2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Arizona Diamondbacks

by Jordan McDonald
2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Diamonds in the Rough

Welcome to another edition of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive featuring the Arizona Diamondbacks!

This week, we put the team with the worst record in the spotlight. The Diamondbacks are currently in the midst of an MLB-record 23 game losing streak on the road. And they seem destined to be sellers during next month's trade deadline.

Does this group of underperforming players have any fantasy relevance remaining? Certainly, most of them will benefit from a new surrounding, but can they be trusted in fantasy lineups while they are still in the desert? Let's take a closer look.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Arizona Diamondbacks

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Ketel Marte

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Marte is arguably the best position on the Diamondbacks and he has proven that with a .366/.415/.552 slash line. He suffered an early-season injury that kept him on the mend for about a month, and therefore, he does not have enough plate appearances to be a qualified hitter. But we can still analyze his current numbers and gain a sense of what to expect for the rest of the season.

One of the reasons for his success is the powerful bat that he wields. And based on the numbers that he has recorded, he has shown an improvement for this season. Since 2017, Marte has increased his Hard Hit rate every season. Last season, 40.5 percent of his batted balls were 95+ MPH, and for 2021, he has elevated that number to 50.9. In addition, he is also posting a career-high mark in average Exit Velocity with 90.9 MPH, and his maximum Exit Velocity has ranked in the top ten percent every season since 2016.

There are a couple of causes for concern based on his Statcast numbers. First, he is hitting at the lowest Launch Angle of his career at 4.5 degrees. He owns a career Launch Angle of 8.1 and should see his number begin to rise as the season progresses. Also, his Sweet Spot Percentage is at 29.8 percent, but this is not uncommon for him as he's only recorded over 30 percent twice during the Statcast era. These metrics could be a precursor for regression, but his xBA (.338) and xSLG (.510) indicates that his numbers won't drop by that much.

Eduardo Escobar

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Escobar is a name floating around in trade rumors and will possibly be wearing a different jersey come August. He has been a steady player during the latter portion of his career, with his peak coming in 2019 when he slashed .269/.320/.511 with 35 home runs and 118 RBIs. Unfortunately for him, the shortened 2020 season ended with a disappointing .212/.270/.335, but has somewhat rebounded for this season putting up .242/.290/.466.

The Statcast page does not provide much optimism for the rest of his season. His xBA (.233) and xSLG (.441) is lower than his actual numbers and his expected weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA) of .317 is ranked in the 28th percentile across the league. He is also posting the highest strikeout rate of his career at 22.3 percent, while also posting the lowest walk rate since 2015.

However, one positive takeaway from Escobar's season is the increase in his power numbers. His Hard Hit rate is the best of his career at 35.1 percent. But unfortunately, that mark is only ranked in the 21st percentile among all MLB hitters. He is also recording a career high in Barrel percentage at 9.5 percent, which ranks a little better compared to the rest of the league (59th percentile).

The wild numbers would suggest that managers should avoid Escobar for the rest of the season. However, a change of scenery and being inserted into a better hitting lineup could be the cure that ails him.

Josh Rojas

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Just like Marte and Escobar, Rojas is another Diamondbacks hitter who offers positional versatility for fantasy lineups. Some considered him as a late-round sleeper headed into this season, but overall, he has only produced average results. Despite a disappointing team effort, he does have a respectable .254/.326/.438 as the Diamondbacks' primary leadoff hitter.

Unfortunately for Rojas, his numbers look better on the surface than what appears on his Statcast page. Besides his Chase and Walk rates, all of his batting categories fall under the league average. His expected xBA (.235) and xSLG (.402) is less than his actual numbers and he possesses a bloated strikeout rate of 26.3 percent.

His power numbers are respectable at least. He has recorded a Hard Hit rate of 38.3 percent and his average Exit Velocity is currently 89.1 MPH. And if you look at his spray chart on Baseball Savant, you can see that is capable of hitting all over the field as a left-handed hitter. But he has been wildly inconsistent during this season and having the rest of the team struggle around him definitely hasn't helped his fantasy value.

Zac Gallen

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The supposed ace of the Diamondbacks rotation has experienced a disappointing 2021 season to this point. He was almost shelved early in the season with a UCL injury but luckily was able to return without having to opt for Tommy John surgery. In seven starts, Gallen has a 3.67 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched.

In limited action, Gallen has shown some strong numbers according to Statcast. His expected ERA is lower than his actual ERA at 3.17, and his expected batting average against of .203 is just slightly higher than the actual number of .195. Both of those metrics are ranked in the top 20 percent of all qualified MLB pitchers.

However, Gallen's biggest concern is the power numbers that he is giving up. Currently, he has recorded a whopping Hard Hit rate of 45.3 percent, which is ranked in the bottom 15 percent. And his average Exit Velocity of 89.7 MPH is the highest that he has given up in his young career. Surprisingly, the opposite can be said about his Barrel percentage. He has only given up four barrels out of 86 batted balls, which equates to only 4.7 percent.

Gallen owns an astonishing 2.95 ERA for his career, but if the team continues to sputter and refuses to give him the necessary run support, he may have trouble securing wins for your fantasy team.

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

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