Contact Rate Risers and Fallers - Week 13

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Welcome back, RotoBallers! We are now in the midst of the MLB season, so it's a good time to look at some key offensive trends. Among those trends we will follow each week is contact rate. A sudden increase or decrease in contact rate could signal the beginning of an extended hot or cold streak, leading to important waiver wire choices or start/sit decisions for fantasy baseball managers.

Each week we will look at a few players on each side of the coin and compare their previous week's contact rate with their actual performance over the course of the 2017 season. We do this because we care about you, the fantasy player.

Here are some of the top contact rate risers and fallers for Week 13 of the fantasy baseball season.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantrax have even more fantasy baseball advice columns and videos to help improve your teams. Be sure to also check them out!

 

Contact Rate Risers

Carlos Beltran (OF, HOU) 97% contact rate last seven days (+18%)

It took a while, but Beltran is now warming up in Houston. The veteran is batting .239 on the season and .221 in June, but is up to .294 in the past week with only two strikeouts. Over the last two weeks, he has a positive 6:5 BB:K rate and is starting to make contact at a much higher rate. It's hard to tell how much he has left in the tank at this point, but there's power and run production to make him worth adding if you need outfield help.

Maikel Franco (3B, PHI) 95% contact rate last seven days (+16%)

Franco doesn't have the track record to reassure us that everything's going to be OK by seasons's end despite a rough first half. A .221/.282/.365 slash line and single-digit homer total aren't what fantasy owners were hoping for out of Franco by now. For a slugger with disappointing numbers, it may be surprising to know that he's striking out at a lower rate of 13.4%. You could bet on his .227 BABIP increasing, but he'll have to stop hitting the ball on the ground so much. The fact his plate discipline is better than last year indicates he may be worth buying low for a second half rebound if you're looking for help at the corner infield spot. He homered again on Tuesday night, for what it's worth.

Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, NYM) 96% contact rate last seven days (+12%)

You'd be forgiven if you didn't know that Cabrera was back in the Mets lineup as the everyday shortstop. He's come back with something to prove, collecting eights hits in 18 at-bats over the last four games. The Mets don't seem to be in a rush to promote Amed Rosario and Jose Reyes doesn't deserve to be starting any more, so Cabrera should keep contributing as long as he's healthy. It doesn't look like Cabrera will come close to matching last year's 23 HR, especially since he's pulling the ball less and putting it on the ground more. He can still help fantasy owners in average and will score his share of runs at the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) 85% contact rate last seven days (+10%)

The contact rate itself isn't overwhelming, but let's just look at results for a second. Smith is batting .357 over the past week, which is nearly the same as his season average of .350. His BABIP is still an absurdly high .435, but when someone with wheels like him can keep putting the ball in play at a high rate, the base hits will keep coming. You may have picked up Smith for speed alone, but he's been far more valuable than a one-category star. Smith has scored 16 runs and stolen nine bases in 24 games. With Kevin Kiermaier due to miss another month at least, Smith remains a solid waiver wire add in mixed leagues.

 

Contact Rate Fallers

Justin Bour (1B, MIA) 51% contact rate last seven days (-19%)

Bour was bound to come back to Earth at some point. He's fallen pretty hard this past week, picking up one hit in his last 12 at-bats with no HR or RBI and a 50% strikeout rate. Although he's not a platoon player this season, Tyler Moore's solid performance while Bour was out could lead to more playing time against LHP. Bour doesn't need to be dropped, but he may be best suited for the bench until he straightens things out once again.

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) 46% contact rate last seven days (-18%)

Once again the young catcher flashes his power, only to fall off precipitously shorter thereafter. Zunino had himself a huge week with five HR and 13 RBI, despite striking out consistently the whole time. He's now gone hitless in five of his last six starts, with one HR and three RBI in that time. Much like NL counterpart Austin Hedges, Zunino has proven to be extremely streaky and worth starting for his power surges only. Outside of AL-only leagues, Zunino belongs on benches or back on waivers now that he's gotten those long balls out of his system.

Miguel Sano (3B/OF, MIN) 47% contact rate last seven days (-16%)

It's hard to argue with Sano's results this year, even in the face of a 35.1% K%. Sano is batting .278 with 18 home runs and 52 runs batted in. When he goes through one of these spells where he only picks up one hit all week, it would seem best to just ride it out because contact is not an indicator of Sano's true value. 63% contact would be problematic for most players, but when you can make hard contact half the time (when you make contact at all), you're going to have good results. Keep Sano plugged in no matter how hard he slumps because he's likely to break out of it in a big way.

Ian Desmond (1B/OF, COL) 56% contact rate last seven days (-16%)

These numbers will swing with his 3-for-5 performance on Tuesday night, but Desmond's season hasn't shown signs of living up to preseason expectations. He is still posting a career-low 71.5% contact%, 0.12 BB/K ratio and a .113 ISO, despite playing half his games in Coors. It's hard to take advantage of the thin air when you hit the ball on the ground 62% of the time, after all. The steals and decent .275 average keep him fantasy-relevant, but only in mixed leagues of 12 or more teams where he can be put in at corner infield or as a fourth outfielder.

 

More Risers and Fallers