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Fantasy Baseball: Using Expected Strikeout Rate For Hitters

The sun is shining, baseball is actually being played, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa have found new teams, and Justin Verlander is back on a mound! There is so much to be excited about right now!

With the lockout over, fantasy baseball drafts are in full swing. Thus, time is running out to conduct our fantasy baseball prep for the upcoming season. We need to solidify our evaluations of players from a fantasy perspective, making now the last time to get in any information before we are on the clock!

Recently, we took a look at underlying metrics for pitchers to try to calculate their expected strikeout rate. Today, we’ll do the same, but for hitters! We tend to think of strikeout rate as a stable statistic, and for good reason; its coefficient of determination from season-to-season (r^2=.73) suggests a strong relationship when using last year’s strikeout rate to project next year’s strikeout rate. That being said, there are some cases where hitters overperform or underperform where their strikeout rate SHOULD be, leading to potential regression the following season.

Rejoice! There will be baseball in 2022! Why not celebrate with one of our Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!

Using data such as whiff rate, swinging-strike rate, and called-strike-whiff rate (CSW%), I was able to create a weighting system by testing the correlation of each of these variables when it comes to predicting NEXT year’s strikeout rate. After all, we’re looking for it be predictive, whereas most expected statistics are descriptive.

After testing the correlations of each of the variables and creating a weighting system, expected strikeout rate was born! Going back to 2014, it has quite a strong relationship (r^2= .83) with that year’s strikeout rate, but it wasn’t as predictive (r^2=.626) as previous strikeout rate. However, by weighting previous strikeout rate and projected strikeouts properly, it became as predictive as previous strikeout rate.

You can get by projecting future strikeout rate by using past strikeout rate. However, there are some cases where it may not be as helpful. For starters, what if the player has a limited sample size? Their strikeout rate could be skewed in one way or another, meaning that the underlying metrics will better determine their overall true talent. Or, what if they simply were an outlier? Being able to find which players clearly deserved better or worse strikeout rates can be critical when finding potential overvalued or undervalued hitters.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at which hitters overachieved and underachieved last season, based on their strikeout rate. By the end of this, we should be able to solidify our evaluation of certain hitters, whether strengthening our case for them or giving more reason to potentially be wary of them. So, who ends up on each end of the spectrum? Let us find out!

