Fantasy Baseball Draft Values After Pick 100
There are three essential elements that come into play when hitting a home run.
- Put a ball in play
- Hit said ball at a certain angle
- Hit said ball above a certain speed
When predicting how many home runs a certain player will hit, these sabermetrics (strikeout rate, walk rate, launch angle distributions, and launch velocity distributions) are a great place to start.
In this article, I wanted to look for hitters who put enough balls in play and hit them hard enough last year, but saw their home run production hampered by the fact that they just weren’t getting enough bullets in this optimal angle range. The reason I approach it this way is because the angle range seems to be the easiest thing for a hitter to change. We don’t see a ton of year-to-year fluctuation in player withdrawal rates or launch speed, but there is a lot of movement when you look at launch angles.
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What’s your angle
The angle range I’m interested in here is between 20 and 35 degrees. The majority of circuits affected (87%, to be precise) in 2021 came from this range. Here’s the full launch angle distribution on the tracks for those interested:
So for every batter I found these data points
- Write-off rate
- Number of home runs
- Percentage of balls hit tit between 20 and 35 degrees
- Their average velocity on balls hit between 20 and 35 degrees
We are specifically looking for players with high strikeout rates, high exit velocities on balls hit within the given angle range, but low percentages of their balls hit landing within that range. This will give us a list of players capable of hitting more home runs if they can only tweak their launch angle profile a little.
First, let’s establish what the league averages are for the numbers we’re interested in. I’m only looking at averages among skilled hitters (over 300 AP in this case).
Now on to the names of the players!
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
As if you needed more reason to be excited about Soto as a hitter, he stands out the most in this analysis.
|Category||In a way to|
Soto does a lot of walking, which gives him the opportunity to do home runs, but he eases that burden by very rarely eliminating. When he puts a ball in play, he hits it. The one thing he’s “struggled” with in his career is that launch angle. Maybe it’s a bit on purpose, but it’s still true that if he comes across a year where he increases that home run angle rate to 40%, it’s going to be some kind of big man year. .
Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles
A former top prospect, Hays hasn’t been able to put together this big fantasy season yet, but it may be too early to give up hope. Camden Yards’ modifications don’t help his cause, but everything else here screams that he could hit more homers with a slight change in his launch angle profile.
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamonds
|HR angle %||28.1%|
He racked up just 371 plate appearances last year, but he made a ton of loud contacts when he was in the batting box. His strike rate and exit speed really stand out, so we could see a huge display of power in 2022 if more of those batted balls fall within that optimal angle range, and I bet that will happen.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
To think that this guy hit 48 home runs last year, even leaving a few on the table with a hostile launch angle profile, is pretty crazy to see. Early in his career he was the guy who just couldn’t get the ball off the ground, and while he improved last year there seems to be even more room for growth with a low mark of 28.2% here.
Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miami Marlins
|HR angle %||30.2%|
It is much higher on the K% scale, but I wanted to give it a section here. Jazz hit the ball hard enough to matter last year, but didn’t get a ton of hits in that angle range.
Other names that stand out
- Corey Seager (16% K%, 30.3% Angle%, 90.2 output bike)
- Brendan Rodgers (20% K%, 30.5% Angle%, 87.2 exit speed)
- Wander Franco (12% K%, 30.6% Angle%, 87.1 exit speed)
- Hunter Renfroe (23% K%, 30.7% Angle%, 90.4 output bike)
- Mitch Haniger (25% K%, 31% Angle%, 90.7 output bike)
- Josh Donaldson (21% K%, 31.9% Angle%, 92.1 exit speed)
Here is the complete data, without restriction except for the threshold of 300 AP. You can browse it and see what other players are doing, keeping in mind the league averages I posted above. Enjoy!
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