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Statcast Review: Harrison Bader, Jorge Lopez, Noah Syndergaard (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

Aug 4, 2022
Noah Syndergaard

The MLB trade deadline rarely disappoints, but 2022’s iteration will be long remembered because of one name: Juan Soto. Indeed, Soto wasn’t the only popular fantasy asset dealt at the deadline, but he was the headliner everyone expected to see.

We now enter a new period for this season. Many players have changed teams and, with it, the landscape of lineups and rotations has also changed. There will undoubtedly be plenty of speculation as to how the new additions will assimilate into their respective homes, but we, as always, can take a different approach.

This Statcast series typically looks at league-wide numbers and determines how to best apply them to fantasy baseball. In this article, we will flip the switch and hone in on the players who have been dealt over the past few days. After all, Major League executives look at many of the same numbers that we do, and there is likely to be some underlying metric that helped drive the decisions to actually proceed with a trade.

Below is a list of some of the players that were moved near the MLB trade deadline with at least one Statcast-driven number for each. The number in parenthesis is the player’s percentile rank, where higher numbers are best.

Harrison Bader (OF – NYY) – (from St. Louis Cardinals)

Outs Above Average (91), Spring Speed (94), Avg. Exit Velocity (1) – The New York Yankees were both active and successful at the Trade Deadline this year — see Frankie Montas below — but arguably the biggest head-scratcher of the day came in the form of dealing SP Jordan Montgomery for CF Harrison Bader. There’s no mystery as to what the Yankees want from Bader: speed and defense. He ranks among the best in the league in those two categories but is truly one of the worst hitters if ranked by exit velocity. Unfortunately, that does little for the fantasy baseball community.

Trey Mancini (1B – HOU) – (from Baltimore Orioles)

Max. Exit Velocity (81), xBA (80), xSLG (76) – The Houston Astros wanted a little more pop in their lineup, and Trey Mancini fits the part. Potentially. He’s a seasoned veteran with multiple 20+ home run campaigns on his resume, but he is actually inducing a little more soft contact this year compared to his career average. The good news for Houston is that Mancini contributes to batting average as well as moderate power.

Luis Castillo (SP – SEA) – (from Cincinnati Reds)

xERA (77), Barrel % (83), Fastball Velocity (91) – One of the biggest — and first — names to move this season, Luis Castillo was the highly-coveted pitcher on the trade block. The Seattle Mariners landed the right-handed starter, and he delivered immediately with eight strikeouts and a win in his first outing with his new team. Seattle undoubtedly found Castillo’s underlying metrics enticing, as his previous 4-4 record did little to tell the story of how well he had been pitching in 2022.

Jorge Lopez (RP – MIN) – (from Baltimore Orioles)

HardHit % (95), Barrel % (85), K% (80), Fastball Velocity (96) – Jorge Lopez getting traded by the Baltimore Orioles was not a surprise, but the price that the Minnesota Twins paid for him was downright eye-popping. There’s validity to it, though, as Lopez’s Statcast numbers are off the charts — almost literally. He is dominating at preventing hard contact as well as avoiding “barrels”. There is always the threat of regression, but Lopez is in the midst of a breakout campaign and there is reason to support it — at least for the remainder of this season.

Josh Hader (RP – SD) – (from Milwaukee Brewers)

xBA (96), K% (99), Whiff % (98) – Josh Hader went in the opposite direction of the aforementioned Lopez — Hader was one of the best closers in the league but is having a relatively poor year. That didn’t stop the San Diego Padres — easily the most aggressive team of the 2022 trade deadline — from acquiring the left-handed closer. One look at his Statcast numbers will instantly explain why. Despite his bloated ERA — compared to his own baseline — Hader is still elite. He strikes out batters and misses bats. There’s nothing more we can ask from a pitcher, and the Padres — and fantasy managers — will once again rely on Hader to deliver.

Jordan Montgomery (SP – STL) – (from New York Yankees)

HardHit % (73), BB% (91), Chase Rate (90) – Jordan Montgomery was mentioned in the earlier writeup about Bader, so let’s dive into what the St. Louis Cardinals are likely expecting in the deal. It isn’t his strikeout potential — which is firmly below average — but there is something to Montgomery’s control. He’s among the best in the league at limiting walks and causing batters to chase pitches out of the zone. Simply put, he’s a solid starter who has a chance to help both the Cardinals and fantasy managers in WHIP and ERA.