Stats via Fangraphs and Baseball Savant

Average Draft Position (ADP) via NFBC Drafts Since March 1st

Expected Strikeout Rate (xK%)- Hitters

These Hitters Had More Strikeouts Than Expected

PitcherK%Expected K%Diff
Myles Straw19.00%12.59%6.41%
LaMonte Wade Jr.23.40%17.06%6.34%
Brandon Belt27.00%21.07%5.93%
Nathaniel Lowe25.20%19.57%5.63%
Dylan Moore29.40%23.84%5.56%
Billy McKinney26.30%20.92%5.38%
Darin Ruf27.90%22.57%5.33%
Matt Duffy19.60%14.63%4.97%
Robbie Grossman23.10%18.26%4.84%
Adam Duvall31.40%26.70%4.70%
Matt Chapman32.50%27.85%4.65%
Patrick Wisdom40.80%36.19%4.61%
Brett Gardner21.70%17.18%4.52%
Jarred Kelenic28.10%23.87%4.23%
Trent Grisham22.60%18.46%4.14%
Tucker Barnhart25.80%21.73%4.07%
Josh Rojas24.90%20.83%4.07%
Alec Bohm26.60%22.60%4.00%
Jared Walsh26.00%22.02%3.98%
Max Stassi31.70%27.82%3.88%
James McCann27.90%24.08%3.82%
Tyler Naquin23.30%19.57%3.73%
Eugenio Suarez29.80%26.10%3.70%
Yordan Alvarez24.20%20.56%3.64%
Christian Yelich23.80%20.32%3.48%
Mike Yastrzemski24.60%21.14%3.46%
Bradley Zimmer35.10%31.84%3.26%
J.P. Crawford16.60%13.40%3.20%
Franmil Reyes32.00%29.00%3.00%
Kyle Schwarber27.00%24.13%2.87%
Ben Gamel26.30%23.53%2.77%
Marwin Gonzalez25.40%22.64%2.76%
Rafael Ortega21.20%18.48%2.72%
Rougned Odor27.70%25.08%2.62%
Martin Maldonado29.80%27.19%2.61%
Brad Miller29.70%27.10%2.60%
Colin Moran24.20%21.66%2.54%
Cesar Hernandez21.20%18.67%2.53%
Justin Upton29.60%27.07%2.53%
Marcus Semien20.20%17.73%2.47%
Freddy Galvis19.50%17.03%2.47%
Ke'Bryan Hayes22.00%19.59%2.41%
Pavin Smith19.40%17.01%2.39%
Joey Gallo34.60%32.22%2.38%
D.J. Stewart28.00%25.65%2.35%
Tommy Pham22.80%20.49%2.31%
Miguel Sano34.40%32.10%2.30%
Tyler Stephenson18.70%16.40%2.30%
Brandon Nimmo20.50%18.34%2.16%
Gio Urshela24.70%22.64%2.06%
Jazz Chisholm Jr.28.60%26.62%1.98%
Josh VanMeter26.80%24.82%1.98%
Jake Bauers24.80%22.98%1.82%
Ronald Acuna Jr.23.60%21.91%1.69%
Gavin Lux21.80%20.17%1.63%
Michael Conforto21.70%20.10%1.60%
Tom Murphy30.50%28.92%1.58%
Alex Dickerson24.40%22.84%1.56%
Ji-Man Choi28.50%26.96%1.54%
Ian Happ29.20%27.67%1.53%
Joc Pederson24.30%22.81%1.49%
Gary Sanchez27.50%26.02%1.48%
Garrett Hampson23.90%22.43%1.47%
Bo Bichette19.90%18.45%1.45%
Anthony Santander23.10%21.67%1.43%
Yoan Moncada25.50%24.12%1.38%
Luis Urias20.40%19.07%1.33%
Gregory Polanco27.20%25.93%1.27%
Ketel Marte16.00%14.75%1.25%
Yan Gomes20.80%19.59%1.21%
Jose Ramirez13.70%12.51%1.19%
Paul DeJong25.60%24.42%1.18%
Christian Vazquez16.90%15.73%1.17%
Guillermo Heredia23.30%22.18%1.12%
Jed Lowrie21.10%19.99%1.11%
Max Kepler19.60%18.51%1.09%
Jeff McNeil13.60%12.52%1.08%
Ramon Laureano25.90%24.82%1.08%
Brendan Rodgers20.20%19.15%1.05%
Cedric Mullins II18.50%17.46%1.04%
Justin Turner16.00%14.96%1.04%
Mark Canha20.50%19.47%1.03%
Randal Grichuk20.90%19.90%1.00%
Jeimer Candelario21.60%20.63%0.97%
Cody Bellinger26.90%25.96%0.94%
Yasmani Grandal21.90%20.96%0.94%
Alex Bregman13.30%12.37%0.93%
Mike Zunino35.20%34.28%0.92%
Rhys Hoskins24.40%23.50%0.90%
Will Smith20.20%19.35%0.85%
Austin Riley25.40%24.58%0.82%
Phil Gosselin21.70%20.89%0.81%
Mookie Betts15.60%14.82%0.78%
Jorge Polanco18.30%17.54%0.76%
Akil Baddoo26.50%25.75%0.75%
Kyle Tucker15.90%15.15%0.75%
J.T. Realmuto24.00%23.27%0.73%
Niko Goodrum32.90%32.18%0.72%
Jake Cronenworth14.00%13.35%0.65%
Chris Taylor28.70%28.06%0.64%
Christian Walker23.80%23.17%0.63%
DJ LeMahieu13.80%13.18%0.62%
Victor Robles23.00%22.39%0.61%
George Springer23.10%22.50%0.60%
Aaron Judge25.00%24.41%0.59%
Kevin Pillar23.30%22.75%0.55%
Victor Caratini23.00%22.47%0.53%
Jonathan Villar26.10%25.61%0.49%
Andrew McCutchen23.00%22.58%0.42%
Sean Murphy25.40%25.08%0.32%
Raimel Tapia13.10%12.78%0.32%
Ty France16.30%15.99%0.31%
Austin Hedges27.90%27.63%0.27%
Hunter Renfroe22.70%22.46%0.24%
David Bote22.30%22.13%0.17%
Dylan Carlson24.60%24.45%0.15%
Asdrubal Cabrera22.70%22.55%0.15%
Daulton Varsho21.30%21.16%0.14%
Juan Lagares23.20%23.07%0.13%
Luis Torrens26.20%26.09%0.11%
Eduardo Escobar20.70%20.62%0.08%
Jorge Alfaro31.80%31.74%0.06%
Seth Brown29.00%28.94%0.06%
Leury Garcia20.50%20.49%0.01%
Jonathan India22.30%22.30%0.00%

