Lucky Hitters - 2020
Last week, we highlighted the unlucky hitters from last year. This week, we'll focus on the guys who hit dribblers and legged out infield singles, or straight up "hit em where they ain't". How can someone get lucky on a hit? Simply put, if the defense was average all around and played straight up, the jam shots, infield singles, and outfield pop ups become outs instead of hits. Just like last time, these batters had at least 150 balls in play last year.
Raimel Tapia (OF) Colorado Rockies
2020 Statistics: .321 BA / .402 SLG / .335 wOBA
2020 xStatistics: .251 xBA / .331 xSLG / .290 xwOBA
Difference: .070 / .071 / .045
For the first three years of his MLB career, Tapia struggled to capture a starting outfield spot. In 2019, Tapia captured a starting spot. In his first season as a starter, Raimel had an average .724 OPS. Most of this was thanks to his top tier speed. Last year, he had a career high batting average (.321) and slugging (.402). Combined with his speed, Tapia was able to run out a lot of grounders that typically would be outs. The negative to this performance is his paltry Statcast numbers. Although he rarely strikes out (86th percentile), Raimel was in the 25th percentile in BB%, 15th in xwOBA, 12th in Hard Hit %, 9th in xSLG, 6th in Barrel %, and 6th in EV. What this means is that Tapia's speed is bailing him out on these dribblers. Don't rely on this .321 BA from last year, although he should be the starter in the outfield for the year.
Did you know that: Raimel Tapia led the league in sprint speed at 28.6 feet/second for all DH's in 2018?
Alex Verdugo (OF) Boston Red Sox
2020 Statistics: .308 BA / .478 SLG / .362 wOBA
2020 xStatistics: .238 xBA / .369 xSLG / .298 xwOBA
Difference: .070 / .109 / .064
Verdugo is more know for his defense which was evident last year when he led the league in OF assists. For his career, he's saved 19 runs above average in the outfield. He even grabbed some MVP votes last year, after finishing 6th among all position players in WAR. Offensively, Verdugo does a great job at not swinging and missing (86th percentile). Other than that, the numbers go a little cold. He was 38th in Barrel%, 27th in Hard Hit %, 22nd in xSLG, and 21st in EV. While the xBA of .238 is off his career mark of .290, you should see some regression this year.
Did you know that: Verdugo was 21 years old when he was selected to be a member of the Mexico National Team in 2017?
DJ LeMahieu (2B, 3B, 1B) New York Yankees
2020 Statistics: .364 BA / .590 SLG / .429 wOBA
2020 xStatistics: .308 xBA / .369 xSLG / .361 xwOBA
Difference: .056 / .137 / .068
Well this was certainly interesting. Last year, LeMahieu was the best WAR player, adding 3 wins to the Yankees total, which was on pace for a Mike Trout level production. He also led the league in BA, OBP, and OPS+ in 2020. With all of this, he was third in MVP voting last year. Now to get to the fascinating part. Although the disparity of Ba to xBA was .056 points, he was still 4th in that category. He struck out the least amount (21 K's in 216 PAs), was in the 99th percentile in Whiff %, and still smacked the heck out of the ball landing in the 86th percentile. Just be careful this year with the new Yankees DJ, as you'll hear chirps of "he got the contract, so he's sandbagging it now". No honey, this is just good ole fashion regression.
Did you know that: In his senior year of high school, as a leadoff hitter, LeMahieu batted .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs scored, 32 runs batted in (RBIs), and 39 stolen bases.
BA: Batting Average
SLG: Slugging Percentage
OBP: On Base Percentage
wOBA: Weighted on base average
xBA: Expected BA
xSLG: Expected SLG
xwOBA: Expected wOBA
OPS: On Base Plus SLG
EV: Exit Velocity
WAR: Wins Above Replacement