It’s never easy to figure out which ways to slice and dice baseball data to find valuable information. There’s an infinite number of ways and sample size is always a concern. But if we wait long enough to know we’ve got a large enough sample then you’ve likely already missed the boat in your fantasy league. Today I want to take a peak at which players have boosted their hard hit rate (per FanGraphs) the most from April to May. We are only to May 23rd but that’s a good enough sample for me. And yes, of course the month cutoff is completely arbitrary but I figured it might still be worthwhile to see who may have started overly cold and has started to heat up.
At the top of our list is Matt Carpenter who has boosted his hard hit rate by 23.8%, which is impressive considering his 32.7% in April wasn’t even that low. Carpenter has gone off the deep end hitting 63% fly balls in May. This is largely responsible for the low BABIP you see; not that anyone is complaining as he’s launched 6 bombs already this month. But regardless of where the balls are going, it’s great to see Carpenter has regained the superb hard hit rates from previous years. He looks primed to continue his excellent contributions to your fantasy team. I made the argument in the pre-season that Carp could be a top 5 2B and 3B and if he keeps this kind of hard hit rate up he should end up in that range.
I feel like these next four names all belong in the same group. Each of Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, George Springer, and Kyle Seager all have disappointed their fantasy owners in the first month, and each have gone from a hard hit rate in the 20%’s in April to the 40%’s in May. These four are having varying degrees of success so far as Springer and Trumbo are still riding low BABIPs in May and Seager still isn’t getting it out of the yard all that often, but nonetheless the huge jump in HH% is indicative of these guys getting back to their old ways.
Jose Reyes is sixth on the list of HH% increases jumping from 15.9% to 34.5%. I won’t waste too many words on this as Reyes is not very fantasy relevant except in the deepest of leagues and a 34.5 HH% isn’t drastically over league average anyway.
Tommy Joseph is next and has been exactly what you hoped for if you drafted him, well at least in May. All we need from Joseph is for him to get back to the plate discipline and contact numbers he showed last year. If he does that then he might be able to hold off hot hitting Rhys Hoskins in AAA. If Joseph doesn’t then we will probably just keep getting a .250-.260 average with 25-ish power, which is solid for a corner infield spot or emergency injury replacement but that’s about it.
There are several other names here that are picking things up to where we had initially expected, such as Carlos Beltran, Salvador Perez, Anthony Rendon, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Abreu, and Curtis Granderson. Brandon Drury interests me as he’s still in his early years and we aren’t 100% sure what he’s going to look like yet. If he maintains a HH% above 35% he’s going to start getting real relevant real fast. Randal Grichuk sort of intrigues me a bit as in May he’s gone full Schimpf with a fly ball % of 57.4% but he’s still not producing in the slightest. I might simply keep an eye on him for now as balls should be leaving the park more than the 1 he’s contributed so far this month.
Just off this list are a few other names that I wanted to mention as they are starting to hit the ball harder; including Ben Zobrist, Melky Cabrera, Kevin Kiermaier, Nomar Mazara, Kyle Schwarber, and Mike Trout. So if you are considering having doubts about any of these I’d suggest digging a bit more into their splits as they might be heating up. Well, not Mike Trout, he’s just going from his regular, old production of a .470 wOBA in April up to a .498 wOBA in May. I’ll just leave you with that. Just amazing.