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Fantasy Baseball Breakout Hitters Watch and Underachievers, Overachievers (Week 9)

Brenton Doyle - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

As you know by now, I like to take a look around MLB as we head into the weekend and see who is showing signs of some meaningful trends that can be revealing in some form or another. Perhaps a hitter is about to break out or on the verge of a cold spell.

Checking in on who's hot (or not) can bring to light some notable names. Those names then become potential waiver-wire targets or sneaky DFS plays (or avoids) until the rest of the fantasy community catches on.

Below, we'll check in on players with the longest hit streaks, highest batting average, and highest ISO over the last seven days, as well as some regression candidates and more. Note that totals are designated by the number in parentheses next to the player's name.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Hit Streak Leaders

(data through 5/16)

Ketel Marte (15)

Ketel Marte is our new leader this week, but this is a peculiar situation. Before the hit streak began, Marte was batting .309 and over the course of the streak he has seen his batting average drop 20 points to .289. That's because he's hitting just .254 over the last 15 games and hasn't had a multi-hit game since April 29. So while it hasn't been fruitless (five 2B, a triple, four HRs, 10 RBI, seven R), it has been somewhat underwhelming as far as hit streaks go. Still, the 30-year-old's nine HRs lead all second baseman and he ranks third in fantasy production at the position, so it's hard to complain.

William Contreras and Marcell Ozuna (9)

William Conteras and Marcell Ozuna have both been on fire since the season started. Contreras rode a seven-game hit streak right before this latest nine-gamer, and also had a streak of 12 games earlier this season. Ozuna had a streak of 17 games with a hit earlier this season. Ozuna is the sixth-ranked fantasy hitter thus far and Contreras is fourth, which is a feat in itself being a catcher.

Anthony Volpe (9)

Anthony Volpe is riding a nine-game hit streak, during which time he's seen his batting average go from .252 to .273. The 23-year-old has three home runs plus 10 RBI over this nine-game stretch and now has a .273-6-23-29-9 line through 44 games. The former first-round MLB draft pick is on pace to match or exceed his HR and SB totals from last season (21 and 24, respectively).

 

Highest Batting Average Last Seven Days

(minimum 13 AB, games through 5/15)

Kevin Pillar (.556)

There are a bunch of interesting names on this list that could be some nice values for DFS in the coming week if you're inclined to ride the hot hand. None are hotter than Kevin Pillar, hitting .556 over the past week, including a triple, a home run, eight RBI, and two stolen bases. The veteran has four straight multi-hit efforts and three three-hit performances in his last seven games. The Angels start a series against the Rangers on Friday and LHP Andrew Heaney is the projected starter. Pillar is 5-for-8 with two doubles and no strikeouts in his career off of Heaney.

Kevin Newman (.500)

Speaking of hot-hitting veterans named Kevin, Kevin Newman is coming off an 0-for-3 performance on Wednesday, but before that, the 30-year-old had four straight multi-hit games and it included five doubles as well as a triple. Newman has always had a strong contact rate and this year is no different, posting an 87.7% Contact% thus far. If you're looking for a DFS value play that'll put the bat on the ball, look no further. As far as season-long goes, he's eligible at every infield position, so he makes for a solid bench bat you can use to plug a hole.

 

Highest ISO Last Seven Days

(minimum 13 AB, games through 5/15)

When it comes to fantasy, especially DFS, we want to see power. More big hits mean more points. Big hits usually drive in more runs, which means more points. Doubles and triples put hitters in a better position to score, which means? You guessed it -- more points! So, who's hitting for extra bases over the past week?

Connor Joe (.667)

Connor Joe had a home run in three straight games before Wednesday's 0-for-4 brought it to an end. After going undrafted in most leagues, Joe is having a career year so far, posting a career-best .378 wOBA and 144 wRC+ of 144 on the back of his highest-ever 82.0% Contact% and career-low 17.6% K%. The 31-year-old is on pace to notch career highs in HR, RBI, R, and SB this season, so he can be useful in both season-long and DFS. He's eligible at both 1B and OF in Yahoo leagues for those interested.

