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MLB Hitter Studs and Duds - Advanced Metrics Leaders for xSLG Rolling Windows (Week 21)

We're deep enough into the second half of the season that we can be a little pickier about our data sample sizes. Some hitters who came out of the All-Star break swinging a hot bat have started to cool down while others are just now picking up the pace.

This week, I will look at rolling windows for expected slugging percentage (xSLG) over the last 50 plate appearances to determine who has made a dramatic difference in their performance since the break.

Don't miss the rest of our Statcast analysis for fantasy baseball, including weekly Statcast Pitcher Studs and Duds.

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Rolling xSLG Risers (50 PA)

It's tough to ignore J.D. Davis at the top of the list but I'll attempt to do just that. He has been among the leaders in several Statcast categories all year long but, as stated in this column ad nauseam, he isn't an everyday player. That's not going to change in San Francisco, that's for sure. Despite hitting the ball hard and posting a high slugging rate, he hasn't seen his .240 average move an inch since the start of August either.

Nate Lowe was already enjoying a solid season. August has taken him to another level, though. In the past month, he's slashed .392/.446/.657 with seven HR, 20 RBI, and 15 R. Most of that occurred right as this 50-PA rolling window opened, back on August 18.

The cause is a more aggressive approach that has paid off. His walk rate has been cut in half from an excellent 12.5% in 2021 to a subpar 6.7% this year and his first pitch swing rate is 42%. Normally, that would be bad news for a slugger but in Lowe's case, he needed it. A man of his stature with such raw power doesn't need to work deep counts every time. He's in there to power up and that's what he's finally doing.

That bomb came on an 0-1 count. This one was on a 1-0 count where he didn't feel compelled to take a pitch:

His season-long xSLG now sits in the 87th percentile and he is carrying fantasy teams over the past two weeks. Let's see how long he keeps it going.

By the All-Star break, Matt Olson's power numbers were fine but not necessarily up to par with expectations based on last year and his new contract. He seems to enjoy the cleanup spot as his recent surge coincides with the move there back on August 9. He is batting .286 with a .571 SLG when he hits fourth, as opposed to a .248 AVG, .526 SLG from the third spot, and a .235 AVG and .424 SLG when hitting second. Olson will be in fantasy lineups everyday regardless but those who invested an early pick in the new Brave should be happy to see him finish strong.

Andrew Velazquez is the perfect example of a player whose numbers have risen dramatically because they were so awfully low to begin with. He resides below the bottom 10th percentile for xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, K%, and BB%. Good thing he's got a decent glove.

Andrew Benintendi's success in New York might lessen the sting of seeing Joey Gallo thrive in Los Angeles a little. He's been solid although not extremely helpful for fantasy leagues. Benintendi's jump in xSLG doesn't tell of any real power. Since joining the Yankees, Benintendi has just one homer in 100 AB. He does have eight doubles and has shown great plate discipline. That's fine for points leagues but insufficient for roto.

Seiya Suzuki smacked a pair of doubles a couple days ago and homered about a week ago. Otherwise, it's been fairly quiet for the Cubs outfielder. He is slowly bringing his average up and is clearly making harder contact as of late. He doesn't appear set for MLB stardom, at least not this year. He is a serviceable OF3 for the time being.

Ironic to see Jarren Duran here considering he was just sent down. He isn't truly Andrew Velazquez-level bad at hitting but power is not his game and he was struggling to make contact. Keep him in mind if you need speed later in the year if he gets recalled.


Rolling xSLG Fallers (50 PA)

Oneil Cruz is a human highlight reel at times but not so much lately. The rookie has scuffled to a .187/.265/.387 slash line in August and has just two extra-base hits in the past three weeks. It's not the worst idea to sit him until he figures things out.

Seth Brown had been rolling right along but his power has completely dried up over the last 76 PA. Brown hasn't gone deep since August 8 and has just two doubles in that span. His batting average is down to .222 on the season. He did produce a two-hit game on Sunday, so deep-league managers who have benefited from him may want to keep an eye out for similar results this coming week.

Brandon Lowe coming back from a back injury that lasted exactly two months was supposed to be a shot in the arm for fantasy teams who were missing his power. Instead, I've had people ask me if he should be dropped for guys like Isaac Paredes. In the month of August, he's batting .193 with just one homer and is hurting fantasy teams. I wouldn't go so far as to drop Lowe unless you are in a 10-team or 8-team league but it's tough to justify keeping him in your lineup. Back issues can linger, so it's possible Lowe isn't feeling like himself.

Don't worry about Bryce Harper - most of those plate appearances came just before his elbow flared up, leading o a prolonged IL stint. He has played three games since being activated and is 3-for-10 so far.

What goes up must come down. Paul DeJong was on fire when he was recalled from the minors but has fallen back to earth hard. He went from being well above league average with a .708 xSLG in his previous 50 PA on August 11 to a measly .214 at his current window.

Bottom line: we've seen more bad than good from DeJong this season (and last). The Cards have plenty of options to replace him and can't afford to keep a slumping hitter in the lineup every day. It was fun while it lasted...

Max Muncy is an interesting case. His xSLG has dropped precipitously over the past couple of weeks following a hot streak. Muncy's ugly first half was turning around as soon as August arrived; he hit five homers with 12 RBI in the first two weeks of the month. He's quieted down since then but is still driving in runs and, don't look now, but might finally bring his batting average over .200!

Muncy has been a massive letdown with a .207 xBA among the worst in the league and a .407 xSLG that is 173 points below last year. That should be thrown out the window with the way he's hit lately. Stream him for now and ignore the season-long stats.

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