Any 30 day sample of the baseball season will have a good amount of variation. The only thing, I believe, that doesn’t vary is Mike Trout being the best. That remains a constant no matter how you slice and dice numbers. Let’s take a look at a few of the big jumps in numbers over the last 30 days and try to determine what is real improvement or simply normal variation.
Aaron Altherr has swung himself to a .465 wOBA over the last 30 days, largely due to the 7 home runs he’s hit in that time. He took a bit of time to earn himself full playing time but now that he is here he’s been hitting third in the Phillies lineup. This hot streak is definitely intriguing and there aren’t any huge red flags about his game. I’d say the only concerning item is that his launch angle is well below the ideal range. This doesn’t mean he’s automatically bad but just that he’s not THIS good. Dave Cameron has commented a couple times about Altherr’s similarities to Mitch Haniger, solid power, some speed, good fielder, good plate discipline, and overall a good-not-great player. I’m buying the breakout with the caveat that he’s probably a true .340-.360 wOBA type hitter.
One player you may not have looked into yet is Chris Taylor. He’s been good for a .419 wOBA over the past 30 days. I can’t say I’m all that familiar with Taylor but I can’t exactly completely write him off given his performance and the team he plays for, which is the Dodgers if you weren’t sure. He does have a 35% hard hit rate on the season. He should be losing his full time job shortly as Logan Forsythe is set to come off the DL this coming weekend, but I think it’s worth knowing what he has to offer as he’s bound to find playing time as a utility player. The batted ball profile doesn’t scream power with a GB% at 50%, but the plate discipline is solid. He’s likely best suited as a utility player and has simply been hot over the past 30 days.
Keon Broxton is rocking a .372 wOBA with 3 home runs and 7 stolen bases in the last 30 days. I’ve seen tweets and articles all over the place about him breaking out and judging by his tools, I can understand it. But what we also have over the last 30 days is a strikeout rate of 37.5%. Now I know he’s prone to miss on a few swings but that’s shutdown, go-back-to-the-minors level strikeouts. Unless you field like Kevin Kiermaier or hit the ball as far as Joey Gallo, you’re not going to hold a job. That’s not to say that’s where he’s headed but that is the range his K% is in right now. The hard hit % has come up recently, back to what got people excited in 2016, but there’s been drops in FB% and his contact rate sits at 63.8% on the year. The plate discipline is going to be prohibitive here to any type of sustained success. I’m not buying this mini hot stretch but enjoy it while it lasts.
Josh Bell is enjoying a wOBA of .404 over the last 30 days. I’m tempted to believe in this improvement as his xwOBA is at .385 but I’m not entirely convinced. Bell is young and has shown a strong BB% over 10 for his time in the majors, which is encouraging long term. For the time being we can see a ground ball rate at 54% and fly ball rate at 27% over the last 30 days. That leads me to the incredibly unsustainable 47% HR/FB%. That means he actually hasn’t been hitting the ball ideally for home runs and yet has stumbled into a bunch. The hard hit rate hasn’t even been special at 30%. So it’s not as much of a fakeout as Broxton but I’m still not going to be starting him in any lineups yet or jump to grab him off the waiver wire. Great player for the long term but not much to offer at this time.
Justin Smoak. We need to talk about this. wOBA at .393 but he’s only hitting .245 against righties! Don’t believe it. He’s just MASHED the lefties he’s faced to the tune of a .527 wOBA but he cannot survive based on just that success. He hits the ball hard and in the right spot and has showed improve bat to ball ability this year bumping the contact % up to 81% but I refuse to buy it. My guess is he won’t sustain the success against lefties, because who could, and he will return to his old self, or a slightly improved version. Scott White at CBS recently commented on the fantasy baseball podcast that Smoak is being more aggressive early in counts and that has led him to this success. That may be true but I can’t buy it.