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Exit Velocity Risers/Fallers - Statcast Hitter Analysis (Week 22)


Exit velocity isn't everything. For example, even though we are looking strictly at data from the past month to identify late-season risers or fallers, Aristides Aquino comes in ranked 250th out of 393 batters on this list with an 87.2 MPH exit velocity. He's done OK for himself despite that shortcoming.

As always, this is a reminder that any individual metric should be taken in context and not used solely as a determining factor for measuring fantasy value. That said, these stats do have value by helping us find players who may be getting hot as the season winds down by making harder contact.

You know the drill - no Trouts, Bellingers, or other obvious names.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Exit Velocity Risers

All stats current as of August 25, 2019 and show results from the past 30 days.

 

Jake Cave (OF, MIN)

98.2 MPH exit velocity since July 28

Deja vu... In 2018, Cave was a non-factor the entire first half of the season and then jacked 10 homers over the last two months. In September alone, he drove in 21 runs while batting .277. This year, he's on a similar path. Although he's only got three homers and six RBI in August, he is batting an astronomical .452 with five doubles over his last 42 at-bats.

Cave isn't promised daily plate appearances in Minnesota but the fact he's not only scorching the ball but hitting .385 against lefties is a good sign that he'll stay in the lineup for the foreseeable future, making him relevant in 12+ team leagues.

 

Lane Thomas (OF, STL)

95.1 MPH exit velocity since July 28

Thomas is doing what Tyler O'Neill and Harrison Bader haven't been able to consistently do - get on base. So why has he been sitting, playing primarily as a pinch-hitter, in favor of someone like Bader who is batting .198? Defense. Bader has a great glove and Thomas isn't near his level.

Thomas is slashing a solid .324/.390/.703 with four home runs in 37 at-bats. This should warrant more playing time but for a team leading its division, they are more apt to play it safe and ride the bats of Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna. Bader and Dexter Fowler will keep blocking Thomas for playing time, but if Bader keeps struggling or an injury occurs to any outfielder, Thomas could become a priority waiver add.

 

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B, COL)

93.4 MPH exit velocity since July 28

McMahon has appeared in this space before, thanks to his season-long 91.5 MPH exit velocity that ranks in the 91st percentile, along with a 47.1% hard-hit rate that ranks in the 90th percentile. McMahon has been making solid contact all along. His exit velo has gone up a tick lately but it hasn't really brought different results. His .263 August average is right in line with his .265 season average. The power has increased slightly, with 10 HR post-break compared to seven beforehand. Still, this isn't a sign of a power surge because his launch angle is actually lower over the past two months.

Higher velocity is always good but it needs to be coupled with favorable batted-ball outcomes based on launch angle. Just ask Eric Hosmer.

 

Exit Velocity Fallers

All stats current as of August 25, 2019 and show results from the past 30 days.

 

Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, BAL)

81.4 MPH exit velocity since July 28

You probably didn't know his name or his game until a few weeks ago, so let me explain. Alberto is 10th in the majors in batting average despite ranking in the 2nd percentile in exit velocity and is practically dead last in hard-hit rate. He has a Tony Gwynn-like approach that compares closely to Josh Reddick or Cesar Hernandez among modern players. Alberto did hit .330 in Triple-A with the Rangers organization last year but he struggled mightily in his first couple of Major League trials, so it's a shock to see him hit so well. He has an aggressive approach, putting the ball in play 91.2% of the time in the zone. He has walked 3% of the time while striking out 9.1%. Repeated contact, be in weak or strong, will eventually lead to more base hits and it's worked out in his favor so far.

Sadly, Alberto left Sunday's game against the Rays with a bruised head and cervical neck strain. It's not clear whether this will keep him out of action long but mix the injury in with potential regression and a lack of extra-base hits and it could be close to the end of his 15 minutes of fame.

 

Justin Upton (OF, LAA)

84.3 MPH exit velocity since July 28

It's been a lost season for Upton and not just because he missed two and a half months with turf toe. Upton has struggled to a .213/.310/.404 slash line with 16 XBH over 51 games. His exit velocity is at a career-low (over five years of Statcast data) 87 MPH and his xSLG is down to .380. His strikeout rate is also up while his xBA is down nearly 50 points from his usual mark. All told, Upton has never really gotten in a groove and he's actually getting worse after the All-Star break. It's tough to part with a known commodity like Upton, fearing he could get hot any time, but he's only hurting you at this point.

 

Kris Bryant (3B/OF, CHC)

85.4 MPH exit velocity since July 28

I think I can officially kiss my KB 4 MVP campaign goodbye. Not that it's been a bad season but .281 with 26 HR and 64 RBI isn't exactly the stuff dreams are made of. He's been scuffling in August with a .238 average despite remaining fairly consistent with his power. Bryant's season-long 87.6 exit velo is up two ticks from last year, back to 2017 levels. It's not near his 2015-16 level of 89 MPH though. At age 27, some like myself thought we could see the best he has to offer now that he is healthy again. We may now want to consider that we already - it came three seasons ago.

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