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Exit Velocity Risers/Fallers - Statcast Hitter Studs and Duds (Week 13)


There's no need to explain exit velocity here, as you are likely well aware of its function and description by now. Followers of this weekly column will remember the Week 7 iteration where we first examined exit velocity leaders.

We know that hitters who make hard contact are more apt to collect extra-base hits and it can at the very least be a sign that a batter is locked in. The top of the leaderboard for the 2019 season includes Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Josh Bell, Christian Yelich, Nelson Cruz, and Gary Sanchez. Those players need no analysis, so we'll instead find some surprising names at the top and bottom of the list.

For this article, we will filter the results to show recent risers or fallers over the past three couple of weeks to see how things might be changing as the temperature rises.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Exit Velocity Risers

All stats current as of June 23, 2019 and display exit velocity leaders with at least 20 plate appearances since June 1.

 

Cavan Biggio (2B, TOR)

93.3 MPH average exit velocity in last 37 PA

Biggio is mainly known as one of the legacy prospects in the Blue Jays system breaking through to the majors but he will start carving out his own identity soon enough. Early in his rookie season, Biggio is proving to be a power-first middle infielder with a few holes in his swing. He's gone deep five times in his first 24 games but is batting .218 with a 27.8% strikeout rate.

Biggio can stand to improve his 75.9% contact rate but if he does, opposing pitchers might want to watch out. He's posting a 49% hard-hit rate and is improving his exit velocity as his plate appearances accumulate. Biggio will frustrate at times but his power is no joke and his propensity to elevate the ball consistently means there will be plenty more long balls in store. He's best used as an occasional DFS play than a regular starter in roto leagues.

 

Howie Kendrick (2B/OF, WAS)

94.0 MPH average exit velocity in last 40 PA

Kendrick isn't much of a riser here - prior to June he was averaging a 91.6 exit velo, ranking 48th among all hitters. He's bumped that up to rank in the top 10 over the last couple of weeks. This begs the question: do we realize how great Kendrick has been this year?

Kendrick is only 66% owned in fantasy leagues but he could be starting in any 12-teamer. He's slashing .335/.388/.588 with 12 HR, 43 RBI and 39 R on the year. His xBA, xSLG, xWOBA and Hard Hit% all rank in the 96th percentile or higher. He's hitting the ball even harder over the past three weeks. In a down season for the Nats, Kendrick has been a bright spot and, amazingly, has stayed healthy too.

 

Miguel Sano (1B/3B, MIN)

92.7 MPH average exit velocity in last 31 PA

We're not falling for it again. Sano was brought back up by the Twins on May 15 after recovering from injury and immediately resumed his role at third base. A former uber prospect with 80+ raw power, we should expect balls to jump off the bat. That's when he actually makes contact, of course. His 91.5 MPH exit velo has remained strong and it's going up since June began, resulting in a 53.6% hard-hit rate. But we're not buying it.

Only 30% of fantasy owners have taken a chance on Sano and they might be regretting it. Despite nine homers, Sano is batting .210 and posting an impressive 40.5% K%. He has always had impressive exit velocity numbers but he's never finished a season with an xBA over .251. What you got is what you're getting - not the next Barry Bonds but maybe another Chris Davis.

 

Exit Velocity Fallers

All stats current as of June 23, 2019 and display exit velocity leaders with at least 20 plate appearances since June 1.

 

Corey Dickerson (OF, PIT)

81.8 MPH average exit velocity in last 24 PA

The sample is small because Dickerson just returned from IL on June 8. Since then, he's posted an exit velo lower than Delino DeShields and Jose Peraza. In 43 at-bats on the season, Dickerson has just one home run and may find it hard to get consistent playing time, if not for the injury to Gregory Polanco.

His small returns could be dismissed based on sample size if not for the trend he's shown over the last few years. Dickerson's exit velocity and hard-hit rate have steadily gone down each season since Statcast began tracking data.

If considering Dickerson as a streamer or Polanco replacement, you might temper expectations for power. In fact, try to buy Bryan Reynolds instead.

 

Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX)

82.3 MPH average exit velocity in last 48 PA

It might be time to admit that Guzman will not, in fact, receive an invitation to the Home Run Derby as predicted. A hamstring strain shelved him for a whole month, so that can explain away his unimpressive season-long numbers. It does not justify his 84.3 MPH exit velocity which is in the bottom 5% of the league. It's getting worse, as a two-point drop in exit velo over June can attest to. Is there any hope for a salvaged season?

Guzman has at least improved his plate discipline, going from a 20.6% K-BB% last year to 15.6% K-BB% this year. His xSLG is up 90 points over last year's final mark and his 0.35 HR/PA is nearly the same as last year's 0.37. While it's possible Guzman finds his footing in the summer months with favorable Globe Life Park to call home, the power breakout doesn't seem imminent for this 24-year-old. He hasn't been relevant in fantasy leagues all year so there won't be many drops based on this information anyway.

 

Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B, STL)

84.6 MPH average exit velocity in last 46 PA

Here we go again. Carpenter was a high draft pick across fantasy leagues, averaging 72nd overall. Now, fantasy owners are ready to drop him. He is batting .218 with replacement-level power numbers. He had a decent 88.6 exit velo over the first two months but it's worse by four points since June 1. The whole Cards offense has struggled at times, outside of Marcell Ozuna, and Carpenter is a large part of the reason.

Here's where I remind you that last year he went from one of the worst hitters in baseball over the first month and a half (.140) to arguably the very best for the rest of the season. He hasn't been quite as bad early on and it's taking him longer to snap out of it (assuming he does) but we have to assume he will. This is a player with a proven track record in a lineup that is potent, if underachieving. While it's concerning that Carpenter's weak contact rate has been going up each year of the Statcast era, if he has gotten the worst part of his season out of the way already then he could be a nice buy-low candidate from fringe contenders who need a boost.

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