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Power Hitting Risers & Fallers for Week 23 - Buy or Sell?

Crunch time it is as September has arrived. Once again, that means unpredictable playing time, and the need for quick roster turnover where required. Fortunately, one can use the standings and the degree to which a player is already a known quantity to try and predict the playing time. As for roster turnover, one thing to look at is what parks teams are playing at as the season winds down.

Weekly reminders: EVAB (pronounced ee-vab or ev-ab) is simply exit velocity on "air balls" - meaning fly balls and line drives, as shown on Statcast. Isolated power -- ISO -- is slugging percentage minus batting average, and so xISO is xSLG minus xBA. The Statcast Search feature is used to obtain partial season Statcast numbers. The league-wide ratio of barrels to home runs is historically around 67-70%.

Now, for this week's risers and fallers. Stats are through September 2 unless otherwise noted.

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Power Risers

Starlin Castro (2B, MIA)

Last 14 days: 5 HR, .333/.347/.688, .611 xSLG, .353 xBA (.258 xISO), 90.8 mph at 12.7 degrees, 5 barrels, 49 PA.

Season Total: 16 HR, .267/.290/.407, .410 xSLG, .269 xBA (.141 xISO), 88.8 mph at 10.0 degrees (91.6 mph EVAB), 25 barrels, 563 PA.

This has been an interesting bit of production for Castro, but when you look at the full season output, it's definitely just a hot streak. That said, his contact quality has justified the run.

Unfortunately, there isn't much to stream here, because the Marlins are about to play a seven-game homestand followed by three games in San Francisco. Those are not the places to stream a hitter. Castro is also the type of known, mediocre quantity of player who should see his starts wind down as the season concludes, but who knows with Miami.

Overall, look elsewhere for rest-of-season power.


Anthony Santander (OF, BAL)

Last 14 days: 5 HR, .354/.380/.750, .572 xSLG, .303 xBA (.269 xISO), 90.8 mph at 19.1 degrees, 6 barrels, 50 PA.

Season Total: 16 HR, .293/.329/.520, .461 xSLG , .275 xBA (.186 xISO), 89.7 mph at 14.4 degrees (92.3 mph EVAB), 19 barrels, 326 PA.

Santander has made decent contact this season, albeit not really enough to fully justify his breakout. The same can be said for his last two weeks. That said, he's become an interesting 2020 player for the Orioles. Is he an interesting rest-of-2019 fantasy option for you?

Baltimore has a somewhat favorable schedule; they don't play at a single obvious pitcher's park the rest of the year except perhaps a four-game set at Detroit from September 13-16. He should be an everyday player the rest of the way, as he has been of late. And the current run, while not .750-SLG good, has been plenty good enough. Consider that he has more barrels than home runs in this stretch. Most risers lately haven't been able to say that.

So yeah, if he's still available, give this a shot and see what happens.


Jake Cave (OF, MIN)

Last 14 days: 5 HR, .263/.333/.711, .556 xSLG, .231 xBA (.325 xISO), 89.0 mph at 13.1 degrees, 4 barrels, 42 PA.

Season Total: 7 HR, .261/.352/.458, .431 xSLG , .257 xBA (.174 xISO), 90.6 mph at 6.8 degrees (96.7 mph EVAB), 10 barrels, 176 PA.

Cave's EVAB in his shortened season is interesting, but the launch angle makes it less so. He's gotten the ball more up in the air of late, which has led to a large expected ISO -- Cave isn't a batting average source, but having that .325 xISO means that his power has been pretty solid lately.

For Cave, unlike most others, the past two weeks represent about one-quarter of his season to date. His first three-quarters of 2019 didn't go great. Going back to his 2018 season, however, he looked much more like these past two weeks, with a .225 xISO (.257 xBA, .482 xSLG) to back up a .261/.352/.458 line.

Put Cave in the "interesting" camp, but more for 2020. Minnesota doesn't have a super favorable remaining schedule for hitting environments, although they do play the rest of the mostly-mediocre AL Central at least once. He may be worth a shot in leagues in the 14-16 range in size, at least while he keeps playing.