OF Myles Straw, Cleveland Guardians

At this current juncture of the sport, baseball players are thought to all fill a similar prototype- high strikeout rate, strong power, not many stolen bases. Whether that is true or not is what to focus on here.

Rather, let’s take joy when a player with unique skills comes aboard. In this case, that is Myles Straw. The 5’10” center fielder possesses close to zero power, as evidenced by his four home runs in 638 plate appearances last season. Sure, his defense is exceptional, keeping him in the lineup. That said, this isn’t important for fantasy baseball!

Straw’s value is tied to his stolen bases. I personally have Straw projected for 28-29 stolen bases this season, while ATC projections are the highest on him with 31 stolen bases. Regardless, as a top-35 outfielder in NFBC drafts since the start of March, he needs to get on base to score runs, while producing a strong enough batting average to be a plus contributor in that department.

Something that can help Straw is if his strikeouts were to go down. A 19% strikeout rate is more than reasonable in today’s game, but for someone who doesn’t hit for power at all, it would be extremely optimal for him to be in as strong of a position to hit for average.

Luckily, there are indications Straw’s strikeout rate should already have been lower than it was. Among hitters with 400 plate appearances, he has the fourth-lowest swinging strike rate (4.8%), and the sixth-highest contact rate (88.6%). The problem for Straw has been an immense amount of called strikes (21.2%), which put him in the defensive more times than not.

Since called strikes aren’t a great future indicator of next year’s strikeout rate, there is hope Straw’s strikeout rate comes down, allowing for a higher batting average. With how limited he is in power and RBI, it’s hard to see him returning the investment as the 35th outfielder. That being said, a dip in strikeout rate would go a long way.

1B/OF LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants

When a breakout player emerges, it can be very difficult to evaluate them. Were they a “flash in the pan”, or are they here to stay? That’s what we are trying to figure out.

You don’t win 107 games without some contributions from unexpected sources. The Giants happened to have a lot of breakout performers in 2021, and LaMonte Wade Jr. was at the top of that list. In 381 plate appearances, he slugged 18 home runs, was well above league-average with a 117 weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+), and worked his way to the top of a strong lineup against righties. Remember, this is all from a player who wasn’t even on the Opening Day roster!

In terms of Wade’s power, there is a lot to be optimistic about. His 10.6% barrel rate is a strong mark, while he hits plenty of fly balls (31.5%). That latter part, combined with a high (46.5%) pull rate, is going to allow him to hit for even more power than his barrel rate suggests, a la Marcus Semien. Even in a tough ballpark for hitters, there is a strong chance he once again exceeds projections based on his power.

What I want to focus on with Wade Jr, however, is his overall plate skills. On the surface, a 23.4% strikeout rate doesn’t seem overall impressive, but it’s very hard to expect that number not to come down this season. Wade Jr. had just an 8.2% swinging-strike rate, while his 20% whiff rate ranked in the 80th percentile. Yet, his strikeouts ranked in the 35th percentile.

