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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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Identifying top batting average surgers for each week can help you spot the best pickups before your competition. RotoBaller's Premium Contact Rate Risers and Fallers tool has you covered every day. As thoughtful fantasy baseball players, we won't lead you astray.

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Contact Rate Risers

Gorkys Hernandez (OF, SF)

95% contact rate last seven days (+23%)

After a scorching May and a solid June Hernandez has struggled in July thus far. He has a .623 OPS and one home run this month. Over the last seven days Hernandez hit .250 with a .636 OPS and one strikeout in 21 PA. Hernandez’s first half power breakout came with a dip in overall contact rate down to 70.6% and a career high 26% strikeout rate. Hernandez has struck out more in 283 PA (74 K) this season than he did in 348 PA (73 K) last season. This power surge couldn’t have come from a stranger source, either. Last season Hernandez hit 0 HR in 348 PA with a .071 ISO, and for his career Hernandez had five home runs and an .095 ISO in 583 PA. Hard contact has been the key to success for Hernandez, as he’s posted a career high 38% hard contact rate this season. His 86.5 MPH average exit velocity is below average, but Hernandez is hitting the ball hard with more frequency to get better results. Over the past week he only had a 26.3% hard contact rate, and while that is a small sample size it would be quite concerning if his hard contact rate dropped. Hernandez’s fantasy viability is built on a wobbly foundation. One of the most anemic hitters in baseball has suddenly been able to maintain an 18.7% HR/FB and .345 BABIP while playing home games in San Francisco and seeing marginal changes in flyball rate and average exit velocity. He’s only 7% owned, but this week doesn’t make him a particularly interesting player to add. Hernandez is exclusively an NL-only option at this time.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, SF)

 95% contact rate last seven days (+20%)

Despite a 95% contact rate last week McCutchen had a typical, boring Andrew McCutchen week. He hit .267 with a .767 OPS and one strikeout in 24 PA. He also took seven walks, giving him a .500 OBP over this stretch. Even though McCutchen is aging, his contact rate hasn’t dropped off much from his career rate. He’s at 78.2% this season compared to a 79.3% career contact rate. Even though McCutchen has a .320 BABIP, based on his batted ball profile he looks like he should be hitting better than his .261 AVG. He has a career bests with a 27% line drive rate and 46.6% hard contact rate, both ranking 11th best among qualified hitters. He also has a 90.5 MPH average exit velocity, representing a three-year high. His .279 xBA suggests a moderate disparity between McCutchen’s skills and results, but if he continues to hit like this with a little luck sprinkled in McCutchen could eclipse that .279 mark. We should also anticipate an increase in power for him in the second half. Right now McCutchen has a career low .151 ISO, but a .485 xSLG and .368 xwOBA suggest that last season’s power numbers are repeatable. McCutchen is a good buy low target right now, because it looks like he’s having the worst year of his career when he’s still striking the ball extremely well.

Tim Anderson (SS, CWS)

89% contact rate last seven days (+16%):

Anderson rather quietly had a great first half, hitting .246 with 13 HR and 21 SB. His final week before the All-Star break was solid too, as he hit .263 with a .684 OPS and two strikeouts in 19 PA. Of course he took zero walks dragging down his OBP, but Anderson has actually improved in plate discipline over the course of the season. He tripled his walk rate from 2.1% last season to 6.4% this year. 6.4% isn’t anything special, but much better than where Anderson had been for the first two years of his career. He also has a career high 73.6% contact rate and career low 24.3% strikeout rate. Again, neither of those rates would be considered good, but they are improvements in a young player with good raw physical skills. His .229 xBA might scare some people away, but speedsters like Anderson tend to break Statcast’s expected stats. For example, Dee Gordon has a career .238 xBA but is a career .292 hitter. That’s because speedy players have the ability to get hits on balls where the average player would be out. Anderson has routinely outperformed this metric and there shouldn’t be cause for concern. His .296 BABIP is almost 40 points lower than his career BABIP, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make batting average gains in the second half. He’s only 71% owned in Yahoo leagues as of writing this, which seems low given the power-speed combination that he offers. Anderson is a must-own player in 5x5 roto or categories leagues.