Frankie Montas (SP – NYY) – (from Oakland Athletics)

Chase Rate (89), Fastball Velocity (72) – One of the reasons why the New York Yankees were likely open to moving Montgomery was the acquisition of Frankie Montas. Like Montgomery, Montas excels at getting batters to chase out of the zone, but the new Yankee pitcher has slightly better strikeout potential. That is, if he can return to last year’s mark — his personal best of the last six years. The good news for Montas is that he currently holds his lowest xERA since 2019, so a positive correction may be in the works.

Josh Bell (1B/OF – SD) – (from Washington Nationals)

xwOBA (91), xBA (96), xSLG (83), K % (90) – There was obviously at least one bigger name heading to San Diego at the trade deadline, but we can’t forget about the addition of Josh Bell for the Padres. Bell has emerged as one of the better hitters in the sport, and he is currently doing everything well. It’s likely that the Padres would have made their blockbuster deal without Bell included, but he adds another element to a suddenly-deep lineup.

Noah Syndergaard (SP – PHI) – (from Los Angeles Angels)

Avg. Exit Velocity (72), HardHit % (70) – Noah Syndergaard getting traded back to the National League East has excellent storyline potential — he will get to pitch against the Mets, the team that failed to re-sign him this past offseason — but what can the Philadelphia Phillies expect from him outside of the narrative? It appears as if the only answer is “potential”. For as dominant as Syndergaard looked earlier in his career — and, obviously, prior to injury — he is relatively mediocre right now. The Phillies are buying the upside, and there is a chance that they correctly identified a low point. Fantasy managers may want to do the same.

Brandon Drury (1B/2B/3B/OF – SD) – (from Cincinnati Reds)

Max. Exit Velocity (86), Barrel % (78), Outs Above Average (77) – Like the aforementioned Josh Bell, Brandon Drury was absolutely not the main target for the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline, but he slides in as another solid hitter into a powerful lineup. The beauty of this transaction is that the Padres will experience the same versatility that fantasy managers have appreciated from Drury in the past, and his defensive metrics support Drury staying on the field regularly. San Diego was immediately rewarded for making the deal, as Drury hit a grand slam in his debut with the team.

Eric Hosmer (1B – BOS) – (from San Diego Padres)

Max. Exit Velocity (89), K% (85), Whiff % (83) – While players were feverishly being added to the Padres, one had quite a memorable exit. Eric Hosmer did not waive his no-trade clause to be sent to the Nationals, and instead became a member of the Boston Red Sox. There is no surprise as to what Hosmer brings to the plate, mainly because it is what he has always brought to the plate. That is, the left-handed hitting first baseman will not strike out often, but he will make plenty of contact. He isn’t going to suddenly run into a bunch of home runs — although a new, uniquely-configured ballpark could change that — but he does drive the ball with extreme power when he is at his best.

Tyler Mahle (SP – MIN) – (from Cincinnati Reds)

xERA (76), xBA (84), xSLG (79), K% (70) – Tyler Mahle remains arguably the poster child for Statcast articles, as he not only appears in prior columns, but he was leading the pack in certain areas that suggested a positive correction. Clearly, the Minnesota Twins believe in such numbers, as they acquired Mahle and added him to their rotation. His “expected” statistics are there, but his ERA sits at 4.40 after registering at 3.75 or less in each of the last two seasons. If his numbers pan out and return back toward their normal ranges, then Mahle will prove to be one of the most valuable assets down the stretch.

Juan Soto (OF – SD) – (from Washington Nationals)

Max Exit Velocity (91), HardHit % (83), xwOBA (99), xBA (84), xSLG (95), Barrel % (85), K% (89), BB% (100), Chase Rate (99) – I continue to mention that the San Diego Padres were after a specific diamond of a player, but there is clearly no mystery as to said player’s name. Juan Soto was the top target for any team with the assets to try to acquire the young superstar, and the best part about the setup is that the Nationals made it clear prior to the trade deadline that Soto would be on the move. That gave the baseball community — fantasy and general fans, alike — time to speculate and enjoy the drama. In the end, it was the Padres that added Soto and his absurd string of Statcast numbers. The list is laughable, as he basically ranks at or near the top of every hitting category. It doesn’t take a statistician to break down Soto’s value or what he will bring to his new team, but it is always fun to contextualize greatness when we see it in front of us.

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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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