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Power Hitting Risers & Fallers for Week 24 - Buy or Sell?

A lot of this week's risers aren't actually too surprising. (We were going to talk about Jurickson Profar but the May 19 game resumption appears to have irreparably damaged the reliability of his two-week splits, which show him hitting .262 in some places and .298 in others. In short, though, you can ride his streak, but don't trust him too much.) None of them will be on waivers in almost any league, but knowing the chances that their power production continues can still help you make decisions on the edges of your roster elsewhere. Also, at this point it can't hurt to start thinking about where player values might be in the 2020 draft season.

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

Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN)

Last 14 days: 8 HR, .409/.447/1.000, .779 xSLG, .335 xBA (.444 xISO), 94.9 mph at 17.4 degrees, 8 barrels, 47 PA.

Season Total: 44 HR, .269/.346/.568, .477 xSLG, .244 xBA (.233 xISO), 89.6 mph at 17.5 degrees (93.3 mph EVAB), 47 barrels, 586 PA.

Suarez returns to the column with an impossible-to-ignore eight home runs the last two weeks. Somehow they've come despite 16 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances. Even more amazing is the .779 xSLG despite all those strikeouts. Basically, Suarez these past two weeks has mastered the art of hitting the ball high and hard, with little regard for how often he makes contact.

As impressive as Suarez's recent contact has been, it hasn't brought his full-season power expectation up to what he's produced. In other words, for example, he's exceeded his xSLG by 91 points. But this is a hot streak to ride as he looks to become Cincinnati's second-ever 50-home run hitter (George Foster hit 52 in 1977). To manage a .779 xSLG despite wasting one-third of his plate appearances is pretty impressive.

It's a proper dilemma here: Suarez is undeniably hot right now, but his season contact is wanting. But with so little time left in the season, it becomes likelier that the hot streak can sustain through the rest of the season.


Yasmani Grandal (C, MIL)

Last 14 days: 6 HR, .244/.370/.667, .599 xSLG, .250 xBA (.349 xISO), 91.4 mph at 7.7 degrees, 8 barrels, 54 PA.

Season Total: 26 HR, .252/.379/.480, .461 xSLG, .238 xBA (.223 xISO), 90.4 mph at 13.0 degrees (94.9 mph EVAB), 39 barrels, 557 PA.

The main difference between Grandal's two-week run and his full season is a launch angle that has nearly been cut in half. Despite this, his barrel rate has increased. It hasn't made a difference in his batting average, actual or expected, but it has caused a nice power bump.

Grandal has produced a lot of value by walking rather than big hacks, but he's still been the catching position's third-best home run hitter after Gary Sanchez (34) and Mitch Garver (30). There's little reason to think he won't hit at least a couple more before the season is out.


Nicholas Castellanos (OF, CHC)

Note: Castellanos also played on May 19 but since he didn't play in the resumption, his stats avoided the fate of Profar's.

Last 14 days: 6 HR, .296/.316/.704, .633 xSLG, .245 xBA (.388 xISO), 89.1 mph at 9.8 degrees, 9 barrels, 57 PA.

Season Total: 25 HR, .293/.340/.528, .504 xSLG, .270 xBA (.234 xISO), 88.7 mph at 13.8 degrees (93.6 mph EVAB), 45 barrels, 597 PA.

Maybe there was something to Castellanos's complaints about Comerica Park. Or maybe Wrigley is just that much better. Either way, Castellanos has turned his season around with the Cubs.

Despite not producing much exit velocity on average, or hitting the ball at a particularly high angle, or hitting his flies and liners very hard, the x-stats indicate that Castellanos has pretty much deserved what he's got this season. In fact, the power output could have been even higher, as his ratio of home runs to barrels is low.

The same is true the past two weeks, which have featured an xISO of nearly .400. You're pretty safe going with the season numbers as your baseline expectation, with anything on top of that a bonus--but a rather unsurprising one if you were to get it.


