Contact Rate Risers and Fallers - Week 23

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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 23 of the fantasy baseball season.

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Contact Rate Risers

Delino DeShields (OF, TEX) 93% contact rate last seven days (+14%)

DeShields has benefited from a .384 BABIP, but he's also improved on his previously unacceptable strikeout rate. He's managed to hold onto a starting job and help fantasy owners with 28 steals this season, but his run-scoring is limited by an offense around him that's struggled to produce all year. It appears he's set to finish strong in the average category, so make him your third outfielder with confidence.

Hyun Soo Kim (OF, BAL) 97% contact rate last seven days (+14%)

Hyun Soo Kim, where you been? His move to Philly was an under-the-radar move that didn't seem to have much fantasy impact. Well, it really doesn't, but it might be interesting to note that among the youth movement in Philadelphia, Kim is carving out a role for himself as a semi-regular outfielder. Kim is batting .316 over the last week and starting to get more comfortable at the plate, although it's not enough to recommend adding him just yet. Plus, you won't be getting any power from him - he hasn't homered since April 24.

George Springer (OF, HOU) 88% contact rate last seven days (+10%)

It doesn't take much convincing to keep Springer in your lineup. He swatted homers #30 and #31 this week to go along with a .346 average. While small to moderate gains in contact rate can be telling of future success, Springer is the poster boy for this very model. He keeps dropping his strikeout rate (from 33% in 2014 to 19% in 2017) and improving his contact rate each year in the majors by great strides (from 61% in 2014 to 78% in 2017) and seems to finally have come into his own as a star player.

Jonathan Villar (2B/3B, MIL) 82% contact rate last seven days (+10%)

Villar will come away from this season as one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy baseball. That said, he's doing his best to make up for it in the second half with a .364 average in August and he's swatting .423 through the first week of September. Steals? Not so much. Just seven SB in the last 38 games and 23 on the season. I won't rub any more salt into the wounds of his owners by mentioning that he's scored exactly half as many runs as last year while slashing .240/.292/.371. All that for someone who cost a second or third round pick. Nope, I won't do it.

 

Contact Rate Fallers

Ryan Zimmerman (1B, WAS) 58% contact rate last seven days (-20%)

Predictably, Zimmerman's second half hasn't gone as swimmingly as his MVP-caliber first half. The fact that half the Nats starting lineup is on the DL, including real-life MVP Bryce Harper, doesn't help. Z-Man is sporting a .381 average over the last week, so it would seem all is well, but he's only hitting .250 since the All-Star break and his strikeout rate is slowing creeping up. You're still starting him down the stretch, but don't be surprised if he's already shown us the best he's got to offer. Paying up for him in DFS might be asking a bit much.

Avisail Garcia (OF, CHW) 58% contact rate last seven days (-14%)

Another surprising success story is Garcia, who's somehow managed to keep his .390 BABIP intact into September. Even with a contact rate barely above 50%, he's managed to bat .333 in the past week. He's also batting .400 over the last 30 days and .322 on the season, despite hitting 52% of his batted balls on the ground. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, I suppose.

Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS) 71% contact rate last seven days (-9%)

If the season were to end today (don't you love that expression?) then Bogaerts would have experienced a 25-point drop in batting average for two straight years. His contact rate is just a tick below league average, but you might be surprised to know that he's never even reached 82% contact for a Major League season. Sadly, he's not even providing half the power he did last year when he reached 21 HR, so the average is all we have to rely on. He's in a downright slump lately, going one for his last 16 and doesn't figure to be an appealing option through the fantasy playoffs. As far as next year, your guess is as good as mine.

Travis Shaw (1B/3B, MIL) 73% contact rate last seven days (-8%)

Shaw is also 1-for-16 this past week and hadn't homered in over two weeks until Tuesday night. He's predictably fallen off in the second half, just as he did last season in Boston. When it's all said and done, Shaw will have produced a fine season in terms of power and can be considered a solid starter in mixed leagues. That can't be guaranteed for the rest of September, however.

 

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