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2020 wRC+ Splits: Risers and Fallers


Baseball in 2020 is unlike any season that I can remember. The designated hitter is now present in the National League. You will not find any more LOOGYs with the institution of the three-batter minimum rule. Doubleheaders are now a combined 14 innings of baseball. Extra innings now start with a runner on second base. There will not be an All-Star game played in 2020, but MLB has called for an expanded postseason. We have cardboard cutouts, and only the Philly Phanatic to cheer them on.

There are of course many other quirks and nuances for this short season. One item that will not be taken away is player consistency and inconsistency. What I mean by that – is the ability for some players to ride hot streaks for weeks at a time, only to cool off thereafter. At times, players begin the season with a slow start, but manage to turn their season around. There are, of course, those players whose skills appear to be the same throughout the year.

Today, I will take a quick look at the current year’s ‘half-season’ consistencies and inconsistencies.

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Definitions & Methodology

To set the stage, let us first define what we mean by the ‘half-season’ to date. We will break the season into two sections.

  • First Half (1H) – July 23, 2020 to August 16, 2020
  • Second Half (2H) – August 16, 2020 to September 7, 2020

These 3+ week spans are certainly not the official baseball half seasons. They merely are the splits of the current year to date. In actuality, they more closely represent the first two thirds of the short season – but for now, we will refer to them as the ‘half-seasons.’

Next, we will define consistency. For this analysis, we will focus on wRC+.

With regards to their metric wRC, FanGraphs notes the following:

Weighted Runs Created (wRC) is an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.  In Runs Created, instead of looking at a player’s line and listing out all the details (e.g. 23 2B, 15 HR, 55 BB, 110 K, 19 SB, 5 CS), the information is synthesized into one metric in order to say, “Player X was worth 24 runs to his team last year.”  While the idea was sound, James’ formula has since been superseded by Tom Tango’s wRC , which is based off Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA).

wRC+ uses wOBA, park factors, and league run environment to produce an all-in-one encompassing leaderboard metric. The ‘+’ refers to the normalizing of the statistic, i.e. it is scaled so that 100 is league average. A wRC+ of 142 means that the player was 42% better than league average. A wRC+ of 94 means that the player was 6% worse than league average, etc.

In today’s article, we will look at the difference between a player’s first-half wRC+ and second half wRC+. To rule out some noise, we will only consider players who accumulated at least 35 plate appearances in each half.

Finally, we will classify each player as either a gainer or fader. A gainer is a player with an increase in wRC+ from first half to second. A fader is a player who exhibited a decrease during the stated time. A player with a low absolute difference in half-season wRC+ will be referred to as a stable player.

 

2020 Gainers

Here are the largest 2020 half-season gainers:

Player Team 1H wRC+ 2H wRC+ wRC+ Diff
Brandon Belt Giants 71 277 206
Kyle Tucker Astros 56 226 170
Justin Upton Angels 11 160 149
Jose Abreu White Sox 100 231 131
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Blue Jays 54 183 129
Evan White Mariners 23 149 126
Ben Gamel Brewers 35 157 122
Miguel Sano Twins 63 184 121
Eugenio Suarez Reds 49 169 120
Will Smith Dodgers 107 224 117
Edwin Encarnacion White Sox 20 137 117
Ronald Acuna Jr. Braves 136 250 114
Austin Riley Braves 31 143 112
Rafael Devers Red Sox 47 157 110
Jonathan Schoop Tigers 77 181 104
Cody Bellinger Dodgers 53 154 101
Austin Hedges Indians 2 103 101
Trea Turner Nationals 121 219 98
Manny Machado Padres 96 189 93
Tucker Barnhart Reds 16 109 93
Pat Valaika Orioles 59 149 90
Marcell Ozuna Braves 127 215 88
Jacob Stallings Pirates 72 159 87
Brandon Crawford Giants 63 150 87
Rowdy Tellez Blue Jays 95 180 85
Rhys Hoskins Phillies 107 190 83
Amed Rosario Mets 28 111 83
Freddie Freeman Braves 130 211 81
Jason Heyward Cubs 112 191 79
Yasmani Grandal White Sox 93 172 79
Jackie Bradley Jr. Red Sox 58 135 77
Alex Gordon Royals 46 122 76
Francisco Lindor Indians 81 154 73
Sam Hilliard Rockies 46 117 71
Omar Narvaez Brewers 31 101 70
Kevin Kiermaier Rays 84 152 68
Joc Pederson Dodgers 61 129 68
Luis Rengifo Angels 23 89 66
Evan Longoria Giants 74 139 65
Andrew McCutchen Phillies 43 108 65
Jeimer Candelario Tigers 103 167 64
Kurt Suzuki Nationals 69 132 63
Mauricio Dubon Giants 61 123 62
Adam Duvall Braves 93 152 59
Eric Thames Nationals 30 89 59
Michael Conforto Mets 150 205 55

Brandon Belt jumps out as the largest gainer from the first half. Over the past 3+ weeks, Belt is batting .444 with 5 HRs, 14 runs and 14 RBI. His walk rate has grown to an immense 18%, up from what was already a very decent 10% to start the first half of the season. Some of his success seems to be luck aided; he has compiled a .500 BABIP in the second half, which is clearly not sustainable. Belt, who is has a career 123 wRC+, is likely more overplaying in the 2H than underplaying in the 1H.

