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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
 and Fallers - Premium Tool

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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

Giancarlo Stanton (OF, NYY): 91% contact rate last seven days (+27%)

Giancarlo Stanton was locked in last week, hitting .391 with three home runs and a .478 ISO. His .870 SLG during this span was higher than .828 OPS prior to last week. Perhaps most encouraging is that Stanton had just two strikeouts in 27 plate appearances during that stretch. That’s a massive improvement considering he had a 34.4% strikeout rate prior to last week. Cutting down on strikeouts is one of the reasons Stanton had such a big 2017. His average exit velocity is 94.5 MPH, which is a three year high for Stanton and second highest in the majors behind J.D. Martinez. Stanton is famous for extreme hot-and-cold stretches going back to his time in Miami, and it looks like he could be entering a power binge. There isn’t really much action to take with Stanton since his trade value shouldn’t be affected one way or another. Those that rode out some of his early season struggles are about to reap the rewards of their patience.

Jonathan Schoop (2B, BAL): 94% contact rate last seven days (+16%)

Schoop’s rise in contact rate coincides with his return from an oblique strain. He returned on May 8th, and since his return, is hitting .290 with two home runs and an .861 OPS in 32 plate appearances. He has only struck out twice since returning, compared to 19 times in 65 plate appearances before the injury. Despite making more contact, Schoop has a .259 BABIP over the last seven days and a .233 xBA on the season. He is not striking the ball as hard, with a 23.6% hard contact rate on the season and 27.6% hard contact rate over the last seven days. Schoop has an average exit velocity of 85.5 MPH and has a 24% infield flyball rate. These things are not conducive to a high BABIP or batting average, and since he has a pitiful 2.1% walk rate Schoop can’t reach base unless it’s with the bat. Even though his contact rate is up there are issues with the quality of contact. Hopefully as he gets healthier he improves his exit velocity, but for now his upside is capped.

Scooter Gennett (2B, CIN): 96% contact rate last seven days (+16%)

Scooter Gennett had been having a fine season prior to this hot stretch with a .289 average, .765 OPS, and three home runs in 138 plate appearances, but he took it to another level this past week. Over the last seven days Gennett hit .478 with three home runs and a 1.391 OPS in 23 plate appearances. He had just one strikeout during this stretch, but also had zero walks. While his performance last week is wholly unsustainable over a long period of time, Gennett is proving that 2017 wasn’t a fluke. He has a career high 42.3% hard contact rate and 24.6% line drive rate on the year. These things lead to base hits and extra-base hits, giving him a .294 xBA and .348 xWOBA per Statcast. His performance dating back to last season looks legitimate and makes for a decent buy-high candidate if his owner still has reservations. One caveat with Gennett is that he really relies on his home ballpark for power. He has a .258 ISO at home but a .129 ISO on the road. If he were to get traded his power might decline depending on the new ballpark, but it’s too early to speculate on those types of scenarios.

 

Fallers

Joey Gallo (1B/OF, TEX): 38% contact rate last seven days (-23%)

The worst of Joey Gallo has emerged over the past week. He had zero base hits and 11 strikeouts in 19 plate appearances over the last seven days. This is the nature of someone like Joey Gallo, and we’ve seen extended stretches like this from players with this profile. Look no further than Giancarlo Stanton for an example. Owners often have to absorb these slumps and trust that the season long numbers will be there when it’s all said and done. Gallo does have a .222 BABIP, which is abnormally low even for an extreme power hitter, but one thing to consider is how the shifts he faces affect his BABIP. Gallo has been shifted on 91% of the time this season and has a .292 wOBA against the shift compared to a .555 wOBA with no shift. Gallo was actually evenly spraying the ball across the field before this slump with a one-third split to each field. He pulled the ball 66% of the time over the past week, though again it was only 19 plate appearances, 11 of which were strikeouts. His .199 average might not correct to his .243 xBA, at least not all the way. Still, Gallo had been striking out “only” 31.5% of the time before his slump and was hitting the ball to all fields, but some of those changes reverted to old ways. He is going to deliver power and makes for a buy-low option if his owner doesn’t have the patience to withstand the lows.

Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL): 52% contact rate last seven days (-18%)

Acuna entered the majors with a bang on April 25th, batting .326 with two homers and a .933 OPS through his first 49 plate appearances. His production has come to a screeching halt over the last week however, as he is hitting just .148 with a .578 OPS and 13 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances since. This streakiness probably serves as a good reminder that Acuna is just 20-years-old will need to make adjustments to the big leagues. He skyrocketed through the minors in 2017, improving his strikeout rate, ISO, and batting average at every level. Acuna has the talent to adjust to better pitching, but don’t be surprised if his struggles extend beyond a few weeks. As a 20-year-old rookie Bryce Harper had an .817 OPS, while Mike Trout had a .672 OPS. We probably won’t see the best version of Ronald Acuna in 2018, and that’s okay. He is still a valuable fantasy asset for this season.

 Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD): 60% contact rate last seven days (-14%)

Cody Bellinger is having a weird season. Prior to this past seven days he was hitting .283 and had cut his strikeouts down to 21.3%, but had just a .181 ISO and his flyball rate dipped to 39.4%. The success he had came from an unsustainable .337 BABIP. Over this past week Bellinger’s strikeouts shot way up to 37% and he had a 10:1 K/BB ratio in 25 plate appearances. One encouraging sign from the last seven days was a 50% flyball rate for Bellinger. He was at 47% last season and to regain last year’s power number’s he will need to elevate the ball more. His launch angle is slightly up from last season at 17 degrees compared to 16.5 in 2017 and his exit velocity is exactly the same at 89.6 MPH. The problem seems to be a wider variance. He has a 17.4% infield flyball rate this season, up 9% from last year. His hard contact rate is at 37.7%, down 5.3% from last season. There are probably some kinks in his swing and approach that need to be ironed out, and hopefully this rough stretch precedes a return of last season’s Bellinger. The production he has provided is not sustainable given his batted ball profile. He has a .211 xBA and .306 xWOBA per Statcast. There is buy-low opportunity here, but since he’s only 22 with just one full season under his belt Bellinger isn’t totally risk free. Buying low on him requires you to shoulder legitimate risk but could pay dividends.

 

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