2020 Fantasy Baseball Barrels Per Plate Appearance

by Keith Lott
2020 Fantasy Baseball Barrels Per Plate Appearance

Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Barrels Per Plate Appearance analysis. In this piece, we dive into which players showed the biggest year-to-year leap in their Barrel rate per plate appearance.

According to MLB.com, "the Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League-wide in 2015.

To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification.

The average Barrel has produced a batting mark and a slugging percentage significantly higher than .500 and 1.500, respectively."

Using only hitters that qualified in 2017, 2018 & 2019 according to Baseball Savant, we break down each position to see which players have seen positive growth and which players have struggled to improve their Barrel per plate appearance rate.

Feel free to discuss 2020 Fantasy Baseball Barrels Per Plate Appearance for players who have not qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons in the comments below!

2020 Fantasy Baseball Barrels Per Plate Appearance

A Brls/PA% of 10 or more is so elite, that not a single player who qualifies has achieved that in each season since 2017. J.D. Martinez, Joey Gallo, and Khris Davis did it in 2017 & 2018 but Gallo did not qualify in 2019 and J.D. Martinez has seen his Brls/PA% drop in each of the last two year, down to 8.1% in 2019. JDM still ranked in the top 40 among qualified hitters. Davis fell all the way to 6.4% last season while battling injuries.


2020 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Brl/PA%

Gary Sanchez11.
Yasmani Grandal6.8-
J.T. Realmuto6.2-
Yan Gomes4.5-
Willson Contreras7.32.54.8-2.06.8
Yadier Molina3.1-1.34.4-0.44.8
Buster Posey3.6-
James McCann5.92.43.5-1.95.4
Martin Maldonado5.11.63.5-0.33.8
Tucker Barnhart1.9-

Only 10 Catchers have qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons.

Gary Sanchez has had three straight seasons with a Brls/PA rate of 8% or higher. He has also improved his rate in each of the last two seasons, up all the way to 11.7% last year. Only Nelson Cruz had a higher rate!

If he can stay healthy in 2020, there is no reason why he can't hit 35+ home runs. Problem is, he only has 820 plate appearances in the last two seasons.

At 6.2%, J.T. Realmuto finished sixth in Brls/PA% in 2019. However, he did have the third most Barrels behind Sanchez and Yasmani Grandal. Realmuto led all catchers in Batted Ball Events with 423. Wilson Ramos was the only other catcher above 400. Realmuto also led all catchers with 173 hits at 95 mph+.

First Basemen

2020 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Brl/PA% 1B

C.J. Cron10.
Jose Abreu9.12.66.5-0.67.1
Cody Bellinger8.93.45.5-2.07.5
Josh Bell8.
Freddie Freeman8.52.06.5-2.48.9
Edwin Encarnacion8.
Paul Goldschmidt7.2-
Trey Mancini7.1-
Yasmani Grandal6.8-
Justin Smoak6.80.46.4-2.99.3
Carlos Santana6.61.65.0-0.45.4
DJ LeMahieu6.
Brandon Belt5.7-1.16.8-0.16.9
Chris Davis5.1-0.55.6-0.96.5
Eric Hosmer4.90.54.4-0.85.2
Anthony Rizzo4.90.14.8-1.76.5
Albert Pujols4.8-
Joey Votto4.60.34.3-1.96.2
Marwin Gonzalez4.50.04.5-0.24.7
Yuli Gurriel3.11.51.6-1.22.8
Daniel Murphy1.9-

21 eligible First Baseman qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons.

Most surprising on this list to me is C.J. Cron as his overall numbers do not reflect a player who is making this kind of contact with the ball. Baseball Savant compared his batting ball profile to Ronald Acuna Jr., Justin Upton, Kyle Schwarber. That's pretty good company if you ask me. If he really is this good, his ADP is criminally low at 253 according to NFBC.

In a normal season, if Cron can get 600+ at-bats, even for a poor Tigers team, he could easily surpass 30 home runs. I'll take that any day for that draft cost.

Paul Goldschmidt caught my eye on this list as well as we saw the second-largest drop in Barrel-rate for first baseman last season but he was still eligible to make the list. We've seen the decline coming from Goldy for a couple of years now. He had has long-droughts during the season, which especially in head-to-head leagues have sunk owners who took him early. His ADP is near 70 at this point, but I will still likely pass.

