Contact Rate Risers and Fallers - Week 14

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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 14 of the fantasy baseball season.

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Contact Rate Risers

Wil Myers (1B, SD) 92% contact rate last seven days (+19%)

Myers started off blazing hot, but the last several weeks left him high and dry when All-Star selections were made. Being overlooked in favor of Brad Hand to represent your team should be motivation enough for Myers and it might just be working. The average hasn't jumped up just yet, but Myers is having fewer hitless games and taking more walks. Unlike last year, the Padres won't be selling off their entire starting lineup around him at the deadline, so a second half collapse is unlikely. Keep the faith in this young stud.

Michael Taylor (OF, WAS) 83contact rate last seven days (+14%)

Another injury further secures Taylor's starting job in Washington. We already know about Taylor's power/speed combination (12 HR/9 SB this year), but he's finally not hurting his owners in the averages. Taylor is batting .281, although that's mainly due to an elevated .375 BABIP. The good news is that since Trea Turner went out, Taylor has been moved up to second in the lineup, which should increase his run-scoring even further. This seems like a good time to add him if he's available.

Russell Martin (C/3B, TOR) 92contact rate last seven days (+14%)

Martin's average hasn't moved from its current .218 mark despite increased contact over the past week. To be honest, you shouldn't have expected anything higher than .255 from him anyway. As a backstop, power is the key to his fantasy value, although he hasn't produced much in that category either. If you want to point to an increased 17.2% BB% and a low .235 BABIP to say that he could still improve, that's fine. It still won't be enough to make him mixed-league worthy as a 34-year-old catcher on a mediocre team.

Josh Bell (1B, PIT) 91% contact rate last seven days (+13%)

Bell still seems hell-bent on pulling the ball to sacrifice contact for power. Maybe that's because all offseason people kept asking whether he had enough power to be an everyday first baseman. He's certainly delivering in that regard, jacking 15 homers and driving in 38 already, but he's hitting a paltry .227. His plate discipline is actually very good (0.56 BB/K), but he's hitting the ball on the ground 52% of the time. Chances are he will adjust his approach enough that the power will decrease while average will increase accordingly. He's too good a hitter not to figure things out, but it may extend beyond his rookie season before that happens.


Contact Rate Fallers

Joey Gallo (1B, TEX) 33% contact rate last seven days (-26%)

To say that Gallo swings and misses quite a bit is an understatement, but we need to look hard and long at what's been happening lately. He's got one hit in the past week and 15 strikeouts in his last 25 at-bats. His average has gone from bad to worse as the season progresses, starting at .213 in April, down to .202 in May and then .162 in June. 21 home runs in half a season is nothing to sneeze at, but there comes a point where the damage he's doing to your average outweighs the power. That's especially true with the rate that balls are leaving the yard, making HR more easily replaceable on the waiver wire. The Rangers' poor record could work in Gallo's favor if they keep falling out of contention, but he could still see his playing time reduced if he doesn't turn things around.

Lucas Duda (1B, NYM) 53% contact rate last seven days (-22%)

That 53% contact rate has been parlayed into a .368 average over the past week, so this shouldn't be read into. Unlike Gallo, Duda is a case of a slugger that is making the most out of his limited contact. Most encouraging is that he's making a ton of hard contact (45.6%), which also indicates that he is healthy. Duda is on pace to match his career high of 30 HR, although 92 RBI seems highly unlikely given the Mets' offensive woes. He is right around his career average of .246 (currently batting .249), but at least that's something you can live with when looking for power.

Nelson Cruz (OF, SEA) 55% contact rate last seven days (-15%)

Cruz is having another solid season, even if it isn't one of his best. He's far off the 40-HR mark that he's reached the last three seasons, but a slash line of .286/.369/.500 is still top notch. Cruz is currently boasting the second-highest BB/K rate of his career (0.57) and striking out less than he has since 2010, so don't read into this recent mini-slump at all.

Mark Reynolds (1B, COL) 54% contact rate last seven days (-14%)

Reynolds may not eke out an All-Star bid, although he surely has a strong case for deserving it. One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season, Reynolds is still matching last year's career-best .282 batting average, but has managed to resurrect his power along with it. Will it keep up in the second half? I won't pretend to know the answer to that question, but I can say that his average fell 52 points from May to June and he was hitless in his first 12 AB of July until a pair of singles on Tuesday. He appears to be a sell-high candidate based on track record, but I'm not expecting a huge decline considering how well he's taken to Colorado and the surrounding cast he has.


More Risers and Fallers

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