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Power Hitting Risers & Fallers for Week 26 - Buy or Sell?

With under a week to go, streaming is the name of the game if you need power. The more available a player has been, the more likely they are to be a riser in this edition, and fallers are more likely to be rostered since you have drops to go with your pickups. Additionally, the site of the games of the last weekend is particularly important now.

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 23rd unless otherwise noted.

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Power Risers

Kyle Lewis (OF, SEA)

Season Total: 6 HR, .327/.358/.755, .653 xSLG, .276 xBA (.379 xISO), 89.7 mph at 9.7 degrees (100.5 mph EVAB), 9 barrels, 53 PA.

Lewis homered 11 times in the minors this season in 517 plate appearances. He has more than half that many in just over 10% of the plate appearances in his MLB stint. How?

By killing the ball. More specifically, by killing it in the air, where he's averaged triple digits worth of exit velocity despite a sub-90 overall EV. The barrel rate and xISO also demonstrate that Lewis has not lucked his way into the blazing hot start.

What Lewis would do over 162 is up for debate, but you only have to worry about the next few days, and this streak is real. Seattle is at home the rest of the season, and T-Mobile Park has been a completely average home run park this season. That's plenty enough to roll with this where you can.


Austin Hays (OF, BAL)

Season Total: 4 HR, .314/.364/.627, .437 xSLG, .267 xBA (.170 xISO), 87.6 mph at 10.1 degrees (91.8 mph EVAB), 3 barrels, 55 PA.

Hays' last two weeks don't quite cover his full season like Lewis's do, but it's close, so we'll just use the season numbers again. And it's not nearly as fun a picture as Lewis gives; for example, Hays' xSLG and xISO are more than 200 points below Lewis'.

This is really not an impressive power profile but a luck-infused hot streak. As such, you probably don't want to go with this for a last-minute power boost.

On the plus side, the Orioles are still in Toronto Wednesday, but then visit Boston for the final set. Fenway has played surprisingly large this season for home runs, so it's not a great place for Hays. If you have him and home runs are what you're after, keep him for the last Toronto game and then try to find something else over the past four days. If you don't have him, pass.


Tommy Edman (IF, STL)

Last 14 days: 4 HR, .404/.481/.787, .569 xSLG, .359 xBA (.210 xISO), 88.2 mph at 12.7 degrees, 4 barrels, 54 PA.

Season Total: 11 HR, .298/.340/.500, .421 xSLG, .277 xBA (.144 xISO), 87.1 mph at 13.9 degrees (91.0 mph EVAB), 13 barrels, 321 PA.

Statcast mostly really likes Edman's last few weeks, but not terribly so from a power perspective. The regression-suggesting Statcast numbers are still there, but the star-worthy front line numbers are not.

In other words, Statcast has Edman as a pretty uninspiring power option over the full season. Of course, he also has just 11 home runs in 321 plate appearances, so the real question is whether the streak is real enough to chase in the final week.

With four barrels and a .210 xISO, if home runs are the goal, Edman's streak doesn't necessarily forebode very well. The Cardinals host the Cubs in the final weekend for a series that is extremely likely not to matter a bit in the standings. Edman will probably still mostly play, but the fact that Busch Stadium has been MLB's third-worst for home runs this season ahead of just Kansas City and San Francisco is also discouraging. Don't expect much power from Edman as the season concludes.


Adam Engel (OF, CWS)

Last 14 days: 4 HR, .350/.350/.700, .455 xSLG, .241 xBA (.214 xISO), 89.3 mph at 7.1 degrees, 3 barrels, 40 PA.

Season Total: 6 HR, .244/.307/.392, .332 xSLG, .220 xBA (.112 xISO), 83.8 mph at 9.4 degrees (90.5 mph EVAB), 8 barrels, 229 PA.

