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Statcast Hitter Leaderboard - xHR Underachievers/Overachievers

We're not far removed from the Home Run Derby so it seems like an appropriate time to examine the Statcast side of home run production for some big-name players. As with most counting statistics, there is an expected version of home runs, appropriately labeled xHR. By comparing xHR to HR totals, we can identify the biggest underachievers and overachievers and attempt to predict who might regress in the second half of the 2021 season.

The xHR stat is actually one of the simpler Statcast metrics. The distance of each long fly is measured against every Major League ballpark to determine whether it would have cleared the fence or not. They are then categorized as a No Doubter which would be a home run at every single park, Mostly Gone which could have been a homer at anywhere between 8-29 parks, or Doubter which would be gone at seven parks or fewer. The total number of ballparks that would have counted it as a homer are summed up and then divided by 30 and voila, xHR is born and tallied over the course of the season.

All Statcast data is current as of July 25, 2021 and data/graphs are taken from BaseballSavant.mlb.com

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HR-xHR Underachievers

Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

12 HR - 20.1 xHR = 8.1 HR under expectation

Oddly enough, Story is one of five Rockies who reside in the top 11 underachievers as far as expected home runs go. It's explicitly stated on BaseballSavant: "Environmental variables (elevation/weather/wind/etc...) not factored into these values." The thin Colorado air doesn't sway the expectations for Story (-8 HR-xHR - first), Garrett Hampson (-7 HR-xHR - second), Charlie Blackmon (-5 HR-xHR - fifth), C.J. Cron (-4 HR-xHR - seventh), or Yonathan Daza (-4 HR-xHR - 11th). Instead of benefiting from their home park and overperforming, it's the opposite situation.

None of this will matter for Story if he switches uniforms after the trade deadline, though. Long rumored to be on the move to a team like the Yankees or Mets after failing to negotiate an extension in the offseason, Story could be in a completely different team context. While it would intuitively make sense that going anywhere other than Colorado would hurt his power production, it might do the opposite.

As it stands, New York would be the perfect fit for his power profile. Of his 12 homers in 2021, nine would have gone out at Coors but that total would have been in the 20s for either Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.

Team COL NY (AL) NY (NL)
xHR 9 27 22

Rather than attempting to explain this, I'll just advise not to panic and trade Story before the deadline because he might move out of the Mile High City. If anything, moving to a winning squad with better lineup support could do wonders for his RBI totals. However, the steals are likely to decrease since the Yankees are 29th in SB attempts per game, the Mets are 26th, but Colorado is ninth.

 

Jorge Soler, Atlanta Braves

11 HR - 17.4 xHR = 6.4 HR under expectation

Once we make it past the All-Star break and a player is still below the .200 mark, most fantasy managers have moved on. Soler has never delivered on the batting average front, but a .190 AVG and .273 wOBA fall well below expectation. Many peripherals indicate he is hitting the ball well enough, such as a 51% HardHit%, 12.4% Barrel%, 92.2 MPH exit velocity. However, his xSLG and xISO have gone down two straight seasons now rather than rebounding from 2020.

Kauffman Stadium isn't doing him any favors as the park with the eighth-lowest HR Factor. His xHR would be at least the same or higher than 11 (his current home run total) in every other park except for Kauffman or Coors. Unfortunately, he's staying put the rest of this season but his lineup support is also about to get worse if Whit Merrifield is traded to Seattle or somewhere else. Soler might jack a few more homers, but his production at this point is easily replaceable off the waiver wire without the batting average sink.

Of course, he just enjoyed a two-homer game for the first time since last August so maybe he will go on a power binge after all.

Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks

10 HR - 14 xHR = 4 HR under expectation

One of the few D-backs not on the trade block, Rojas was looking like an overhyped sleeper a month into the season. He's improved since but not enough to qualify as having a successful season, although it would be hard to label anything around this team a success right now.

Rojas is a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which has worked against him for all counting stats including homers. That's why he's available in 60% of Yahoo leagues and might be dropped in more because of his recent placement on the IL with a dislocated pinky. He should return after a minimum length stay and might be an intriguing pickup based on his power-speed upside. The issue is that he's still stuck on the Diamondbacks, the team around him will get worse not better, and his xHR differential is precarious. He only has one 'no-doubter' and 16 'mostly gone'

 

HR-xHR Overachievers

Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers

18 HR - 12.7 xHR = 5.3 over expectation

Usually the definition of a steady veteran and reliable fantasy presence, there are some warnings that Turner could be less valuable in the second half. First, we obviously see the fact he's the biggest overachiever in terms of home runs over expectation. Statcast has him under 13 homers, which would move him out of the top-30 power hitters outside of the top 75.

It's also worth noting that his lineup support keeps deteriorating. First Corey Seager, then Gavin Lux, and now Mookie Betts are all on the injured list. Cody Bellinger is batting a miserable .162 and shows no signs of turning things around. There's no real need to react here if Turner is on your roster, as he's still batting .301 and is far from dependent on power alone.

 

Kris Bryant, San Francisco Giants

17 HR - 12.7 xHR = 4.3 HR over expectation

Another major trade candidate who makes the xHR leaderboard, this time on the flip side. Bryant has put together a solid season amidst the burning dumpster fire on the North Side which could land him on a contending team soon. How will that affect his power? So far, Wrigley is playing as a top-12 park in terms of HR Park Factor so there aren't any teams that would realistically acquire him that would provide an edge in home stadium.

No matter where he goes, power regression could be in store. He is four homers over expectation, but that gap widens if he moves to the NL East. Teams like the Braves and Mets are rumored to be the leading pursuers for his services.

Team CHC CHW NY (NL) ATL
xHR 15 15 11 9

Bryant has rebounded well from last year's disaster but not to his previous levels. His launch angle is a career-low 12.8 degrees, compared to a career average of 18.4. Bryant isn't likely to see a surge in value if traded, so it might be best for fantasy managers to take advantage of the hype once he is moved and do the same.

 

Zach McKinstry, Los Angeles Dodgers

7 HR - 4.4 xHR = 2.6 HR over expectation

With Gavin Lux on the IL along with the aforementioned Seager and Betts, McKinstry is going to get regular playing time for the foreseeable future at second base. While he occupies the eighth spot in the lineup most nights and this iteration of the Dodgers is a far cry from the championship team we saw last year, he might still draw interest from fantasy managers in need of a replacement at second base. McKinstry was hot to start the season, hitting .296 with three HR and 14 RBI in April and drew plenty of interest as a waiver pickup. Since then, crickets.

McKinstry doesn't have a huge homer total, but seven HR in 149 AB is promising and prorates to a 40-homer season with a full year worth of at-bats. It doesn't work that way, of course. Then there's the fact he's the eighth-biggest overachievers compared to expected home run rate. He's enjoying an 18.4% HR/FB rate that should decline. Not one of his long balls has been a 'no-doubter' which shouldn't be surprising for a guy whose game power grades out at 35. McKinstry won't produce much in the way of counting stats at the bottom of a decimated lineup and we should expect very little in the way of power going forward.

Edit: The Dodgers have acquired Trea Turner and activated Corey Seager as of July 30, which renders McKinstry irrelevant in fantasy altogether.



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