Contact Rate Risers and Fallers - Week 18

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Welcome back, RotoBallers! Batting average is just one of many statistics fantasy owners must consider, but contact rate can also be telling of all-around success at the plate. 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 who are rising and falling in terms of contact and compare their previous week's contact rate with their season-long performance.

Here are some of the top contact rate risers and fallers for Week 18 of the fantasy baseball season.

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Contact Rate Risers

Steve Pearce (1B/2B/OF, TOR) 95% contact rate last seven days (+16%)

It's nearly impossible to claim a more dramatic week than Pearce (in a good way). Two walk-off grand slams don't happen to most players over an entire career, but Pearce managed to pull it off in a four-day span. Unfortunately, that represents the best of his production this season and almost a quarter of his total power numbers for the season. Pearce is still a subpar contact hitter with a career .255 average who is in a utility role.

Tommy Pham (OF, STL) 94% contact rate last seven days (+14%)

Sharp second-half regression? Nah, Pham. We've already been over the fact that Pham is playing way over his head, but he hasn't seemed to notice yet. Let's accept that he's here to stay, at least for 2017. Pham picked up seven hits in 19 AB last week (.368), although all those hits went for singles. Then again, he scored four times and stole his 14th base. Stop being surprised and pick him up already.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS, CIN)  98% contact rate last seven days (+13%)

Peraza will go down as one of this season's sleepers that stayed asleep (as opposed to staying woke I suppose). Realistically, there is only one thing that has changed from last year's batting profile - his BABIP. Peraza couldn't duplicate last year's .362 BABIP, which is down to .292 this season. Now, he's got three multi-hit games in the past week, which is something he's only done once all year. While he could see a slight bump in his disappoint averages, it won't be anything like last year's second-half streak. Keep him in your lineup for the speed, but that's it.

Manny Machado (3B/SS, BAL)  91% contact rate last seven days (+12%)

Here it comes! Machado has been flashing the leatherwork with highlight-ready plays recently, but he's also starting to bring the bat back. He's hitting .327 over the last two weeks, although that hasn't come with any home runs. By all measures, he should be coming out with better results given his batted ball profile, but it just hasn't all come together this season. Cross your fingers and hope for the best at this point.

 

Contact Rate Fallers

Kyle Schwarber (C/OF, CHC)  43% contact rate last seven days (-31%)

The Cubbies are making their second-half surge and the Schwarb is along for the ride. He still fits in quite well in the Windy City, providing plenty of breeze from all those swings and misses. Despite striking out in almost half his at-bats last week, Schwarber still powered up with three homers, five RBI and batted .333. In terms of contact, it's all about quality, not quantity with him.

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) 34% contact rate last seven days (-29%)

By contrast, Zunino almost makes Schwarber look like Tony Gwynn. Zunino is out to set a career high with his 38.5% K%, whiffing seven times in his last 11 at-bats. His .320 BABIP is far higher than usual, which means his other current career high, a .228 AVG, may drop further. Sure, he'll get you some homers from the catcher position, but he's a liability everywhere else including RBI. With his last five HR, he's only driven in eight. Zunino has almost twice as many strikeouts as hits on the entire season, if that tells you anything about his approach.

Dee Gordon (2B, MIA) 76% contact rate last seven days (-10%)

The most notable change in Gordon's value this week was the one that didn't happen. Gordon was rumored to be on the trading block, but the Marlins stood pat with nearly all their veteran players. Gordon is having a good overall season and has brought his average back up to .297. He normally holds a contact rate around 87% but despite a 10-point drop this week, he still pulled off a .400 average in that time. The only real question with Gordon is whether he'll crack 50 steals by year's end or have to settle for 49.

 

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