Statcast Review: Alejandro Kirk, Kyle Schwarber, Max Fried (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
Every week, we take a deep dive into one of the many advanced statistics that Statcast offers. For the entirety of this series, we have moved from one category to the next trying to gauge exactly how we could best improve our fantasy baseball teams.
It is finally time to return to an area we previously explored.
We are not exactly halfway through the season, but we are at the point where the sample sizes are growing large and we can continue to find valuable information from multiple angles — even if it is one we have viewed in the past. Rolling xwOBA, therefore, is the perfect place to start — restart, really — as it captures a player’s performance on two different timeframes: 100 plate appearances ago and now. Using these two timeframes, we can reassess the players who are seeing the most drastic trends.
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.
|Albert Almora Jr.||0.178||0.303||0.125|
- Alejandro Kirk has been unstoppable. It’s not just his incredible xwOBA over the last 100 plate appearances. As of this writing, he leads the Blue Jays in WAR. That includes pitcher Alek Manoah, who has been outstanding in his own right. Kirk is batting over .300 with an on-base percentage of around .400, and he is second among all catchers with 56 hits. Therein lies the bulk of Kirk’s value: he is doing all this at arguably the least potent position for offense in fantasy baseball.
- Kyle Schwarber’s batting average continues to weigh down his overall value, but it certainly hasn’t hurt his recent stretch. He actually has the highest xwOBA on the first chart — which, admittedly, is driven by his starting point as well as his current production — and is in the top 10 in the league for home runs. One look at his splits will tell the whole story. Schwarber batted under .200 in each of the first two months of the season, but he’s hitting .282 in June and already has more home runs — seven — than any other month to date.
- Probably the most eye-popping name on the second table — where hitters are sorted by “Delta” low-to-high — is Trevor Story. Why is he so important to highlight? Because he was actually one of the hottest hitters 100 plate appearances ago. Story made the list in the first iteration of this particular article because of how he had turned around his cold streak to start the season. Unfortunately for him — and fantasy managers — he has reverted back to where he started. He is now one of the coldest bats in the league.
- While he doesn’t carry the name value — and fantasy baseball weight — like the aforementioned Story, Jonah Heim has followed suit. He, too, was one of the hottest hitters listed for his positive “Delta” roughly 100 plate appearances ago, and he has now given back most of his gains. Between the two articles, Heim’s xwOBA reached as high as .363. It is now settling much closer to its starting point of .233.
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.
- Max Fried has quietly become one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. He most recently struck out eight batters in seven innings of one-run ball, and it marked the second time this month that he completed at least seven innings while allowing no more than one earned run. What’s most impressive about Fried right now is that his numbers aren’t driven by his recent performance — despite how well he ranks in the table. Fried has steadily kept his FIP around the 2.70 mark for the bulk of the season, and he may simply be getting batter with each passing start.
- Can we all collectively pause and acknowledge how difficult it is to pitch at the Major League level? Can we then add to it the pressure of living up to extreme hype? Such was the case with Hunter Greene at the beginning of the season, and his 8.71 ERA at the start of May easily could have given the message that he wasn’t ready for the grand stage. Not so fast. Greene has turned his season around in a dramatic fashion. Strikeouts were never a problem for him — he has fanned at least six batters in 12 of his 13 starts — but he is finally limiting walks. He has issued a total of four free passes over his last four starts combined.
- In terms of prospect pedigree and immediate, early career struggles, Josiah Gray is a perfect comparison to the aforementioned Greene. That’s where the comparisons end. Gray’s strikeout numbers are a little less stable — although he had at least nine strikeouts in two starts — but his ERA is continually dropping. He has allowed one earned run in June — through three starts — and a total of two earned runs over his last four games. It’s possible that he is in the middle of a developmental spike.
- There’s no way around it. We have to close out the article on a down note. Martin Perez has an impossibly great 1.96 ERA, but everything about his current campaign is pointing to a hard regression. The first signs have already emerged. Perez had allowed a total of three earned runs through six starts in May, then allowed six earned runs in one game just a few weeks ago. He has rebounded nicely to the point that, again, his ERA remains outstanding. Still, his career numbers combined with his “Delta” over the last 100 plate appearances is a cause for concern, even if the said concern is relatively light.
Have something you want me to cover in this space, or do you just want to talk baseball? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @MarioMergola with questions or requests.
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