Ronny Rodriguez (IF, DET)

Last 14 days: 5 HR, .229/.250/.563, .400 xSLG, .212 xBA (.188 xISO), 88.6 mph at 19.1 degrees, 3 barrels, 52 PA.

Season Total: 13 HR, .225/.249/.472, .421 xSLG , .216 xBA (.205 xISO), 87.2 mph at 14.2 degrees (94.2 mph EVAB), 14 barrels, 245 PA.

Mirage. Rodriguez's five home runs in the last two weeks are a mirage. It's all he's done, given the .250 OBP, and the .400 xSLG tells you it's been completely run-of-the-mill contact.

If you remember, Rodriguez began the year on a nice little run (.294/.337/.671 through May 16), but by July had been demoted to the minors. A look at his recent home runs and the launch angle may look like something has possibly clicked, but it when a hot streak features a 98 wRC+ it's best not to chase that player.

The ballparks Detroit plays at as the season winds down don't inspire confidence either. This is a pass.


Aaron Judge (OF, NYY)

Last 14 days: 7 HR, .321/.357/.774, .674 xSLG, .308 xBA (.366 xISO), 92.6 mph at 12.8 degrees, 8 barrels, 56 PA.

Season Total: 19 HR, .275/.382/.510, .559 xSLG, .285 xBA (.274 xISO), 96.1 mph at 10.8 degrees (99.2 mph EVAB), 39 barrels, 362 PA.

Welcome back, Aaron Judge, if you ever really left. When he was falling back in Week 20, he still had the power profile of a dominant power hitter. And he still hasn't caught up, with more than twice as many barrels as home runs. Of course, it would be a fallacy to think that means he'll start getting a bunch of lucky home runs to make up for it.

Judge just hits the ball so hard that even a low double-digit launch angle produces excellent average contact. A near 100-mph exit velocity on flies and liners is going to send a lot of baseballs into orbit.

Unlike our other risers, Judge is clearly on a roster in your league. Hopefully, you did not sell low.


Power Fallers

Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHW)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .273/.304/.273, .334 xSLG, .274 xBA (.060 xISO), 89.3 mph at 4.8 degrees, 0 barrels, 46 PA.

Season Total: 22 HR, .247/.296/.454, .450 xSLG, .248 xBA (.202 xISO), 90.1 mph at 8.7 degrees (95.9 mph EVAB), 27 barrels, 406 PA.

Where da launch angle at? Jimenez's the past two weeks has been almost cut in half, and the result is no barrels and no extra-base hits, let alone home runs.

That probably won't last for the whole final month, but even if it does, Jimenez has had a pretty successful rookie year as a basically league-average hitter. It's easy to get spoiled by the types who immediately succeed, but Jimenez will still be only 23 next year.

It's rare to see someone's BA and SLG as consistent with their xBA and xSLG has Jimenez's have been in 2019 as a whole. They seem to indicate that his production in September will be as uneven as the production before this month. Fortunately, he's a guaranteed everyday player, so even in standard redraft leagues you probably want to see what the upside is the last four weeks.


Trea Turner (SS, WSH)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .302/.345/.396, .442 xSLG, .296 xBA (.146 xISO), 90.3 mph at 8.6 degrees, 1 barrel, 58 PA.

Season Total: 13 HR, .295/.356/.479, .435 xSLG , .276 xBA (.169 xISO), 90.1 mph at 9.6 degrees (93.1 mph EVAB), 22 barrels, 455 PA.

Turner's contact has barely changed in the past two weeks, but the results aren't there. He's still gotten on base enough to steal four bags, but that's not what this column is concerned with.

Note the actually higher xSLG during the past two weeks than the season as a whole. Of course, the expected average has come up, and thus the expected ISO is down. It's not down a lot, however.

Turner homered 19 times in 740 PA last season; this season he'd be on pace to hit 21 home runs in that many appearances at the plate. Given the change in the ball, that makes him essentially the same hitter in both seasons. So if you're looking for bombs this September, there are better places to look. (The steals are going nowhere, however.)


Eddie Rosario (OF, MIN)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .268/.268/.293, .274 xSLG, .218 xBA (.056 xISO), 86.5 mph at 12.4 degrees, 0 barrels, 41 PA.

