Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!


Receive free daily analysis


Already have an account? Log In


Forgot Password


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
News and Alerts

Failure to Launch: Decreasing Launch Angles and Home Runs for Fantasy Baseball

Once the toast of advanced stats in the baseball universe, average launch angle’s prominence as a performance predictor has taken a step back to other power-focused metrics such as barrel rate and max exit velocity.

Perhaps this is because the “launch angle revolution” from a few years ago turned out to be more of a “juiced ball revolution” -- but regardless of the reason, launch angle is cited less in a player context and more in an individual outcome, such as a home run.

Television broadcasts are quick on the trigger with the Statcast anatomy of a batted ball, but let’s instead look at launch angle from a player perspective.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Launch Angle Fallers

I took every hitter who registered at least 100 batted ball events (BBE) between 2020-2021 and compared their launch angle changes from one season to another. 100 BBE was used because the qualifying cut-off in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season was 96 BBE. Below are the 10 players who lost the most air on their launch angle:

Team Name 2020 LA 2021 LA Difference
COL Raimel Tapia 1.8 -4.4 6.2
OAK Mark Canha 19.4 13.5 5.9
MIN Max Kepler 21.9 16.3 5.6
PHI Jean Segura 11.2 5.8 5.4
PIT Erik González 5.3 0.1 5.2
ATL Freddie Freeman 17.2 12 5.2
CLE José Ramírez 23.2 18.3 4.9
SFG Donovan Solano 15.5 11 4.5
MIL Christian Yelich 7.1 2.8 4.3

Some are studs we wouldn’t expect to be on this list, and there should be little concern for the production of players like Freddie Freeman or Jose Ramirez. We should be more interested in the fantasy-relevant players who are in flux or saw big changes or downward trends last season, which is why I pulled three players from this list to put under the microscope to see whether we should be worried about their production going forward.

The average draft position (ADP) is taken from NFBC ADP and is accurate as of 1/30/2022.


Ramiel Tapia, Colorado Rockies

ADP 270

2020 Average Launch Angle: 1.8 degrees
2021 Average Launch Angle: -4.4 degrees
Difference: 6.2 degrees

The biggest mover among all hitters with at least 100 batted ball events (BBE), Tapia drove the ball directly into the dirt last season. His -4.4-degree average launch angle was the lowest among hitters in the sample by over four degrees, and he was the only player to average a negative average launch angle. The only other player to come close was Pittsburgh’s Erik Gonzalez, who had a 0.1-degree average launch angle.

Launch angle has been a downward trend for Tapia, as you can see in the image below; however, he’s quite literally plummeted to new depths in 2021. A -4.4-degree average launch angle is the lowest any player has posted since the metric has been recorded, with Luis Garcia (-3.6-degree average launch angle in 2020) being the only player to come relatively close. Tapia also had an insane 67.4% groundball rate and a 4.1 GB/FB ratio last season, making him one of the only four players to ever qualify for the batting title with a GB/FB ratio over four.

Tapia's Launch Angle has cratered over the years

What makes Tapia’s falling launch angle especially frustrating is that he plays in Colorado. His entire fantasy relevancy hinges on his home ballpark and his speed (20 steals in 2021). The thin air and spacious outfield is what makes Coors Field so conducive to offense, but that effect is significantly diminished when a player sends the ball directly into the ground. It doesn’t matter how thin the air is as the ball rolls into the waiting glove of an infielder.

Nobody expects Tapia to pop 30 home runs, nor do we draft him for power, but he’s posted an ISO below .100 in each of the last two seasons as a corner outfielder playing in Colorado. If the Rockies had anyone better, one would have to assume Tapia’s job would be in jeopardy, but as it stands, he’s penciled in as their everyday right fielder and leadoff hitter. That being said, if two of Sam Hilliard, Connor Joe, Yonathan Daza, or Ryan Vilade take a step forward, Tapia could face a real threat to his playing time.