Austin Meadows (OF, TB)

Last 14 days: 5 HR, .360/.418/.760, .582 xSLG, .327 xBA (.255 xISO), 88.8 mph at 14.9 degrees, 6 barrels, 55 PA.

Season Total: 28 HR, .288/.356/.556, .507 xSLG, .273 xBA (.234 xISO), 90.7 mph at 16.6 degrees (95.1 mph EVAB), 42 barrels, 517 PA.

Meadows ran into injury and then slump trouble in the middle of the season, but lately he's been back to his surprising production from earlier in the year, which bodes very well for 2020. While his contact quality the past two weeks doesn't match with his production, it's still bringing his expected stats for the full season up.

Meadows consistently hits the ball high, and that 95 EVAB is what you want to see for a power hitter. The minimum cutoff for a barrel is 95, so averaging that much exit velocity on flies and liners means you are getting plenty of barrels.

Other than hitting .175/.238/.247 from June 7 to July 3, it's been a great year for Meadows, and as with Grandal, the production the rest of the season should be in line with what he's shown in the season as a whole.


Peter Alonso (1B, NYM)

Last 14 days: 6 HR, .309/.377/.655, .664 xSLG, .309 xBA (.355 xISO), 88.9 mph at 22.5 degrees, 7 barrels, 61 PA.

Season Total: 47 HR, .270/.369/.599, .538 xSLG, .264 xBA (.274 xISO), 90.8 mph at 14.7 degrees (96.4 mph EVAB), 61 barrels, 613 PA.

Alonso has had the rare hot streak where the production has almost exactly matched the contact. Despite being under 90 mph in exit velocity, his xSLG is actually a notch higher than his SLG.

He has the highest xSLG for the season among this week's risers, which makes sense for the league's home run leader. Compared to all hitters, however, he only ranks 21st in expected slugging. His 61 barrels are tied for second, however, showing the benefits of consistently playing.

So as long as Alonso has his health, you should be able to bank on top-notch power production the last few weeks.


Power Fallers

Yoan Moncada (3B, CHW)

Note: Tuesday's home run hitter was Moncada. There continues to seem to always be at least one faller per week who homers on contribution day.

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .275/.345/.353, .367 xSLG, .281 xBA (.086 xISO), 89.1 mph at 8.8 degrees, 1 barrels, 58 PA.

Season Total: 22 HR, .297/.355/.523, .505 xSLG, .283 xBA (.222 xISO), 92.5 mph at 12.6 degrees (95.0 mph EVAB), 38 barrels, 483 PA.

Season as a whole, Moncada is a rising player and power hitter, but the last couple weeks have been rough. His power slump has been fully deserved by xBA, xSLG, and xISO, the last of which is under .100. His exit velocity and launch angle are below season norms as well.

But as Tuesday's home run shows, two bad weeks isn't enough to indicate a coming prolonged slump. That's why the season numbers matter too. And Moncada's remained good despite the two rough weeks.

And so a few more home runs for Moncada before the season expires seems a reasonable enough bet.


Kole Calhoun (OF, LAA)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .154/.283/.231, .296 xSLG, .187 xBA (.109 xISO), 90.7 mph at 16.5 degrees, 1 barrels, 46 PA.

Season Total: 28 HR, .230/.324/.460, .444 xSLG, .236 xBA (.208 xISO), 89.2 mph at 14.6 degrees (94.8 mph EVAB), 38 barrels, 563 PA.

When walks (15.2%) and strikeouts (37.0%) make up over half your plate appearances, there isn't much room left for the third true outcome. That's the situation Calhoun's been in the past two weeks. The lack of power derives more from the lack of contact than the power itself, but both are still at play, with the sub-.300 xSLG and only one barrel.

Then again, the exit velocity and launch angle are up. It just hasn't translated into anything.

Calhoun is what he is: he will hit the ball hard when he hits it, but not necessarily in a way conducive to batting average. That's okay if you just need the home runs, and he should return to the column a few times this season, but it's hard to buy in too much the rest of the way given his shortcomings.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, TOR)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .257/.350/.343, .341 xSLG, .278 xBA (.063 xISO), 86.4 mph at 8.6 degrees, 0 barrels, 40 PA.

