2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Home Run Derby

by Jordan McDonald
2020 Fantasy Baseball Super Sophomores

Welcome to another edition of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Home Run Derby! I hope you all enjoyed All-Star Week, otherwise known as the Shohei Ohtani experience. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make it past the first round of the Home Run Derby…

For this week, I figured that I would change it up. Instead of highlighting the contributors on a single team, I will discuss some of the participants in the Derby and provide an outlook for the rest of their seasons. 

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive Home Run Derby

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Shohei Ohtani

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I mentioned him off the top, so you knew that he was going to be a part of the analysis. Even if you don’t follow baseball, you know who Shohei Ohtani is. The Japanese phenomenon has taken the baseball (and sports world) by storm with his ability to mash at the plate and his electric arm on the mound. Incredibly, he possesses a .279/.364/.698 slash line with a league-leading 33 home runs, as well as a 3.49 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Each fantasy platform has a different version of Ohtani. For example, Yahoo has separated Ohtani as a hitter AND a pitcher. While formats like Fantrax and ESPN have Ohtani as a dual-eligible player who cannot be started at both positions simultaneously. Nevertheless, he has tremendous value in every format and either position.

However, if you had to pick one for the remainder of the season, you would have to pick Ohtani the hitter. He is currently ranked in the 100th percentile for Maximum Exit Velocity (119 MPH), xSLG (.713), wOBA (.435), and Barrel rate (26 percent). He’s not only productive at the plate, he can also find success on the basepaths with 12 stolen bases on the season and a Sprint Speed that is ranked in the 92nd percentile.

The one knock on Ohtani is the fairly high strikeout rate at 28.6 percent and Whiff rate that is ranked in the bottom five percent of the league. But everything suggests that Ohtani will continue this torrid power streak after the All-Star break.

Joey Gallo

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As disappointing as it was to see Ohtani fail to reach the second round of the Derby, it is arguable that Gallo was the bigger disappointment with his performance. But that shouldn’t overshadow the season he has been having. He was hitting a lowly .205 at the beginning of June, but he has improved that into a slash line of .239/.402/.522.

Gallo has always been known for his powerful swing, and that hasn’t changed for this season. He has 24 home runs on the season, trailing only Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the American League. However, he had to make up ground due to his early-season slump. He managed to hit seven home runs in a five-game span at the end of June. 

His Statcast numbers are mostly within the top 10 percent of the entire league. If we pinpoint his best metrics, they would have to be Barrel rate and wOBA. His Barrel rate is currently 19.6 percent and his wOBA sits at .396, which are both ranked in the 97th percentile. He also has made a significant improvement in his walk rate, which was 14.4 percent heading into this season. At the All-Star break, he is sitting at a robust 20.5 percent and that leads the league among all qualified hitters.

Reports indicate that Gallo is bound to be traded before the end of the month. And his bat could provide a lot to help in the heart of the order for a contending team. If he continues this hot streak with his new team, Gallo could post monster numbers to help your fantasy squad(s).

Trevor Story

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Story was the “hometown” participant in the Derby and made it to the second round defeating Gallo. And much like Gallo, Story is reportedly on the trading block and should be in new threads by August. Unfortunately for him and the Rockies, Story is having a down year compared to others, only slashing .249/.323/.442 into the All-Star break.

He has been a fantastic overall hitter over the past three seasons and could be set for a breakout after the All-Star break and with a new team. Since 2018, he has never recorded less than a .289 batting average or an OPS less than .870. However, the Statcast numbers tell a different story. His best year was 2018 when he ranked in the 92nd percentile for Barrel rate at 12.7 percent and 90th percentile in Hard Hit rate at 46 percent. And he hasn’t managed to reach those numbers since that season. As for this year, Story is just under 40 percent in Hard Hit rate (39.6), which would be his lowest mark since 2017. 

And despite recording high batting averages in previous seasons, the expected statistics are in contrast to that. In 2018 when he was hitting .291, his xBA was only .265 and the same occurred in 2019 when he had an xBA of .262 but recorded a .294 batting average. This season, his xBA is actually higher than his actual batting average at .254, which suggests he could see an improvement in that category. 

Hopefully we can see his numbers rise if he ends up on a new team. He definitely still has the ability to hit for power and average, while being able to swipe bases as well. 

Matt Olson

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Olson is one of the best power-hitting first basemen in the league and received All-Star consideration because of his efforts. He is actually having a career season posting a slash line of .282/.371/.567 with 23 home runs. And he is poised to build on that success heading into the second part of the season.

The numbers on his Statcast are suggesting that regression will not be a factor. His xBA (.273) and xSLG (.551) are right in line with the actual numbers. And his average Exit Velocity (92 MPH) and Hard Hit rate (48.2) are just below his career averages, but not by much. His wOBA of .394 may be the most impressive metric on his Statcast page, considering it is ranked in the 96th percentile in the league.

One reason for the increase in production is the improved strikeout rate. Last season, Olson ranked in the bottom ten percent with a bloated strikeout rate of 31.4 percent. And for this season, he has improved that mark to 16.5 percent. That may have been a significant factor in how well he has played up to this point, considering he ended last season with a measly .195 batting average while playing all 60 games.

His previous season caused him to drop in drafts before the season started. And the managers who took a flier on him must be content with their decision. If Olson can remain this steady down the stretch, he may appear on my championship rosters.

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

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1 comment

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Los Angeles Angels - Fantasy Six Pack July 22, 2021 - 12:31 pm

[…] Last week, I discussed the magnificent season that Shohei Ohtani was having at the plate. But what about the rest of the Angels offense? Some of their other marquee batters have struggled with injuries and overall inefficiency. […]


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