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Kings Of Candy: Biggest Sweet Spot Risers for Fantasy Baseball Year-Over-Year (Swt-Spt%)

Francisco Lindor - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB DFS Picks, Betting Picks

We recently looked at hitters who increased their BB% the most year-over-year, but now we want to look at hitters whose sweet spot percentage increased the most. Why this metric? Well, by looking at who has increased their sweet spot percentage, you might find hitters who may be hitting the ball at a better angle, leading to more hits that go for extra bases. More technically speaking, per Baseball Savant, sweet spot percentage is the percentage of batted balls hit between 8.0 and 32.0 degrees of launch angle.

That's not to be confused with Barrel%, which is the perfect combination of launch angle and exit velocity, although we'll take a look at that metric for each hitter too since it is a good predictor of power production.

Note that for each player discussed below, their name is bolded, then their absolute increase in sweet spot percentage is listed to the right, followed by the relative change being listed in parenthesis, and finally their ADP is listed. Below is the table of risers we're considering discussing, but we're just going to touch on the more fantasy-relevant ones and only those that had more than 300 PA last season.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Biggest Year-Over-Year Sweet Spot Percentage Risers

Jack Suwinski, +7.9% (30.0%), ADP 240

Powerful lefty Jack Suwinski is the first fantasy-relevant player on our list. Surprisingly, even though he increased his sweet spot percentage almost eight percentage points over 2022's total, he still lands in just the 47th percentile of major league hitters. Nevertheless, Suwinski saw his ISO increase from .209 in 2022 to .230 in 2023. We can see his ground ball (GB) percentage was reduced dramatically and both line drives (LD) and fly balls (FB) increased, although his HR/FB% dropped.

That doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't hitting for power in 2023 because a 17.3% HR/FB% is still great (9.5% is average). In fact, Suwinski's Barrel% (optimal exit velocity and launch angle) in 2023 was 15.7% (94th percentile). While it would be nice if he could cut down on the Ks (32.2%), the former 15th-round pick doesn't chase pitches out of the zone. His O-Swing% (a.k.a. chase rate) was 22.0% last season while league average was 31.9%. This helps him get on base via the free pass, as he had a 14% BB% (94th percentile).

Barrel% is the most predictive power metric, and Suwinski's is elite, so you should count on more HR in 2024. Hitting out of the fifth spot in the lineup should afford him ample RBI opportunities as well, even in the deficient Pittsburgh offense. Tyler O'Neill (Barrel% of 12.3% in '23) has a similar ADP to Suwinski and is projected for similar numbers, but if it's 25ish HRs and double-digit SBs you are looking for, Suwinski might be the safer bet.

Ian Happ, +7.5% (25.7%), ADP 154

Switch hitter Ian Happ is next up. His increase in sweet spot percentage landed him in the 74th percentile of all MLB hitters last season. Happ too saw a bump in ISO, although not as dramatic as Suwinski's, from .169 to .183. His LD% didn't change much, but his GB% declined and his FB% went up as we saw his average launch angle increase 2.1 degrees to 13.0 degrees while average EV increased slightly. As a result, we saw four more HRs in '23 (21) than we saw in '22 (17) in basically the same amount of ABs.

The former first-round pick's Barrel% (9.0% in '23, career 10.1%) is good enough that we should expect to see similar power numbers from him again in 2024. What's also encouraging is that he's lowered his K% from 29.2% in 2021 all the way down to 22.1% in 2023, while pushing his BB% up to 14.3% (95th percentile). Happ has better-than-league-average O-Swing% (26.8%) and his Contact% has risen three consecutive years, from 66.5% in 2020 to 77.1% last season.

Hitting third for the Cubs should be better than fifth for the Pirates, which partly explains why Happ is ranked almost 100 picks higher than Suwinski, but you can expect similar wOBA, HR, and SB numbers from the two.

Bryson Stott, +7.0% (23.8%), ADP 106

Second baseman Bryson Stott is our third riser. His increase in sweet spot percentage landed him within the 71st percentile last season. He didn't see a significant rise in ISO, just .124 to .138, but the lefty's average rose substantially, from .234 to .280. Surprisingly, despite the increase in sweet spot percentage, his average EV remained constant (88.1) and his launch angle decreased from 13.1 to 10.2. Looking further, his GB% stayed exactly the same, but his FB% went down and LD% went up, which tells me he was hitting more line drive singles.

Stott's Whiff% went from 17.2% in 2022 to 15.1%, good for 95th percentile. This means when he swings, he's not missing much (86.6% Contact%, 6.0% SwStr%), and this also helps explain his low K% of 15.6% (87th percentile). The fact that these numbers aren't far off from his 2022 numbers tells me he should be able to maintain a decent average and counting stats hitting sixth in the Philly lineup in 2024.

The former first-round pick also stole 31 bases last season, so he's been going higher in drafts than anyone we've discussed to this point. With a Barrel% of 4.4% and 4.7% in his first two seasons in the majors, we shouldn't expect any more HRs from him than he posted last season (15), but he'll be a multi-category contributor and won't really hurt you in any particular area.

Josh Naylor, +6.6% (22.8%), ADP 131

Yet another lefty, Josh Naylor saw an increase of 6.6 percentage points in his sweet spot percentage last season. It still only landed him in the 61st percentile, but he had a fantastic season nonetheless. He ended with a .308 BA and his .293 xBA was 95th percentile. Naylor also had a .354 wOBA and 128 wRC+, and while he chases a ton of pitches out of the zone (42.6% O-Swing%), he was able to maintain a low K% (13.7%, 94th percentile).

In Naylor's case, his ISO actually went down along with his Barrel% despite the rise in sweet spot percentage. However, the former first-round pick was able to collect nearly 100 RBI last season in just 121 games. Health has been his bugaboo though, as he's yet to play more than 122 games in a season (2022) due to injury. But if the Guardians bring up top prospect Kyle Manzardo to play first base, perhaps Naylor gets more run at DH, which would hopefully keep him healthier.

ATC projections call for 21 HRs, which is probably near his ceiling based on his barrel rate, and he's in store for another 85+ RBI, but his lack of runs scored is unsatisfying for someone who gets on base fairly regularly. He's not fleet of foot but should add 8-10 SB. If you're looking for power though, there are other options getting drafted near him that could provide more (i.e. Spencer Torkelson).

Francisco Lindor, +6.6% (22.6%), ADP 25

Last but not least on our list is Francisco Lindor. The switch hitter had a good season despite a slow start. Keeping with the theme of the article, despite Lindor increasing his sweet spot percentage by 6.6%, that put him in just the 65th percentile of MLB hitters last season. But what is good about Lindor is that he is pretty good at everything, as is illustrated in the below graphic from Baseball Savant. He's better than average in every category, although 79th percentile for average EV is as strong as it gets for him.

Lindor saw his ISO increase 37 points to .216 and he smacked the most HRs (31) that he's had since 2019 (32). Despite the batting average sinking 16 points to .254, he hit eight more doubles and five more HRs than he did in 2022 while playing in one less game (160).

The former first-round pick also swiped 31 bags last season despite having a 72nd percentile sprint speed. Hopefully, Lindor can get off to a better start this year (.223 AVG, .310 wOBA, and 98 wRC+ through May 31 last season). In the end, if he puts up similar numbers to last season, then he'll likely pay off his 25th overall ADP.



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