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.
“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.
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:
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.