Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox

Look at Adam Dunn. He’s just sliding in your draft and you’re so tempted to take those 40 home runs to the bank. But that .200-ish batting average is going to hurt. Look at Adam Dunn. Look at him.

Those of us in 5×5 fantasy leagues don’t have the benefit of embracing high-walk, high-power sluggers — at least not without ramifications — and so we’re always on the lookout for power paired with batting average. It’s why Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras has so many drooling over his future. It’s why we love Albert Pujols so much. That doesn’t mean these guys are easy to find.

We might have a new tool. Well, a new thing to watch out for at least. A warning: this is not scientific journal level research. This is a thing I found after talking to a baseball player that knows his craft.

I had the pleasure of talking with Joey Votto in Arizona, and, well there was a fantasy-relevant moment in our conversation:

“The ability to spread the ball all over the field prevents shifting,” he said, and with his current approach, Votto thinks he’s “a tough guy to defend.” Specifically, Votto thought that the shift (and avoiding it) might be part of the reason why his .359 batting average on balls in play leads all hitters with with more than 2000 plate appearances since 2008.

I checked it out, and indeed, opposite-field hitters enjoyed a 35 point advantage in batting average on balls in play over pull hitters in 2012. And if you limited it to power hitters, or those with above-average power at least, that advantage jumped to a whopping 62 points. Since we are looking at power hitters, it’s that advantage we are most interested in, and it goes right to the heart of the matter. If we want batting average and power, we better look for the opposite-field hitters with power.

That’s an easy search, at least since I already did the work for that piece. Shh, don’t tell Drew.

Name Bats Center% Opposite% Pull% BIP BABIP ISO
Joey Votto L 0.3574 0.3711 0.2715 291 0.404 0.23
Ryan Zimmerman R 0.3627 0.3348 0.3026 466 0.313 0.196
Chris Nelson R 0.3698 0.3132 0.317 265 0.374 0.157
Bryce Harper L 0.3747 0.3103 0.315 419 0.31 0.206
Chris Johnson R 0.3767 0.3047 0.3186 361 0.354 0.17
Michael Morse R 0.377 0.3035 0.3195 313 0.339 0.18
Ryan Braun R 0.3663 0.3011 0.3326 475 0.346 0.276
Nick Markakis L 0.3636 0.2941 0.3422 374 0.31 0.174
Nelson Cruz R 0.3318 0.294 0.3742 449 0.301 0.2
David Wright R 0.3586 0.2932 0.3481 474 0.347 0.186
Mike Trout R 0.3841 0.2927 0.3232 427 0.383 0.238
Matt Holliday R 0.3919 0.2924 0.3157 472 0.337 0.202
Matt Carpenter L 0.3833 0.2917 0.325 240 0.346 0.169
Carlos Ruiz R 0.3773 0.2914 0.3313 326 0.339 0.215
Alex Gordon L 0.3446 0.2911 0.3644 505 0.356 0.16
Josh Hamilton L 0.3374 0.291 0.3716 409 0.32 0.292
David Ortiz L 0.3116 0.2899 0.3986 276 0.316 0.293
Adrian Gonzalez L 0.351 0.2884 0.3605 527 0.334 0.164
Paul Goldschmidt R 0.3053 0.2875 0.4071 393 0.34 0.204
Andy Dirks L 0.3496 0.2857 0.3647 266 0.365 0.166
Miguel Cabrera R 0.3528 0.2849 0.3623 530 0.331 0.277

We went to 21 to get Miggie Cabs in there, cause, Miggie Cabs. What a list of the best players in fantasy baseball, amiright. And you get to love Bryce Harper even more if you were already in love with him now. I don’t know what to say about Chris Johnson’s inclusion other than ‘huh,’ but I’ll call Matt Carpenter — now the proud owner of the second base job in St. Louis most likely — a real bonafide fantasy sleeper. And Paul Goldschmidt, who is going for medium dollar, looks like he’s probably worth it. Despite his bad strikeout percentage, maybe he can show a good batting average. He’s done it before. And Andy Dirks may have some mild platoon issues, but that Detroit corner outfield needs help and maybe he can provide it. I like him in drafts this year.

There is, of course, the flip side to these sorts of things. What about the pull power hitters that may have gotten lucky on their BABIPs last year? They might be worth giving the jenky eye to. Here they are:

Name Bats Center% Opposite% Pull% BIP BABIP ISO
Chris Young R 0.3171 0.126 0.5569 246 0.263 0.203
Mark Reynolds R 0.31 0.1467 0.5433 300 0.282 0.208
Scott Hairston R 0.278 0.1932 0.5288 295 0.287 0.241
Mark Teixeira B 0.3368 0.1395 0.5237 380 0.25 0.224
Carlos Pena L 0.2987 0.1792 0.522 318 0.264 0.157
Albert Pujols R 0.3166 0.1639 0.5196 537 0.282 0.231
Edwin Encarnacion R 0.3055 0.1802 0.5143 455 0.266 0.277
Vernon Wells R 0.319 0.1667 0.5143 210 0.226 0.173
Ben Zobrist B 0.306 0.181 0.5129 464 0.296 0.202
Mike Napoli R 0.2751 0.214 0.5109 229 0.273 0.241
Dan Uggla R 0.2905 0.2011 0.5084 358 0.283 0.164
Jimmy Rollins B 0.2957 0.1978 0.5065 541 0.262 0.177
Luke Scott L 0.2815 0.2143 0.5042 238 0.259 0.21
Jose Bautista R 0.326 0.1722 0.5018 273 0.215 0.286
Wilin Rosario R 0.3289 0.1761 0.495 301 0.289 0.26
Josh Willingham R 0.3125 0.1927 0.4948 384 0.287 0.264
Carlos Beltran B 0.3248 0.1822 0.493 428 0.291 0.227
Evan Longoria R 0.293 0.214 0.493 215 0.313 0.238
Cody Ross R 0.3305 0.178 0.4915 354 0.317 0.214
Curtis Granderson L 0.3081 0.2005 0.4914 409 0.26 0.26
John Mayberry R 0.3042 0.2048 0.491 332 0.296 0.15
Matt Joyce L 0.3144 0.1973 0.4883 299 0.281 0.188
Chase Utley L 0.322 0.1932 0.4848 264 0.261 0.173
Asdrubal Cabrera B 0.3203 0.1961 0.4837 459 0.303 0.153
Carlos Santana B 0.3116 0.2077 0.4807 414 0.278 0.168
Ian Kinsler R 0.3152 0.2049 0.4799 571 0.27 0.166
Adam Dunn L 0.2679 0.2523 0.4798 321 0.246 0.263
Raul Ibanez L 0.326 0.1944 0.4796 319 0.243 0.214
Aaron Hill R 0.3593 0.1616 0.4791 526 0.317 0.22
Garrett Jones L 0.285 0.2375 0.4776 379 0.293 0.242

Albert Pujols may surprise you, but there are more components to batting average than just this. He makes a lot of contact, and that helps him. You might also notice that his opposite field percentage is decently high for this list. But if you’re not going to worry about Evan Longoria and Cody Ross, please do worry about Aaron Hill.

He also has a fly ball heavy swing that will hurt his BABIP, and he’s had BABIPs that were a hundred points lower than the one he showed last year. The guys with the lowest opposite field percentages on this list — Adam Dunn, Garret Jones, Evan Longoria, Luke Scott, Mike Napoli, Dan Uggla, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Pena and Scott Hairston — for the most part have never been known for their batting averages. Well… okay I’m a little worried about Evan Longoria’s batting average.

At least he’s not as bad as Adam Dunn. Look at Adam Dunn.