The Engel home run spate is a weird one. Not so much based on the Statcast within--although a 245-point gap between SLG and xSLG is noteworthy--but just because of how light-hitting Engel is historically. He has 29% as many home runs in the past two weeks as in the previous two years and five-plus months.

There's still an xISO above .200 here in the past two weeks, so Engel isn't entirely uninteresting. Just mostly, based on his history. The launch angle is actually lower than usual as well of late, so this is pretty much a pass.

In the very deepest of leagues, maybe a shot is worth it with the White Sox playing Thursday (unlike the three teams above) at their bandbox. Four games there against the inept Tigers is a good match-up. Just be wary that the .700 slugging percentage of the last two weeks isn't particularly likely.


Ji-Man Choi (1B, TB)

Last 14 days: 4 HR, .270/.417/.649, .480 xSLG, .226 xBA (.254 xISO), 96.7 mph at 11.5 degrees, 3 barrels, 48 PA.

Season Total: 17 HR, .258/.361/.443, .444 xSLG, .250 xBA (.194 xISO), 90.9 mph at 12.5 degrees (94.5 mph EVAB), 30 barrels, 476 PA.

Choi is hitting the ball hard late. He's hit it pretty hard all season, especially when he gets it in the air. A 94.5 mph EVAB isn't spectacular but it's plenty fine. With 30 barrels, 17 home runs is a bit of an unlucky number.

The two-week run isn't as spectacular by Statcast as it might look on the surface, but the .254 expected ISO is a solid number. There are worse chances to take here.

The Rays visit Toronto for the last three games. The place has been even more homer-happy than Coors, which is impressive. Unimpressive, meanwhile, is the Toronto pitching staff.


Power Fallers

Yasiel Puig (OF, CIN)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .410/.500/.487, .385 xSLG, .262 xBA (.123 xISO), 92.6 mph at 13.7 degrees, 3 barrels, 46 PA.

Season Total: 24 HR, .267/.327/.459, .447 xSLG, .261 xBA (.186 xISO), 89.9 mph at 14.1 degrees (94.2 mph EVAB), 40 barrels, 597 PA.

Puig has been somewhat of a target in this column this season. But at this point he hasn't gone deep since August 16, so looking at just the past two weeks is doing him a favor, even though a .410 average has kept his value afloat outside of power considerations.

There are both good and bad signs in Puig's last two weeks. The good is the combination of exit velocity and launch angle which has produced three barrels despite the lack of home runs. Unfortunately, Puig is posting just a .123 xISO anyway.

Puig is short a couple home runs this year based on his 40 barrels, but even with 28 homers, he wouldn't be having the season people expected. Fortunately, the Indians wrap up at Nationals Park, which has been a darned good homers park in 2019. You heard it here first, Puig will go deep again before the season ends. It's probably fine to stick with him the last week.


Michael Brantley (OF, HOU)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .182/.289/.182, .496 xSLG, .309 xBA (.187 xISO), 89.4 mph at 11.2 degrees, 2 barrels, PA.

Season Total: 21 HR, .315/.377/.504, .461 xSLG, .296 xBA (.165 xISO), 88.6 mph at 10.5 degrees (92.5 mph EVAB), 28 barrels, 621 PA.

Brantley's never a homer-only guy, but if home runs are the category you need most, that's no reason not to inspect what he produces in the category. And it's merely solid, as usual.

But oddly, during the no-homer two weeks, he's hit the ball even better than usual per all the expected stats, xBA, xSLG, and xISO. His contact by exit velocity and launch angle is slightly up, but not really by that much.

Brantley's made perfectly fine contact, including for the power you'd expect, just without the results to show. Because he's not a massive power hitter, if you desperately need home runs at the expense of every other statistic, don't expect a huge run. But if you just need what he usually provides, stick with him to the end.


Josh Donaldson (3B, ATL)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .162/.256/.162, .279 xSLG, .210 xBA (.069 xISO), 91.1 mph at 18.0 degrees, 0 barrels, 43 PA.