The same is not true for Red Sox star Rafael Devers, whose second half is closer to reality than his abysmal first. After an incredible 2019, Devers was primed to be a major offensive force in the American League, as one analyst predicted an MVP season.

In the first half of 2020, Devers hit for a .182 average. I stepped on the scale this morning, and I saw a larger figure than that. Since then, Rafael has turned around his season. He is sneakily hitting .321 with 5 HRs and 20 RBI. I would still bet on the upside with Devers going forward.

There are a few other players who catch my eye – who were fantastic early on in the season, and then got even better! The players who had at least a 125 wRC+ in the first half, who had at least a 175 wRC+ in the second half are:

  • Ronald Acuna Jr.
  • Marcell Ozuna
  • Freddie Freeman
  • Michael Conforto

Wow. Almost every player above is a member of the Atlanta Braves.  These figures do not even include the Altanta 29-run rout on Wednesday night. The Braves have catapulted themselves into first place in the NL East over the past three weeks.

As for Conforto, he is currently 2nd in the National League in batting average for the season overall at .348, trailing only Trea Turner. Turner barely missed being mentioned with the other Braves, as he only had a 121 first half wRC+.

 

2020 Faders

Here are the largest 2020 half-season faders:

Player Team 1H wRC+ 2H wRC+ wRC+ Diff
Charlie Blackmon Rockies 191 26 -165
Brandon Lowe Rays 205 58 -147
JaCoby Jones Tigers 190 44 -146
Mike Tauchman Yankees 147 16 -131
Brian Goodwin Reds 157 33 -124
Ryan McBroom Royals 164 43 -121
Daniel Murphy Rockies 106 -12 -118
Bryce Harper Phillies 206 90 -116
Freddy Galvis Reds 132 19 -113
Todd Frazier Mets 142 32 -110
Chance Sisco Orioles 197 90 -107
Juan Soto Nationals 270 167 -103
Jason Kipnis Cubs 201 99 -102
Whit Merrifield Royals 138 42 -96
Austin Romine Tigers 113 20 -93
Hunter Renfroe Rays 97 7 -90
Jesse Winker Reds 213 126 -87
Renato Nunez Orioles 161 76 -85
Yuli Gurriel Astros 149 65 -84
Michael Chavis Red Sox 111 27 -84
Asdrubal Cabrera Nationals 123 41 -82
J.T. Realmuto Phillies 176 98 -78
Carson Kelly Diamondbacks 75 -1 -76
Starling Marte Marlins 154 79 -75
Anthony Rizzo Cubs 147 72 -75
James McCann White Sox 177 102 -75
Robbie Grossman Athletics 184 110 -74
Nicky Lopez Royals 99 27 -72
Rio Ruiz Orioles 125 55 -70
Nicholas Castellanos Reds 163 96 -67
Mitch Moreland Padres 193 128 -65
Austin Meadows Rays 124 59 -65
Pedro Severino Orioles 174 110 -64
Ramon Laureano Athletics 141 78 -63
Tony Kemp Athletics 134 71 -63
DJ LeMahieu Yankees 175 113 -62
Roman Quinn Phillies 107 45 -62
Donovan Solano Giants 171 110 -61
Mike Ford Yankees 66 8 -58
Brian Anderson Marlins 136 80 -56
A.J. Pollock Dodgers 153 97 -56
Erik Gonzalez Pirates 141 89 -52
Hanser Alberto Orioles 129 78 -51
David Peralta Diamondbacks 117 66 -51

Charlie Blackmon is the largest fader in 2020. After three weeks of flirting with a .500 batting average (yes, a .500 batting average) – we knew that he would most certainly descend towards earth. What we did not know was that he would crash, with a 26 wRC+. In other words, Blackmon has been 74% worse than the league average over the past few weeks. Yikes! Regression is a powerful force.

Daniel Murphy and Carson Kelly are the two members of this leaderboard who faded to a negative second-half wRC+. Kelly is batting just a mere .154 in the 2H, with just 1 HR and no walks. Murphy has a .170 average, and no homers. There is upside though for Murphy, who struck out less than 10% of the time during that span, and hit for just a .186 BABIP. Expect some bounce-back.

Now for the players who were super-awesome, and who are now ... just awesome. Below are all those who had at least a 175 wRC+ in the first half, and hit for at least a 125 wRC+ in the second half:

  • Juan Soto
  • Jesse Winker
  • Mitch Moreland

The Padres made a number of mid-season trades this year, and with one of them acquired the ageless Mitch Moreland. Mitch has been outstanding in 2020, but he does exhibit a large righty/lefty split. His wRC+ against righties this year is 173, while vs. lefties is only 66. With Eric Hosmer now on the shelf, Moreland will likely get lots of playing time going forward.

