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Hitters To Have A Big Second Half? Strikeout Rate Improvements for Fantasy Baseball

Rowdy Tellez - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, First Base Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

One good way to find hitters to help your fantasy team during the stretch run is to see which hitters have been striking out less as the year has gone by. The strikeout rate is far from the only thing to consider with a hitter, and it's probably not even the most important statistic - but it is a statistic that we can rely on over a relatively small sample size. If a player has cut their strikeout rate in half over a sample of 100 plate appearances or so, it's a pretty good bet that the change will be at least somewhat sustained moving forward.

We did this last season and found a few players that were really great down the stretch -- the names Hunter Renfroe and Jorge Soler come to mind! As with those two cases, it's much more interesting when the strikeout rate improvers also hit the ball with authority, so we will keep this in mind.

I'll highlight the most interesting names I have found, and then give you the full data table at the end. I have restricted this to only hitters that have at least 100 plate appearances in both samples (the halfway point of the season conveniently right now sits at May 31st, so we're comparing April and May to June and July).

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Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics

Split K%
Apr-May 26.7%
Jun-Jul 15.8%

Season line: .245/.315/.429, 11 HR, 10.9% Brl%, 21.5% K%
Since June 1st: .296/.359/.486, 6 HR, 12.9% Brl%, 15.6% K%

He is a guy that could get moved at the trade deadline, which would be huge for his fantasy value given that he hits in one of the worst lineups in the league in a tough ballpark.

He would be upgrading in everything (except maybe where he hits in the lineup) with a trade. He has long shown us the ability to hit the long ball, and that's been happening a lot over the last two months as he's cut down his strikeout rate. Check out Murphy if you need a catcher.

 

Jesus Sanchez, Miami Marlins

Split K%
Apr-May 31.4%
Jun-Jul 21.5%

We saw Sanchez come out of the gate with a reduced strikeout rate and got pretty excited for him early on this season. Those gains didn't stick around as his K% eventually ended up above 30% again. However, since June 3rd, the K% has been below 30% and it continues to fall:

 

 

The problem we have here is that his barrel rate has been falling with it. This may be a conscious effort to strike out less, which could mean he's been swinging the bat less quickly on purpose to make more contact:


 

It's been a pretty bad year for Sanchez, and in this case, I don't see the gains in K% really helping him. He actually has a lower SLG in this second half with the lower K% (.395 vs. .365), so we can probably leave Sanchez alone for now - but keep an eye on him moving forward because he is a young, very talented hitter.

 

Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks

Split K%
Apr-May 20.1%
Jun-Jul 11.6%

This mainly has to do with the bad April he put up, but if we draw the line down the middle, we see that Ketel had a .404 SLG over his first 189 PAs, and now over the last 164, he has a huge .522 mark. The 9.2% barrel rate and 82.3% contact% are great marks to go with the insanely low 11.6% K%.

He's been a fantasy stud since June and the good times will probably keep going. Hold on tight to Marte if you roster him, and throw out some buy-high offers on him if you don't.

 

Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers

Split K%
Apr-May 24.0%
Jun-Jul 16.1%

Rowdy didn't have much of a problem with the strikeout over the first two months, as you can see the decent 24% rate there. He pounded 10 homers in 175 PAs in that sample with a .500 SLG and a 15% barrel rate.

Over his last 180 plate appearances, he's lowered the strikeout rate to 16%, however, like Sanchez, everything else has gotten worse. He's hit just eight homers with a .219 batting average, a .406 SLG, and a 9.8% barrel rate.

His ground-ball rate has recently crossed 40%, and the hard-hit rate has also come down to a near season-low 44% right now. The 16% K% is encouraging for a guy of this stature (the raw power isn't in question), but the swing path doesn't seem to be working too well right now.

Rowdy might be a good guy to jump on if someone in your league drops him, but I think the best days of his season might be behind us.

 

Patrick Wisdom, Chicago Cubs

Split K%
Apr-May 38.3%
Jun-Jul 31.0%

Yes, it's pretty easy to improve your strikeout rate when it's currently sitting at 38%. But give credit where credit is due - Wisdom has done it.

He is yet another guy that hasn't directly gained in the box score due to the lower strikeout rate, with just seven homers over his last 209 plate appearances while slashing .220/.335/.407, but we know this guy has massive raw power and some stolen base ability too - so any strikeout rate near or below 30% makes him a fantasy asset.

Wisdom is what Wisdom is, a guy that will go insanely, insanely cold for stretches - but also a guy who can win you a week by himself. I'm taking the 31% K% since June 1st as a positive sign, and I might be willing to start him in leagues where I have a decent batting average core.

 

Ji-Man Choi, Tampa Bay Rays

Split K%
Apr-May 32.5%
Jun-Jul 24.5%

Choi is having the best season of his career with a .266/.370/.428 line, but he's still hardly rostered. He's not quite an everyday player for the Rays, and the .428 SLG leaves a lot to be desired (he has hit just seven homers this season). He also doesn't steal any bases, so he's a borderline fantasy asset at best.

That said, the strikeout rate gains are encouraging, and he's a pretty interesting hitter for deep leagues - and a pretty good guy to stream in against righties (career 129 wRC+ against RHP).

Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

Split K%
Apr-May 30.2%
Jun-Jul 23.4%

On April 24th, Swanson sat with a 40.6% K% and was dropped in plenty of fantasy leagues. All he's done since then is hit .311/.366/.503 with 15 homers in 347 plate appearances, being one of the most valuable fantasy bats in the game.

That elite production has followed the strikeout rate gains, and his 23.4% K% since June 1st is right there at league average while his power production is well above.

He has been promoted to the top of the Braves lineup and the counting stats are coming in bunches. Congrats to you if you acquired Swanson for cheap this year.

Here is the full interactive data table, it shows all hitters with 100 plate appearances in both samples, and it shows everybody. You can search or sort your heart out, enjoy!

 



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