Season Total: 37 HR, .255/.377/.520, .513 xSLG, .262 xBA (.251 xISO), 92.8 mph at 13.5 degrees (98.1 mph EVAB), 60 barrels, 640 PA.

What a bad time for Donaldson's power well to run dry. But despite the rut, there's no way to get away from him in the final week, as he's just been too good for too long including this season.

Unlike with Brantley, there's no denying that Donaldson has not hit the ball well at all lately. But for the season, his great EVAB, low HR-to-barrel ratio, and 88th percentile xSLG (and 92nd percentile xwOBA) indicate a player who even at his age can still crush the ball.

One thing working against Donaldson is the Braves ending their season at the Mets, but Citi Field has actually been a pretty average venue for home runs this season.


Kevin Pillar (OF, SF)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .255/.286/.277, .373 xSLG, .270 xBA (.103 xISO), 80.6 mph at 6.6 degrees, 1 barrels, 49 PA.

Season Total: 21 HR, .265/.294/.447, .395 xSLG, .258 xBA (.137 xISO), 86.0 mph at 13.7 degrees (90.7 mph EVAB), 26 barrels, 603 PA.

Run away, run away from this faster than Monty Python from a killer bunny rabbit (and please tell me you get the reference).

In some ways, Pillar hasn't quite made contact as bad as his results, but the 80.6 mph exit velocity the past two weeks is really weak. And a .373 xSLG is nothing to write home about even when it's 96 points above the actual slugging rate.

In Pillar's favor is that the Giants do play on Thursday. Working against him is that the Giants are at home the rest of the season, and Oracle Park has been by far the worst stadium for home runs this season. So despite Pillar's 21 homers this season, he's not worth the trouble.


Renato Nunez (3B, BAL)

Last 14 days: 0 HR, .167/.306/.200, .236 xSLG, .181 xBA (.055 xISO), 90.9 mph at 20.3 degrees, 0 barrels, 36 PA.

Season Total: 29 HR, .246/.314/.457, .451 xSLG, .250 xBA (.201 xISO), 89.9 mph at 19.8 degrees (93.9 mph EVAB), 41 barrels, 579 PA.

Nunez only has 36 plate appearances the past two weeks, and so it's tough to rely on him even not taking his two-week slump into account. Averaging a 20+ launch angle often means the ball is being hit too high, and Nunez's .236 xSLG bears that out.

His season launch angle also rivals 20 degrees, however, and that hasn't hurt the overall numbers too much. His .211 ISO is about what you'd expect from the Statcast.

But when a cold spell eats into playing time, things get tough. And as was discussed with Hays, the Orioles ending the season at Fenway isn't great news for home runs. Leave your Nunez at home for this road trip.


Last Week's Risers

Player Last Week Update (9/17-23)
Brett Gardner 25 PA, 2 HR, .348/.400/.652 -- Giving up on trying to explain this
Marcus Semien 25 PA, 1 HR, .381/.480/.714 -- On it goes
Rougned Odor 18 PA, 0 HR, .111/.111/.111 -- Did have one Tuesday but the streakiness is almost too much
Eloy Jimenez 25 PA, 2 HR, .458/.480/.875 -- Amazing race to the finish line continues
Randal Grichuk 33 PA, 3 HR, .258/.303/.613 -- A good week for the risers and the extra HR shows the benefits of an extra day (TOR played 7)


Last Week's Fallers

Player Last Week Update (9/17-9/23)
Tommy Pham 28 PA, 0 HR, .222 .250 .296 -- Playing through injury is sometimes apparent from the stats
DJ LeMahieu 21 PA, 2 HR, .368/.429/.737 -- Back in the saddle
Max Kepler Season on the ropes as he did not take a plate appearance
Kevin Newman 23 PA, 0 HR, .174/.174/.174 -- Not surprising
Amed Rosario 24 PA, 3 HR, .250 .250 .667 -- But this is, even with the favorable parks (at CIN and at COL)

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