2016 was the year of the home run revisited. How might this affect fantasy owners in 2017, and how should it?
With a baseball offseason filled with tense CBA negotiations, prospect lists injecting much-needed optimism, and the perpetual warmth of the sizzling hot stove transaction season underway, the fantasy team at Baseball Prospectus is launching its second annual “Fantasy Categorical Breakdown” series. This is the first installment of our category-by-category review, which will feature a look at the general landscape, over and under-achievers and a deeper dive, to provide fantasy owners with a distinct advantage heading into 2017.
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These unheralded players could help you in the long-ball department in 2016.
Over the last two days, we’ve tackled both the overall landscape of the long ball and some of the big names that have either taken steps forward or backward. Today is the final article of this maiden category, and we are going to look at some hitters who don’t get fantasy owners all hot and bothered yet, but could potentially excite you in due time. Well, some. I don’t want you to think this is a glowing endorsement of everyone and then let you down later on. Anyway…
The elite fantasy sluggers who sizzled and fizzled this past season...
The first-ever edition in the Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns series was J.P. Breen’s excellent survey of the overall home run landscape. BP’s esteemed fantasy boss Bret Sayre will dive into the deeper names tomorrow, while today’s piece focuses primarily on which elite hitters made the biggest fantasy impressions this past season, either taking a step forward and breaking out in the power department or regressing from their lofty heights due to injury or ineffectiveness.
Everyone loves big flies, so they're a fitting stat with which to kick off our new category-by-category fantasy series.
With the baseball offseason upon us, the Fantasy Team at Baseball Prospectus will bring y’all a category-by-category fantasy breakdown of the 2015 campaign. Each category will feature three different articles: one on the overarching landscape of the category, one on the elite performers, and one on the deeper names. These articles seek to analyze and interpret what happened in 2015; however, they should also serve as tools to help owners prepare for their next fantasy seasons.
This trio saw its home run totals drop precipitously, but is there reason to hope for a rebound?
In any given year, you are going to be saddled with players who fail to come close to reasonable expectations. It’s frustrating, but it’s the nature of the game. The only upshot is finding the players who had a fluky down year, and those who are truly in the midst of a mid-career collapse. Last season, there were three players who stood out to me as disappointments, especially in the power department. Whether you’re in a dynasty league and trying to figure out how to view these players moving forward, or already looking for good buy-low players in re-draft leagues, the following players may be of some interest in 2015.
There aren’t many good things to be said about Wright’s 2014. After entering the year as a top-25 pick, he finished with a dismal .269 batting average, just eight home runs, and 63 RBI. While the average was surely disappointing, what really killed his line was his utter lack of power. While he’s typically been a 25-plus-homer threat throughout his career, he finished this past season tied in ISO with Billy Hamilton. He had a career-low 5.1 percent HR:FB rate, and though that may sound like he suffered through some bad luck, it’s not that simple. For one thing, his average fly ball fell from 291 feet (right behind Edwin Encarnacion) in 2013 down to 261 (right being Nate Schierholtz) in 2014. The biggest reason for this dip could likely be his shoulder. He battled injuries to it throughout the season, costing him a total of 27 games, and it’s an injury that is notorious for sapping power. That injury is something to keep an eye on this winter, but if he’s fully recovered by Opening Day, he could see a big comeback, especially with the fences being moved in at Citi Field.
Today, I want to look at the inverse, and take stock of how hitting is on the decline. While there are myriad ways of attacking this issue, I’m going to focus on hitting for power because in standard leagues, hitting for power carries the most weight, affecting three categories (HR, R, RBI). While this is going to be old hat for some, it’s my hope that looking at the dramatic changes in power production over the course of two seasons will help us properly evaluate those hitters who do provide power.
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:
What went wrong for the pitchers who surrendered the longest homers hit in 2013?
Two months ago, I introduced an article dubbed Elevator Action, which was inspired by the tendency for elevated pitches to leave the yard. The concept behind the piece was that it can often be more damaging to miss targets within the strike zone than is to sail pitches out of reach. Pitchers who pound the zone but lack the command to places pitches on its periphery will suffer the consequences.
By design, Raising Aces is pitcher-centric, using a multifaceted approach involving mechanics, stuff, and stats to study the game from the hill. But for the next two weeks, we are going to shift the focus from the pitcher's mound to the batter's box, taking a moment to pay homage to the under-appreciated art of pitcher offense.
Wednesday was marked by three impressive home run feats.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The 2012 Red Sox, eager to be put out of their misery and struggling to amass even a 7-19 record in September, hit only 16 homers during the entire month. The 2013 Red Sox, eager to secure the organization’s first East division title since 2007, produced half of that total in one night.
The rubber match between the Tigers and Red Sox was close for a while—tied 3-3 after three and 4-4 after four, and then 5-4 Boston after five. But in the next three frames, the home team plated 15 runs and the visitors earned none, turning the game into a 20-4 rout that flipped the run-differential tables and made all sorts of long-ball history.