July 10, 2012
First, Third, and DH for 7/10/12
If you want to make fantasy decisions, you could always consult your Magic 8-ball, but we’re a bit more scientific than that here at BP. Just as with this classic toy, however, there’s some amount of randomness in baseball, whether it’s the behavior of a ball in play or the chance that a fly ball will go over the fence.
Often, the best way to combat this randomness in your fantasy team is to be patient when a player’s performance isn’t supported by his secondary stats. Sometimes, the poor performance is for real, but more often, the player will regress to the mean and deliver statistics to compensate for his weak numbers to that point. Here at BP Fantasy, we’re here to tell you the difference—and though we don’t use an 8-ball, my advice this week is couched in the language of that familiar toy.
In BP’s awesome new Pitch-F/X hitter cards, Hafner shows an interesting trend on strikes down and away in recent years. Pitchers have worked him—like other sluggers—in that quadrant for the past five years, including this season. Though he hasn’t hit that pitch well over that five-year span, he’s shown steady improvement from 2009 to this season, with his batting average rising steadily from .054 to .242 to .290 and .389 in 2012. Just as impressively, his ISO on pitches in that part of the zone rose from .000 in 2009 and 2010 to .033 in 2011 and .167 this year. Pronk is not only looking to hit the ball the other way, but he’s doing so with authority; his line drive rate has also risen in that quadrant.
His power is elevated this year thanks to a 16.3 HR/FB—his best mark since his heyday in 2006—despite a 35 percent fly ball rate that’s his lowest since his awful 2008. I would expect his power to normalize, but Pronk’s patience and strong contact rate will improve his batting average and keep his OBP consistent. Hitting in the middle of the order for the sixth-best-scoring offense in baseball should deliver counting numbers, bringing his owners value in most leagues.