Juan Soto was my pre-season prediction for this year’s NL MVP. Soto missed some time in the beginning of the season, as he tested positive for COVID. As soon as he started playing, he hit the ground running. He has accumulated 1.4 WAR on the season – a top 20 figure in the NL despite the missed time. In his declined 2H, Soto is still batting a lofty .305. No need to worry.

Jesse Winker is quietly having a heck of a season for the Reds. He is batting .293 with 10 HRs, 20 runs and 18 RBI. I do not worry about his second half fade, as he is walking at a 15% clip. Winker is simply an undervalued professional baseball player.

 

2020 Most Stable Players

Just for fun, here are the most stable players in all of baseball across both season halves:

Player Team 1H wRC+ 2H wRC+ wRC+ Diff
Jean Segura Phillies 108 108 0
Eddie Rosario Twins 103 103 0
Kevin Newman Pirates 60 60 0
Sean Murphy Athletics 113 114 1
Jake Cronenworth Padres 151 150 -1
Avisail Garcia Brewers 81 80 -1
Giovanny Urshela Yankees 133 135 2
Trent Grisham Padres 125 123 -2
Tommy La Stella Athletics 125 123 -2
Howie Kendrick Nationals 79 82 3
Alex Verdugo Red Sox 129 133 4
Luis Arraez Twins 79 83 4
Javier Baez Cubs 57 61 4
Willy Adames Rays 147 143 -4
Travis d'Arnaud Braves 143 139 -4
Travis Shaw Blue Jays 99 95 -4
Nelson Cruz Twins 177 182 5
Nomar Mazara White Sox 81 76 -5
Bryan Reynolds Pirates 72 67 -5
Tony Wolters Rockies 18 13 -5
Franmil Reyes Indians 144 150 6
Cesar Hernandez Indians 95 101 6
Willson Contreras Cubs 101 107 6
Isiah Kiner-Falefa Rangers 95 101 6
Mookie Betts Dodgers 174 168 -6
Fernando Tatis Jr. Padres 178 185 7
Justin Turner Dodgers 126 119 -7
J.D. Davis Mets 133 126 -7
Kyle Schwarber Cubs 113 106 -7
Adam Eaton Nationals 69 62 -7
Anthony Rendon Angels 160 168 8
Chris Taylor Dodgers 114 122 8
Ryan McMahon Rockies 75 83 8
Jose Peraza Red Sox 63 71 8
David Fletcher Angels 129 121 -8
Christian Walker Diamondbacks 112 121 9
Carlos Correa Astros 127 118 -9
Eloy Jimenez White Sox 135 126 -9

All of the above players exhibited less than a 10-point difference in their wRC+ between the halves of the season. Of course, consistent hitting is wonderful if the consistency is at a high level such as for Travis d'Arnaud, Nelson Cruz, Franmil Reyes and Anthony Rendon. Sometimes the consistency shown is rather poor – as exhibited with Jose Peraza, Javier Baez, Ryan McMahon and Kevin Newman.

Particularly impressive are the players who can stay at a high offensive level for a prolonged period of time. Jake Cronenworth is a lesser-known player to many, but he is an underrated one. He hit for an almost identical 150 wRC+ in both halves. Cronenworth is batting .325 with four HR, 21 runs and 19 RBI. With a strikeout rate of only 17% in 2020, he should continue to have a high floor for his batting average as the season moves along. He also has swiped 3 bases and carries positional eligibility flexibility, which makes him quite valuable in fantasy baseball - especially in rotisserie formats.

Will these consistent players keep it up for the remainder of the season? Check back here later on in the season.



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Welcome back, RotoBallers!  Below you will find my Week 7 fantasy football lineup rankings. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions. Skill Position analysis is primarily based on the PPR ranks. The rankings are powered by... Read More


Slow Starters Ready to Break Out in Fantasy?

We are now more than a third of the way into the fantasy football season and a seemingly clearer picture is available across the landscape. After a pandemic-shortened offseason and lack of preseason exposure, there were plenty of worries headed into the first month specifically. Thus far, one of the most prevalent topics with regards... Read More


Fantasy Football Warning Signals for Week 7

The warning signals get brighter by the week since we have more data to work from. The larger the sample size the easier it is for us to connect the dots from the latest trends. Football is a game of small samples and many variables, making it one of the hardest sports to predict. How... Read More


How to Value Clyde Edwards-Helaire with Le'Veon Bell in KC

Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor? Coming into the season this was the biggest question for fantasy GMs, both dynasty managers who were thinking long-term and redraft managers who wanted to know who would be better for this season. There were many different theories and believe me when I say, both sides thought they were 100%... Read More


NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New... Read More


Tape Tells All: D'Andre Swift's Week 6 Performance

Welcome to another edition of Tape Tells All. I've been thinking of rebranding as just TAPE. All-Caps like that. Probably wouldn't be a good idea for SEO purposes, right? Anyways, this week we'll be discussing Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift. Swift set a lot of career highs this week, with bests in carries... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain. The... Read More


FAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More