Alex Bregman (.444)

It took Alex Bregman 26 games to hit his first home run of the season, but over the past week, he's hit three more and added three doubles. The 30-year-old has the most total bases of anyone in the table above. He's still got an excellent 89.3% Contact% and low 12.9% K%, but he's not walking as much as he usually does (8.8% vs. career 12.5%) and chasing a bit more than normal (25.5% O-Swing vs career 21.8%). Maybe this past week is his way of getting back on track.

Ryan Jeffers (.500)

Just pointing out that, while Ryan Jeffers makes this list because he has three home runs in the past week, those are his only hits this past week. On the year, the backstop is hitting well and his 10 home runs are tied for the most at the catcher position. You are still firing him up in season-long formats, but right now he is crushing your average, and for DFS, it has been all or nothing this past week.

 

Most Steals Last Seven Days

Brenton Doyle (4)

Other than Brenton Doyle's 22 stolen bases last season, there wasn't much to write about (aside from his defense), but with his 93rd percentile sprint speed, it's no surprise he's racking up the stolen bases again this season. The 26-year-old had four over the past week and has eight on the season. But it's hard to steal bases if you aren't getting on base. As you can see from the table, he's also been hitting over the past week. So far year-over-year, he has increased his Contact%, reduced his chase rate and K% by a significant margin, increased his BB%, and is hitting the ball hard. That's a recipe for success.

Dairon Blanco (3)

Dairon Blanco has 97th percentile sprint speed, but he doesn't get regular at-bats. That is until recently, and he's also been getting on base, which has resulted in stolen bases. The speedster has 11 steals on the season with just 46 plate appearances. Lane Thomas and Spencer Steer have 11 as well, but have 87 and 149 PA, respectively. This is certainly a situation to monitor because if Blanco can earn regular at-bats and get on base while doing it, he'll quickly rise to the top of the leaderboard (or at least to second place behind Elly De La Cruz).

 

xBA Underachievers

(data through 5/15, minimum 50 AB)

Below are hitters who have some of the biggest differences between their current batting average and their expected batting average, or xBA. While many times this is a good exercise to see who is on the verge of turning things around, it's not certain. Sometimes hitters over or underperform their xBA throughout their career, so regression to the xBA may not happen.

Lars Nootbaar (.206 vs .270)

Lars Nootbaar's return from the IL has not gone as well as hoped, batting just .206 through Wednesday. The silver lining is that his xBA is a respectable .270. He's got a high Contact% (83.7%), low K% (18.3%), high BB% (14.3%), and he's still hitting it hard (48.2%), so there's reason to believe he'll turn this around.

Christopher Morel (.212 vs .273)

Christopher Morel's story is similar to Nootbaar's, just to a lesser extent in many cases. What is different is that he's got an unusually low BABIP of .216 (career .293), so perhaps there is some bad luck as well. He's also barreling the ball at a high-ish rate of 11.7%. It may not come as quickly as Nootbaar's turnaround, but Morel's stock should start trending up.

 

xBA Overachievers

We'll touch on a couple of hitters who will probably come back to Earth soon. In this case, the BA is much higher than the xBA, and some regression should be expected. Note that the players who've shown up on this list so far this season have continued to hit well, so don't expect them to go ice-cold. Rather, it's usually more of a gradual decline.

Connor Wong  (.340 vs .245)

Connor Wong has been listed here before but he's continued to hit. Just pointing him out again, as even though he's surely a capable hitter, I don't foresee him competing for an AL batting title by season's end. It's likely downhill from here despite a couple weeks on this plateau.

David Fry (.306 vs .242)

I've considered David Fry in season-long where I'm in need of a backup catcher, but have yet to pull the trigger. He's also eligible at 1B and OF in Yahoo leagues, which makes him even more useful as a bench bat. The contact rate is solid, the K% is palatable, he's got a high walk rate, low chase rate, and more that makes a compelling story about how the 28-year-old can keep this up. On the flip side, a BABIP of .380 indicates maybe there has been some luck that buoyed his average to this point. I think he's able to muddle through and maintain a respectable -- albeit somewhat lower -- average.



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