As gross as Tapia’s underlying skills are, he deserves to be drafted in most roto leagues for his speed and home ballpark. If he were on any other team, he’d be going around pick 450, but as it stands, he’s going around pick 275 in NFBC leagues. Going immediately after Tapia is his teammate Garrett Hampson, who offers even more speed upside and has multi-positional eligibility between second base and the outfield. No reason to draft Tapia when one could have Hampson instead. You could also gamble on a bounce back from the likes of Mike Yastrzemski, Wil Myers, Max Kepler, Kyle Lewis, or Brandon Nimmo for the same price, all of whom appear to be more talented players than Tapia.


Max Kepler, Minnesotta Twins

ADP: 280

2020 Average LA: 21.9 degrees
2021 Average LA: 16.3 degrees
Difference: 5.6 degrees

Speaking of Max Kepler, he’s another of the biggest fallers in terms of launch angle. Unlike Tapia, Kepler keeps the ball above the earth’s lithosphere, and a 16.3-degree average launch angle puts him in a rather favorable zone for base hits and power. In fact, when reviewing Kepler’s batted ball profile, it’s a wonder why his 2021 season went so poorly. He was above average in every Statcast metric, including launch angle, yet he puttered to the finished line with a .211/.306/.413 triple slash and 19 home runs. Hardly worthy of mixed-league relevance, even in an increasingly shallow outfield pool. On paper, Kepler should be a lot better, and Statcast thinks so too, as Kepler had a .255 xBA and .452 xSLG, both about 40 points higher than his actual numbers. Could this drop in launch angle be to blame?

As much as it would make for easy detective work (my wife does have dinner waiting, and she doesn’t like when I come home late), it would be hard to pin it all on the launch angle. For starters, Kepler’s 2021 batted ball profile is closer to his standout 2019 season, where he crushed 36 home runs with a .519 SLG. Therefore, we can’t blame his struggles on a launch angle decrease, and in fact, Kepler might be better off living in the 16-19-degree range. Players who average over 20 degrees on their launch angle tend to be on extreme ends of the spectrum, and thus produce extreme results. A few examples would be Adam Duvall and Joey Gallo, both of whom possess incredible power, but are sinkholes in the batting average department and are prone to immense slumps.

Kepler’s biggest problem is that he’s extremely shiftable. He faced a non-traditional defensive alignment on 91.4% of his plate appearances, which was 10th-most in the majors. He was fourth-most among full-time players (min. 400), and second-most among true blue lefties behind Joey Gallo. His 42.5% pull rate last season was technically a career-low by 0.6%, but still on the higher side for a left-handed batter in the modern game. Kepler possesses a lot of the physical tools, and if he were playing 25 years ago, he’d be a monster. Probably because he’d be juiced out of his mind, but he’d also face approximately zero shifts. Kepler certainly has the athleticism and talent to be a producer, but what would it take for a bounce-back?

For Kepler, it might come down to playing into the shift and accepting it rather than trying to spray the ball around the field. He had a career-high 53.4% pull rate in 2019, yet he also had a career-high .252 AVG. His pull rate dropped by 9% the following year in 2020, and by two more percentage points in 2021. Between that and his launch angle fluctuations, this screams of trying too hard and making too many tweaks to get around this shift. Granted, he only saw shifts 72.1% of the time in 2019 versus his 91.4% in 2021, but perhaps Kepler needs to get back to basics and pull the ball more. Announcers, pundits, and fans often wonder why a player doesn’t simply hit the ball the other way when facing a shift, and the answer is, it’s simply not that easy. MLB athletes are already the elite of the elite, and only a small fraction of that pool can aim their hits with such precision while still producing quality contact.

In 2019, Kepler made an adjustment that worked by raising his launch angle and hitting more flyballs, and it seems to me that he’s trying to replicate that magic with more and more tweaks. The talent is in this bat, and if his problems truly are mechanical, he’s a nice late-round lottery ticket in standard leagues. He’s got guaranteed playing time on a team with an underrated lineup when everyone is healthy. I’d certainly take him over Raimel Tapia, and ahead of all the other names listed previously in this piece as Kepler has the most stable role and health history of that group.


