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Statcast Review: Austin Riley, Joe Musgrove, Albert Pujols (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

Aug 25, 2022
Austin Riley

As we move closer to the end of the fantasy baseball regular season, we will perform one final check-in on the players and view a snapshot of where they are compared to where they were. This particular exercise has become a near-monthly routine.

Using rolling xwOBA and, for the sake of these articles, the last 100 plate appearances helps paint a picture of a player’s season mainly by indicating if we have seen someone’s overall numbers impacted by hot-and-cold streaks as opposed to consistency. In reality, both have their value, where we can reasonably expect players with a solid history to return to their averages following a cold streak. Conversely, some players are simply performing too high or low of a level to sustain forever.

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 from low-to-high.

Sorted High-to-Low
Player Then Now Delta
Kris Bryant 0.260 0.411 0.151
Albert Pujols 0.296 0.441 0.145
Lars Nootbaar 0.283 0.413 0.130
Rob Refsnyder 0.295 0.425 0.130
Nick Castellanos 0.235 0.348 0.113
Eric Hosmer 0.251 0.358 0.107
Owen Miller 0.211 0.316 0.105
AJ Pollock 0.270 0.370 0.100
Joey Bart 0.253 0.350 0.097
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 0.299 0.393 0.094
Ryan McKenna 0.225 0.317 0.092
MJ Melendez 0.284 0.374 0.090
Alex Bregman 0.323 0.412 0.089
Adam Duvall 0.257 0.342 0.085
Carson Kelly 0.257 0.338 0.081
Eloy Jimenez 0.295 0.372 0.077
Justin Turner 0.285 0.362 0.077
Luis Robert 0.288 0.364 0.076
Jose Ramirez 0.280 0.356 0.076
Rowdy Tellez 0.331 0.407 0.076

Sorted Low-to-High
Player Then Now Delta
Marcell Ozuna 0.419 0.229 -0.190
Austin Riley 0.509 0.334 -0.175
Jake Meyers 0.356 0.201 -0.155
Jarred Kelenic 0.362 0.220 -0.142
Freddie Freeman 0.481 0.341 -0.140
Matt Reynolds 0.325 0.194 -0.131
Jorge Alfaro 0.373 0.249 -0.124
Rafael Devers 0.415 0.300 -0.115
Hanser Alberto 0.332 0.217 -0.115
Christian Bethancourt 0.395 0.285 -0.110
Julio Rodriguez 0.436 0.329 -0.107
Yoshi Tsutsugo 0.306 0.202 -0.104
Manuel Margot 0.360 0.263 -0.097
Victor Caratini 0.360 0.263 -0.097
Dylan Moore 0.370 0.274 -0.096
Franchy Cordero 0.362 0.267 -0.095
Jose Siri 0.292 0.199 -0.093
Chris Taylor 0.312 0.223 -0.089
Ketel Marte 0.399 0.310 -0.089
Josh Bell 0.399 0.312 -0.087

Notes

  • While Kris Bryant might lead the league as the hottest hitter over the past 100 plate appearances, the story at the top of the chart is undeniably Albert Pujols. Easily one of the greatest hitters of the past two decades, Pujols returned to his original franchise the St. Louis Cardinals for his final season. He’s certainly making a statement as his career draws to a close, and his recent hot streak has put him on the radar of general baseball fans and fantasy managers alike. Even though this column focuses entirely on numbers, there is something nostalgic about Pujols carrying a fantasy team to a playoff berth. If nothing else, we should appreciate the storyline.
  • It’s actually the story of young and old in St. Louis, as another top-three hitter over the past 100 plate appearances is 24-year-old Lars Nootbaar. He has become an immediate add in all fantasy formats, and it’s easy to see why. The young outfielder has modest numbers on the season, but basically, all of his damage has occurred in the latter half of his season. Between Nootbaar and Pujols, it’s no surprise that, as of this writing, the Cardinals are a ridiculous 17-4 in August.
  • Austin Riley is an example of why we look at rolling windows throughout the year. In the last installment of this series that highlighted rolling windows, Riley ranked second-best in “Delta.” Now, we find him second-worst, as he lands only behind Marcell Ozuna on the latter chart. The important key to note, however, is that this is not a function of Riley suddenly going cold. It is the natural flow of the Major League Baseball season. Just like teams go on streaks, players can only perform at certain levels for so long. Riley was overextended. Now, he’s back to where he started before his prior surge. Obviously, what he does in the coming weeks will matter most to our fantasy teams, but it is important to note that we have already seen a wide range of outcomes captured in his trends.
  • While he doesn’t actually rank last on the chart, the final name to appear in the second table is one of the most interesting. Juan Soto was the key piece in the Padres’ trade with the Nationals, but Josh Bell was highly-regarded and desired by San Diego, as well. It’s unfair to compare the two, but the numbers are too staggering to ignore. Since joining the Padres, Soto has a batting average of .286 and an on-base percentage of .438. Conversely, Bell is batting .132 with just four extra-base hits in 19 games. There is reason to believe that Bell will turn this around, but he is approaching 100 plate appearances with the Padres. As evidenced by the numbers above, his performance has not lived up to expectations.

