2022 Fantasy Baseball Early Breakout Hitter Candidates

by Yeon Lee
2022 Fantasy Baseball Early Breakout HiItter Candidates

Hello, everyone. In this article, we are going to be looking at some 2022 Fantasy Baseball  Early Breakout Hitter Candidates.

Baseball is finally back. I personally expected a shortened season due to strikeout, but I'm glad we can enjoy a full season. It has been just five games since the season started. I generally do not prefer to make a prediction based on a small sample because of its potential inaccuracy.

However, if there's something noticeable in a player's stats, it means that a player could perform well to some degree. If it's sustainable is the next question we can ask with a bigger sample. These hitters are not currently in the spotlight yet, but I believe it won't take long for them to be mentioned. Let's take a look.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Early Breakout Hitter Candidates

Looking for a Fantasy advantage? Get the ultimate in-season edge with customized Fantasy Baseball advice for your team using My Playbook from FantasyPros.

One thing that you need to look at when you evaluate a hitter is plate discipline. Of course, a hitter could still perform with over a 30% strikeout rate, but he is likely to have a .200 ish batting average going forward.

Thus, it's safe and easy to collect hitters who don't strike out much. Hitter's strikeout rate is strongly correlated with the swing strike rate. According to Jeff Zimmerman's article a few years ago, you can roughly calculate K% by multiplying the swing strikeout rate by 2.25. Its R-squared value is .947, which indicates these two values have a significant correlation.

As you can see in the link above, Javier Baez's strikeout rate was only 22% when the article was posted in 2015. However, when the 2015 season ended, his final strikeout rate was 30% as the article anticipated.

Owen Miller, 1B, Cleveland Guardians

Click to Enlarge; Credit: Baseball Savant

Probably, you have never heard of this guy's name unless you play a deep league. He is an obscure prospect who was called up last year but didn't make an impact. Although he was considered a contact hitter in the minor, when he was called up, he struck out too much that he quickly got benched out. However, this year looks a bit different.

His current K rate is 11.8%, which is almost half of the 26.7% K rate he had last season. Based on the whiff rate, it doesn't look fluky. The data shows that he was vulnerable at breaking balls last season. Especially, he struck out many times at curveballs and sliders. Seemingly, he still strikes out at slider. However, it's only 18% compared to his 32.8% strikeout rate against slider last year.

His improved putaway rate is also worth a mention. Putaway means how often you strike out in two-strike counts. If you have a 30% putaway rate, it means you are likely to strike out in three pitches in two-strike counts. You can have an understanding from his putaway rate that he cuts off the balls better to keep the strike zone this year.

It's an encouraging sign that he barely strikes out at fastballs. If you can smash fastballs even in a short period of time, your stats are likely to be inflated until pitchers start to throw more breaking balls. Owen Miller is a starting first baseman for Cleveland Guardians. I don't expect him to have a monstrous season, but having him on your roster isn't going to do any harm. His ownership is only 1%. Keep an eye on him.

Steven Kwan, OF, Cleveland Guardians

Click to Enlarge; Credit: Baseball Savant

I know he's been a hot pickup in recent days. I don't like to mention a player who everyone knows. However, his contact skill is so unbelievable that I couldn't miss him.

It's so beautiful to see his whiff rate is 0% against all types of pitches. Some people might think it's just because of a small sample.

However, not striking out at almost 100 pitches at the MLB level is not easy to achieve. Even Juan Soto already struck out a few times.

Based on his scouting report, his projection is Tony Gwynn's lite version. With this plate discipline, he will be a consistent contributor. His ownership is 74%, but it's more because of his recent crazy performance. However, I don't talk him up because of his hot performance, but his plate discipline. If he's in a mini-slump, that's the time to trade for him.

Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

Everybody knows Dodgers are the number-driven team that knows how to develop their players. When Gavin Lux was their number one prospect, people expected him to be a superstar once he was called up.

Unfortunately, he didn't live up to the hype so far. Entering his fourth season, his underwhelming career slash stats .237 .318 .371 don't really appeal to anybody.

Click to Enlarge; Credit: Baseball Savant

This year, he looks more promising. His biggest issue has been the slider and the curveball. His whiff rate against sliders last year was 39%! Considering he is a slap hitter, his excessively high K rate against breaking balls had been an obstacle for him to perform.

Interestingly, he hasn't struck out against sliders yet this season. The temptation to swing at a pitch you barely hit is hard to resist. Despite its small sample size, I think he's improved against breaking balls to some degree.

He hasn't faced curveballs much compared to sliders. Once he faces enough curveballs, you will be able to determine if he's going to have an explosive season or just slightly better than before but somewhat mediocre season.

I think he can secure a starting second baseman spot if he keeps taking breaking balls rather than swinging. Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas are lurking around in the minor league. If Gavin Lux doesn't perform well, he would be a backup centerfielder going forward. So just keep in mind that his playing time wouldn't be guaranteed.

Conclusion

These signs are not 100% accurate. Players tend to go back close to their career plate discipline even when they improve themselves. For instance, if Lux eventually strikes out 30% against a slider, you can say he improved compared to his 40% in the past year, but it doesn't really mean anything. The best approach for this analysis is to take it with a grain of salt.

The bottom line is that these three players show some signs that they figured something out in the preseason. If it's sustainable or not is the next question.


Check out more Fantasy Baseball content from the F6P team!

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

F6P Badges Banner

Follow us on social media

f6p-logo-footer

A Six Pack of Fantasy Sports

Copyright © 2024 Fantasy Six Pack.