This isn’t an issue about taking too many called strikes; Wade’s 16.6% called-strike rate was more than reasonable, while he was more aggressive in the zone (69.7% zone-swing) than the average hitter. In simple terms, he checks the boxes in all the categories we’re looking for. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade Jr.’s strikeout rate dips below 20%, but it should definitely be lower than last year. Don’t think of him as a drain of your batting average; rather, see him as someone who can hit .250 with power, and even provided some stolen bases and runs along the way. Going past pick #300, he’s a great late-round target in fantasy baseball drafts.

1B Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers

Every year, we’re searching for the next big breakout. After Cedric MullinsRobbie RayAustin RileyFreddy Peralta, and so many other players vastly exceeded their ADP last season, we are trying to figure out who could follow in their footsteps this year.

In my opinion, I don’t think we should discount Nathaniel Lowe as a player who could take a major step forward this season. After he posted a 141 wRC+ with a .289/.421/.508 slash line in Triple-A, Lowe started to gain more attention as a prospect. After all, this is a prospect that, between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A in 2018, had a 178 wRC+; that is absurd production.

Unfortunately for Lowe, that minor-league production didn’t translate into strong production in his first 245 MLB plate appearances. His 107 wRC+ was there due to strong power, but there were concerns about his 31.8% strikeout rate; he needed a high .333 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) to post a .251 batting average. Eventually, the Rays, who had a lot of different first base options, traded him to the Rangers, who envisioned him showcasing better plate skills to go along with strong power in the middle of their lineup.

With a 115 wRC+, Lowe was a steady bat for Texas, though, ideally, you’d want more power from your first baseman. His isolated power of .151 isn’t ideal, while he also struck out 25.4% of the time. For fantasy, the only real standout skill he had was the eight stolen bases, but that isn’t what is going to put him over the edge.

Don’t let Lowe’s replacement-level production prevent you from seeing the potential that may be present with him. With a 91st percentile max exit velocity, 77th percentile average exit velocity, and 74th percentile hard-hit rate, it’s clear that hits the ball with some clear authority. Unfortunately, he had a very high 54.5% ground-ball rate, keeping his barrel rate (9.5%) in the single digits.

Lowe has had ground-ball issues at times, but not at this rate. After early struggles with high fastballs, he flattened his swing in 2021. Sure, that allowed him to fix that hole in his swing, but it may have also led to the high frequency of ground balls. Working with new offensive coordinator Donnie Ecker, who was a pivotal part of the Giants’ offensive success last year, it’s possible that the swing change he needs to make happens.

Then, there is Lowe’s strikeout rate. Although his 25.2% strikeout rate doesn’t seem optimal, his swinging-strike rate (9.3%), contact rate (79.1%), and CSW% (26.1%) all rate above-average. We may see at least a  slight drop in his .339 BABIP last year, but that should be made up for with the drop in strikeout rate.

If you’re looking for this year’s breakout first baseman to target, Lowe fits that bill. The raw power is there, and now he’ll get to work with new hitting coaches to fix up his swing. With stronger plate skills than his strikeout rate would indicate, we could see him post a respectable batting average, more power than expected, and some speed as well. Add in the playing time he’ll get hitting in the middle of the lineup behind Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, and there certainly is a lot to be enamored with!

