It has been a wild and crazy season, to say the least, to start 2020. With samples still very small, the numbers are off a lot of the time in one direction or the other. This is why diving in and finding tangible change can be the difference in the production sustaining or it being a hot streak. This drove me to look into swing mechanics and launch angle changes to a few hot starters. Next thing you know, there were five I have found so far.
We will take a look at the swing changes and the underlying numbers that are showing changes to follow. If or when production follows a tangible change, I buy in. Let’s see what these five players who have made some adjustments look like under the hood.
The last thing I want to note is that I am not a scout and do not pretend to be. I simply find the obvious changes and show them. The big takeaway for me here is digging into the numbers following the changes.Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Get access to our exclusive articles, rankings, projections, prospects coverage, 15 in-season lineup tools, daily expert DFS research, powerful Research Station, Lineup Optimizer and much more! Sign Up Now!
Eric Hosmer (1B, SD)
#Padres Eric Hosmer made a notable batting stance/swing change.— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) July 28, 2020
VERY small sample:
-Yet to hit a ground ball
-Pre-swing: Less foot movement & bat is no longer straight up (Vid⬇️)
-Appears he added a slight crouch & is just slightly more open
Buying in. #FantasyBaseball pic.twitter.com/vkf0Aqt0Cn
Unfortunately, Eric Hosmer has missed most of the year due to a stomach ailment. He is currently on the IL. He could be a solid hitter this year if in fact the fly-ball tendencies continue. There is not much to add in terms of changes in the numbers or production due to the lack of games played and overall available data.
This is just simply something to monitor and if your are in a position to take on a stash to your team, buy low or pick him him off the waiver wire if he has been dropped.
Carlos Correa (SS, HOU)
#Astros Carlos Correa made a batting stance change beginning late 2019.— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) July 29, 2020
So far in 2020:
- Career high LA:25.3 degrees
- Only a 7.7% ground ball rate (will correct of course)
- You notice the hands come down/in
- bat starts in different spot
- slight crouch
More in thread!⬇️👀 pic.twitter.com/E1za1bf6Ih
Carlos Correa continues to hit well to start the year. He is currently slashing .389/488/.639 and we have seen imoproved plate discipline as well. The early walk rate is a career-best 14.0%. The strikeout rate is also down to 18.6%. The lowest it has been since 2015.
He is chasing a lot less to start the year. With an O-Swing% of 26.1% and a swinging strike rate of just 8.7% he is showing the plate discipline but also not swinging through a lot of pitches either. He has managed to increase his O-Contact rate and keep his Z-Contact rate similar to last season's rate. This shows he is being selective and when he swings, contact is made.
The launch angle has come down a bit to 18.6 degrees. This is still a career-high mark and with it the ground ball rate continues to remain low. Currently sitting at 28.6% while the line drive rate is heavily benefited by this. This will play well to the batting average and BABIP sustaining a bit.
We are finally seeing the potential and health come together. With these changes, I buy in on Correa for the 2020 season.
Kyle Lewis (OF, SEA)
#Mariners Kyle Lewis has made a notable stance change.— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) July 30, 2020
-More upright through swing
-Hands slightly more in
-Less bat movement
-LA⬇️to 6.6 degrees BUT quality of contact⬆️
-Barrel rate of 20%/ sweet spot% of 70%
-Improved patience: O-Swing 25.8%
2019 left vs 2020 right pic.twitter.com/QM0V9hr1mL
This is one of the more noticeable swing changes entering 2020. We have seen Lewis jump to an unsustainable start in 2020 but that does not mean he can't hold on to some of the production. He was a target for late power, but with the new approach and swing, it could lead to less home runs but also less of a hindrance on the batting average as well.
Currently, Lewis has three home runs and a triple slash of .375/.423/.583. He is on an absolute tear. The expected stats show regression but he could still sustain solid production. The big red flag is the strikeout rate. It is at 36.5%. Similar to last years start. He also whiffs a bit much so the whole in the swing is very real. Unfortunately, the average launch angle has since dipped from 6.6 degree when the tweet went out, to just 1.1 degrees. This is concerning. It has caused the ground ball rate spike back up to nearly what it was in 2019.
The line drive rate (44.8%) is amazing and will lend itself to sustaining a better batting average than expected but the swing-and-miss will combat that notion. He does have plus-speed as well and will further assist the BABIP and batting average floor.
We also see improved plate discipline with the chase rate (25.9%) down 7.8% from 2019. The SwStr% also dropped 2.7% down to 15%. Which is still higher than we want to see but still an improvement and something positive to note.