Christian Yelich , Milwaukee Brewers

ADP: 101

2020 Average LA: 7.1 degrees
2021 Average LA: 2.8 degrees
Difference: 4.3 degrees

Perhaps the most intriguing and frustrating player of the bunch, Yelich has watched his launch angle (and production) whittle down year-over-year, with 2021 presenting a new low. Yelich hit just .248 with nine home runs and nine steals. His supreme plate discipline gave him a .362 OBP, so he had some value in leagues that value walks; however, it was objectively the worst season of his career, including his days in Miami. His power production evaporated, as Yelich posted a meager .125 ISO and .373 SLG last season, his ISO the lowest it had been since 2015, and his SLG a career-low.

The good news for Yelich believers is that he still pulverized the ball, posting a 91 MPH average exit velocity and an air-cracking 114.9 MPH max exit velocity. Those aren’t numbers we typically see from a single-digit home run player. The power still lurks in this bat, but can Yelich harness it again, and might launch angle be the key to unlocking past success?

Yelich is one of those rare players whose major league success can be tracked almost perfectly by his launch angle. Yelich posted an average launch angle of 0-degrees in 2015--the first year the metric was tracked—and his launch angle had risen along with his production every season up to 2020, where Yelich saw his first-ever decline. At 2.8-degrees, Yelich was back to pre-Milwaukee days in the groundball department, and his 54.4% groundball rate was ninth-highest in the majors last year (min. 400 PA).

Exacerbating Yelich’s bad luck was a stark and unforeseen drop in the HR/FB ratio. Yelich had been on the fortunate side between 2018-20 with an HR/FB ratio of 32% or higher in each of those seasons. Even so, a drop to 13.2% seems like an overcorrection. 13.2% isn’t too far off from league average, but power hitters with high groundball rates tend to have higher HR/FB ratios than most players. For example, let’s say you have a flyball-focused slugger and groundball heavy power hitter, both of whom hit 40 home runs in 500 batted ball events (BBE) in a given year. Even though they had the exact same opportunities and outcomes, the flyball-focused slugger will have a much lower HR/FB ratio than the groundball hitter because it took the former so many more flyballs to achieve his outcomes. That’s why a 32% HR/FB ratio isn’t so crazy for someone like Yelich, and he has plenty of room for positive regression next year.

The real mystery behind Yelich is health. Yelich is aware that he needs to elevate the ball more often to find past success, but the question is whether he is physically able. Chronic back issues shelved him on more than one occasion, and a bad back could explain a change in swing path. Yelich and Cody Bellinger are inextricably linked this draft season, as both are recent MVPs coming off dismal seasons marred by nagging and somewhat vague injury situations.

If one was to gamble on either Yelich or Bellinger for 2022, Yelich seems like the better choice for redraft leagues. He still pulverized the ball, his plate discipline remained strong, and he’s practically guaranteed a prominent role in the batting order regardless of slumps. Bellinger’s batted ball profile cratered much farther than Yelich’s last season, and the Dodgers can better afford to relegate Bellinger to the bottom of the lineup or out of a full-time role altogether if he can’t figure things out. Of course, if Bellinger is healthy, his issues could disappear too, but there’s more to like about what Yelich did last year than Bellinger. Yelich is an extremely high-risk, high-reward option around pick 100, and it’s a gamble this writer is willing to take in at least a few leagues. It would be tough to be on the outside looking in at a Yelich renaissance knowing he might be just one adjustment away.

Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy baseball app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, sleepers, prospects & more. All free!