These Hitters Had Less Strikeouts Than Expected

PitcherK%Expected K%Diff
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.15.80%23.18%-7.38%
Avisail Garcia23.50%30.79%-7.29%
Harold Ramirez15.50%22.34%-6.84%
Corey Seager16.10%22.72%-6.62%
Edmundo Sosa19.30%25.89%-6.59%
Nick Castellanos20.70%27.26%-6.56%
Maikel Franco16.60%22.72%-6.12%
Brandon Crawford19.10%25.20%-6.10%
Jesus Aguilar18.20%23.86%-5.66%
Yadier Molina16.70%22.01%-5.31%
Salvador Perez25.60%30.67%-5.07%
Kevin Newman7.40%12.44%-5.04%
Alcides Escobar16.00%21.00%-5.00%
Bryce Harper22.40%26.99%-4.59%
Didi Gregorius16.40%20.88%-4.48%
Nelson Cruz21.60%25.94%-4.34%
Elias Diaz16.20%20.51%-4.31%
Javier Baez33.60%37.72%-4.12%
Manny Machado15.90%19.80%-3.90%
Miguel Rojas13.70%17.32%-3.62%
Amed Rosario20.40%24.01%-3.61%
Jose Trevino18.90%22.36%-3.46%
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.18.90%22.28%-3.38%
Austin Hays20.20%23.42%-3.22%
Teoscar Hernandez24.90%28.07%-3.17%
Jose Iglesias14.70%17.84%-3.14%
Trea Turner17.00%20.13%-3.13%
Anthony Rizzo15.10%18.20%-3.10%
Josh Harrison13.40%16.45%-3.05%
Elvis Andrus15.00%18.05%-3.05%
Nick Ahmed22.00%25.05%-3.05%
Harold Castro21.20%24.24%-3.04%
A.J. Pollock19.00%22.01%-3.01%
Eric Hosmer17.50%20.36%-2.86%
Mitch Haniger24.50%27.33%-2.83%
Jonathan Schoop19.70%22.41%-2.71%
Jose Abreu21.70%24.40%-2.70%
Carlos Santana15.50%18.18%-2.68%
Jason Heyward19.30%21.90%-2.60%
Willi Castro24.20%26.77%-2.57%
Carson Kelly20.60%23.06%-2.46%
Ozzie Albies18.70%21.12%-2.42%
Jean Segura13.80%16.15%-2.35%
Juan Soto14.20%16.52%-2.32%
Rafael Devers21.50%23.80%-2.30%
Wilmer Flores12.80%15.06%-2.26%
Matt Olson16.80%18.95%-2.15%
Charlie Blackmon15.60%17.74%-2.14%
Starlin Castro17.90%19.93%-2.03%
Starling Marte18.80%20.81%-2.01%
Francisco Lindor18.30%20.30%-2.00%
Trey Mancini23.20%25.20%-2.00%
Gleyber Torres20.20%22.20%-2.00%
Josh Bell17.80%19.77%-1.97%
Andrelton Simmons13.70%15.65%-1.95%
Aledmys Diaz19.40%21.34%-1.94%
Kyle Seager24.00%25.91%-1.91%
Enrique Hernandez18.80%20.70%-1.90%
Josh Donaldson21.00%22.84%-1.84%
Fernando Tatis Jr.28.00%29.83%-1.83%
Paul Goldschmidt20.00%21.82%-1.82%
C.J. Cron21.40%23.21%-1.81%
David Fletcher9.00%10.70%-1.70%
J.D. Martinez23.70%25.39%-1.69%
David Peralta17.10%18.78%-1.68%
Pete Alonso19.90%21.56%-1.66%
Wander Franco12.00%13.63%-1.63%
Nick Solak20.90%22.52%-1.62%
Harrison Bader21.20%22.74%-1.54%
Jace Peterson22.50%24.04%-1.54%
Manuel Margot15.10%16.61%-1.51%
Xander Bogaerts18.70%20.17%-1.47%
Kevin Kiermaier25.40%26.86%-1.46%
Buster Posey19.20%20.66%-1.46%
Eddie Rosario14.80%16.25%-1.45%
Odubel Herrera15.70%17.05%-1.35%
Willson Contreras28.60%29.94%-1.34%
Jose Altuve13.40%14.73%-1.33%
Brandon Lowe27.20%28.53%-1.33%
Donovan Solano16.90%18.16%-1.26%
Ronald Torreyes11.90%13.16%-1.26%
Tim Anderson21.60%22.83%-1.23%
Abraham Toro14.40%15.59%-1.19%
Nolan Arenado14.70%15.85%-1.15%
Dominic Smith22.70%23.83%-1.13%
Bryan Reynolds18.40%19.53%-1.13%
Ryan Mountcastle27.50%28.59%-1.09%
Carlos Correa18.10%19.10%-1.00%
Jacob Stallings19.90%20.88%-0.98%
Isiah Kiner-Falefa13.30%14.26%-0.96%
Whit Merrifield14.30%15.25%-0.95%
Kyle Farmer18.30%19.18%-0.88%
Andrew Benintendi18.00%18.88%-0.88%
Jorge Soler23.60%24.40%-0.80%
Giancarlo Stanton27.10%27.89%-0.79%
Hunter Dozier28.40%29.19%-0.79%
Randy Arozarena28.10%28.88%-0.78%
Corey Dickerson18.60%19.37%-0.77%
Jackie Bradley Jr.30.80%31.56%-0.76%
Wil Myers28.20%28.95%-0.75%
Yandy Diaz15.70%16.45%-0.75%
Kris Bryant23.00%23.73%-0.73%
Freddie Freeman15.40%16.12%-0.72%
Austin Slater27.50%28.21%-0.71%
Nicky Lopez13.10%13.81%-0.71%
Bobby Dalbec34.40%35.09%-0.69%
Chas McCormick32.50%33.15%-0.65%
Yuli Gurriel11.20%11.84%-0.64%
Joey Wendle22.60%23.22%-0.62%
Kolten Wong16.90%17.51%-0.61%
Alex Verdugo15.90%16.49%-0.59%
Rowdy Tellez20.00%20.57%-0.57%
Trevor Larnach34.60%35.17%-0.57%
Austin Meadows20.60%21.16%-0.56%
Yonathan Daza18.10%18.62%-0.52%
Eric Haase31.20%31.71%-0.51%
Michael A. Taylor27.30%27.80%-0.50%
Jesse Winker15.50%15.94%-0.44%
Willy Adames28.10%28.53%-0.43%
Miguel Cabrera22.40%22.83%-0.43%
Shohei Ohtani29.60%29.95%-0.35%
Michael Brantley10.40%10.71%-0.31%
Adam Frazier10.80%11.10%-0.30%
Joey Votto23.80%24.09%-0.29%
Pedro Severino26.00%26.27%-0.27%
Max Muncy20.30%20.56%-0.26%
Jurickson Profar15.80%16.03%-0.23%
Andrew Vaughn21.50%21.71%-0.21%
Adolis Garcia31.20%31.36%-0.16%
Tommy Edman13.70%13.85%-0.15%
Luis Arraez10.00%10.13%-0.13%
Dansby Swanson25.60%25.72%-0.12%
Ryan McMahon24.70%24.78%-0.08%
Trevor Story23.40%23.44%-0.04%
Omar Narvaez18.90%18.92%-0.02%
Tyler O'Neill31.30%31.32%-0.02%
Tony Kemp12.80%12.81%-0.01%

