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Welcome to Contact Rate Risers and Fallers! Our premium tools allow us to get out ahead of trends in player performance, including contact rate. Every Wednesday, we'll be looking at some players that have seen an increase in contact rate and some that have seen it decline.

Contact rate can foretell a player's batting average and general hitting statistics, and any drastic change could signal a shift in performance. Contact rate shifts often act as a precursor to hot streaks and slumps.

Here is a breakdown of some of the biggest fantasy relevant risers and fallers in contact rate over the last seven days.

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This type of data is available as part of our Premium MLB Subscription. Don't settle for basic stats and surface-level advice from other sites. RotoBaller brings you advanced statistics and professional analysis that you need to win your fantasy leagues and DFS games, because we're ballers just like you. We are your secret weapon!

 

Risers

Delino DeShields (OF, TEX): 93% contact rate last seven days (+20%)

DeShields quietly begun to turn things around last week, hitting .333 with two steals and just one strikeout in 20 plate appearances. Prior to this week DeShields was testing our need for speed, hitting just .202 with a .578 OPS and 25% strikeout rate. His hard contact rate and groundball rate both jumped way up over the last week. He hit 69% of balls in play on the ground over the last seven days, compared to 48% during the first two months. Usually we worry about high groundball rates in hitters, but for someone with DeShields’ profile the ball needs to be on the ground. He has a .279 BABIP on the season, which is below league average, but really low for a player with this much speed. He had a .358 BABIP last season and a .324 career BABIP, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect 40-50 points more in batting average. Statcast hates DeShields, giving him a .181 xBA and .252 xwOBA, but those numbers are in line with his career numbers. Last season when he hit .269 he had a .194 xBA and .263 xwOBA. With a 10% career walk rate DeShields has enough of a floor to help in steals and could realistically pull his average above .250 over the course of the season.

Marcus Semien (SS, OAK): 96% contact rate last seven days (+19%)

Semien struck out just once in his last 26 plate appearances, but it didn’t lead to better production. He hit .240 with a .589 OPS over the last seven days. Before this stretch his performance put him on the fringes of standard mixed league viability with a .262 average, .112 ISO, and .693 OPS. His counting stats are lagging a little with five home runs and four steals, pacing out to about 11 homers and nine steals over 150 games. He hasn’t been a total disaster, but Semien has been underwhelming relative to expecations. He had a 27 home season in 2016 and paced out to a 18-21 season last year. His season-long 21% strikeout rate 23.2% line-drive rate are both career highs, but it hasn’t translated to much better success. Unlike Delino DeShields, Semien is hitting the ball on the ground too much. His 44% groundball rate is the highest of his career, and his 12.4 degree average launch angle is the lowest of his career. With a .252 xBA and .399 xSLG what you see is what you get. Semien has moderate power and speed, but it’s beginning to look like 2016 was the outlier.

Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY): 100% contact rate last seven days (+18)

Andujar didn’t strikeout or swing-and-miss last week, and the results were there for him. He hit .438 with two home runs and a 1.401 OPS. He has been hitting well all season with a .299 average and .845 OPS prior to last week, but Andujar took his game to another level. A lot of this is just a hot streak, but Andujar had consistent linear development as a hitter throughout the minors. He cut his strikeout rate and improved his batting average as he progressed from rookie ball to Triple-A. With an 81.6% contact rate, 91 MPH average exit velocity, and .312 xBA Andujar looks legitimate. Like any 23-year-old rookie there will be ups-and-downs, and it would be nice to see better plate discipline, but there is little to complain about with Andujar right now.

 

Fallers

Tim Anderson (SS, CHW): 48% contact rate last seven days (-25%)

Anderson hit just .217 and struck out 12 times in 27 plate appearances last week. What is encouraging about this bad week is that Anderson walked three times and is walking 8% of the time this season, a huge improvement over his first two seasons. Anderson walked 26 times combined between 2016-2017, but has already walked 20 times this season. He also has a 73.4% contact rate and 25% strikeout rate overall this season, which are both slight improvements on past seasons. Even though he’s coming off a rough week Anderson is getting better in the areas where he needed to and it’s paying off with 11 home runs and 13 steals. His batting average will probably never be great, but his power-speed combination makes him a great fantasy option and there is no reason to worry yet. If the plate discipline regresses then things could go haywire for Anderson.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL): 48% contact rate last seven days (-21%)

Aguilar had to slow down at some point, and it came last week as he hit .130 with 12 strikeouts in 25 plate appearances. Aguilar has never made great contact rate in the majors with a career 70% contact rate, but he cut his strikeouts and raised his contact rate a little bit this season overall. It’s hard to know what to make of Aguilar, since he was labeled a Quad-A hitter before coming to Milwaukee, but he only had 64 career plate before 2016. In 508 plate appearances with the Brewers Aguilar is hitting .273 with 27 home runs and an .857 OPS, with his 29% strikeout rate the only blemish in his offensive game. Still, Aguilar owners have wondered all season how long his production would last. It’s too early to say whether the bottom is falling out, and we’ve seen enough good from him this season and last to afford Aguilar a little rope, but Aguilar needs to hit to stay in the lineup. The Brewers just got Eric Thames back from the disabled list and are pushing him to the outfield so Aguilar can play, but Aguilar’s job shouldn’t be considered totally secure. Pay close attention to lineup construction now that the Brewers have all their pieces healthy.

Adrian Beltre (3B, TEX): 59% contact rate last seven days (-20%)

Beltre still hit .294 with an .804 OPS over the last seven days, but he struck out seven times in 18 plate appearances. His 18% strikeout rate on the season is a career high and the first time he’s been above 14% in this decade. His 82% contact rate also continues a two-year trend of dropping contact for Beltre. League-wide contact rate is 77% so Beltre is still above average, but a rise in strikeouts and drop in contact are two classic signs of age related decline. Beltre is a Hall-of-Fame talent, so his baseline to drop from was greater than the average player and there is still some value in his bat, but we are seeing the first real signs of aging in the 39-year-old. Beltre still has a 33.3% line-drive rate, 90 MPH average exit velocity, and is hitting .338 against fastballs, so it’s not like things are going to come crashing down for him. In fact, he’s one of the safest bets for a batting average around .300 when healthy. With just two-home runs and a .109 ISO the lack of power is concerning, but it would be hard to believe he maintains a 6.3% HR/FB ratio while playing half his games at Globe Life Park. Decline is creeping in on him, but Beltre isn’t done yet.

 

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