Second Basemen

2020 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Brl/PA% 2B

Rougned Odor8.
Mike Moustakas7.50.96.6-0.16.7
Jose Altuve6.21.74.5-0.65.1
DJ LeMahieu6.
Jonathan Schoop6.02.43.6-1.34.9
Robinson Cano5.7-
Eduardo Escobar5.2-0.75.9-0.36.2
Starlin Castro4.9-
Jonathan Villar4.51.23.3-0.13.4
Brian Dozier4.40.14.3-1.45.7
Jason Kipnis4.1-
Kike Hernandez4.1-
Asdrubal Cabrera3.9-
Freddy Galvis3.
Chris Taylor3.6-
Whit Merrifield3.3-0.13.4-0.74.1
Cesar Hernandez2.1-
Kolten Wong1.8-
Adam Frazier1.5-
Jose Peraza0.2-
Dee Gordon0.0-

21 eligible Second Baseman qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons.

If I had asked you to tell me the second baseman who had the biggest jump in Barrel rate and had the highest Barrel rate in 2019, I do not think you would have picked Rougned Odor. I know I wouldn't have.

I guess it makes sense though as he has hit 30+ home runs, three of the last four seasons. He has a miserable batting average so when he is up to bat he seems to either strikeout or hit the ball hard. It is still hard to own him with a near .200 batting average, so I will be passing in drafts.

DJ LeMahieu is the next second-baseman that intrigues me on this list. I don't think anybody expects him to hit 26 home runs again. However, maybe we shouldn't sell him so short.

Two seasons in a row he has improved his Barrel rate. This would explain the increase in home runs those two seasons as well. He will still be playing half his games in Yankee Stadium and another majority of his games in the AL East friendly parks.

If you miss out on the top second baseman, LeMahieu becomes a very intriguing option later in drafts.

Third Basemen

2020 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Brl/PA% 3B

Anthony Rendon8.
Eugenio Suarez8.
Mike Moustakas7.50.96.6-0.16.7
DJ LeMahieu6.
Nolan Arenado6.00.85.2-1.16.3
Kyle Seager5.91.94.0-2.36.3
Kris Bryant5.8-0.15.9-0.36.2
Manny Machado5.6-
Justin Turner5.60.05.6-0.86.4
Maikel Franco5.
Eduardo Escobar5.2-0.75.9-0.36.2
Evan Longoria5.1-
Todd Frazier5.00.64.4-1.55.9
Starlin Castro4.9-
Jose Ramirez4.8-
Matt Carpenter4.7-
Marwin Gonzalez4.50.04.5-0.24.7
Asdrubal Cabrera3.9-
Alex Bregman3.8-
Yuli Gurriel3.11.51.6-1.22.8

20 eligible Third Basemen qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons.

Despite Third Base being really deep, they had the lowest number of players qualify each of the last three seasons. It was only one less at 20, but I found it interesting none the less.

I fully expected Nolan Arenado to be at the top of this list but he was not. In fact, at just a 6% Barrel rate in 2019 he ranked 97th overall in MLB. This isn't going to be a deterrent for me to take him early in drafts as he has averaged 39.5 home runs over the last five seasons. Not to mention he has surpassed 100 RBI in five straight years and 100 runs in four consecutive seasons (97 in the 5th).

It just goes to show that Barrel rate does not mean everything for players who are elite like Arenado.

The other player that caught my eye was Eugenio Suarez. He broke out hitting 49 home runs last season, after hitting 34 the year before and 26 the year before that. This increased power matches the increased Barrel rate we see both years of 2%. Now I don't think if he improves again we have a 50+ home run hitter on our hands. However, if he increases his Barrel rate again, we are more likely to see another 40+ home run season.

Now, these numbers assume a full-season which we won't get. But this is a good thing for Suarez who is recovering from groin surgery and wasn't going to start the season on time anyway. This now means we should get a "full season" out of him, meaning he should be climbing up draft boards.


2020 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Brl/PA% SS

Javier Baez8.6-
Dansby Swanson6.
Marcus Semien6.
Xander Bogaerts6.2-
Francisco Lindor5.8-
Paul DeJong5.7-0.25.9-0.26.1
Manny Machado5.6-
Trevor Story5.5-
Trea Turner4.
Didi Gregorius4.
Jonathan Villar4.51.23.3-0.13.4
Freddy Galvis3.
Tim Anderson3.90.63.3-0.33.6
Brandon Crawford3.81.32.5-1.94.4
Alex Bregman3.8-
Chris Taylor3.6-
Orlando Arcia3.31.71.6-1.53.1
Elvis Andrus2.8-
Jean Segura2.6-
Jose Iglesias2.
Andrelton Simmons1.4-
Jose Peraza0.2-

22 eligible Shortstops qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons.

Despite people thinking he had a down season, Javy Baez only dropped 0.1 percentage points from in his Barrel rate. Even with that drop he still led all shortstops with an 8.6 Brls/PA%.

