Is It Legit 4/24: Scrutinizing Hitters On Hot Streaks

Mark Weston looks at 5 players who have been hitting very well and determines who is legit.

(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire)

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s hottest hitters.

Yoan Moncada (23 AB / 3 HR / 3 SB / .348 AVG)

Moncada is rocking a 38% strikeout rate. Even during this last week of heat he’s been striking out a lot. It doesn’t seem enough to stop him though as he has been putting up excellent fantasy stats lately. Per FanGraphs, he leads the majors with the lowest soft contact rate (4.8%). That intrigues me as he’s hitting for such good contact that the strikeout rate is actually not prohibitive, well, at least over the past week it hasn’t been. He’s crushing the ball and it is showing. The weird thing about Moncada is he actually has a really low outside swing rate (18%) so we know he doesn’t swing wildly, it’s just when he does swing for a good pitch he doesn’t always make contact. That is at least something to put him above other players going all out for hard contact. The problem is that his BABIP has been .378 and that is entirely unsustainable. Even with that sky-high BABIP he has only managed a .240 batting average on the season. I’m hopeful that this past week can lead to some plate discipline gains but I’m also way too worried he hits .200 for the rest of the season. There’s upside but I’m not ready to buy in to the batting average. NOT LEGIT

Javier Baez (25 AB / 3 HR / 9 RBI / .480 AVG)

Baez was on Is It Legit last week and I called it legit. He has only kept up the pace. I said we would expect a huge upswing in batting average and that’s exactly what we saw. xStats.org is giving him a .299 batting average on the season. He is maintaining the reduced strikeout rate as he only struck out 4 times this past week. He’s similar to Moncada as they both swing very hard but are showing improved selectivity on which pitches they are actually swinging at. Once again I’m buying in. LEGIT

Mitch Haniger (26 AB / 4 HR / .423 AVG)

Haniger is showing everything we were hoping from him this year. His strikeout rate is down, walk rate is up, hard hit rate is over 40%, fly ball rate is over 40%, and his contact rates have remained steady. He doesn’t have an inflated BABIP or any major signs of concern. Haniger should be a safe bet to continue to produce a strong batting average and great power stats. Preseason I was expecting something like a .265 batting average and 25 home runs from Haniger. With the improvements he’s shown I could see the average ending up closer to .285, depending on how the plate discipline holds up. 25 home runs seems very low considering he’s at 8 thus far. I could see him hit out as many as 35 home runs this year, if that isn’t too bold. Who knows, maybe that isn’t bold enough. He did face some weak pitching from the Texas Rangers so we won’t be hitting 4 home runs every week, but on the whole I’m liking his profile. LEGIT

Marcus Semien (27 AB / 2 HR / 2 SB / .296 AVG)

Batting leadoff for the A’s has been excellent for getting plenty of at bats for Semien. Semien does have some history being a good power/speed combo so I think even without digging into the numbers we shouldn’t be shocked to see a nice HR/SB combo week. While his slash line has been .270/.327/.420 on the year, xStats has his expected numbers at .258/.320/.410. That’s a little below where he’s at but not drastically. So while the higher average this past week was nice, we do know that we shouldn’t expect him to exceed what we’ve seen in the past. NOT LEGIT

Brandon Belt (22 AB / 4 HR / .364 AVG)

What is Brandon Belt doing? He’s supposed to be the guy with no power. Well he played every game this week away from AT&T Park and he has taken full advantage of it. Belt has become an even more extreme fly-ball and pull hitter than he already was. The fly ball percentage is up from 47% to 54% and the pull percentage is up from 39% to 48%. This may simply be normal variation but at least for the time being he seems to be yanking the ball to the max. I’m concerned this pull and fly ball rate might be too extreme. xStats.org does believe the power is legit with 5 xHR but his xAVG is down at .220. With a batting average down there a boost in power wouldn’t be worth it. This early change is interesting but its not going to push Belt into the top 10 at 1B any time soon. NOT LEGIT

Mark Weston

Mark writes for Pitcher List. He loves digging into hitters using sabermetrics all along the way. 10+ years of fantasy baseball playing experience in head-to-head, points, rotisserie, redraft, keeper, dynasty, and Ottoneu. You can follow on Twitter @Mark_Weston6

8 responses to “Is It Legit 4/24: Scrutinizing Hitters On Hot Streaks”

  1. theKraken says:

    I don’t fancy myself an expert on BABIP, but if there were ever a guy that could sustain a high one it would be Moncada, no? He hits the ball harder than any plus-plus runner that I know of. He is an otherworldly talent with a pedestrian approach.

    • hans says:

      agreed. high BABIP anomolies shouldn’t be auto-tagged with “regression coming” without looking deeper. homie hits the ball HARD which results in a higher BABIP. He may hit bumps in the road, he WILL strikeout a lot, but he also will be very, very good.

      The hot-streak may fizzle, but he will trend upward. Dude is still in his early 20’s!

      • Mark Weston says:

        Definitely agree he’s trending in the right direction. If I ever say NOT LEGIT I don’t mean to say Moncada won’t improve. Just evaluating his performance at this one point in time.

      • Haas says:

        Does hitting the ball hard result in a better BABIP?

        • Mark Weston says:

          In a vacuum, yes. Hitting the ball hard, hitting line drives, and hitting it in the right locations are the main factors that would lead to a higher BABIP. Mike Trout has a career .353 BABIP because he does all those things. But just as an example that it’s not JUST hitting the ball hard, Joey Gallo has a career BABIP of .254. He hits the ball incredibly hard but hits a ton of fly balls and pulls the ball to an extreme extent, leading him to getting shifted, etc.

    • Mark Weston says:

      Absolutely. It’s actually not even as much the BABIP being high that makes me worry there’s regression coming as much as it means he is maxed out as is. So basically to improve the AVG he’d need to simply strike out less and make contact more. But you are right, theoretically his should be that high. For what it’s worth, xStats has his xBABIP way way lower than where it is sitting right now.

  2. Maris says:

    Nice article Mark. Question. In points league, who would you choose for the rest of the season and next season between young shortstops Arcia and Rosario? I drafted Arcia for a buck, but have the chance to pick up Rosario next week in first Free Agent grab. Same price. Thanks

    • Mark Weston says:

      Quite honestly they are about the same thing. Both some speed and theoretically some BA, neither is showing much of anything. I’d probably go Rosario out of those two just because he’s more of an unknown. Arcia has built up a solid track record at this point of being sort of meh.

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