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8 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Risers & Fallers (2024)

8 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Risers & Fallers (2024)

The evaluation of fantasy baseball players has evolved with the introduction of more advanced statistics. In 2015, MLB installed Statcast in all 30 big-league parks. The modern Statcast, which has been in place since 2020, is run with Hawk-Eye technology commonly found in tennis to determine if shots are in or out of play.

Today, hitting stats like batted ball events (BBEs), average exit velocity (EV), barreled balls (BRLs) and hard-hit percentage (HH%) are available for players commonly used by fantasy managers. These categories help determine the quality of contact for MLB hitters, which is predictive of offensive production on the field and in fantasy lineups. For example, reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. led MLB in barrels and was second in EV last season. Take a look here for details on Statcast categories.

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This article will be monthly and in two parts, one for Statcast risers and one for fallers. It will track trends for players in these categories throughout the 2024 MLB season and help managers target players for acquisition and identify players to avoid. The top Statcast risers and fallers from the small sample that is the 2024 MLB season are below.

Statcast Risers & Fallers

Risers

Bobby Witt Jr. (SS – KC)

The highly anticipated ascent of Bobby Witt Jr. has arrived early. The Royals star SS leads MLB in EV at 102.1 miles per hour (MPH) over his first 23 PAs of 2024. He is the only player with a three-figure rate in the category. Witt’s EV is up from 90.7 in 2023. He is also tied for first overall in BRLs thus far with five. A barrel (BRLs) is a batted ball event (BBE) that includes an ideal combination of exit velocity and launch angle (LA). Witt finished 10th overall in total BRLs last year. When a BRL results in a hit, it yields a BA of at least .500 and an SLG of 1.50 — both monster numbers in their respective categories. Witt is second overall in HH% at 84.6% and BRLs/PA% at 21.7%. He ranks third overall in OPS as well. If this start is any indication of Witt’s season to come we could see a fantasy eruption this year in Kansas City with his ability to steal bases.

Maikel Garcia (3B – KC)

Sticking with the Royals, Maikel Garcia has matched Witt’s MLB-leading five BRLs and ranks fourth overall in Barrel% at 31.3% to start the year. Barrel% is the rate of BBEs that result in a BRL. Garcia finished 127th in total BRLs and 124th in Barrel% last year. The Royals’ 3B will undoubtedly boost his production by getting the barrel to the ball this season after slashing .272/.323/.358 in 2023 with 23 SBs. His EV is running slightly higher in the early going at 94.7 following a 21st overall finish last season at 91.8. The left side of the Royals’ infield will be a force to be reckoned with if Garcia develops a balance of power and speed similar to Witt.

Christian Walker (1B – ARI)

Christian Walker is seventh overall in EV to start 2024 at 96.9. This is up significantly from 88.0 last season, which was good for 108th overall. Walker is fourth overall this year in HH%, the rate of batted balls with an EV of 95.0+. He has five BRLs and a Barrel% of 31.3%. The Diamondbacks’ 1B is tied for first in BRLs after finishing 25th overall last season and is tied for third in Barrel% following a 95th overall finish in 2023. If Walker can maintain an improved EV he will build on his 33 HRs and 103 RBIs from last year and compete with Matt Olson and Freddie Freeman as one of the top fantasy assets at 1B.

Taylor Ward (OF – LAA)

Taylor Ward was limited to 97 games last season after a HBP to the face in late July. His 2024 season, on the other hand, is off to a great start. Ward has improved his EV from 90.7 to 96.7. This ranks eighth overall in the category after Ward finished 90th in 2023. Ward is also in the top five to start in BRLs/PA% at 20.0%. He was well outside the top 100 at 133rd last season, which explains the jump in EV. Ward has started all five games for the Angels thus far. If healthy he has more fantasy upside in 2024 after logging 409 PAs last year in which he carried a .253 BA with a .756 OPS. Ward is rostered in just 19.3% of ESPN leagues and is worth an add off the wire with a chance at a bounce-back season on the table.

