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It's time to revisit the most telling of Statcast numbers - Barrels. You may recall that last time we identified Evan Gattis and Andrew Benintendi as potential buy-low candidates because their power was due to arrive while warning you away from short-term power surgers like Pedro Alvarez and Daniel Palka. Let's see how things have changed in the past month.

Many fantasy baseball owners are starting to see the value of MLB's Statcast advanced stats in order to help identify potential risers and sleepers. Just as we've done for pitchers, this weekly series will examine a handful of hitters who are performing surprisingly well or poorly according to sabermetrics.

Each week, we'll take a look at some key Statcast offensive metrics in order to assess risers and fallers. This time, we'll return where we started with a look at Barrels and dig a little deeper by shortening the threshold for qualifiers to 50 Batted Ball Events (BBE).

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Surprising Chart Toppers

All stats current as of June 11, 2018 and display leaders among hitters with at least 50 BBE

John Ryan Murphy (C, ARI) - 13.4 Brls/PA

Finally, a catcher who can really hit! Unless you own the Sanchize or Buster, you're constantly scouring the wire for a backstop who can actually help your team. Alex Avila was a popular preseason sleeper in Arizona after posting a tremendous hard hit rate last season, but he's hitting a ridiculously low .120 with a 46.7% K%. Needless to say, Avila's out of the picture in Arizona. Murphy, on the other hand, is behind only a pair of All-Star Red Sox in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez on the leaderboard for Barrels per plate appearance. His slash line still reads as nothing special at .247/.277/546 (so basically like a typical catcher), and his plate discipline is not good at all (0.15 BB/K), but his excellent quality of contact has made him relevant in fantasy circles at such a thin position. Regardless of whether you think he keeps it up for another month or another week, he's already worth the add for that reason alone. Just beware that his 87.6 Exit Velocity is just average and his 19.5% HR/FB is going to regress.

Max Muncy (1B/3B, LAD) - 12.2 Brls/PA

Surely by now you've heard of or attempted to pickup Muncy, who is this year's Chris Taylor. After a couple of very forgettable stints with Oakland, he was called up with little expectation and has raked to the tune of a .272/.395/.616 slash line with 12 HR, 28 RBI in 44 games. Whereas Taylor offers speed and a little pop, Muncy is about power and OBP. His 16.4% walk rate is a recurring career theme throughout the minors, but the .344 ISO is not. His current Barrel rate places him fourth among all batters with 50 BBE or more. It's hard to imagine that being sustainable, but it would be foolish not to take a chance on him, even if we may have seen the best he has to offer. At age 27, just like Taylor, it could be that we have a sudden prime-age breakout on our hands.

Matt Kemp (OF, LAD) - 9.7 Brls/PA

Vintage Kemp? He still hasn't recovered from a developing allergy to walks, but Kemp is smacking the ball hard as he did in his pre-Statcast days. A mere 11.5% Soft Contact rate is remarkable. His power never really left him; the bigger surprise is his .338 average and .398 wOBA. Kemp is older now (he'll turn 34 before the season ends), but it appears to have made him wiser to compensate for the lack of speed. All those Spring Training reports of Kemp taking a leadership role and appearing revitalized in his return to Los Angeles appear to have been true. There is no reason to think a player of his caliber can't keep it up.

Danny Valencia (1B/3B, BAL) - 9.2 Brls/PA

Valencia is one of the few bright spots in a miserable season for the O's that would come to a fitting end if superstar and only good hitter Manny Machado were to be traded. Valencia is with his seventh team in six years, but appears to be enjoying his return to Baltimore. Tim Beckham's injury thrust Valencia into a semi-regular role and he now ranks 17th in Brls/PA. That alone would not be enough to make him relevant on a team performing so poorly, but a recent move to the cleanup spot behind Machado is noteworthy. Owners in deeper leagues of 14+ teams or AL-only leagues should pay attention.

 

Alarming Bottom Dwellers

Yuli Gurriel (1B, HOU) - 0.9 Brls/PA

Gurriel started the year slow after a DL stint in recovery from surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand. It's hard to imagine that wouldn't hamper his swing, but now that we're two months into the season, he hasn't yet come around fully. He's batting .295, but only two homers is a tough pill to swallow at a position rife with power options. He does have 15 doubles and a repressed 3.7% HR/FB, but the lack of high quality contact is hard to ignore. The bottom line is that you can do better at the position and don't need to wait for him to regain his power stroke. Gurriel is 34 and the Astros have plenty of options waiting in the wings should he start to slump.

Nick Markakis (OF, ATL) - 2.4 Brls/PA

This wouldn't be surprising except that Markakis is leading the world in hits, average, runs, and every other offensive category other than homers so far. The Greek God has only barreled it up seven times despite registering the eighth-most AB in the majors this season. This is perfectly fine, however, as it's really about launch angle in this case, or lack thereof. Markakis is second among qualifiers with batted balls above 95 mph at 100, behind only J.D. Martinez. His 43.3% Hard%, according to Statcast, ranks a respectable 63rd. He's never going to be a 30-HR threat, but he has already matched last year's homer total with eight and should be given full attention now that he's in a formidable lineup.

Jurickson Profar (2B/SS, TEX) - 2.9 Brls/PA

Post-hype breakout? Sort of. Profar is finally capitalizing on his playing time thanks to Elvis Andrus' injury and rewarded the Rangers with 33 RBI and 30 R. Capitalizing on opportunities is the key here, as he's only batting .235 and averaging 3.9 Barrels per BBE, but is hitting very well with runners in scoring position. He does own a minuscule 7.4% SwStr rate and cut down on his strikeout rate to 14%, but there isn't a high quantity of hard contact either. He remains a decent MI for deep league owners or injury fill-in, but a true breakout isn't happening.

Nolan Arenado (3B, COL) - 3.9 Brls/PA

Seeing Arenado's name in the blue on the Barrels listwas quite a jolt, but if you bother to look at any of his other stats, you realize it means nothing. While he may not be squaring up the ball as frequently as his colleagues, it's mainly as a result of the fact that he makes so much contact in the first place. Given the choice, you should always err on the side of the batter than puts the ball in play more often than not. That said, his Contact% is trending a bit down and is five points lower than it was in 2016, but his Hard% is actually at its peak (39.3%). These minor shifts are nothing to worry about for a player who is perpetually in the MVP conversation and could get more credit if he were not in Colorado.

 

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