He is also swinging less but making similar contact so that could help explain the dip in SwStr%. Ultimately, he is a sell high candidate. I expect a decent year but the peripherals suggest he could be in for a bit of a fall from grace. If you can't find a buyer, ride the hot streak until the wheels fall off.
Wil Myers (OF, SD)
#Padres Wil Myers stated he is pivoting his back foot this season. Clearly shows in video.— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) July 31, 2020
-Bat/ hands have different starting point
-Less pre-swing hand movement.
So far: (Thread)
-GB%: 54.5% 😬
-HH%: 73rd Percentile
Wil Myers has always been a player I could not quit. He made mention of pivoting his back foot and we can clearly see it occurring here. He is still striking out more than we would like. That issue started last year.
He has stolen a base and hit three home runs to date, so that alone already provides value at his ADP entering this year. He has adjusted the ground ball rate since this tweet went out. It has improved to currently a career-best 34.8% with most of the improvement going towards the fly ball rate.
Myers has also started hitting the ball up the middle. pull rate is down 7.4% and the cent% is up 7.1%. Almost an exact trade off. He has also improved the plate discipline. Chasing the ball a lot more and decreased his awing strikes. He has done so, while also improving his contact rate overall and in the zone.
The statcast date is all positive as well. Every metric for hitting is in the 74th percentile or better. With the exception of whiff% that is. This explains the strikeouts. Wil Myers is back and you should be starting him with confidence moving forward. At the very least, take advantage of the market and need for steals and shop him.
Bradley Zimmer (OF, CLE)
#Indians Bradley Zimmer has made stance adjustments each of the last 3 seasons.— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) August 1, 2020
Below is 2018 vs 2019 vs 2020
2018: Crouched/ more open - LA: 5.3 degrees
2019: Upright/ hands up - LA: 0.6 degrees
2020: Crouched/closed compared to 2018 - LA: 27.5 degrees 👀
More info:⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/m5fq2TDkuL
Bradley Zimmer has pedigree and offered promise a couple of years ago. He has since battled through injuries and has been left behind in the minds of fantasy owners. He is finally back from injury and playing semi-regularly. He has made a swing adjustment two-straight seasons.
The big reason this is worth noting was the abrupt increase in the launch angle. He is attempting to elevate the ball more. This is not surprising as the league has made this transition as a whole.
The launch angle currently sits at 29 degrees even. This is after posting seasons with: 0.6, 5.3 and 8.2 degrees. In response, you have seen a huge drop in ground balls (37.5%) and the bid jump taking place in fly balls (37.5%). With this, the pull rate has climbed tremendously as well. Up to 43.8%, he is committing to the fly ball revolution.
With playing time up in the air and inconsistent, it is hard to make room on your roster right now but it is worth monitoring and if the production begins to follow, scoop him up.
Nick Castellanos (OF, CIN)
A look at @Reds Nick Castellanos— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) August 4, 2020
Clear mechanical change from 2019 vs 2020
-Different pre-swing bat movement
-Smaller/ quicker step
-Hands slightly lower
Changes Noted (Thread):
-LA: 18.4 degrees
-Sweet Spot%: 56.5%
-GB%: 30.4-career low
-Pull%: 43.5-career high pic.twitter.com/LbVA5WaiAS
I posted this the morning before Nick Castellanos took Bieber deep for his sixth home run of the season. He is on an absolute tear. The Statcast numbers (broken down in the thread) show it. Everything seems sustainable to a point. Sure, he will regress a bit but with this swing change, came a launch angle increase which in turn increased the fly balls. That change will be the catalyst for sustained production. He also began pulling the ball more. Combining the two in this park will greatly benefit the power production.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, SD)
#Padres Fernando Tatis Jr. showing minor tweaks to his mechanics.— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) August 5, 2020
-Starting w/ front foot up vs planted
-More controlled pre-swing hand/bat movement
-Remains more upright through swing
-Lands on toe vs flat-floot
Early Takeaways: (Thread)
LA: ⬆️ to 10.7 degrees
GB%: ⬇️ ti 40.7 pic.twitter.com/YS3hLRlq0L
This thread is fully up-to-date as I am writing this article. It breaks it all down. He has improved his plate discipline early on this year. Tatis Jr. also increased his launch angle and has been more of an all-fields hitter. This allows for him to outproduce certain metrics.
Regardless, he has been every bit worth of that late first or early second-round pick you had to use on him. With three home runs and three stolen bases early on, he is providing everything you were hoping to get from him and more.
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