Two to Add, Two to Dump: Centerfield Edition
If you have been following the two to add and two to dump series you know a few things. First, we are basing our recommendations on batted ball data and not traditional numbers. Secondly, the term “dump” is a euphemism for trade. In most cases, these are established players that make very little sense to release, but they are guys you should be able to get solid value back in a trade.
The idea of using batted ball data is that over the course of a long season, the conventional results tend to match what I lovingly call “process data.” In other words, if you hit the ball hard consistently then you tend to be rewarded eventually. If you tend to swing at fewer balls then you will tend to hit the ball harder. The more contact you make in general the higher your batting average will be. I think you all get the idea. The home run per flyball rates have been going up in general because hitting coaches and hitters alike have caught on to the launch angle revolution. Those rates help us understand who is taking advantage of that as well.
These things rarely work out perfectly and they don’t in center field either. Some of these players have higher batting averages on balls in play than we normally see and some of the players we want to dump will have some good indicators as well. It’s not always a perfect science. Before we get started though we need to look at positional medians for our five metrics.
Hard Contact: 34.0%
Two to Add
Harrison Bader– St. Louis Cardinals
Hard Contact: 37.9%
Normally, I wouldn’t profile a player with a BABIP over .300 here. It would appear like he is producing exactly where he should be. The difference here is that Bader missed some time and that is suppressing the level where everyone percieves him at. You see a .230ish average and a meager home run total and think he’s trash. Well, the contact rates are above average and he hits the ball harder than most, so those numbers should not continue where they are at.
The other factor here is defense. In 2018 he was a combined +19 runs according to defensive runs saved. He is currently +4 runs this season. Why does this matter? Well, teams tend to play players that are plus defensive performers. So, while he is healthy he will play. As he plays more often the batted ball statistics will start to catch up with him. He will likely end up hitting between .250 and .260 with 15 to 20 home runs when it is all said and done. You can bank on the positive end up of that if you add him now.
Wil Myers– San Diego Padres
Hard Contact: 51.3%
I’m not crazy about the contact rates, but this is where I believe scouts need a sixth tool. Plate discipline is a thing. Sure, we want hitters to make consistent contact at what they swing at, but there is also a point where we look at what they are swinging at. Myers struggles to put the bat on the ball at times, but he is good at recognizing what he should be swinging at. This is reflected not only at his chase rate (which is above average) but also at his hard contact rate (which is the second highest rate at the position).
Myers is -3 according to DRS in center, so it is iffy that he will stick there. They’ve tried him in left field, right field, third base, and first base in the past. Myers might be the posterchild for the DH in the National League. As we have discussed before, the Padres are loaded with outfielders and all of them seemingly hit the ball as hard as Myers. Something will break near the deadline, so hopefully that will benefit all of their guys one way or another.
Two to Drop
Starling Marte– Pittsburgh Pirates
Hard Contact: 38.7%
This seems nuts considering that Marte is just now beginning to heat up, but this is where a smart owner can get some additional value. This is also admittedly where fantasy baseball and real baseball may diverge. Marte has a tremendous amount of fantasy value. Anyone capable of hitting 20 home runs and stealing 20 bases is worth their weight in gold. In real baseball it is almost always about your ability to steal first base. Marte has always had low marks there because he chases too many pitches.
So, again, the term “dump” is a euphemism. Consider the market carefully and operate from there. If you can get solid value for him then shop him around and see if you can get a slight upgrade somewhere. His percentage statistics are not likely to get much better from here. If you desperately need his speed then feel free to ignore my advice, but you think you can get a better player go ahead and pull the trigger.
David Dahl– Colorado Rockies
Hard Contact: 34.3%
That isn’t a typo. At the time when we looked up those numbers his BABIP was well over .400. I know he has a pedigree anf we love guys in Denver, but that is a bubble that the tech industry thinks is about to burst. I’m not wild about the chase rate or contact rate either. The hard contact rate is technically above the positional median, but you might as well put a picture of Dahl next to the word median in the dictionary. The same is true on his home run rate as well. In other words, someone that is average in terms of hitting the ball hard and hitting the ball out should also be average in terms of BABIP. At least that is true over an extended period of time.
The market forces are way too strong here. There will be a correction. No, he may not hit .200 on balls in play from here on our, but use your head. He has needed the ridiculous BABIP just to get above .300 so far this season. How long will that continue? If he goes back to a .320 or .330 BABIP from here on out he likely becomes a .250 hitter with average power. How much is that really worth to you? Someone in your league will see his current numbers and think Coors Field + Dahl = superstardom. You can get solid value for that.