For the first month of the season, the focus of this column has been on the “expected” statistics. They generally allow us to gauge which hitters or pitchers are putting themselves in a position to deliver but simply aren’t getting the expected results. Now that numbers are beginning to stabilize, we will turn our attention toward a different group of numbers.
There are a few metrics often used to determine how well a ball was hit — after all, not every batted ball event is created equally. “Barrels” has gained popularity over the years and, while it sounds self-explanatory, the definition is a little more scientific than some would expect. The full description can be read here, but the key takeaway is that “barrels” should lead to some of the highest success rates for hitters.
Barrels per Plate Appearance: Batters
Below are two tables for Barrels per Plate Appearance by batters. The first is sorted by Barrels/PA — where the higher number is better — while the second is sorted by Batted Ball Events (BBE), and only qualified hitters were included.
- It’s not difficult to see why the tables were split into two. Quite frankly, they tell unique stories, where the main difference is in the number of opportunities. Some players like Mike Trout (OF – LAA) and Yordan Alvarez (OF – HOU) are incredibly efficient — hence their high rankings — while others like Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL) and Cedric Mullins (OF – BAL) would be cut out of the first table, but still have comparatively excellent barrel rates. It would have been disappointing to ignore one group.
- Along the same lines as players who would “miss the cut” for one table but not the other, we should find extreme value in those who would have been featured in both. Technically, Rafael Devers (3B – BOS) is the only one who definitively had enough batted ball events to be shown twice, but we see that Shohei Ohtani (SP,DH – LAA) would have likely slipped in at the bottom. Considering how the bulk of the players with more opportunities produced a lower rate of efficiency, anyone who even approached sharing space in both tables is noteworthy. Freddie Freeman (1B – LAD) and Tim Anderson (SS – CWS) are two more names to be added to that list.
- Rowdy Tellez (1B – MIL) has been one of the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball lately, and this chart goes a long way in explaining why. He ranks fourth among qualified hitters in barrels per plate appearance, and the names ahead of him are some of the premier sluggers in the sport. This should go a long way in relieving any concerns that Tellez’s hot start was suddenly going to stop.
- Conversely, a few names on the second table have less-than-inspiring rates. Adam Frazier (2B,LF – SEA) and Whit Merrifield (2B,RF – KC) certainly aren’t known for power, but this suggests that they aren’t likely to gain in that department either. Connor Joe (1B,LF – COL) is another player worth mentioning as he would gain tremendously by converting more barrels in his hitter-friendly home ballpark of Colorado.
Barrels per Plate Appearance: Pitchers
Below are two tables for Barrels per Plate Appearance by pitchers. The first is sorted by Barrels/PA — where the lower number is better — while the second is sorted by Batted Ball Events (BBE), and only qualified pitchers were included.
- Like the batters from the previous section, pitchers are also split because of how the number of opportunities drives the rate of barrels so strongly. Keeping the two groups separate was a necessity, but again, we should take note of those who barely missed the cut-off from the opposite table. Martin Perez (SP,RP – TEX) and Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA) are just short of the required batted ball events, while Miles Mikolas (SP – STL) would be an honorable mention for his percentage.
- Even with separating the two groups, there is one player who absolutely pops on the screen. Framber Valdez (SP – HOU) has a barrel rate of zero percent. Zero. Not a single “barrel” against him. Tony Gonsolin (SP – LAD) and Justin Steele (SP – CHC) are impressive in their own rights, but Valdez’s number is flat-out astounding. That’s before we consider that he had 94 opportunities to allow at least one. I didn’t.
- One of the top storylines of the week was Nestor Cortes (SP – NYY) flirting with a no-hitter in arguably his best career outing. What Cortes also accomplished in that game was to move into the top-20 qualified pitchers for barrels per plate appearance. Cortes is enjoying a breakout campaign, and there is no saying that a downturn is ahead.
- Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Jose Berrios (SP – TOR). Indeed, he leads the current group in batted ball events, but his barrel per plate appearance rate is incredibly high. Berrios is a seasoned veteran who has generally finished each year with stable numbers that align with his averages. Regardless, his current pace is not comforting.
Have something you want me to cover in this space or just want to talk baseball? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @MarioMergola with questions or requests.
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Mario Mergola is a featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros and the creator and content editor of Portfolio. For more from Mario, check out his archive and follow him @MarioMergola.