With hree months down and we are halfway through the 162 game grind of the baseball season. We have some great stories through the first half, whether they are breakouts or a guy continuing performances that seemed impossible. The first half is still an optimistic one, both for guys who have yet to start hitting, but also for the fans of players who suddenly are.
But the second half is where judgment brings down its heavy hammer. You can only fool your peripheral stats for so long, until regression comes knocking, and dampened performance follows. While we would love to just talk about how great some players have been, it’s time to look ahead and focused on the ones who had a first half that is way better than we can reasonably expect from them in the second half.
In order to do this, we need to look at a few things. First, some classic regression statistics like batting average on balls in play, as well as line drive percentage. Next, some underlying numbers like batted ball distance or hard contact percentage, both of which can explain performance in deeper detail. And then we will look to interviews and storylines to see if there is anything else we could be missing.
So, without further ado:
While it’s a lovely story down in South Florida where the promising young Yelich is finally realizing his potential, the numbers are looking hollow. While always a high BABIP guy, Yelich is up to an insane .391, a career high by far. He’s also posting a career high in line drive percentage at 24.9%, a mark that we know will come back down to around 20% in the second half of the season.
But not only are we concerned up top, part of why he’s been so successful so far has to do with finally having more power, up to league average now. But he hits fly balls under 20% (normal distribution is over 30%, with many players hitting over 40%) which will limit any long-term power output.
Yelich is a nice high contact hitter, but his contact is a step under what he’s shown so far and the power just does not exist. You may want to consider selling high.
The speedy shortstop for the Brew Crew is having a hot season leading a lot of roto owners to clamor towards the guy, with a high average and high stolen base count (26 already), not to mention he has flashed a little bit of power with six bombs already, more than the two he hit all of last year.
Even though Villar is hitting for a high average (.292) he’s been doing a lot of it by luck. His strikeout rate has jumped up to 26.8% meaning he’s been finding a lot of lucky holes in defenses that can’t always be relied on to be there. Although he’s a fast guy, his .401 BABIP is not something that can hold up forever. And about the power; even though the homer count has gone up, it looks to just be a few warning track fly balls of last year going the extra couple feet this year. His isolated power actually went down, and that’s a much better predictor of long term power output.
You can rely on Villar for speed and some contact. But don’t expect his to flirt with .300 without any serious changes to his approach at the dish, and the power that hasn’t developed by now will most likely not for a long time. I would move him if you can get a decent return, but odds are others are skeptical of his gains as well and you’ll never get fair market value. Just sit back and enjoy the ride while it lasts.
The young third baseman is similar to Yelich in that he is a little delayed in coming through with his potential, but it’s looking like 2016 could be the year. He’s breaking .300 for the first time in his career, has already matched his career high in homers, and has overall been a force in an already studded Tigers’ lineup.
Castellanos’ has some real power production, but the consistency is definitely worrisome. The BABIP of .359 compared to career mark .329 definitely leads us to believe that the batting average is definitely inflated by some lucky hits and seams in infield defense. He has also got a 26.3% liner rate, which again will have to come back down in the long run. Without the easy holes through the defense and the liners to attack the defense and turn into extra base hits, the contact is going to look less rosy.
Castellanos is looking strong, but don’t let the nice initial numbers fool you. He can keep the power to some degree, but overall he isn’t going to be nearly as productive going forward.
Don’t let former prospect pedigree fool you on evaluating these players. They are still making strides and could still be very successful ball players, but for now they have luck propping up their stats. Don’t hold too tight, regression is coming soon.
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