Season Total: 15 HR, .276/.351/.458, .443 xSLG, .268 xBA (.175 xISO), 89.6 mph at 7.1 degrees (93.7 mph EVAB), 27 barrels, 450 PA.

Time to check in on Vladdy again, who has been perfectly good at the plate (115 wRC+) for the season as a whole. But just as in his debut in this column back in Week 7, elevating the ball continues to be a roadblock to something more for the 20-year-old.

Given his age and batted ball profile, there is still much to be excited about in Guerrero's future. But it's safe to say he's unlikely to dominate in the last couple weeks of the season.

That said, his barrel rate on the season would justify a few more home runs than he has. But the sub-.200 xISO and sub-95 mph EVAB also show a hitter who isn't a dominant force. Yet.


Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .238/.385/.357, .434 xSLG, .271 xBA (.163 xISO), 89.8 mph at 16.4 degrees, 3 barrels, 52 PA.

Season Total: 29 HR, .259/.341/.463, .505 xSLG, .266 xBA (.239 xISO), 90.0 mph at 15.0 degrees (94.7 mph EVAB), 43 barrels, 600 PA.

Worried about Goldschmidt's recent power outage? Don't be too worried. He's got a 106 wRC+ in that time because he's walked a lot, and his xSLG indicates a lack of luck -- that .163 xISO may be the largest we've seen this season in this column in a faller's sample.

Despite all his ups and downs in 2018 and '19 -- and 2019 has been somewhat more down -- this is also still a guy who will run into plenty of bombs. And he's been somewhat unlucky this season, not just the past two weeks, with an expected slugging rate 42 points above his actual.

That, of course, doesn't mean he won't continue to under-perform his contact the last couple weeks, but he certainly has the Statcast data to recover as the season winds down.


Jonathan Villar (2B, BAL)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .283/.314/.326, .354 xSLG, .251 xBA (.103 xISO), 87.3 mph at 6.3 degrees, 1 barrels, 51 PA.

Season Total: 20 HR, .277/.344/.453, .390 xSLG, .248 xBA (.142 xISO), 87.7 mph at 6.4 degrees (92.5 mph EVAB), 26 barrels, 624 PA.

A riser only two weeks ago, it did not look at all like Villar's power run was sustainable. And it wasn't.

That said, his contact the past two weeks by most measures -- including exit velocity, launch angle, and xBA -- isn't too far off from his season marks. But it's noticeable in places, like his xISO. And the low exit velocity and low launch angle is not a good combination.

Just getting to 20 home runs is an accomplishment for Villar, although it does very much seem like a 20-homer season borne of the bouncy baseballs this season. Don't expect much more power from Villar this season or next.


Last Week's Risers

Player Last Week Update (8/27-9/2)
Starlin Castro 34 PA, 2 HR, .321/.441/.679 - So maybe there was something to his spike
Anthony Santander 26 PA, 2 HR, .192/.192/.423 - All or nothing week but power sticks around
Jake Cave 14 PA, 0 HR, .154/.214/.308 - Playing time not quite there, nor the power
Ronny Rodriguez 16 PA, 0 HR, .143/.250/.143 - No surprise there
Aaron Judge 27 PA, 2 HR, .240/.296/.520 - No surprise there, at least in the home runs; OBP a touch low


Last Week's Fallers

Player Last Week Update (8/27-9/2)
Eloy Jimenez 27 PA, 2 HR, .280/.333/.680 - A fine recovery
Trea Turner 26 PA, 0 HR, .385/.385/.500 - BABIP helps with the power still missing
Eddie Rosario 21 PA, 1 HR, .143/.143/.286 - I guess with a slash line like that you'll take it coming with a homer
Yasiel Puig 28 PA, 0 HR, .320 .357 .400 - As for Turner, BABIP keeps afloat during the power outage
Wilson Ramos 23 PA, 1 HR, .350/.435/.650 - A pretty standard and useful week despite the Thor drama

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