Contact Rate Fallers

Willson Contreras (C, CHC)

40% contact rate last seven days (-36%)

The All-Star catcher had a dismal end to the first half, limping to the break with a .167 AVG, .452 OPS, and eight strikeouts over the last week in 14 PA. Even with that bad week Contreras is hitting .353 in July, though he’s striking out 31.7% of the time. He somehow has a .550 BABIP this month despite a 55% groundball rate. That is unreal, especially for a catcher. In total it has only been 34 PA for Contreras this month, but this serves as a microcosm of Contreras’ season. On the surface Contreras is having his typical good season with a 122 wRC+ and an .818 OPS, but there should be legitimate concerns here. Contreras has lost a lot of his power, posting only seven home runs and a .170 ISO after posting a .223 ISO last season. It could be argued that his 9.1% HR/FB rate is unlucky, and there probably is some truth to that, but the 26% HR/FB ratio Contreras had in 2017 was equally fortunate. So, who is the real Willson Contreras? His hard contact rate dropped four percent this season, and his average launch angle went up four degrees to 9.5. So he’s hitting the ball higher, but with less authority. His .344 BABIP seems inordinately high for a catcher with a 16.7% line drive rate, and is 25 points higher than last season. Contreras has a .234 xBA compared to his .279 AVG, and while he has routinely outperformed xBA (career.247 xBA vs. .278 AVG) it’s harder to trust since he doesn’t have elite speed. It’s hard to sell Contreras since the waiver wire for catchers is so barren, but don’t expect a big power turnaround either.

Scott Schebler (OF, CIN)

53% contact rate last seven days (-23%)

Schebler closed out the first half similarly to Willson Contreras, hitting .167 with a .452 OPS and seven strikeouts in 14 PA over the last week. Overall Schebler’s built upon a breakout 2017 with even more improvements at the plate, even if he’s experienced a dip in power. He’s increased his batting average over 50 points to .278 this season, and a spike in line drive rate and average exit velocity support these gains. He improved his line drive rate to 23.6% this season. That has cannibalized his flyball rate, which has fallen 11 points down to 27%. That seems to be the main reason for his 40 point drop in ISO, but it’s a worthwhile trade off in points leagues and 5x5 leagues. This version of Schebler should provide above average power and a good batting average, compared to great power but a horrible batting average a year ago. There are enough players like that in today’s game. Schebler does have a .491 xSLG, which is a little higher than his .486 xSLG last season, so more power could be coming. He’s only 20% owned in Yahoo leagues as of writing this, but Schebler is a good player to add despite scuffling into the break.

Yadier Molina (C, STL)

67% contact rate last seven days (-18%)

Molina has followed an odd career path this decade. After ostensibly peaking in the early 2010s Molina’s power began to taper off and he became a batting average only play until 2017 when he saw a big spike in power. Molina hit 18 home runs in 2017 after hitting 19 total between 2014-2016. Then Molina entered the season as a possible bust candidate, seeming unlikely to repeat such a power surge, and doubled down on these gains. Right now he has a career high .200 ISO and is on pace to set a career high in home runs. This past week was a little rough for him, as he hit .222 with a .472 OPS and six strikeouts in 20 PA. Strikeouts and contact have never been a problem for Molina, and even at age 36 he has an above average 83.2% contact rate and 14.3% strikeout rate. These are both worse than his career averages, but they fall in line with the league-wide strikeout inflation. Molina also has a 24.6% line drive rate and 46.2% hard contact rate, yet his .269 BABIP is lower than his .274 AVG. Molina’s .305 xBA is the highest among catchers (minimum 250 PA). His 18.8% HR/FB ratio is unsustainable, but Molina still looks legit. He’s a good buy-high candidate, since his age and history might make owners skeptical of his production. That being said, trading for catchers is always tricky since a good one is not easily replaced. Any trade involving Molina (or Willson Contreras for that matter) would probably have to be a 2-for-2 involving a swap of catchers and other positions.

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