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Stranger Baseball Things

Heath scours Fangraphs for stranger things...

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper has a very unlucky .188 BABIP in 2018.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a nice Saturday morning here in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, and I’m using a little down time to sip on some coffee and peruse the goods at Fangraphs.

I wanted to scope out hard hit leaders and see if anyone was suffering from bad luck, and/or see if anything weird jumped out at me. Apparently I’ve missed any Harper BABIP chatter, so if you didn’t know how unlucky the GOAT has been, you’ve come to the right place.

Also, SHOUT-OUT to Steve Harrington getting an expanded role in Season 3 of Stranger Things. Apparently we are in line for fewer episodes this year, but more of Uncle Steve is going to improve the quality of an already epic series. Also, producers have said that we’ll at least get a fourth season, and maybe even a fifth! I’m so happy right now.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Bryce Harper has been unlucky

Harper has a 45.4% hard hit rate, the 13th-best mark in the MLB. He also has the lowest BABIP of any player in the top 30, as his .188 mark is minuscule. The next lowest are Khris Davis (.224) and Joey Gallo (.225). Makes sense with those two, as they hit far more fly balls and have line drive rates of 12.0% and 17.6% respectively. Harper, however, has a healthy 21.3% line drive rate. There’s nothing in his batted ball profile that suggests he should be faring so poorly on balls in play. You can safely expect his .229 BA to rise.

J.D. Martinez is going to knock the cover off of a baseball

Not only does J.D. Martinez lead the MLB with a 53.4% hard contact rate, he also bests everyone in the league with a paltry 4.9% soft contact rate. That’s 2.5% better than the No. 2 guy in soft contact, some dude named Bryce Harper. Excluding his 53-game rookie season, Martinez has the highest line drive rate of his career (23.3%). He’s hitting fewer fly balls though, as his 32.0 FB% is below his career average of 37.6% (and well below last year’s 43.2 FB%). He won’t sustain a .426 BABIP (and the corresponding .343 BA) but if his line drive rate holds and he keeps smoking the ball, perhaps he sets a career mark in batting average.

Matt Carpenter is still an enigma

We were split on Carpenter’s outlook as a Fake Teams staff heading into 2018. And when you notice that he’s the third-best guy in the MLB at not making soft contact (behind only Martinez and Harper) the senses start to percolate again. His 40.5 hard% is very good, his line drive rate is a shiny 26.0%, and he’s hitting plenty of fly balls (43.8%). This does not look like the profile of a guy who should have a .183 BABIP—the fourth-worst mark among qualified hitters in the MLB. Everyone keeps talking about how hard Carlos Santana is hitting the ball and how he’s due for some positive regression...but Carpenter is making more hard contact and has a far superior line drive rate. The last time Carp had a LD% this healthy his batting average was over .270, and I think that’s in the umm, cards, again. I’ll show myself out now.

Adam Duvall is sneaky

His LD%/GB%/FB% are all in line with career norms. He’s walking more than before, as his 10.1% mark is well above his career 6.7% walk rate. His 25.9% strikeout rate is a smidgen better than last year’s 26.3% mark and his career 27.0% mark. He’s making hard contact 40.4% of the time, well above last year’s 31.8% mark and his career mark of 35.6%. Sooooo, more walks, less strikeouts, more hard contact...all of that shouldn’t add up to a career-worst .181 BABIP, should it? I expect Duvall’s .169 BA to climb. Settling somewhere between 2016 (.241) and 2017 (.249) wouldn’t surprise me. He only has six home runs so far, but over the course of a full season his numbers should even out. You’ve endured the low point already, now get ready for the positive regression for this annual 30-homer threat. The issue in Cincinnati, of course, is playing time. The Reds have four outfielders at the moment. For me, I’m more intrigued by Duvall in some MLB DFS when he fits, and more interested in the event that he gets traded to a contending team this season. He needs to play enough to re-establish his trade value. If he can do so, I’d expect that he’s gone for a prospect at the trade deadline.

Ian Desmond is the Eric Hosmer of outfielders

Desmond has the worst ground ball rate of qualified hitters in the MLB, a terrible 67.0% rate. If you were like me and you took a few cheap shots on him in season-long leagues this year, I hope you have dropped him long before now. Nothing in his profile is encouraging. Sell, drop, trade...whatever you gotta do.

That’s it for me. Let’s vote for the coolest Stranger Things cast member below. Who ya got?


Who is your favorite guy/gal from Hawkins, Indiana?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Eleven (obligatory)
    (4 votes)
  • 20%
    Hopper (studly)
    (5 votes)
  • 20%
    Dustin (hilarious)
    (5 votes)
  • 24%
    STEVE! (arguably more hilarious)
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    Mad Max (there really are no wrong answers)
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    Other (comment)
    (2 votes)
25 votes total Vote Now