1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays

When you’re considered the #1 prospect in the sport and one of the most hyped-up young sluggers in recent memory, expectations are going to be sky high. Thus, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posted a 107 wRC+ with a .174 isolated power (ISO) through his first 757 MLB plate appearances, there was a sense that he was a disappointment.

That being said, that isn’t poor production when you consider he was just 20 and 21 years old. When you take age into account, there was reason to continue to be optimistic, as most projections were. So was, for the most part, the fantasy baseball community; according to, he was the fourth first baseman off the board in the NFBC Main Event, which was certainly a leap of faith.

With a track record of elite minor-league production, strong plate skills, and tons of raw power, the upside with Guerrero Jr. was through the roof. That being said, with a ground-ball rate over 50%, his power was being suppressed. Fortunately, that started to change for the better in 2021:

  • 2019: 50.4% GB, 7.7% Barrel
  • 2020: 54.6% GB, 8.7% Barrel
  • 2021: 45.6% GB, 15.1% Barrel

It’s not a major change, but strong enough, especially with the increase in contact quality. Anyway, what we’re about here is Guerrero Jr.’s contact quantity. He had the biggest difference between expected strikeout rate and actual strikeout rate, and it makes sense why. For perspective, his 27.7% whiff rate ranked in the 28th percentile, while his 15.8% strikeout rate ranked in the 82nd percentile. That doesn’t add up.