More Fantasy Baseball Advice


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
News and Alerts


Luis Arraez21 mins ago

Suffers Injury On Saturday
DeAndre Hopkins1 hour ago

Expected To Play In Week 3
DK Metcalf1 hour ago

Active For Week 3
Ryan Preece3 hours ago

Will Start 25th At Texas
Chase Briscoe3 hours ago

The Top Value Play On Sunday At Texas
Ricky Stenhouse Jr3 hours ago

.'s Struggles At Texas To Continue This Weekend
Joey Logano4 hours ago

Makes For A Nice Bounce Back Play At Texas
NASCAR4 hours ago

Bubba Wallace Wins Pole At Texas Motor Speedway
Ryan Blaney5 hours ago

A Core Play At Texas
Harrison Burton5 hours ago

Still On Wood Brothers Hot Seat
Austin Cindric5 hours ago

Keeps On Struggling In Qualifying
Daniel Suarez5 hours ago

Thrives In Texas Qualifying Saturday
Jamaal Williams5 hours ago

Placed On Injured Reserve
Chase Elliott5 hours ago

Starts From Near The Back At Texas
Ross Chastain5 hours ago

Offers Less Upside At Texas
Jaylen Waddle5 hours ago

Won’t Play In Week 3 Against Denver
Ty Gibbs5 hours ago

Poised To Continue Strong Run In Texas
Aric Almirola5 hours ago

Tops Stewart-Haas In Qualifying
NASCAR6 hours ago

A.J. Allmendinger Surprises With Sixth In Qualifying
Kyle Larson6 hours ago

Starts 11th On Sunday Afternoon
Kyle Busch6 hours ago

Looks To Rebound On Sunday
Martin Truex Jr6 hours ago

. Hoping For Better Fortunes In Texas
Kenley Jansen9 hours ago

Returns From COVID List
Mike Trout10 hours ago

Hits Off Tee
Deon Jackson11 hours ago

Colts Release Deon Jackson
Yordan Alvarez11 hours ago

Doubles In A Run, Managing Elbow Issue
MLB11 hours ago

Diamondbacks-Yankees Postponed Saturday Due To Rain
MLB11 hours ago

Braves-Nationals Postponed On Saturday
Nolan Arenado11 hours ago

Cardinals Place Nolan Arenado On Injured List
Sandy Alcantara12 hours ago

Suffers Setback After Rehab Start
Clayton Keller12 hours ago

Ready To Become 100-Point Player
Nicklas Backstrom12 hours ago

Feeling At 100 Percent
Oliver Ekman-Larsson12 hours ago

Set To Get Look On Top Power-Play Unit
Carter Verhaeghe12 hours ago

Battling Muscle Tightness
Nikolaj Ehlers13 hours ago

Struggling With Neck Spasms
Logan Cooley13 hours ago

Scores Wonder Goal In Preseason Opener
13 hours ago

Chauncey Billups Backs Scoot Henderson To Become A "Star"
Josh Green13 hours ago

Aims To Become A Bigger Defensive Presence
Josh Hart13 hours ago

Set To See Minutes As Power Forward
Cade Cunningham13 hours ago

Jaden Ivey Believes Cade Cunningham Will "Shock" People
DeMar DeRozan14 hours ago

Ready To Shoot More Threes
Marcus Morris14 hours ago

Sr. Set To Remain A Starter In New Season
DK Metcalf17 hours ago

Returns To Practice On Friday
Brandon Lowe21 hours ago

Finished For 2023 With Knee Fracture
Salvador Perez21 hours ago

On Track For Return On Sunday
Andy Dalton21 hours ago

To Start In Week 3
Triston McKenzie21 hours ago

Set To Return For Sunday's Start
Jaden McDaniels22 hours ago

Timberwolves Desire To Extend Jaden McDaniels
Boston Celtics23 hours ago

Celtics Signing Lamar Stevens As Bench Piece
Frank Ntilikina23 hours ago

Could Be Limited At Training Camp
Jayson Tatum23 hours ago

To Play More Point Guard In 2023-24?
Randy Arozarena1 day ago

Leaves With Right Quad Tightness
Isiah Pacheco1 day ago

Picks Up Questionable Tag
Brandin Cooks1 day ago

Set To Return In Week 3
David Montgomery1 day ago

Doubtful To Play In Week 3
Ha-Seong Kim1 day ago

Returns To The Lineup
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.1 day ago

Rejoins The Lineup On Friday
Zay Jones1 day ago

Ruled Out For Sunday Against Houston
Luis Arraez1 day ago

Back In The Lineup On Friday
Puka Nacua1 day ago

Back At Practice On Friday
Rasmus Dahlin1 day ago

Sabres Aiming To Lock Up Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power Long-Term
Joe Burrow1 day ago

