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Hitters to Be Concerned About, Excited For: Fantasy Baseball Statcast Analysis (Week 5)

Nolan Arenado - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

After months of research dedicated to finding the best fantasy baseball values, breakouts, and busts, somehow we are almost 15% through the MLB season. The injuries have been plentiful (unfortunately), the Pittsburgh Pirates are once again dominant in April, and the Guardians are the best team in baseball, as expected.

One of the most important aspects of fantasy research is predicated on identifying skills rather than just seeing how many home runs, RBI, runs, or stolen bases one had. Baseball Savant has provided the masses with incredible statistics to identify strong batted ball profiles, including barrel percentage, average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, etc.

As we approach the end of the month, it's time to look at some of the players that have caught my eye utilizing Statcast data.

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

Three Fantasy Baseball Hitters to be Worried About

Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

With over 30 home runs and 100 RBI in seven of his last eight seasons (not including the 2020 Covid season), Arenado has been one of the most consistent players in the league. Last season, he dealt with back issues, which caused him to put up his lowest HR and RBI totals since 2014. Coming into this season after resting up and recovering over the offseason, I was hoping to see improvement in his batted-ball metrics, but the results have been alarmingly bad.

So far this season, Arenado has the lowest hard-hit percentage of his career (32.4%), the lowest launch angle of his career (14.7 degrees), the lowest expected slugging (XSLG) of his career (.360), the lowest average exit velocity of his career (86.1 mph), and just one (one!!!) barrel so far this season. In simpler terms, he isn't lifting the ball high enough or hitting the ball hard enough.

Arenado's supreme fielding will keep him in the lineup, but fantasy managers need to monitor his Statcast data to determine whether he will be a legitimate fantasy asset this season.

Concern Level - 8/10

 

George Springer, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

The 34-year-old veteran outfielder made a significant change in approach last season. In 2021 and 2022, after Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, he had a contact percentage of 74.4%, a hard-hit percentage of 42%, a launch angle of 16.5 degrees, and a barrel percentage of 11.9%.

In 2023, Springer seemed to focus primarily on making contact more consistently as he raised his contact percentage to 80% (the highest of his career), decreased his barrel percentage to 7.7% (the lowest of his career), decreased his average exit velocity to 88.3 mph (the lowest of his career), and decreased his launch angle by over four degrees to 12 degrees.

So far this season, Springer has continued to utilize this approach as his contact percentage is at 80.1%, his hard hit percentage went down to 31.3% (the lowest of his career by a wide margin), and his barrel percentage dropped again to 4.5%. Springer's average exit velocity decreased to 86.1 mph, and his launch angle dropped to 10.8 degrees.

While Springer put up a 25/20 season last season despite his power metrics going down, it's alarming to see his batted-ball profile continue decreasing in power. Unlike Arenado, Springer still has speed that can provide value for fantasy purposes despite some of his power declines. However, with speed no longer as much of a commodity in fantasy, Springer's value is quickly dwindling.

Concern Level - 7/10

 

Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Detroit Tigers

Coming into this season, Torkelson looked like he was on the verge of becoming one of the best first basemen in the league. With 31 HRs and 94 RBI in just his second season in the league, Torkelson was living up to his high potential as one of the former top prospects in baseball and the No. 1 overall pick of the MLB draft in 2020.

So far this season, it hasn't looked good.

Spencer Torkelson Statcast Data

While Torkelson's Statcast data has not looked pretty, there are several promising details to point out. He has significantly decreased his strikeout percentage by almost six percentage points to 19.1%, has increased his walk percentage to 10.6%, and has precedence for starting slowly.

Last season, Torkelson had two HRs in each of the first two months of the season but hit 16 HRs in the last two months of the season. His hard-hit percentage in the first month of last season was almost 12% worse than it was toward the middle of the season.

Torkelson looks like a slow starter and not someone I'm as worried about, given some of the improvements he's made, his age, and his history of starting slowly.

Concern Level - 3/10

Two Fantasy Baseball Players to be Excited About

Jake Cronenworth, 1B, San Diego Padres

For a few seasons, Cronenworth's value came from accumulating runs and RBI while providing serviceable power. Last season was his worst as a pro, accumulating only 54 runs, 48 RBI, 10 HRs, and batting .229.

One of the most satisfying images to look at is a fully red Statcast page. I mean, look at this:

Jake Cronenworth Statcast Page

The most significant improvements so far this season are his career-high barrel percentage of 14.3%, his career-high average exit velocity of 90.2 mph, and his career-high hard-hit percentage of 44.4%. With his improved batted-ball profile and his batting third in between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, Cronenworth is in a position to put up tremendous value accumulating runs, RBI, and possibly more power than ever before.

Excitement Level - 8/10

 

Davis Schneider, 2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

I'm not going to lie, I've been preaching Schneider's value since before the season and aimed to get him in every draft I could. The Cavan Biggio experiment can only last so long, especially with the skills that Schneider has displayed.

What makes him so valuable? He has produced an elite barrel percentage in both last season (17.8%) and this season (17.2%). So far, he has increased his average exit velocity from 89.5 mph to 91.3 mph and his hard-hit percentage from 38.4% to 44.8%.

While this article is all about changes in Statcast data to be aware of, Schneider's mention is all about his continued Statcast dominance with a chance for fantasy players to get in early on him.

Excitement Level - The Messiah is Here, 10/10



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