Just to put this into perspective he was 1.8 percentage points higher than the next shortstop. That next shortstop on the list was a huge surprise to me, Dansby Swanson. He had an incredible jump of 4% in 2019 to get to 6.8%. Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't see that continuing from him in 2020.

A player that I'm still high on in our rankings, more so than others, is Manny Machado. However, this chart is making me reconsider just slightly. He saw a drop of 2.9% in 2019 to finish at 5.6%. I still think he is too talented a hitter to decline for the second year in a row, but this will be something to keep an eye on.


2020 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Brl/PA% OF

Mike Trout11.
Aaron Judge10.72.18.6-4.212.8
Christian Yelich10.
George Springer9.53.46.1-0.46.5
Kyle Schwarber9.01.77.3-1.18.4
Cody Bellinger8.93.45.5-2.07.5
Bryce Harper8.72.26.5-1.27.7
Marcell Ozuna8.
Avisail Garcia8.
J.D. Martinez8.1-2.510.6-1.712.3
Nick Castellanos8.
Nomar Mazara7.
Mookie Betts7.4-
Michael Conforto7.41.65.8-1.77.5
Ian Desmond7.
Hunter Renfroe7.1-
Trey Mancini7.1-
Kole Calhoun7.
Ryan Braun6.9-
Eddie Rosario6.
Yasiel Puig6.7-
Max Kepler6.
Charlie Blackmon6.31.74.6-1.66.2
Wil Myers6.11.44.7-0.85.5
Jackie Bradley Jr.6.0-
Kris Bryant5.8-0.15.9-0.36.2
Randal Grichuk5.7-3.89.5-0.710.2
Stephen Piscotty5.6-
A.J. Pollock5.6-
Andrew Benintendi5.
Tommy Pham5.4-
Shin-Soo Choo5.3-
Adam Jones4.91.03.9-1.04.9
Michael Brantley4.71.73.0-0.23.2
Marwin Gonzalez4.50.04.5-0.24.7
Kike Hernandez4.1-
Jason Heyward4.11.92.2-0.93.1
Kevin Pillar4.0-
Kevin Kiermaier4.01.03.0-0.63.6
Alex Gordon3.9-
David Peralta3.8-
Chris Taylor3.6-
Whit Merrifield3.3-0.13.4-0.74.1
Lorenzo Cain3.00.62.4-0.22.6
Brett Gardner2.90.92.0-0.62.6
Josh Reddick2.7-0.22.9-0.13.0
Manuel Margot2.
Nick Markakis2.3-
Delino DeShields1.50.70.8-1.01.8
Jose Peraza0.2-
Billy Hamilton0.0-

51 eligible Outfielders qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons.

Mookie Betts exploded in 2018, seeing a 6.4% increase in Barrels per plate appearances, up to 9.9%. Last year, he fell 2.5%, back down to 7.4%.  That mark still put him in top 50 among all MLB hitters, 13th among these 51 qualified outfielders.

On the flip side, J.D. Martinez has seen a steady decline in his Brls/PA% over the last three seasons but still owned an 8.1 Brl.PA% in 2019. He will turn 33 in August, but there is little reason to expect a sharp decline in 2020. He has lowered his strikeout rate from 26.2% in 2017 down to 21% in 2019. His .386 wOBA last year was still slightly above his career wOBA (.376), after back-to-back years of .430/.427. Even without Betts at the top of the Red Sox lineup, Martinez should hover around 100 RBI for the fifth time in the last six years.

Nomar Mazara, Max Kepler and Ian Desmond (?) have been trending up and if that continues in 2020 we could turn these players into some real nice value on draft day. Mazara's March NFBC 12-team ADP is 244 with Kepler sitting at 144. See below for how best to utilize Desmond in deeper or NL-only leagues.

Mazara, now with the Chicago White Sox, has seen his plate appearances decline over the last three years with the Texas Rangers, despite a steady increase in ISO (.170/.178/.200). He is projected for over 500 PA in 120ish games with Steamer projected 25 home runs.

Kepler hit a career-high .252 in 2019 and projections like him to repeat in 2020. However, they do not expect him to hit 36 home runs again. That being said, you will absolutely want to target players in the Minnesota Twins offense this season!

Desmond made ridiculous contact last year, with a career-high xwOBACON (.419). That was good for 47th among qualified batters! That being said, Desmond should stay limited to home games at Coors Field, preferably against left-handed pitching.

Feel free to discuss 2020 Fantasy Baseball Barrels Per Plate Appearance for players who have not qualified in each of the last three MLB seasons in the comments below!

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