Fangraphs Hitter Contact Series – LAD OF
Tony Biengino of Fangraphs is doing a fascinating series looking at hitter contact quality, utilizing exit speed, and launch angle data.
Yesterday we looked at the how the LAD infield is viewed by this data. Today we will wonder through the LAD outfield.
Yasiel Puig‘s upside remains substantial, but it’s time for him to work on the major blemishes on his offensive game. His always above-average pop-up rate really got away from him in 2016; it was far and away the highest among NL regulars. It’s even more noticeable when compared to his relatively low fly-ball rate. With the two in such proportion you get all of the risk with very little reward. In addition, his liner-rate percentile rank has now remained in single digits for three years running. Below average is fine (ask Hunter Pence), but that far below is not. To top it off, he was an extreme grounder-puller, offsetting to some extent his well above-average grounder authority.
Should he figure it out, his Adjusted Fly Ball (137), Liner (109) and Grounder (142, despite the penalty) Contact Scores tell you all you need to know. His batted-ball mix was so bad that it took those high-quality ingredients and created a soup resulting in a below-average 97 overall Adjusted Contact Score. I still believe in the upside.
Both risk and reward abound in Joc Pederson‘s profile. He destroys all BIP types, but most importantly, decimates the ball in the air (298 Unadjusted and Adjusted Contact Score, the best among NL regulars). His walk rate is high, and his significant grounder authority also affords him some batting-average insurance. His overall 159 Adjusted Contact Score was the best at his position, even better than Cespedes. It needs to be, as his K rate is a real problem. Pederson hits the ball the other way just enough to keep clubs honest, but he rates as a clear power-before-hit guy, albeit a very good one. With targeted improvements, he could be one of the stars of his generation, but the time to make those adjustments is now.
Sadly, none of the LAD left field options played enough to make the NL left fielder list. It does, however, say some nice things about Howie Kendrick.
Howie Kendrick was quite unlucky last season. His Unadjusted Contact Scores fell well short of his adjusted marks across all BIP types (103 vs. 141 Fly Ball, 82 vs. 108 Line Drive, 97 vs. 118 Grounder, 82 vs. 106 overall). Kendrick’s profile has been incredibly consistent over the years; he’s been among the most prolific opposite-field grounder and line-drive hitters in the game. The liner rate spun away from him in 2016, but I’d expect it to bounce back this season. The Phils bought relatively low on an older player with a much younger offensive profile; it’s highly likely that he can provide them with at least a .280-.340-.400 line in the near term.
Watching Joc Pederson hit is a joy for me. When he makes contact, my eyes told me he simply punished the ball, so seeing the data back that up always makes me feel like the game hasn’t completely passed me by.
I’ll have to do my own research on how Toles/Thompson fared. Applying the data to Andre given his health situation last year and small sample size would be fruitless.