Fallers

There are two sides to every coin. Unfortunately, most fantasy managers understand the hindrance of holding an underperforming player for too long. This edition of the top Statcast fallers will feature names not likely to return once more baseball is played. The trends discussed below are examples of things to look at during the 2024 MLB season as signs of hitting regression. The top Statcast fallers of 2024 so far are below.

Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF – ATL)

Ronald Acuna’s 2023 was unforgettable for his fantasy managers from a season ago. The now National League MVP led his league in total hits, was second in BA, fourth in HRs and swiped a fathomless 73 bags, 19 clear of second-place finisher, Corbin Carroll. Concerning Statcast, Acuna recorded the highest maxEV of any MLB player last year at 121.2. MaxEV is the fastest EV on record for each player. His EV of 94.7, or average exit velocity on batted balls, was second only to the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Aaron Judge. Acuna has struggled this year to make solid contact, recording zero BRLs and a receded EV of 92.0. Acuna led MLB with 86 total BRLs in 2023, which certainly contributed to his 41 HRs and 106 RBIs. He has yet to hit a HR with only two RBIs on 12 BBEs this season. With 12 BBEs, Acuna ranks 155th overall in the category after finishing fourth a season ago with 562. Acuna should return to form sooner rather than later but it is strange to think he has not landed the barrel on the ball through 23 PAs in 2024.

Matt Olson (1B – ATL)

Matt Olson took a significant leap production-wise in 2023 after appearing in all 162 games for the second consecutive season. Olson went on to lead MLB in HRs with 54 and RBIs with 139. These exquisite power numbers were fueled by his elite EV of 93.7, the third-best last year, and his ability to land the barrel consistently. The Braves’ 1B finished second only to his teammate Ronald Acuna Jr. in total BRLs with 73 and was seventh overall in Barrel%. Currently, Olson ranks 76th overall in EV at 91.2 and is yet to record a barrel. His hard hits (HH), a batted ball with an EV of 95+, are down as well. He has just six HHs and is 95th overall after tallying 245 a year ago, the sixth-best total in MLB. Olson will need to increase his pace with BRLs and HHs to duplicate his first-class slash line of .283/.389/.604 from last year.

Corey Seager (SS – TEX)

Baseball fans saw the best version of Corey Seager to date last year as the Rangers’ SS finished second overall to Shohei Ohtani in OPS at 1.013 and was also the runner-up for the American League batting title with a BA of .327. Seager’s Statcast metrics were also impressive. He was fifth overall in BRLs/PA%, sixth overall in EV at 93.3 and 12th in total BRLs. Seager’s EV is down to 89.0, which ranks 102nd in MLB, and he is still looking for his first BRL. Seager is lacking in extra-base hits as his SLG currently ranks 122nd at .353 after putting up the second-best (Ohtani) SLG across MLB last season at .623. Seager is pacing for BA at .353 early on. More BRLs will boost his SLG and get him back to doing the damage he is accustomed to.

Julio Rodriguez (OF – SEA)

Julio Rodriguez is the only player in MLB history to start his career with back-to-back 20 HR/20 SB seasons. At 6-foot03, 228 pounds, the 23-year-old CF appears to have the frame and skill set to be a top-end fantasy asset for the foreseeable future. Rodriguez’s size is a notable piece of the story when looking at his seventh-ranked maxEV of 116.7 alongside his 10th-ranked EV of 92.7 from last season. He also finished 20th overall in BRLs with 57. This all culminated in 32 HRs and 103 RBIs to go along with 37 SBs while slashing .275/.333/.485. Early 2024 has been a different story, however, with Rodriguez having zero BRLs and his EV down to 88.1. The Mariners’ CF is simply not hitting the ball hard. He finished third overall in HHs with 250 last year but currently ranks 138th with just five HHs so far in 2024 through 23 PAs. The volume of HHs is intriguing with Rodriguez but he will need to significantly improve his BA of .217 to produce premium fantasy output.

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