Welcome, fellow RotoBallers! We now have a decent enough sample size in the early MLB season to look at some key offensive trends. Among those trends we will follow each week is contact rate. A sudden increase or decrease in contact rate could signal the beginning of an extended hot or cold streak.
Each week we will look at a few players on each side and compare their previous week's contact rate with their actual performance. We do this because we care about you, the fantasy player.
Top contact rate risers and fallers for each week can be found using RotoBaller's exclusive tool, which is part of our Premium MLB package.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Contact Rate Risers
Jose Peraza (2B/SS, CIN) 97.1% Contact% - last seven days
Keon Broxton aside, Peraza was my favorite breakout candidate of the preseason. In a limited sample of 241 at-bats, he showed elite speed and hit .324 as a rookie. He got off to a slow start, hitting .227 in the first week, but put together a six-game hit streak. A pair of 0-fers dropped his average again, but his .250 BABIP suggests that he's getting unlucky despite such a high contact rate. Peraza has the wheels to turn some slow rollers into infield base hits and is bound to benefit from that high contact rate before long. It also doesn't hurt that he finally took his first walk of the season on Tuesday night...
J.J. Hardy (SS, BAL) 96.3% Contact% - last seven days
The pop seems to have left Hardy's bat a couple of years ago. After three straight seasons hitting over 20 home runs from 2011-2013, he has stayed in single digits each of the last three. He isn't turning into much of a contact hitter, however, a la Mark Reynolds. His recent contact surge isn't accompanied by a high on-base percentage either. He has two hits in his last 21 at-bats with just one walk. It turns out Hardy has simply found a way to inflate his infield fly ball rate to 27.3%, which is a very bad sign. Hardy is proof that all contact isn't good contact - ignore as usual in fantasy leagues.
Robbie Grossman (OF, MIN) 90.6% Contact% - last seven days
Grossman is a case where the increased contact rate is supported by strong plate discipline all around. He has an 11/6 BB/K rate and is drawing a walk in one-fourth of his plate appearances. In terms of average, his .423 BABIP is bound to come down to earth, but there are some positive signs early on that Grossman could play out as a strong value play in leagues that roster four or five outfielders. He has bounced around four different organizations over the years, but at 27 years old, he is still in his prime and could be figuring things out finally.
Nori Aoki (OF, HOU) 93.3% Contact% - last seven days
Aoki is a surprising name here, mainly because it's surprising that he's even playing this much. The Astros spent big bucks to solidify their lineup, part of which included signing Josh Reddick to a $52 million contract. Instead it has been Aoki, signed for the bargain price of $5.5 million on a one-year deal, who has been more productive fantasy-wise. Aoki is known for his glove, but also has a .353 OBP in his Major League career. At age 35, his days of 20+ SB are over, but he is proving he can still put up good averages. It may be noteworthy for owners in NL-only leagues that he put together three consecutive two-hit games, including a homer and four RBI last week.
Contact Rate Fallers
Odubel Herrera (OF, PHI) 62.5% Contact% - last seven days
Herrera has been slow to help fantasy owners so far with just one homer and one steal on the year. His slash line looks pretty good so far, other than the lack of power (.275/.383/.350). He's walking on nearly 15% of his plate appearances, which should lead to more stolen base attempts than it has. Regardless, Herrera's contact rate is dipping to the point that he is in the bottom 20 among all qualified hitters this past week. An upcoming series against the Mets' power pitchers won't help either. If you own him in a 10 or 12-team league, don't be bashful about sitting him out for a spell - I know I am.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI) 65.9% Contact% - last seven days
Goldy started out strong with two HR, eight RBI, and two SB in the first seven games, but in the last seven he's got no extra base hits, one run and one run batted in. He's drawing walks at a good clip, giving him a wOBA of .376 on the season but a couple of hitless nights have dragged his numbers down. He's had a couple more swings and misses lately, but the contact he is making is still fine overall. Let's face it, you have no business being concerned about him in the first place, so nothing to see here. Move along.
Yasmani Grandal (C, LAD) 66.7% Contact% - last seven days
For the early season, Grandal's contact rate on swings sits just below league average at 78.9%, but it's taken a dive recently. Grandal has struck out in seven of his last 17 AB with one extra base hit and no RBI in the last week. He had the day off on Tuesday, so maybe a bit of rest will get him back on track. A three-game slate in the hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field could mark a turning point, so no need to take him out of your lineup, especially at such a thin position as catcher.
Wil Myers (1B, SD) 69.6% Contact% - last seven days
Myers has started the season swinging away like a bat out of hell. He is bound to cool off at some point, but it hasn't happened just yet. As of this writing, Myers is still riding an eight-game hitting streak and slashing .368/.383/.684. A three-strikeout game against the Braves on Monday is the main culprit for his declining contact percentage, but Myers' lack of plate discipline hasn't caught up to him in a way that affects his fantasy value. Aside from his impressive average, Myers has driven in nine and scored 10 times. It might be concerning that he's only drawn one walk in 14 games, compared to 12 K. Hey, if you're complaining about the way he's producing, you don't deserve to have him on your squad in the first place.