Is aggressiveness on the first pitch a cause of the latest offensive uptick, or is it merely a blip?
On Monday, we talked a bit about a piece I wrote at the beginning of April, one centered on the league-wide plunge in two-out offense that occurred in 2014. As I showed, that trend reversed itself in 2015, bringing offense back up overall almost all by itself. We talked about what distinguishes two-out plate appearances from others, and about the idea that the league’s surge in two-out production in 2015 bespoke an approach change by all (or many) hitters.
Today, I want to dive into what I believe to be the biggest reason for the recovery of two-out offense, and what might be the biggest offensive trend story of 2015. As it happens, I wrote about this back in the spring, too. It’s early-count aggressiveness, and especially, first-pitch swing rates.
Which of these power bats is a better fantasy bet this year?
I think, by this point, we all get the drill with these Tales of the Tape. For those just tuning in, I’ll be covering two players ranked next to each other in our tiered rankings for third base category-by-category, declaring a winner at the end. This week, we have Evan Longoria pitted against Carlos Santana. An important note before we begin: with some early ADP data in, Longoria is crushing Santana thus far, with an average draft position around 54 to Santana’s 74. As we’ll see, that is not representative of the production gap we can expect from them. Now, on to the good stuff.
A look at the hitters who could outperform their PECOTA projections in RBI.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. For the earlier editions in this series, click below:
A look at the hitters who could outperform their PECOTA projections in the power department.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. Yesterday’s look at batting average is here. And, without further ado, here are some players capable of teaching Chris Davis a thing or two about hitting dingers this year:
This week's showdown features a couple of third basemen from our four-star tier.
In this week’s “Tale of the Tape,” we take a look at a pair of upper-echelon third basemen who have combined for 10 All-Star appearances and 384 home runs, Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria and New York’s David Wright. Longoria, 28, is a former AL Rookie of the Year award winner who once barehanded a foul ball to save the life of a reporter in a commercial for Gillette; Wright, 31, is a seven-time All-Star who once made a barehanded catch in fair territory to rob the Padres’ Brian Giles of a base hit. Both can be found in Mike Gianella’s four-star tier in the battle for next best after Miguel Cabrera, but only one can win this week’s “Tale of the Tape.”
Wright is the owner of a career .301 average. Excluding his rookie debut, the Mets third baseman has provided fantasy owners with a .300-or-better average in seven of nine seasons, including a high of .325 in 2007. Following an injury-plagued year that saw his average sink to a career-worst .254 in 2011, Wright has put up marks of .306 (2012) and .307 (2013). His batted-ball profile is as consistent as they come, and there’s no reason to doubt that another .300 average is coming. The same can’t be said for Longoria, whose batting average has fluctuated from .244 (2011) to .294 (2010). More recently, Longo has recorded averages of .289 (2012) and .269 (2013). Somewhere in-between is where I see Longoria finishing in 2014, but a strikeout increase of almost four percent and a batted-ball profile that included fewer line drives and more fly balls in 2013 could keep him in the .260s. Wright is the easy choice.
There is plenty of attractive pitching on Joe Maddon's roster, but the closer role is up in the air.
Baseball is awash in money, with each team receiving a substantial bump in revenue thanks to new national television contracts that kick in for the upcoming season. With that in mind the Rays finally ventured into the free agent market, and even took on money in trades. So what did they get for all their free-spending ways? James Loney, Ryan Hanigan, and Heath Bell. I know, it might not seem like much, but given the revolving door* at first base they’ve had these last several years, this commitment to Loney is a big one (the biggest free agent contract in club history, no less). Let’s not forget last season’s late pickup of David DeJesus, who was signed to a three year deal as well. Add in Bell and Hanigan (acquired in Andrew Friedman’s long awaited first three team trade) and the Rays made shrewd moves to bolster key roster spots, all on the relative cheap. The new Rays are the same as the old Rays, eh?
*It’s worth noting that revolving door might have rejuvenating powers
The BP Prospect Team bring you advanced scouting reports for the 2013 playoffs.
Throughout the past two weeks, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect team have been writing detailed reports on key players to enhance your enjoyment of the MLB playoffs. Below is every published report in a single post.