 0.253 0.377 0.124
Trevor Richards 0.275 0.394 0.119
Miles Mikolas 0.238 0.357 0.119
Matt Wisler 0.210 0.326 0.116
Noah Syndergaard 0.270 0.383 0.113
Kyle Finnegan 0.245 0.357 0.112
Phil Bickford 0.235 0.344 0.109
Garrett Whitlock 0.240 0.348 0.108
Andres Machado 0.260 0.368 0.108
Luis Cessa 0.268 0.372 0.104

Notes

  • It would be impressive if Mike Clevinger simply made the top-20 in this category. The fact that he leads the pack is an outstanding sign for a pitcher returning from injury. After all, every single fantasy manager is left to speculate how a player can handle recovery and a return to previous levels. Still, Clevinger is showing steady improvement along the way. He is headed back to the Injured List, but his most recent outings should yield optimism for his eventual return.
  • Immediately following Clevinger on the list is Nick Pivetta, and his splits through roughly two months of the season are eye-popping. In April, he was 0-3 with an 8.27 ERA. In May, he is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA and a complete game. The difference is laughable, but the key is that Pivetta is now settling around his averages from last year which was also his first full season with the Red Sox. We may not see much further movement in his numbers, but it probably means that Pivetta has found new, stable ground.
  • One player who might be overlooked is Tarik Skubal. His presence on the Detroit Tigers makes him a potential afterthought, especially if a prospective fantasy manager was looking for win potential. Still, Skubal has quietly been dominant, and he appears to be getting better. His “delta” and xwOBA speak for themselves, but he also hasn’t allowed a run earned or not since May 5. He isn’t routinely going deep into games, but that may change if he continues along with this pace.
  • Finally, there’s the opposite view of the table. Many of the names listed are not relevant for fantasy baseball, but someone like Dylan Cease is worth a second look. He has performed far worse lately than he did to start the season. But that can be categorized as natural regression. His FIP is still the best of his career, which indicates that he might be the perfect “buy-low” option if anyone is frustrated with his recent string of games, including 13 earned runs over the last three starts.

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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