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xSLG Risers - Statcast Hitter Analysis (Week 18)

Two full weeks have now passed since the Midsummer Classic. It's not a big sample size but we can look at some early second-half trends to see who is turning it up a notch after the All-Star break.

Expected stats don't tell the whole story of a player's success but they often are more revealing than result-based stats. Given the small sample, I decided to focus on slugging rather than batting average to see who is generating high power levels after a week of rest.

You know the drill - I'm not going to tell you about Josh Donaldson again or explain why Goldy is on a tear. We're going to look at players who are on the bubble of fantasy relevance to determine if we should care or not. Now, let's dive into the Statcast numbers to find buy/sell/add/drop candidates for the second half of the 2019 fantasy baseball season.

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Second-Half Surgers

All stats current as of July 29, 2019 and display leaders over the last 20 days.


Josh VanMeter (2B/3B/OF, CIN)

0.764 xSLG in last 22 plate appearances

It's no secret that VanMeter has been off the charts this past week with a homer in three straight games and four in the past 10 days. It's a far cry from his first call-up in May when he hit .220 with no home runs over his first 49 plate appearances. He wasn't set to receive regular playing time but that could change if he forces his way into the lineup more often.

VanMeter is tops in this category since the break, ahead of even Paul Goldschmidt and Nelson Cruz. Is this something to expect going forward if he becomes a mainstay for the Reds? Well, he never hit more than 14 HR in a minor league season and wasn't considered a plus power prospect, so expectations should rise too high. That said, he did tie his high of 14 bombs in just 49 games at Triple-A this year, so he could be coming into his power at age 24. He is a must-add in NL-only leagues and someone to consider in 14-teamers.


Carson Kelly (C, ARI)

0.702 xSLG in last 27 plate appearances

Bet the Cards wish they hadn't given up on him so soon... Yadier Molina is perpetually on the IL and Kelly, their former backstop of the future, is now raking in Arizona instead. Kelly is up to 12 home runs and 35 RBI on the season, with a .262 average. That makes him ninth in HR and 16th in RBI among all catchers. His season-long xSLG is just 58th percentile but he is fourth in the majors since the second half began.

Kelly has shown good power in limited time and is an excellent pitch-framer. Unfortunately, he is still splitting time with Alex Avila and will only see 3-4 starts per week on average. That and the fact he bats eighth in the order will continue to limit his value to two-catcher, NL-only and 14+ team leagues. If you're hurting for help at catcher (who isn't?) then his production right now might be worth a stream.


Teoscar Hernandez (OF, TOR)

0.651 xSLG in last 41 plate appearances

In the last two weeks, Hernandez's six home runs is tied for fifth-most during that stretch. He was a Statcast darling all last year and we know he has strong power based on his 22 bombs in 2018. Now, let me tell you why this could be a flash in the pan.

Hernandez has been terrible all year. His .396 xSLG is bad enough but his .203 xBA is in the bottom 2% of the league. His K-rate is still above 30% and his exit velocity is down two ticks from last year. He's obviously making harder contact in July but he may not make contact often enough going forward to sustain this heat wave. Hernandez can give you a short-term power boost if he keeps it up but it will still come at the expense of batting average. Despite his elite sprint speed, he offers nothing in terms of steals and the RBI opps just aren't plentiful enough.


Daniel Vogelbach (1B, SEA)

0.605 xSLG in last 42 plate appearances

Remember when the Mariners were the best offense in the league, led by Daniel Vogelbach? Fast forward three months and they are a last-place team that is 23rd in team average. One thing they've sustained is their power, ranking sixth in home runs. Vogelbach has remained quietly consistent in his power numbers too, with at least five HR in each month. If he drives in one more run in the next three days, he will have reached exactly 16 RBI in each of the past four months too.

What's notable about this is the fact that he will have matched June's output in approximately 30 fewer at-bats because of the All-Star break. Vogelbach isn't helping you in average or runs but his power can be counted on. An outstanding 16.5% walk rate makes him a must-start in points leagues, unlike Hernandez (above).


Anthony Santander (OF, BAL)

0.601 xSLG in last 65 plate appearances

Another Oriole rookie popping out of nowhere with noisy power numbers. Santander started hitting right away, with nine hits in his first six games upon his June call-up. Nobody paid much attention until recently when he started clubbing homers though. Santander has gone deep four times in the last two weeks along with eight multi-hit games. That brings his season average to .299.

There is definitely an opening for him to stay in the lineup and he has shown power in the past (20 HR in Advanced-A ball) so perhaps this is a real breakout in progress. The fact that he's hitting cleanup shows the Orioles believe in him and will continue to ride his hot hand. His strong 90.1 MPH exit velocity, decent .272 xBA, and low 17.8% strikeout rate indicate he won't be an all-or-nothing proposition in the power category. Take a chance on him while he is still just 34% owned.

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