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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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Contact Rate Risers

Steve Pearce (1B/OF, BOS): 100% contact rate last seven days (+19%)

Pearce did not swing-and-miss last week, but it didn’t translate to much production. He hit just .133 with a .516 OPS and no strikeouts in 19 plate appearances over the past week. Pearce has a reputation as a lefty-masher, and he’s lived up to it this season. Against lefties Pearce has a .974 OPS and .242 ISO, but he’s held his own against righties too with an .820 OPS and .207 ISO. Boston faced all right-handed starters over the past week, however Pearce and Mitch Moreland are in a 50/50 split for playing time right now. Overall Pearce is having his best season since his 2014 breakout with Baltimore, and still crushes the ball at age 35 with an 89.2 MPH average exit velocity. The production he has put up this season looks legitimate and Pearce could probably be a full-time starter next season either for Boston over Moreland or for another team, though he’s sort of typecast in a platoon role. Pearce is best used in daily lineup leagues or DFS formats when we know he is starting.

Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA): 91% contact rate last seven days (+16%)

Haniger has been crushing it in the second half, and last week was no exception as he hit .364 with a 1.098 OPS and two strikeouts in 26 PA. Since the beginning of August Haniger is hitting .332 with a .241 ISO and cut his strikeout rate 3% to 19.1%. Haniger showed signs of a breakout last season, but 2018 has been his year to finally bust out at age 27. Peripherals back up Haniger’s performance since he has a 90.3 MPH average exit velocity and .387 xwOBA. There are not many major red flags in Haniger’s batted ball profile, and for next season owners can draft him confidently. Often times players that come seemingly out of nowhere draw skepticism from fantasy owners come draft day next season, and if there is any discount on Haniger, say he drops out of the top-50, owners should happily take him.

Carlos Santana (1B/3B/OF, PHI): 100% contact rate last seven days (+16%)

Carlos Santana has failed to live up to both his name and peripheral statistics all season, and last week was no exception as Santana hit .208 with a .595 OPS and no strikeouts in 31 PA. He did not swing-and-miss and also did not have an extra base hit. Of course, Santana salvaged the week with a .387 OBP, making him still valuable in points leagues and OBP leagues. Santana currently has the lowest batting average of his career at .229 and a three-year low in ISO at .185. His expected stats suggest that Santana should be performing better. The gap between his BA (.229) and xBA (.262) is the ninth largest among hitters with at least 500 PA, and his .368 xwOBA is exactly the same as his xwOBA in 2017. Santana has never been a high BABIP hitter, but a .231 BABIP is still 34 points lower than his career BABIP. For 2019 Santana looks like a decent bounce back candidate since his draft cost should take a hit after this disappointing season.

Contact Rate Fallers

Justin Upton (OF, LAA): 44% contact rate last seven days (-22%)

Upton is known for going on wild hot and cold streaks, and he has picked a bad time to slump. Last week Upton hit .222 with a .641 OPS and 10 strikeouts in 22 PA. He has been a strikeout machine all month with a 38.8% strikeout rate in 67 plate appearances. Power has been the only thing to salvage Upton’s performance as he has four home runs and a .259 ISO in September. Upton is the type of player that could have a 50% contact rate with no extra-base hits one week and a 90% contact rate with four homers the next. The final four games are against generally weak pitchers. He faces Yohander Mendez of Texas, then a three game series against Oakland who are starting Mike Fiers, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson. Fiers is probably the best pitcher of the bunch, but even his success has been contingent on some incredible luck. Upton owners should simply trust him over the final four games; it’s unlikely a better player is available on waivers at this point.

Kole Calhoun (OF, LAA): 52% contact rate last seven days (-20%)

Calhoun’s season can be divided into distinct thirds. Calhoun looked done to begin the season. Like a man that should no longer be playing professional baseball in any capacity. He hit .145 with a .374 OPS through the first two months of the season. After a stint on the disabled list Calhoun returned better than ever, hitting .298 with a 1.018 OPS and .363 ISO between his return on June 18 and the trade deadline. September has humbled him, however, as Calhoun is hitting .095 with a .420 OPS and 31.1% strikeout rate. Last week was especially brutal. Calhoun hit .043 (1-for-26) with a .197 OPS and 11 strikeouts in 26 PA. He had a wRC+ of -36. Obviously this is a small sample size, but over the last week Calhoun was somehow 136% worse than a league average hitter. He has delved into depths somehow beyond utter uselessness.

The funny part is that Calhoun has favorable peripheral numbers. He has the highest average exit velocity of his career at 90.4 MPH and has a 42.3% hard hit rate. He has massive gaps between his actual stats and expected stats. He has a .262 xBA and .205 actual BA, a .365 SLG compared to a .485 xSLG, and a .280 wOBA compared to a .351 wOBA. He has the best peripheral numbers of his career, and that makes him interesting as an end-game piece next year, but if you’ve somehow survived him sandbagging your team in September it’s time to drop Calhoun. There is something here, but he isn't going to figure it out in four games, and Calhoun doesn't have the reputation of someone like Upotn to justify blind trust.

Edwin Encarnacion (1B, CLE): 55% contact rate last seven days (-19%)

Encarnacion saw a dip in contact rate last week but it didn’t affect his production. He hit .300 with a .931 OPS and nine strikeouts in 27 PA. A .545 kept Encarncion’s production from cratering, although Encarnacion helped himself with a 54.5% line drive rate over the past week. Cleveland is one of the teams with a Thursday game this week, so Encarnacion gets an extra game against a bad Kansas City pitching staff during the final week. He is a must start anyway, but that is a little gravy for his owners in weekly leagues. From an overall player profile perspective 2018 will mark the third straight year of decline for Encarnacion. His .241 BA is the lowest since 2010, hos .231 ISO is the lowest since 2011, and his 22.5% strikeout rate is his highest since his rookie season. His strikeouts had been creeping up over the past few years, but he experienced a 2.6% jump in 2018 compared to 2017. His contact rate has also fallen to 75.8%, a career low. Encarnacion was once an above average contact hitter, and not just for a power hitter but relative to the entire league. Now he is beginning to experience the effects of aging, and while Encarnacion isn’t hanging off the edge of a cliff there are warning signs with him. His overall stats are good enough that he’ll still go rather high next season, and this is someone to avoid at a top-50 cost. He is low-batting average power and will be 36 on opening day next season.

More 2018 MLB Advice and Analysis