Or, does it? Guerrero is an aggressive hitter in the zone, leading to a low 12.5% called-strike hitters; pitchers also avoided the zone against him. It’s a little weird his best year in terms of strikeouts came when his swinging-strike rate (12.2%) and whiff rate were at their highest points, though perhaps he’s the outlier- almost all projections actually have his strikeout rate dipping down lower in 2022. That being said, this does give me the slightest bit of pause regarding his ability to hit .300 again; even if it’s the median outcome, the downside might be slightly higher than we would hope for.

SS Corey Seager, Texas Rangers

When you sign a 10-year, $325 million contract, you’re going to be expected to step in as the face of the franchise. That’s what Corey Seager will face after signing with the Texas Rangers, who will look to Seager to be the anchor that gets them back into playoff contention.

Prior to 2018, in his first two full seasons, Seager had established himself as one of the best players in all of baseball. The former Dodgers shortstop posted a 135 wRC+ and .305/.374/.502 slash line, while manning shortstop for one of the best teams in baseball. Unfortunately, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2018, forcing him to miss most of that season.

This takes us to 2019, where Seager was still clearly getting back into form. His wRC+ fell to 112, while his power output (.211) looks less impressive considering it came in the juiced-ball season. At that point, there was some concern if Seager would get back to being the player he once was. Well, that certainly looks silly in hindsight.

Since 2020, Seager has a 148 wRC, a .306/.381/.545 slash line, and an increased 13.7% barrel rate. After all, there’s a reason he earned the contract that Texas gave him that contract. What I want to focus on, though, is his strikeout rate. In 2019, it sat at 18.1%. Since then, he cut it down to 16.1%.

Considering his 14% swinging-strike rate was a career-high mark, it wouldn’t make sense that Seager would have such a low strikeout rate. Well, some of this may have to do with his approach. See, hitters who are more aggressive in the zone take less called strikes, and thus naturally strike out a bit less than the swinging-strike rate or whiff rate would suggest. Clearly, Seager has adopted this approach:

1B Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins

It is always fun to see players bloom at unexpected stages of their career. For Jesus Aguilar, this came in 2018. As a 28-year-old, he posted a 135 wRC+ with a .264 ISO and was even the #1 seed in the home run derby. After establishing himself in the middle of the Brewers lineup, he was expected to be an anchor moving forward.

Instead, Aguilar had a down season in 2019, posting an 89 wRC+ with just a .153 ISO between Milwaukee and the Rays. Meanwhile, he was then non-tendered by Tampa, signing with the Marlins as a stopgap first baseman. Since then, he’s been more than that:

  • .265/.336/.458, .193 ISO, 115 wRC+

Aguilar has certainly rebounded well from that poor 2019 season, and will now find himself in the middle of the Marlins lineup for the third straight season. What is most interesting, though, is the continual decrease in his strikeout rate:


Do note that Aguilar barely played between 2014 and 2016; the focus is on the continual decline of the strikeout rate from 2017 on. For the most part, this checks out with him making more contact. That being said, there is one caveat.

See, Aguilar’s 10.9% swinging-strike rate and 29% CSW are actually higher than where they were in 2019, where he had a 22% strikeout rate. With slightly worse peripheral metrics, it’s strange that his strikeout rate would go down about four percentage points from that span.

So, which is the real strikeout rate for Aguilar. Based on his expected strikeout rate, I’m inclined to lean on 2019 as a barometer. This will place more pressure on his power for him to contribute in terms of fantasy; replicating his .261 batting average from last season is going to be extremely difficult. As one of the more fun players in the MLB, I’ll certainly be rooting for Aguilar. Please, Jesus, prove the metric wrong!

For more great analysis and rankings, make sure to check out the 2022 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!
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