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 from high-to-low.

Sorted Low-to-High
Player Then Now Delta
Andres Munoz 0.302 0.133 -0.169
Jose Quijada 0.338 0.218 -0.120
Joe Musgrove 0.355 0.235 -0.120
Garrett Whitlock 0.361 0.247 -0.114
Albert Abreu 0.390 0.276 -0.114
Bryan Abreu 0.343 0.233 -0.110
Johan Oviedo 0.370 0.261 -0.109
Ross Stripling 0.359 0.252 -0.107
Dane Dunning 0.364 0.259 -0.105
Phil Maton 0.384 0.279 -0.105
Andre Pallante 0.345 0.242 -0.103
Taylor Clarke 0.334 0.232 -0.102
Matthew Festa 0.351 0.249 -0.102
Bryan Baker 0.347 0.245 -0.102
Liam Hendriks 0.287 0.185 -0.102
Nick Nelson 0.357 0.257 -0.100
George Kirby 0.327 0.228 -0.099
Kohei Arihara 0.436 0.337 -0.099
Reynaldo Lopez 0.325 0.227 -0.098
Tarik Skubal 0.350 0.253 -0.097

 

Sorted High-to-Low
Player Then Now Delta
MacKenzie Gore 0.277 0.470 0.193
Josh Hader 0.195 0.385 0.190
Shohei Ohtani 0.198 0.338 0.140
Erick Fedde 0.279 0.416 0.137
Brad Keller 0.268 0.403 0.135
Patrick Corbin 0.342 0.464 0.122
Shane McClanahan 0.203 0.324 0.121
Taijuan Walker 0.275 0.396 0.121
Joe Smith 0.243 0.360 0.117
Tyler Gilbert 0.312 0.428 0.116
Daniel Norris 0.267 0.380 0.113
Jonathan Heasley 0.313 0.425 0.112
Kutter Crawford 0.256 0.365 0.109
Clay Holmes 0.179 0.284 0.105
Jose Berrios 0.266 0.370 0.104
Daniel Lynch 0.284 0.387 0.103
Aroldis Chapman 0.256 0.358 0.102
Jeff Hoffman 0.267 0.368 0.101
Chad Kuhl 0.312 0.412 0.100
Keegan Thompson 0.329 0.428 0.099

Notes

  • As has been the case, the first chart for pitchers heavily features relievers. More importantly, it features an almost entirely different set of relief pitchers from the last version of this article. This is partly because of sample size varying wildly some relief pitchers will face 100 batters much more quickly than others and the general inconsistency of many bullpen arms. One of the exceptions is the leader of the pack, Andres Munoz. Indeed, his starting point is similar to where it was last time therefore, in his case, the sample size is playing a role  but there is no way to deny that he has been excellent for the Seattle Mariners and continues to deliver. Munoz has just two saves on the year, so his value might be somewhat diminished in fantasy leagues, but he gets holds at an excellent rate and is pitching so well that he probably deserves a spot on many rosters.
  • If we are pointing out how relief pitchers have a better natural path to find themselves in the first table, we must shine a spotlight on the starting pitcher that ranks in the top three. Joe Musgrove has been mentioned in many Statcast articles this season, and his appearance near the top of the chart should come as no surprise. He is currently pitching to the best ERA of his career which, if it held, would represent the fourth-consecutive season in which his ERA had been lower than the prior year and is continuing to build on his first career All-Star season. Musgrove has had some rocky starts over the last few weeks, so he will be one of the key pieces to watch as fantasy teams move into their playoffs.
  • The second table in which pitchers have performed comparatively worse lately starts with two names that cannot be ignored. MacKenzie Gore was also the infamous “leader” of this section in the last such article, but he hasn’t pitched since then. His numbers will remain frozen in time until he steps on the mound for his new team, the Washington Nationals. On the same topic of new teams, Josh Hader remains an enigma. In the past, Hader’s “enigmatic” ways were due to his incredible ability to get batters out. Now, it’s the opposite. The San Diego Padres in a separate deal than the one that sent Gore to the Nationals acquired Hader to be their closer. Hader does not have a save with his new team yet has allowed three earned runs twice in August. He allowed three or more earned runs with Milwaukee twice in 37 appearances before the trade.
  • Two other pitchers whose names cannot be overlooked in the second chart are Shane McClanahan and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. McClanahan had previously been one of the most dominant pitchers of the season. The timing of this “snapshot” was unfortunate. It happened to capture one of McClanahan’s worst stretches of the year. The good news for McClanahan and his fantasy managers is that his overall numbers remain outstanding, and there is a chance that this is simply a small speed bump on the way to continuing along his prior path. Ohtani is coming off an MVP year and has a lower ERA this season than he did in 2021. Once again, we are looking at a snippet of time failing to tell the entire story of a player’s season. It is worth mentioning, however, as Ohtani’s recent numbers failing to meet his prior level could signify relative trouble.

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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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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