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Rolling xwOBA Risers/Fallers - Statcast Hitter Analysis (Week 20)


Statcast just keeps getting better. Rather than having to manually run searches with advanced filtering, a new feature has been added to display a rolling xwOBA leaderboard for both pitchers and hitters.

In this series, we'll naturally focus on the hitters to see who is rising and falling over their past 50 plate appearances. We last looked at xwOBA almost two months ago in our Week 12 edition, so it's long overdue that we revisit this important metric.

As a reminder, I will examine hitters that have shown either surprising results, questionable fantasy value, or are not outright obvious studs like Nelson Cruz.

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xwOBA Risers

All stats current as of August 12, 2019 and show changes from the past 50 PA compared to the previous 50 PA.

 

Giovanny Urshela (3B, NYY)

+.269 50 PA rolling xwOBA

Anduwho? The season-ending injury to Miguel Andujar might have been a blessing in disguise because Gio Urshela is having arguably a better season than his predecessor. Urshela is batting .323 with 17 HR, 61 RBI and expected stats that are among the league leaders across the board. His .312 xBA is in the 97th percentile, his .534 xSLG is 93rd percentile, and .381 xwOBA is 91st percentile. Since August began, he's posted four multi-hit games and two multi-homer games. One of them wasn't even against the Orioles!

Urshela is a top-100 fantasy player on the season yet he's owned in only two-thirds of fantasy leagues. I know some owners have tuned out of the second half because they're out of the race in their league but don't be that guy if he's somehow available in yours.

 

Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET)

+.168 50 PA rolling xwOBA

Too little, too late? Miggy has just eight HR this season, his walk rate is down to league average at 8.4%, and his terrible surrounding cast has resulted in just 46 RBI despite a solid average. Cabrera is still hitting the ball hard but the counting stats just aren't there. He's batting .404 with runners in scoring position but that's only occurred 89 times all year. By comparison, Rafael Devers (see below) has 28 more at-bats in the same situation. It's the end of an era, as Cabrera just isn't fantasy relevant anymore.

 

Willy Adames (2B/SS, TB)

+.162 50 PA rolling xwOBA

Adames has been well below average in all Statcast measures this year other than Sprint Speed. In this case, not much has changed. His .312 xwOBA is still disappointing and it hasn't gotten much higher at .416 over the past 50 PA. The reason he is one of the biggest climbers is due to how putrid he was doing in his previous 50 PA (.254). Since the All-Star break, Adames is slashing .244/.313/.478. He has shown some pop with five HR in the last 90 AB and has improved his plate discipline but the second-year breakout some experts such as myself predicted just isn't happening. He's just 23 though, so don't give up on him altogether.

 

Brian Anderson (3B/OF, MIA)

+.153 50 PA rolling xwOBA

He's lightly owned, barely mentioned, and underwhelming in roto leagues but Anderson has been playable in points leagues based on his ability to crank out 28 doubles along with 20 long balls. He's kept his strikeout rate right around 20% and is picking things up in August in all areas, including a .325 average over the last 40 AB. He could be doing better, as his hard-hit rate ranks in the 87th percentile. With an all-fields approach, Anderson could see his average keep climbing down the stretch.

 

xwOBA Fallers

All stats current as of August 12, 2019 and show changes from the past 50 PA compared to the previous 50 PA.

 

Rafael Devers (3B, BOS)

-.181 50 PA rolling xwOBA

What goes up must come down. Devers was off to a rather slow start in the power department but then exploded from May through July with 21 HR and 76 RBI. His batting average was even better, as he was leading the majors in base hits at one point. August has been... unkind. In his last 47 at-bats, Devers is hitting .191 and has just one walk, resulting in a .208 OBP. His season-long xStats are through the roof but he could be hitting a wall or facing a long overdue slump. Normally a player of his talent in such a potent lineup would be an automatic start in fantasy leagues, no matter how bad the slump. As the third-worst xwOBA faller on the leaderboard, you may want to give him a little breather though.

 

Mitch Garver (C, MIN)

-.165 50 PA rolling xwOBA

Garver was just highlighted in my Mideseason xSLG Overachievers piece, so it would be pretentious of me to sweep aside this recent fall from grace. Garver has been great all year, especially for a catcher, but he was bound to slow down at some point. Although his 48.4% hard-hit rate rank in the 94th percentile, his .231 xBA is down in the 16th percentile. He's been in a miserable slump since August began, as it appears he's getting pull-happy trying to leave the yard. With Jason Castro there to share time behind the plate (also slumping in August), Garver is losing value in single-catcher leagues. Maybe try Jonathan Lucroy or Francisco Mejia instead.

 

Paul DeJong (2B/SS, STL)

-.125 50 PA rolling xwOBA

Just as Goldy heats up, DeJong slows down. DeJong had been hitting well but he's getting back to doing what he tends to do - swing and miss.

DeJong's exit velocity and hard-hit rate are both in the bottom quarter percentile so it's almost a wonder how he's been able to match last year's power numbers. By now, we can figure out what he is - a .250 hitter with 20 HR power that will hurt you wherever strikeouts matter. He can play as a MI in 12+ team leagues but when he has swoons like this with a .244 xwOBA over his last 50 appearances, he can be benched.

 

Max Kepler (OF, MIN)

-.120 50 PA rolling xwOBA

Another Twin who had been experiencing a breakout season and is also slowing down. Kepler's .318 xwOBA over the past 50 PA is a definite drop but it may not be a major concern just yet. His 100 PA rolling xwOBA is still positive at +.113 and his plate discipline isn't much different. He's picked up a hit in five of the last six contests and hasn't gone more than three games without a homer since mid-July. Kepler may be on a downswing temporarily but still has the potential to break out with a monster game at any time, so bench him at your own risk.

 

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