Season Total: 27 HR, .281/.304/.499, .468 xSLG, .265 xBA (.203 xISO), 88.8 mph at 16.3 degrees (93.4 mph EVAB), 33 barrels, 497 PA.

Rosario's last two weeks include a few days off with a hamstring issue, but nonetheless it's been some unfortunate contact of late, with every Statcast indicator in falling mode.

Because this cold streak has been because of rather than in spite of his contact, the fact that he has slightly over-performed his contact to this point in the season cannot be blamed on the recent spell. His EVAB, overall exit velocity, and home run to barrel ratio are all slightly underwhelming. On the flip side, his isolated power is about where it should be, which would imply his home run total is about right.

However, because of the potential for a nagging injury, it's harder than it should be to trust Rosario in September. With Minnesota 5 1/2 games up on Cleveland, he will continue to play when healthy, but how effectively?


Yasiel Puig (OF, CLE)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .143/.236/.204, .355 xSLG, .215 xBA (.140 xISO), 89.5 mph at 7.1 degrees, 3 barrels, 55 PA.

Season Total: 24 HR, .255/.336/.406, .451 xSLG, .259 xBA (.192 xISO), 89.6 mph at 14.6 degrees (94.0 mph EVAB), 36 barrels, 523 PA.

Puig was also a faller recently. It hasn't gotten better for either of them, results-wise. When we last checked on Puig about a month ago, there were not many positive signs in his profile, and there still are not.

However, it's not been quite as hopeless as it's looked. Most notably, there are some barrels that haven't turned into anything. The same can also be said of his full-season performance to date, with an isolated power mark about 40 points shy of what you might expect.

And so despite what is a pretty cold six weeks at this point, it's not quite time to give up on Puig's power production. As long as Cleveland is locked in a tight wild-card battle, the Indians will let their big deadline acquisition play. (Plus while his steals don't figure into power they are still fantasy-useful.) If another couple bad weeks follow, no matter what kind of Statcast numbers they derive from, it will be time to move on for the final couple weeks.


Wilson Ramos (C, NYM)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .455/.467/.545, .430 xSLG, .357 xBA (.073 xISO), 91.6 mph at -2.6 degrees, 1 barrels, PA.

Season Total: 13 HR, .298/.359/.428, .413 xSLG, .272 xBA (.141 xISO), 90.6 mph at 1.4 degrees (93.7 mph EVAB), 18 barrels, 451 PA.

Ramos has had a weird go of it lately. No power to speak of has been little issue thanks to a .500 BABIP.

There's nothing really inconsistent with Ramos' history here, however. The negative launch angle isn't that far off from what he always does, or what he's done in the season as a whole. It doesn't usually stop him from running into 15-20 bombs in a season, and look at that: another such season is right on schedule.

Ramos separates himself from the fallers not just in the flat launch angle, but the success he's had while falling. That's again the BABIP, but you look at a .357 xBA and see that he's still hitting balls that should be hits. They're just not home runs. And if you are rostering Ramos, that is what you expect.


Last Week's Risers

Player Last Week Update (8/27-9/2)
Ryan McMahon 28 PA, 2 HR, .222/.250/.519 -- Also a ton of strikeouts (14)
Adam Eaton 7 PA, 0 HR, .000/.286/.000 -- HBP on knee interrupts spree
Jonathan Villar 27 PA, 0 HR, .348/.370/.391 -- Loss of power not surprising, 5/5 steals are more what we're used to
Willie Calhoun 26 PA, 1 HR, .208/.231/.375 -- Another bomb despite struggles
Paul DeJong 25 PA, 0 HR, .095/.200/.143 -- Sense of streakiness continues


Last Week's Fallers

Player Last Week Update (8/27-9/2)
Hunter Renfroe 15 PA, 0 HR, .083/.200/.083 -- Add fading playing time to list of concerns
Giovanny Urshela 7 PA, 0 HR, .286/.286/.429 -- Injury may have been bugging him sooner, too
Mike Tauchman 18 PA, 0 HR, .125/.222/.125 -- Struggles continue
Hunter Dozier 26 PA, 2 HR, .280/.308/.600 -- That's more like it
Trey Mancini 26 PA, 0 HR, .318/.423/.364 -- 3 BB, 3 K is an encouraging ratio

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