Second Half Bats to Buy

Today I want to take a look at some hitters worth buying in the second half. I’m primarily going to focus on guys that are hitting the ball hard using data both from Statcast and Fangraphs that can help identify players who are hitting better than some people might think and could be acquired at a discount.

Khris Davis

He has become a name brand over the past few years – back to back 40 homer seasons will do that to a guy. However, Davis has been a bit cold as of late and there might be a little bit of daylight as far as being able to buy.  I wouldn’t expect a huge discount, but it only takes a fractional discount to make gains for your team.

Khris Davis has a hard hit rate of 47.6% according to fangraphs, which is 8th highest in the league this year.  Statcast backs this up by pointing out he has the 9th highest exit velocity (93.4 MPH). Statcast also says his xwOBA is about 40 points lower than where it should be – this is a great way to identify buy-low profiles. It’s also worth pointing out that Davis is hitting even more balls in the air this year than he has in the past with a 47.2% rate.

In spite of the fact that he’s crushing the ball and putting the ball in the air a lot, his home run to flyball rate has actually dropped. It’s only 19.1% this year which is 3% off his career and about 7% off of his previous two seasons.  There’s reason to believe that a homer flurry is coming soon.

You aren’t going to steal Davis from anyone.  If you’re behind in power stats in a roto league this is the kind of guy to target.  Try to buy him for 90 cents on the dollar and you might end up getting his best months of the season.  A guy who hits the ball this hard and in the air that much is bound to have some positive homer regression coming his way.  Currently Davis is on pace for 34 home runs, but I think he gets to 40 again based on the batted ball data.




Shin-Soo Choo

I’ve long been a Choo admirer but did not believe he would return to this type of status.  He has been a top ten outfielder in most formats to this point, though his value among fantasy owners is not even close to that.  I’ve been able to acquire him a few places as a “throw in” just to show you how little some think of him. I’m not certain Choo can maintain top ten status, but there’s a lot to like about him this year.

Choo is hitting the ball hard 46.9% of the time according to Fangraphs and is also hitting the most fly balls since 2011 (31.1%).  His BABIP is a bit high at .349 as are his ground balls at 46.1%. The ground ball percentage is actually better than his career norm, and it sort of makes sense that he would have an elevated BABIP given how often he’s hitting the ball hard.  His batting eye is as good as it’s ever been with a 14.6% walk rate, and compared to others in the league his strikeout rate is fairly solid at 22.1%. His xwOBA is also 16th best in the league at .407, just behind the likes of Freddie Freeman and Aaron Judge.

There’s a lot to like about Choo’s batting profile and it should only be more exciting given his history as a former All-Star. Plus his home park is prime this time a year for home runs and the temperature hits its peak. Choo is old and injury prone, and fantasy owners are notoriously ageist making a discount all but assured. He is a potential asset in all formats, but could have the most value in points league given his league best 12th ranked walk rate. There’s always the chance he gets hurt or traded to a less friendly hitting environment, but I am targeting Choo everywhere.

Aaron Hicks

This one is fun for me to write as a Yankees fan and someone who was high on Hicks coming into the year. The early season injury forced me to drop him in some shallow leagues and I’ve been regretting it ever since.  Hicks has been percolating for the last year plus and if not for injuries I believe his value would be much higher.

Hicks is hitting the ball hard 43% of the time, has a 42% fly ball rate, and has a really nice 12.7% walk rate. This penchant for getting on base frequently lands him in the leadoff spot of one of the more fierce lineups in recent history.  The run scoring potential for Hicks at the top of that order is bananas. Hicks’ xwOBA is .379, which puts him next to names like Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, and Carlos Santana.

Hicks was a big prospect with the Twins way back in the day, and it appears that he’s finally making good on his prospect pedigree.  It’s pretty clear to me that Hicks is an impact fantasy player in all formats, but he gets a slight boost in points given the plate discipline and run scoring potential.  Plus his defense is going to keep him in the lineup as long as he’s healthy so the at bats will be there.

Like Choo, health is the only thing that can keep Hicks from being an asset.  Also like Choo, I think he will be undervalued in anything but a Yankees home league where he might actually be overvalued. I prefer Choo to Hicks, but they’re of similar value.  He has top 25 outfielder potential in points and OBP leagues.

*****

Enjoy the break and try to take advantage of the impatience that’s often associated with it.  Many owners are frustrated with how their team has performed to date and some get restless with the stoppage in play.  You might catch a trigger happy owner and be able to make a nice incremental gain to your team.

 

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Mike Sheehan

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Comedian, Powerlifter, and most importantly a Cum Laude graduate of the fantasy baseball school of hard knocks. Double major in points and categories with a minor in roto. Happy to be doing my Postgraduate work here at the Fantasy Assembly.