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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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Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL): 94% contact rate last seven days (+22%)

Aguilar was a faller in last week’s article but he turned this around quickly with a .313 average, two home runs, and just one strikeout in 17 plate appearances over the last seven days. Perhaps Aguilar felt Eric Thames breathing down his neck, because now that Thames has returned Aguilar will need to keep mashing to stay in the lineup regularly. Even with a mini-slump Aguilar wasn’t in danger of losing his job, but Domingo Santana is the perfect example of how a slow stretch can snowball into a permanent bench role. So much would have to go wrong for Aguilar to end up where Santana is, but that is the reality of being on a crowded team that’s contending. At this point there is no reason to doubt whether Aguilar is legitimate. Aguilar’s season-long contact rate improved 5% over last season and his zone-contact rate improved by 8%. His 91.5 MPH average exit velocity is a 2.5 MPH jump compared to last season and .395 xwOBA is All-Star level. The only suspicious peripheral stat is his 21.6% HR/FB ratio over the last two seasons, where he hit .276 with 29 HR in 522 PA. The power pace may slow down a hair, but Aguilar is the real deal.

Matt Duffy (3B, TB): 100% contact rate last seven days (+19%)

Duffy didn’t whiff all week and hit .290 with three walks and no strikeouts in 35 PA over the last seven days. He also hit two home runs and had two steals during that stretch, doubling his total in both categories. When looking at Duffy’s profile what stands out is the .372 BABIP, a number that will certainly drop over the course of a full season. Even with such a high BABIP Duffy is not just getting lucky. He improved his line-drive rate to 26.1% and his average exit velocity to 88.3 MPH. He was actually rather misfortunate over the last week when he hit .290, because Duffy had a .241 BABIP despite a 29% line-drive rate. The problem with Duffy is that he is hollow batting average. He won’t hit many home runs because he has a 21.7% flyball rate, which is the fourth lowest among qualified hitters. He has four steals, but has also been caught three times in seven attempts. Duffy should be a safe source of batting average, but he won’t provide much else.

Josh Reddick (OF, HOU): 95% contact rate last seven days (+17%)

It was a good week for Josh Reddick, who hit .364 last week with one strikeout and one walk in 24 plate appearances. Even with this performance boost Reddick wasn’t all that valuable over the last week, as all eight of his hits were singles. His overall stats aren’t very encouraging either. He has an 81.3% contact rate, a 4% drop from last season and a five year high. His strikeout rate also climbed to 18.3%, a 5% increase from last season and another five year high. He’s not striking the ball hard with an 85.5 MPH average exit velocity and he has a .245 xBA, his worst since Statcast was introduced. Reddick needs to hit for a high average because he doesn’t have the power to be mixed league relevant while hitting below .270. He’s only 31% owned in Yahoo leagues as of writing this, and he’s not someone worth adding despite a hot week.


C.J. Cron (1B, TB): 18% contact rate last seven days (-51%)

This is the worst week I’ve seen while doing this weekly article by a significant margin. Cody Bellinger’s -30% drop from two weeks ago was bad, but this is a new level of futility. Over the last seven days C.J. Cron is 0-for-22 with 18 strikeouts and three walks in 28 plate appearances. He put four balls in play during the last week. Four. This season has been a mixed bag for Cron, because he has posted a career high .207 ISO and is only one home run from tying a career high, but he also has career worsts with a 72.4% contact rate, 82.1% zone-contact rate, and 27% strikeout rate. We might be seeing why the Angels were always reluctant to make Cron their regular first baseman. His home run totals are puzzling since he has hit more groundballs than ever before, and his average launch angle is six degrees lower than it was last season. His .444 SLG and .330 wOBA are perfectly in line with his career averages so Cron is basically the exact same player that he was in Anahiem, he just had an extended hot stretch fueled by a 21.7% HR/FB ratio. He’s on the border of rosterability in standard mixed leagues, but should provide moderate power when this cold stretch ends.

Joey Gallo (1B/OF, TEX): 35% contact rate last seven days (-23%)

How much are home runs worth? Gallo is testing our need for power with another rough week. He hit .130 with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 26 plate appearances over the last seven days. His one home run and five RBI don’t make up for that. The funny thing about Gallo is that he has a career high contact rate at 62%, though that is still pitiful and the lowest in the majors among qualified hitters. There are some things to like about what Gallo is doing this season. His 94.6 MPH average exit velocity is the second highest in the majors (min. 100 batted ball events). He also has a .230 xBA, .556 xSLG, and .370 xwOBA which would mean Statcast suggests at least a 15% improvement in production based on how he’s hit. It’s been a tough ride for Gallo owners, who have watched him hit .128 in June with a 47% strikeout rate. Even with this horrific June it’s hard to give up Gallo. He possesses as much raw power as anyone in baseball and if he reaches his expected stats he’d be a superstar. Buy low if you can afford the batting average drain.

Javier Baez (2B, CHC): 53% contact rate last seven days (-20%)

Despite being a faller Baez hit .333 last week, though he struck out seven times in 19 plate appearances and it took a .625 BABIP for him to get there. Despite a hot first two months Baez is in the midst of a June swoon, as he is hitting .175 with a .519 OPS and 38% strikeout rate this month. He still has made improvements in contact rate overall, as his 69.2% contact rate is a 4% increase over last season, and he made that improvement despite a jump in swing rate. Baez was already a free-swinger, but this season he has a 60.4% swing rate, the highest in the majors. Players like Baez that swing at everything and have poor contact rates will be prone to wild swings in production throughout the season. It’s the nature of this type of approach, and since Baez doesn’t walk much his production will live and die by home runs and his BABIP. He’s certainly been frustrating to own this month, so he’s a buy-low target if his owner’s patience is growing thin.


More 2018 MLB Advice and Analysis