Limited In Friday's Practice
Connor Hellebuyck1 day ago

Focused On The Jets In 2023-24
DK Metcalf1 day ago

Questionable For Week 3
Trevor Zegras1 day ago

Jamie Drysdale Absent On First Day Of Camp
Jaylen Waddle1 day ago

Questionable With Concussion
Andrew Cogliano1 day ago

Hoping To Be Cleared For Season Opener
Amon-Ra St. Brown1 day ago

Listed As Questionable For Week 3
Alexander Barabanov1 day ago

Prefers To Remain In San Jose
Austin Ekeler1 day ago

Ruled Out Again
Mattias Ekholm1 day ago

Roughly A Week Away From Skating
Matt McLain1 day ago

On Track To Return Tuesday
Orion Kerkering1 day ago

Phillies Promote Prospect Orion Kerkering Friday
Michael Kopech1 day ago

Undergoes Surgery, Placed On Injured List
Luke Raley1 day ago

Placed On 10-Day Injured List
Jamaal Williams1 day ago

Ruled Out With Hamstring Issue
Royce Lewis1 day ago

Goes On Injured List
DeAndre Hopkins1 day ago

Listed As Questionable Against Browns
Christian Yelich1 day ago

Back In Brewers Lineup
Amari Cooper1 day ago

No Longer On The Injury Report
Deebo Samuel1 day ago

Considered Day-To-Day With Rib Injury
Damian Lillard1 day ago

Suns Considered Dark Horse To Facilitate Damian Lillard Deal
Donovan Mitchell1 day ago

Not Expected To Sign An Extension Next Summer
1 day ago

Amen Thompson Is Ready To Go For Training Camp
Buddy Hield1 day ago

Mavericks, 76ers, Bucks Have Shown Interest In Buddy Hield
Kelly Oubre1 day ago

Jr. Expected To Sign With 76ers
Mateusz Gamrot1 day ago

Seeking Victory In Seventh UFC Appearance
Rafael Fiziev1 day ago

Looks To Get Back In Win Column
Michelle Waterson-Gomez1 day ago

In Dire Need Of Victory
AJ Fletcher1 day ago

Set To Showcase On Main Card
Bryan Battle1 day ago

A Favorite At UFC Vegas 79
Evgeny Kuznetsov2 days ago

Sees New Head Coach As "Perfect Match"
Mark Scheifele2 days ago

Open To Staying With Jets
BUF2 days ago

Buffalo Sabres Reportedly Eyeing Patrick Kane
Alexander Romanov2 days ago

100 Percent For Training Camp
Jack Quinn2 days ago

Not Close To Returning
Christian Dvorak2 days ago

Out Until November
Jusuf Nurkic2 days ago

Heading To Phoenix?
Damian Lillard2 days ago

Could Be Moved Before Training Camp
Ricardo Ramos2 days ago

Set For First Fight In Over A Year
Charles Jourdain2 days ago

Hoping To Bring UFC Record Above .500
Marina Rodriguez2 days ago

Gets A Rematch At UFC Vegas 79
Dan Ige2 days ago

Enters UFC Vegas 79 On Two-Fight Win Streak
Bryce Mitchell2 days ago

Looking To Bounce Back After First Career Loss
VEG2 days ago

Daniil Miromanov Ruled Out Long-Term
Chris Wideman2 days ago

Out Indefinitely With Back Injury
Mason McTavish2 days ago

Nursing An Upper-Body Injury
Brooklyn Nets3 days ago

Jordan Hall Signs With Nets
Xavier Moon3 days ago

Signs With Clippers
Aleksej Pokusevski3 days ago

To Miss Next Six Weeks
Buddy Hield3 days ago

Pacers Attempting To Trade Buddy Hield
Alexa Grasso5 days ago

Retains Flyweight Title With Split Draw
Valentina Shevchenko5 days ago

Unsuccessful In Bid To Recapture Title
Jack Della Maddalena5 days ago

Pulls Out Close Decision Win At Noche UFC
Kevin Holland5 days ago

Takes Close Loss In Split-Decision Showing
Raul Rosas Jr.6 days ago

Knocks Out Terrance Mitchell In 54 Seconds